Great, you got that tattoo. You did it! Congratulations.
But, now what?
What do you do once you leave the tattoo shop with your freshly inked piece? The healing process is one of the most important parts of the tattoo experience. If not properly cared for, you can find yourself dealing with some very serious issues—including, but not limited to, infection and loss of color. Nobody wants to find themselves back in the chair getting their tattoo reworked because they didn’t follow simple directions...and nobody wants to face the artist, who takes pride in their work, with a destroyed piece of art.
It’s almost summer—time to throw on the bikini or swim trunks and head to the beach! It’s time to start collecting that brilliant summer tan you’ll be showing off all season... It’s also the perfect opportunity to show off your ink for the world to see. But your ink is an investment and prolonged exposure to the sun (or tanning bed) can actually fade your tattoo, so it’s a catch-22. Do you show off your ink and risk sun exposure or do you cover up this investment which you spent so much money on?
Before you start panicking that you’ve committed yourself to a life indoors with pale skin, don’t fret. There are alternative options that will allow you to continue to enjoy the summer fun while still maintaining your body art.
You’ve just gotten that fresh piece of ink you’ve been dying for. You’re following all the aftercare instructions to the letter and you’re on track to have a perfectly healed tattoo...but life doesn’t always go as planned and, for whatever reason, you’ve wound up with a scrape on your fresh ink! What now? Is it ruined? Did you just mess up your hefty investment? Are you going to be stuck with a spoiled tattoo on your body for life?
If you’re a fresh canvas, meaning you currently have no tattoos, then I’m betting you’ve got some questions. The industry is complex, with many technical terms and unique style names, and it can be quite confusing to someone who hasn’t had any previous experience with the process. There are different methods to apply tattoos, different types of machines, and specific aftercare procedures. As someone who is highly involved in the industry, I get asked a wide range of questions regarding the industry on a weekly basis. I thought maybe it was time to write a few of these down—you know, to make it a little easier for the newbies.
I’ve gone ahead and created a list of the most frequently asked questions. Go ahead and check them out!
Okay, so we all know tattoos aren’t cheap. They’re not like that old DVD you picked up out of the $3 bargain bin at Wal-Mart—you’re going to want to care for them PROPERLY.
Most respectable artists will go over the aftercare procedure with you before you leave the shop. They’re even likely to give you an aftercare sheet with step by step directions on how to care for your new ink, complete with a do and don’t list, to take home with you in case you forget.
But, let’s get real. Most people are so excited about their kick ass tattoo that they don’t pay attention when the artist is giving them the run down. They’re too busy admiring their latest body art. Artists know this, which is why you get the take-home sheet. Think of it as a cheat sheet to help you pass the next stage of the tattoo process. But, of course, there are people who lose this or stuff it in a drawer never to look at it again.
This is how great tattoos turn bad.
Regardless of how amazing your artist is or how killer your piece is when you walk out of the shop, the end result of the tattoo process is on you. You are responsible for the caring and adequate healing of your tattoo. The artist doesn’t go home with you (unless you’re like me, in which case you live with your artist...and then you get constant reminders of aftercare). He or she won’t be there to tell you that you can or cannot do that activity or remind you every time your new ink needs washing.
So, as a quick reminder, here are five ways that you could potentially be ruining your new tattoo without even realizing it.
You’ve just gotten your first tattoo and it looks great. You’ve been taking care of it, following the directions provided to you by your artist, and it’s all been good.
You wake up one morning and take a look at that brand new tattoo and something doesn’t look right. Do you panic? Do you rush back to the tattoo shop and question the artist? Do you head off to the doctor to make sure you’re not having a reaction?
Chances are that what you’re experiencing is perfectly normal. Your tattoo will go through several phases, and truth be told, they’re not all pretty. But, if you continue to follow the aftercare steps provided to you by your artist everything should come out just fine. Of course, there are cases in which the tattoo may have become infected, your body reacted badly to the ink, or you had a sloppy artist who dug you up—it does happen. However, these are usually rare, and it’s most likely that what you’re experiencing is a normal new-tattoo phase.
Here are some perfectly normal symptoms that you may experience shortly after getting your brand new ink.