How To: Take Care of a New Tattoo

Tattoos may have gone mainstream, but the process of getting one is still a rite of passage—and whether you’ve just scored a cheap late-night heart-with-a-sword-through-it from a downtown dive or some highly coveted body art from an impossible-to-book ink artisan, it’s your job to take care of what you got. We tapped tattoo artist Mike Rubendall—he’s the tough-to-book type—for his tips on how to properly take care of your fresh ink.

1. Wait at least 6 hours, then remove the bandage. If the bandage sticks to your tattoo, wet the area with lukewarm water and slide the bandage off.

2. Wash the area gently with water and a small amount of a mild cleanser (something like VitaMan’s Face & Body Cleanser or Baxter of California’s Invigorating Body Wash will work). Make sure to clean your hands and to remove all excess ointment, blood and ink. Then pat dry with a clean towel. Do not scrub.

3. For the next week, apply a thin layer of bacitracin, A&D ointment, or Aquaphor 2-3 times a day.

4. Apply a simple fragrance-free lotion (we like Jack Black Cool Moisture Body Lotion or (MALIN+GOETZ) vitamin b5 body moisturizer) a couple times a day until the tattoo settles into the skin (approximately 3 weeks).

5. Avoid sun, swimming, and soaking for at least 2 weeks.

6. Don’t scratch or pick your tattoo.

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