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i find having a hot bath the first night of the tattoo really helps to open up pores and get all the extra gunk off, washing with dr bronner's liquid soap too, it really gives that squeaky clean feeling on your skin.

for cream i recommend e45 or cocoa butter but always the least amount you can get away with. if you keep your tattoo clean by washing it a couple of times during the day (for the first week max) i find theres little need for any cream. personally i barely use any, just take care of washing my tattoo often seems to be enough.

people with greasier skin shouldnt use cream in my book, everyone's different and this is why i will always have a proper chat with my customer after their tattoo, specially if it's their first time getting tattooed by me.

the thought of cocoa butter just recently occurred to me, as well as shea butter. thanks for confirming my suspicion that it would be an excellent alternative on tattoos! if anyone has any experience with shea butter, i would love to hear it.

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i start using palmer's shea butter about a week on, maybe 2 times a day, for the next couple of weeks and it works pretty good...I usually just wash it the first week

yea i won't be putting any on my newest piece for the next 48 hours or so. found some Shea on sale at whole foods, so i think i'll pick some of it up tomorrow after work.

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hmm,, simple,, as long as your not over working the tattoo should heal on its own with out any use of lotion or ointment. may take a full week but not much more other than that.

at my shop we all agree that you should cover your tattoo for a minimum of twelve hours(basically over night) as soon as you wake up take a nice warm shower (stings like fuck but its not destroying you)..... leave it dry for a day.

2nd morning and after use a fragrant free ,if needed for sensitive skin hypoallergenic lotion. use once to twice a day until healed.(rubbing lotion on like you just had dry skin not a thick coat),,,,

the human body does a great job of healing on its own and putting greasy sticky ointments on a fresh tattoo can cause the tattoo to stay open as well attract more dirt than healing elements such as oxygen. as well if the greasy tattoo should dry up it can cause a lot of cracking from a soggy scab :( hence dont soak your tattoo.

the reason we think covering a tattoo for at least 12 hours right after its done is because the skin is creating plasma for the first 12 hours which if the skin does get over worked in a certain area it will tend to scab less do to less plasma build up while drying. also it will be less likely to attract staff or any other bacteria you can pick up from the outside world like the club, your pets, public transportation or sharing what you may have with the outside world. after twelve hours under a bandage the tattoo will have sealed its self and should be done weeping.

of course there are those with extra sensitive skin but all in all i was taught that if a tattoo heals poorly its 95 % if not more the tattoo artists fault. no room for excuses.

weather your a yoga instructor, a construction worker or a person who sits behind a desk all day your tattoo should heal for the most part perfect on the first go.

if your heavy handed to the point were you may be over working the skin a lot you really should give this method a try it cant hurt your tattoos are healing shitty anyways :) happy healing :) dont forget sex and laughter are good for the immune system which will make your tattoo heal quicker.

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of course there are those with extra sensitive skin but all in all i was taught that if a tattoo heals poorly its 95 % if not more the tattoo artists fault. no room for excuses.

I don't find this to be true at all. If the customer does everything you tell them to then maybe. I find that almost all customers think that once they leave they know better because their friend told them a better way to heal. I've seen people come in get a tattoo be told all the info and then I see them the very next day with the thickest layer of lotion and a cloth bandage to keep it moist, and all kind of other dumb stuff. I think giving the general public the idea that if their tattoo heals bad it's the tattooers fault is dangerous. I know sometimes it is the tattooers fault but I feel like usually it's the customer not listening to the instructions. I know, when I've had stuff heal shitty, it's been usually my fault.

I think it depends on the area of the tattoo as well. For example, I've only ever seen one elbow ditch tattoo that didn't heal kinda shitty.

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I think a lot of this (as has already been stated) depends on the person healing. I agree...I also think another factor to consider is climate. I live in Colorado...which is basically a high altitude desert. Its incredibly dry here...like arizona dry without the extreme heat. Everyone I know here uses lotion daily...and I don't mean for new tattoos either...I mean just in general. I can't imagine NOT using a moisturizing lotion post tattoo...cause man, I can't imagine not using one everyday anyway.

Probably a lot different if you live in Texas or Florida...I think the UK is pretty humid as well.

Just my 2 pennies...

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i feel both of your comments are valid and agree that climate does make a difference in healing methods as well as folks not listening to instructions properly and going to the beach the next day or over saturating the tattoo in ointment. i also feel there are a lot more inexperienced tattooers than there are those not listening properly to healing instructions.

ive been tattooing for a bit now and in my earlier times of tattooing i used every excuse in the book on why the tattoo healed poorly.

and i guess what im trying to convey is that threw time and practice tattoos will heal poorly less and less and there will be fewer reasons on why the tattoo healed wrong as well as shorter healing time and less care needed to heal.

im not in any way saying that my tattoos heal perfect every time or that i dont get a costumer that does some absurd thing to there tattoo after a session but i also take responsibility for when ive over worked a tattoo (this is why touch ups are free) and that im human and have a bad day every once in a while. but in general they heal great and smooth. and its from the time ive put into this trade. its far in-between that i have to tell some one they have done something wrong in healing the tattoo.

right now the tattoo industry is flooded with 2 week apprenticeships and 100 dollar tattoo kits over the internet and a lot of shitty tattoos and a lot of excuses.

a more experienced tattoo artist will have less reasons for a tattoo healing poorly than a lesser experienced tattoo artist. the reason the tattoo heals better and better is the fact the artist is getting better. no magic ointment or special healing instructions are the cause of this. just understanding of your tools, technique and time. yes healing instruction are a good thing and so is lotion but the fact is the artist doing the job right. this is why i still feel that 95 % of a poorly healing tattoo is the artists responsibility and experience and 5 % of a confused, ignorant or unthoughtful client. i do also understand that there are cities and towns with more unthoughtful clients than others but still, "im just sayin".

