Last August, I got my first tattoo. After about a year and a half of begging--and my parents threatening me with every excuse in the book--I got two small lines of script on my inner left ankle. The entire process took about twenty minutes total, but the aftercare and skincare routines that followed lasted much longer.
Before getting my ink, I knew that there was going to be some work involved if I wanted to keep my tattoo pristine, but there were some things that I never even thought to worry about.
If you're considering getting a tattoo, I obviously think you should go for it, but proceed with caution. Tattoos can hurt, but a damaged and infected tattoo due to a lack of skincare can be downright excruciating.
First of all, you have to keep in mind the different types of lotions that are necessary after getting a tattoo, and how often you have to lotion your new body art. The general rule of thumb, according to my tattoo artist, is that for the first week or two, you have to wash and lotion your tattoo around five times a day. When washing and applying lotion to your new tattoo, make sure to use gentle soaps and lotions that are free of scents and glitters.
Additives within certain soaps and lotions can aggravate the fresh ink and damaged skin; remember, a tattoo is pretty much an aesthetically-pleasing open wound.
When I first got my tattoo, I used a basic bargain brand handsoap and applied Aquaphor five times a day. After a week (to a week and a half) has gone by, you still have to wash your tattoo pretty frequently to keep the risk of bacteria and infection at bay, but you can switch to a scent-free hand lotion rather than the Aquaphor.
The important thing is that the tattoo is still getting moisture into the skin barrier while the new skin heals over top of it.
But this need for moisture definitely doesn't extend to hopping in the pool. Pools, especially public pools, are filled with chemicals and other people's germs--things you definitely don't want getting into your new tattoo. Because of this, most tattoo artists will recommend that you avoid fully submerging your new tattoo in water for at least two weeks, whether this be in a pool, the ocean, or a bath tub.
Obviously, still shower (don't be nasty, ya feel?), but be careful with how much water you're running over the fresh ink.
To keep in line with this rule, I got my tattoo in late summer, that way I was more focused on moving into school and fall-ish activities, rather than hitting the beach. And, speaking of the beach, the last big tip that tattoo artists recommend is to be extremely cautious of how much sunlight your tattoo gets.
If your tattoo is on a pretty visible part of your body, make sure you slather it with a ton of sunscreen. The more direct sunlight your tattoo gets, the faster it will fade. This is especially true of color tattoos!
Tattoos are a great way to express yourself in an incredibly public fashion. That said, if you're planning on getting some body art during the summer, you're going to have to take extra steps to make sure it looks just as fresh as the day you got it. And, it'll definitely be easier to maintain if you fellow these summer skincare tips!