From what to put (and not put) on a new tattoo to how to stop it from fading, here’s how to look after your artwork in the short and long-term
So you’ve bitten the bullet and got the tattoo of your dreams - but now what? The days, weeks and even months that follow are vital for ensuring that your fresh ink doesn’t fall flat and a few easy yet effective tweaks to your skincare routine could make all the difference.
Aftercare advice tends to differ from studio to studio and your artist will be able to best advise you on the best steps to follow. However, there are some useful guidelines that can help with the healing process in the short-term and increase the vibrancy of your artwork in the long-term too. We asked the pros for their top tips.
In the following days and weeks, expect to experience some scabbing, itching and peeling - all are perfectly normal. “I’m afraid you cannot stop your tattoo from scabbing as it’s a natural part of the healing process,” says skincare expert, Lorena Öberg . “You have to treat your new tattoo as if it were a fresh wound. The skin scabs to protect the broken skin.” Resist the temptation to pick or scratch the scabs or else you’ll risk causing scarring, patchiness and/or infection.
Hydration and gentle routine cleansing (usually after a few hours, a few times a day) are key parts of your post-tattoo action plan. When it comes to your moisturising products, look for something simple. “After having a tattoo, we would recommend using a healing barrier cream such as sk:n CU3 Intensive Moisture Cream , £36,” says Dr Firas Al-Niami, Group Medical Director at sk:n clinics . “If you experience any burning or itching, try Avene Thermal Water Spray , £13, to soothe the area.” Studios sometimes also recommend using Bepanthen , £3.36, the nappy care ointment, as well as Vaseline , £1.50, too.
For face (say if you’ve had microblading or lip or eyeliner tattooing), Vaseline might feel a tad too rich, so opt for something lighter instead. “Look for a natural healing balm that’s free from perfumes or chemicals likely to cause any irritation,” recommends cosmetic tattoo artist Sian Dellar . Her top choice is natural coconut oil.
Are there any products that are best avoided? Unless your tattoo becomes infected, Lorena advises exercising caution when it comes to Savlon and Sudocrem. “Whatever you do, do not apply antiseptic creams when you’ve just had your tattoo done as this will remove the colour,” she tells us. “The routine cleaning of your tattoo should prevent any infection from setting in anyway.”
Skincare that helps maintain the vibrancy and colour of tattoos is a category that’s seen noticeable growth over the last few years. One such brand that’s made a lasting impression in this regard is Electric Ink , which launched in March of 2017. “We noticed that a lot of aftercare brands only focussed on the first two weeks of healing, whereas we wanted to provide a long-term solution for people with tattoos 1, 2 and 10 years old,” founder Stu Jolley tells us. “We see ourselves as a small, nimble, boutique beauty brand, that has worked extensively with chemists and tattooists over the last 18 months to create an authentic range tailored to people who love their ink as much as they love their skincare routine. We wanted to bring solution-driven products to the party that had a very clear point of difference.”
All of their products are both vegan and cruelty-free, and their formulas are centred around their star ingredient called liftonin-Xpert, developed to reduce redness and inflammation and support the maintenance and intensity of tattoo ink. The collection prides itself on being gender neutral too, a common thread that ties a lot of the products in the category together. The range includes: a colour-enhancing Vibrancy Serum , £12.95, an anti-fade Daily Moisturiser , £10.95, a dryness-sapping Defining Body Oil , £10.95, and Exfoliating Body Wash , £9.95.
The Body Shop also offers a tattoo-friendly 4-star rated oil-rich ‘Amazonian Saviour’ Multi-purpose Balm , £9, while David Beckham’s grooming brand, House 99, also offers a Bold Statement Tattoo Moisturiser , £22, for those, like him, concerned about keeping their bodies of work looking their best. Enriched with spirulina, quinoa, vitamin E and glycerin and in a handy spray-to-lotion format, it provides long-lasting fast-absorbing hydration.
It also carries an SPF of 30 too. Suncare is an essential part of your post-tattoo aftercare plan to prevent fading. “The sun is the biggest enemy of your tattoo,” says Lorena. “UVA, UVB and, as we now know, IR rays will damage your healthy skin, and wreak havoc on skin that has been tattooed. Ensure you use an excellent sun lotion that protects your skin from UVA and UVB rays.” In our experience, sunscreen should be a staple in everyone’s skincare regime - but especially so it seems, if you have a tattoo too.