After you get your tattoo
Keep your tattoo wrapped for at least two hours after your session is over. At that point, you will want to begin washing it.
Washing the Tattoo
Wash your tattoo four to five times each day, with warm water and unscented antibacterial soap, I recommend Dial gold or Dawn. With clean hands, use your fingertips to remove any excess plasma from the surface of your tattoo, using circular motions, until the tattoo is smooth, each and every time you wash it.
Once you have finished washing your tattoo, pat it dry with a clean towel. Let your tattoo air dry for twenty to thirty minutes after each wash.
After your tattoo has been completely dry for a week, and has begun to flake, apply a very small amount of lotion. I recommend unscented Lubriderm for lotion. If there is any redness or irritation in your tattoo, DO NOT apply lotion.
Pat dry post lotion.
Once you have put lotion on and rubbed it in all the way, you will need to pat your tattoo dry thoroughly and make sure all excess lotion is removed.
Most common problems.
Over moisturizing your tattoo is the most common problem people run into. Over moisturizing causes irritation and redness and swelling, when you put too much lotion or ointment on, you can completely clog your pores and make your skin reject the ink. If this does happen, simply let the tattoo dry out overnight and then reduce the amount of lotion used daily.
Another common problem, picking at your tattoo, can completely remove ink. If your tattoo itches while healing, it is better to lightly slap it, rather than scratch it. Wearing loose clothing can help prevent tattoo rubbing, which could also remove ink or make it itch.
The way we took care of our tattoos twenty years ago varies tremendously from the way we take care of our tattoos today. In the 80s and 90s people would use A+D ointment, which is still used and widely recommended. However, today many artists are switching to thinner products, such as Lubriderm's unscented lotion, to lower the likelihood of the customer clogging their pores and irritating their tattoo.
Tattoos on areas such as the hands, feet, or bends of the arms and legs will have a harder time healing, due to the amount of movement they experience on a daily basis. Keeping a hand or foot covered, in a shoe or glove, all day will be bad for the tattoo, as it prevents the tattoo from breathing, which promotes healing.
It is important NOT to soak your new tattoo in any body of water, from a bathtub to swimming pool, while healing. This can wash your tattoo out, and give it a extremely aged look.
Tanning while your tattoo is healing is not recommended, tanning beds and the sun alike can break down the ink in your tattoo, making it look washed out. It is important to take care of your tattoos even after they have healed. Use sunscreen on your tattoo when you will be exposed to extreme sunlight for an extended period of time, also, make sure your tattoo does not get burned or scratched, which could change the look.
If you do not take care of your tattoos, some ink can come out and you may need a touch up. Most artists will do small touch ups for free, provided the entire tattoo has not been completely compromised by the client.