Our thoughts on Tattoo Aftercare (during healing)

Thinking of getting a tattoo, or are you already a collector?

Regardless of where you are in your journey – planning what you like, selecting your artist, the physical act of being tattooed and then showing them off with pride is a special life experience for many people. It is wonderful to see the stigma that has been attached to tattoo’s in the past start to fade in today’s society.

There are so many incredible artists out there creating some truly amazing pieces. 

Tattoo’s mean different things to different people. Some have significant personal representations, some are associated with a time or a place in a person’s life, and some are just incredible works or art. Regardless of the why, it’s your story.

Koya Tattoo - Lady reading a book

How does Tattooing oneself actually work?

Put simply, and in modern terms, a tattoo is created with a machine that pokes a needle or needles into your skin hundreds even thousands of times a minute, depositing ink into the dermis layer of the skin. Different needles are suited to different parts of a tattoo – thin lines, thick lines, shading, colour, etc. and will be swapped out by your artist as required.

The rather unpleasant diagram below covers the different parts that make up your skin!

Koya Tattoo - Skin Layers

But is it really that simple? Well, no. If the ink doesn’t make it to the correct skin level, either too deep or too shallow, the tattoo won’t last (too shallow) or it will “blowout” (too deep).

Moral of the story – make sure your tattoo is undertaken by a reputable artist, not some backyard Joe!!

Why are tattoo’s permanent?

Unlike the Epidermis, which is shed and renewed every 3 – 4 weeks, the dermis layer does not get replaced. This is where tattoos reside and why they last for so long.

Here’s a super cool video on the tattooing process and why it is are permanent.

What happen’s when you are tattooed?

During the tattoo process  ink is injected to the dermis layer where it then stays for life. When the tattoo needle punctures the skin, the body goes into damage control treating the ink as a foreign invader, surrounding it with macrophages (white blood cells) which attempt to break it down. However, the ink molecules are too big, so they cannot be broken down and that is where they stay! Over time the ink molecules may break down and be able to be destroyed by the white blood cells, which is why tattoos can fade, and why a proper self-care ritual is so important.

Koya Tattoo - Tattoo Artist

The healing process – why it is so important

When it comes to the crunch – getting a tattoo is basically  a medical procedure, leaving your skin in a damaged state that requires care and healing.

Note: It is important for us to say first and fore most – take your artist’s recommendations on tattoo aftercare. This is our guide and suggestions only.

The main things you want to be focusing on during the healing process are:

  • -Keeping the tattoo clean
  • -Keeping it moisturized (but not over moisturized)
  • -Letting it breath
  • -Keeping it out of the sun wherever possible

Following this will give your tattoo the best chance to heal without infection or scarring, and for the ink to not be disturbed and to look its best.

Koya Tattoo - Poppy Tattoo

At all times during the healing period clean your hands properly (like properly properly) before handling your tattoo.

Here’s a timeline of our recommended care process:

  • 0 to 2-4 hours – keep the tattoo covered as it was by the artist when you finished up
  • 4 to 24 hours – When you first remove the covering from the new tattoo, it will be covered in a clear liquid (blood plasma) and maybe some excess ink. This is normal and all good! At this point wash your tattoo with anti-bacterial soap and warm water. Pat dry. Note: It is OK to reapply a covering at this stage (cling wrap, second skin) to avoid getting excess ink, etc. on your bed sheets. This shouldn't be an issue after the first night or two.
  • Day 1 onwards - Care from this point on is very simple – keep it clean (wash twice a day), pat dry, treat gently and light moisturize regularly.
  • There are however some key things to look out for and be mindful of:
    • Day 3 or 4 – light scabs may form (normal), redness and soreness will start to reduce
    • Day 5 or 6 – light scabbing will continue, and soreness will continue to reduce
    • DO NOT pick or scratch at the scabs - this can cause scarring and draw out the ink. No matter how itchy it gets! (itch can be minimized with a good moisturizer).
    • Regular moisturizing will help with minimizing scabbing but also relieve itching and keep the scabs moist to reduce flaking unduly.
    • Day 7 onwards - Your tattoo should now be well on the path to healing. It still requires moisturizing and cleaning regularly. Scabbing will continue and will finish up. Make sure to let the scabs fall off on their own accord.
  • A few other things to look out for
    • Avoid full immersion in water (i.e., swimming). Showers should be fine
    • Keep an eye out for infections (red, warm, painful skin, possibly pus). If this occurs see a doctor asap.
  • What to look for in your moisturizer. As moisturizing is such an integral part of the healing process, there are a few key things to look out for:
    • All-natural ingredients
    • No petrochemicals
    • Fragrance free

These features help the moisturizer to be gentle on your skin and reduce the risk of any irritation or reaction occurring. Certain additives, such as Vitamin E and other antioxidants like Horsetail (the plant not the animal) and ginkgo biloba will help with the soothing of the skin.( Apply a good moisturizer to a fresh tattoo actually feels pretty amazing...)

A lighter formula like a body lotion is easily absorbed and is less likely to clog skins pores like a heavier balm or butter could. It is also less likely to leave a residue which will stain your clothes.

It is with these features in mind that koyaTattoo was released to the tattoo world as  a body lotion perfect for the healing process.

And there you have it! You new tattoo is now healed and looking its best.

From here on , your skin care routine is  based on maintenance and skin health  and having your tattoo’s looking their best, but we will cover that in a separate post.

Thanks for reading, and happy journeys!