I hope in no way that i offended any one with my posts and am very grateful for the responses.

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I like using 100% pure shea butter mixed with a little lavender oil ( I buy it that way), it was recommended due to it's healing properties and overall goodness for the skin. I start using it after the first couple of days and use it well after the tattoo is fully healed ot keep the tattoo looking fresh. It's not always easy to find but I usually buy it online and I've had good results.

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I usually use Aquaphor until it starts to peel and I switch to Curél. It has worked out pretty well, I have also used Tattoo-Goo, Boob Butter, H2Ocean, and After-Inked. Of those, After-Inked is my favorite, it has the consistency of a regular lotion with a lot of different oils in it, and smells nice. I can't stand H2Ocean for the tattoos. I do like their piercing spray though.

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i've read through this thread, as well as other sources, most offer similar but slightly different advice, and i understand there is no single "best" way, but i still have questions about washing a new tattoo..

1. how many days (or until what point) should i be washing a new tattoo with unscented antibacterial soap? after that period, do i need to switch to a different kind of soap or stop using soap? i ask this because i wasn't sure if antibacterial soaps have properties that should be avoided after a certain point in the healing stage (just like how one should stop using Aquaphor and switch to a mild lotion after 3-4 days)

2. it's often recommended to wash the tattoo couple times a day the first few days. should soap be used every time? after those first few days, do i still need to wash the tattoo with soap multiple times a day? i wasn't sure if that will irritate or over-dry the skin

3. when can i start using body lotion with SPF on a new tattoo? only after it's fully healed?

i know these sound like really easy dumb questions, my bad. but i would really appreciate hearing thoughts from anyone because you are all more experienced than me. thanks

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not sure if anyone has said this yet but here's what i've learned from some people who know what's up. i've tried it so has my man and it WORKS. it's mostly for larger work

when you get home soak it in the hottest bath you can handle for a while

re-wrap BEFORE it dries completely

leave the bandage on overnight

in the morning wash it very well with soapy water, it might hurt a little but keep rubbing it untill all the gooey shit and blood and ink comes off

let it air dry and then care for it like you normally would with lotion or whatever you like.

i find when you do this the scabbing is much more minimal and the healing time is a lot quicker. the people who told us about this said it's how the japanese heal their large scale work

I really like this method because not only does it make stuff heal better but you go to bed clean and like Stewart said don't leave ink mark on the sheets. I don't usually tell customers this healing method till they have had a few tattoos because first timers can't seem to leave their tattoo alone and I figure the easy the instructions the less they can mess it up.

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i've read through this thread, as well as other sources, most offer similar but slightly different advice, and i understand there is no single "best" way, but i still have questions about washing a new tattoo..

1. how many days (or until what point) should i be washing a new tattoo with unscented antibacterial soap? after that period, do i need to switch to a different kind of soap or stop using soap? i ask this because i wasn't sure if antibacterial soaps have properties that should be avoided after a certain point in the healing stage (just like how one should stop using Aquaphor and switch to a mild lotion after 3-4 days)

2. it's often recommended to wash the tattoo couple times a day the first few days. should soap be used every time? after those first few days, do i still need to wash the tattoo with soap multiple times a day? i wasn't sure if that will irritate or over-dry the skin

3. when can i start using body lotion with SPF on a new tattoo? only after it's fully healed?

i know these sound like really easy dumb questions, my bad. but i would really appreciate hearing thoughts from anyone because you are all more experienced than me. thanks

I'll take a stab at answering these:

1. For me, after the first cleaning or day I usually switch to a milder bar soap like Dove or Dial which typically won't be as harsh or drying as the antibacterial soaps.

2. Unless I'm doing something that I think may have caused the tattoo to get dirtier than normal I usually just wash it once in the morning and once at night (sometimes 3x) with mild soap but keeping a new tattoo clean is important.

3. I'm not positive on this one but I'd say not until after it's pretty well healed. I know my artist told me not to use sunblock until healed or about a month and definitely avoid the sun.

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i would recommend always washing with an antibacterial soap. no more than 2 times a day. once in morning once at night or after heavy activity. put lotion on after tattoo is dry. when applying lotion put it on just as if you had dry skin. you want the lotion fully absorbed not a coat. i recommend lubriderm, or cetiphil. both come fragrant free and hypoallergenic. as well they are not that greasy. good luck.

