(the nitty gritty)
1) Leave your bandage on for an hour or two. Do not re-bandage.
2) Wash your tattoo with warm water and antibacterial soap, get all the blood and ointment off. PAT dry your tattoo, dont wipe it.
3) Let the tattoo air dry for 5-10 minutes. Then apply a small amount of your aftercare. Remember, not to put too much ointment on the tattoo. Your tattoo should be able to breathe through the ointment.
4) Repeat steps 1-3 twice a day. First thing in the morning when you wake up and right before bed at night.
5) Do NOT pick or scratch your new tattoo.
6) Do NOT soak your tattoo in water (pools, baths, hot tubs, oceans, etc). Showers are fine, just don't soak it.
7) Keep your tattoo out of the sun. After the tattoo is healed, use a high SPF sunscreen to maintain tattoo brightness for years to come.
8) Tattoos can take anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks to fully heal.
(the detailed instructions)
*Soap: Unscented Anti-bacterial Hand Soap. Both "Dial Gold" and "Clear Softsoap" are perfect. As long as the soap is anti-bacterial and fragrance free, you should be able to use it.
*Aftercare/ointment: There are tons of different things you can put on a healing tattoo. I recommend using "Aquaphor." It can be a little on the thick side, so be extra mindful about not putting too much on. Apply in thin layers. You want you tattoo to be able to breathe through the ointment. (warm up the tube by running it under hot water to make the Aquaphor easier to rub in)
For sanitary reasons, use Aquaphor out of a tube, not the tub that requires dipping a hand into.
Important: NEVER use Neosporin or any other triple anti-biotic ointment! This can ruin how the ink appears under the skin.
*When to wash and apply aftercare: After you remove the bandage, you will wash your tattoo with soap and warm water. Pat dry the tattoo then give it 5-10 minutes to air dry. Put a thin layer of your aftercare on the tattoo. If there is too much aftercare, dab off excess with a paper towel and re-rub in whatever is left on the skin. This is what you will do every time you clean your tattoo.
You will clean your tattoo a minimum of TWICE a day. First thing in the morning and before you go to bed. You will have to use your judgement in between morning and evening. If your tattoo is slimy, goopy and gross, you should wash it. If you're in a dirty environment or feel your tattoo got dirty or covered in germs, you should wash it. If your tattoo feels stiff and tight, you should reapply some aftercare. Your skin will let you know when it needs to be moisturized, just pay attention to how it feels. I usually dont wash my tattoos more than 2 or 3 times a day, but I will put ointment on throughout the day depending on how stiff and tight the skin feels.
*What to expect from your healing tattoo: For the first few days your tattoo will feel sore like a sunburn. After a few days have passed, your tattoo will start to peel and flake. You might also notice scabs form. Let all of that crap fall off as naturally as possible! When washing a peeling tattoo, try not to over wash or over-exfoliate the skin. If the flakes and scabs are pulled off prematurely they can take ink with them, leaving bald spots in your tattoo. Your tattoo will also be extra itchy in this stage. You can slap your tattoo if you need to but do NOT pick or scratch it!
After most of the flakes have fallen off naturally, you have about 1 more week of healing left. Your tattoo will look faded and muted during this time and some spots might look shiny. This is totally normal so dont freak out. Once you hit the 2-3 week mark, your tattoo should be totally healed.