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Tattoo Aftercare Guide: How To Take Care of Your New Tattoo


Every tattoo artist has different preferences for how they want you to look after your new tattoo, so make sure you listen to their aftercare instructions.  Whether it be an arm tattoo, foot tattoo, or even a head tattoo, every tattoo needs to be taken care of in its infancy stages.  


Do’s and Don’ts of Tattoo Aftercare:



Most artists prefer to cover the finished tattoos with cling wrap or “second skin”.  Doing this stops the chances of infection from occurring, and lets the tattoo weep and extract excess ink, blood, and plasma from your skin.  This gives your tattoo the ultimate chance to heal from the get-go.  Different time frames can be recommended for tattoos to be left covered; 

How Long to do Tattoo Aftercare

Different time frames can be recommended for tattoos to be left covered; We recommend a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 24 hours.  



After you have your new tattoo uncovered, give it a good but gentle clean.  Antibacterial flowing soap is best, as standard bars of soap can dry out your skin.  After you’ve cleaned it, let it have a good airing out, this also gives you a chance to have some mirror time with your new ink!  Clean your tattoo at least once a day.  Also avoid touching your tattoo unless it is to apply aftercare cream or to clean it!  Dirty fingers are the most common cause of infected tattoos. 



Whatever aftercare cream you choose to use, always use minimal amounts to your fresh tattoo.  Apply your aftercare cream 1-2 times a day or as needed; apply it when you notice that the tattoo looks dry.  Less is more with aftercare cream, and overuse of any cream/balm/oil can be damaging.  Another key thing to be aware of with tattoo aftercare is: When in doubt, leave it out!  Don’t bother using any aftercare cream if it’s irritating your skin and certainly don’t add more!  


As the tattoo starts to scab and flake, it may become itchy… DO NOT SCRATCH OR ITCH IT (we will haunt your dreams)!  If the tattoo is unbearably itchy, we recommend giving it a good slap.  Your tattoo will scab and flake over the next week or two, keep applying your aftercare cream 1-2 times daily or as needed until the last scabs have come off.  It is also fine to keep applying aftercare cream or a moisturiser after this, as the new skin will be dry.


Once your amazing new tattoo, tā moko, or tatau has healed, please keep sunscreen in mind and on your new tattoo!  New Zealand/Aotearoa sun is harsh as hell and will fade your new tattoo.  Tattoos are forever and we want yours to be crisp, bright, and vibrant forever!




Is it OK to wear clothes over a new tattoo?

            Yes, but try not to after the few initial days after application.  If you do, make sure you change your clothes frequently.  In our experience, tattoos can weep onto the clothes and if you don’t change them, it can cause infection.  Be aware of how tight your clothing is, any rubbing increases the risk of damaging your tattoo. 


Should I moisturise my tattoo the first day?

            It really comes down to the artist’s advice, but we would say just leave it wrapped the first day and start using aftercare cream a day or two after you get the tattoo done.

Can you use coconut oil for tattoo aftercare?

            We recommend an array of different creams, balms, oils etc.  Minimal amounts of all these work best. 


Should I wrap my tattoo at night?

            Yes, if you feel this will help protect it.  It’s all about making sure you give your tattoo the best opportunity to heal flawlessly. 


When can I go swimming with a new tattoo?

            We recommend waiting until the tattoo is healed to go swimming (2-3 weeks), as this minimises the chances of infection from happening.