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For my last two tattoos I've kept the bandage on overnight, and washed it (the tattoo not the bandage) in the morning with warm water and ivory soap rinse with cool water and let air dry for 15-20 minutes. For the first two days I wash it every 4-6 hours and put lotion on it every 2-3 hours. I use Aveeno fragrance free and only enough to put a thin layer over the entire tattoo and then rub it in. After the first two days I wash the tattoo once in the morning and once at night and use lotion about every six hours. I also wash my hands before washing the tattoo or using lotion. My last two tattoos did not scab, though that's probably mostly attributed to the artist.

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For those that wrap their tattoos I'm wondering isn't the trapped moisture from sweating from the wrap bad for the tattoo? I read plenty of people like to dry wrap their tattoos, sometimes just at night, but I'm concerned about sweating and soaking the tattoo. Thoughts?

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i just break out in a rash (the red itchy kind with little bumps) and it caused my tattoo to swell more than average. i've got sensitive skin, and lotions, ointments, make-up, deodorant, even metal containing nickel (or at least i believe this is the cause) can break me out into a rash. so far i've been lucky pigment/inks in my tattoos, but i just stay away from Aquaphor as i honestly believe it has something to do with a reaction from when i sweat, and i noticed when using Aquaphor, it held in a lot of moisture.

what can i say, i'm just a freak of nature when it comes to my skin (actually i blame it on genetics). i also have keratosis polaris, aka permanent goosebumps, on my arms and upper legs which is annoying.

Try h2oceans Products! They are made to work isotonically with your skin. none of those ointments or creams were made by those companies to heal a tattoo..at all.

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I wash it with antibacterial soap 3/day and pat dry with paper towel. I make my own tattoo balm and apply that after each washing. Contains calendula and chickweed-infused olive oil, apricot kernel oil, flax seed oil, cocoa butter, beeswax, and an essential oil blend with healing properties.

why would you put any kind of wax on an open wound/ Or skin clogging oils?

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my easiest healing and best looking tattoos have been when ive kept the bandage over night and then use pretty hot water and soap, let it dry a bit and just use lotion and clean it. when i used burts bees res q ointment, had scabbing, pimples, etc and aquaphor makes ink ooze out for some reason almost instantly. not sure why

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I like to:

Leave the bandage on over night (even though the freaking tape kills me. Usually my tattoo is healed before the redness from the tape is.)

Wake up. Shower in hot water. Use soap and wash your tattoo in the shower with your (clean!) hand, rubbing it gently until all the gross stuff is gone and it feels like skin. Get out of shower. Use a hair drier on tattoo to make it totally dry. Apply ointment and rub it in really well so your skin is just slightly lubed. I like Badger Balm, I feel like the mintiness counteracts the itchiness and it stays put for a while. Repeat as needed (minus the blow drier) until healed.

In the words of Gordon Ramsay: done.

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I use 3 different methods of healing tattoos as dictated by my mood

1) Bepanthen - Applied very very sparingly to the tattoo at least twice a day, ~10mins after showers so that the skin is dry. I get very thin scabs with this method of healing, and I find it to be good for areas where there's a lot of movement (eg. in between your arm ditch and elbow)

2)Tegaderm - applied roughly six hours after getting tattooed. stick it on and take it off 5 days later. It's a breathable antibacterial occlusive bandage made by 3M, It's meant to act like a second skin, specifically for open wounds and burns.

I like this one as it is so fuss free, your arm doesn't hurt to the touch after the second day, and I find it especially useful if you are frequently in situations where you could potentially hit your tattoo against something.

I also find it very useful when I get anything done on my arms, I don't need to worry too much about accidental ink splatter and whatnot while tattooing.

3) Natural healing - scabs come out slightly thicker for me and take a day or two longer to flake off, but otherwise fine

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my latest got tattooed on Friday, I kept it wrapped til tuesday and after i took the wrap off within a day it peeled and now its at the really itchy stage. easiest heal i have ever had since the last debacle

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My old routine; keep the bandage on for a few hours then wash it before bed with hot water and soap. Re-wrap it and sleep then wash it in the morning and re-wrap it, wash it again before bed and re-wrap for the second night. Wash it the next morning and apply a small amount of bepanthen after every wash for the next three days. After that, wash it regularly and apply a small amount of E45 lotion whenever it gets dry until it's healed. This heals all of my tattoos fine but left me with a rash around the area that had been tattooed so i've tried cutting out various parts of that process with each new tattoo to find the culprit. In august i got tattooed and tried healing it without re-wrapping (which is what most people do) but i tend to bleed a lot when getting tattooed so this meant that the tattoo scabbed more than usual and i still got a rash. Then i got tattooed by emiliano at frith street tattoo in december and cut out the soap and moisturising stages. The tattoo was pretty much healed within a week with minimal scabbing and no rash so its either soap or bepanthen that doesn't agree with me. So anyway my new routine is to keep it wrapped for two days washing it twice maybe three times a day and then just wash it with hot water and pat it dry until it's healed, simple but effective and that's what i'll be doing from now on. Bear in mind this routine doesn't apply to everyone as everyone has different skin etc. but this works for me!

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