Leave your bandage on until you get home, or up to 2-3 hours.
When you get home, remove your bandage and gently wash with mild soap and warm water. Avoid soaps with perfume and dye.
After your initial cleaning, apply a hot washcloth compress for a full 20-25 minutes. This can be done by standing under your shower head and running hot (as you can stand) water over a rag on your tattoo, or outside the shower as long as you are reheating the compress throughout the 20-25 minutes. Do this hot compress for the first night ONLY. -Soaking the tattoo after this initial hot compress is not recommended, and showers should be kept brief.
After you complete your hot compress, allow your tattoo to air dry or pat dry with a lint-free paper towel. You may notice some fluid on your tattoo after drying. This is to be expected in the beginning, but if you do see this fluid, blot it off before going on to step five.
Once dry, apply an extremely small amount of a healing ointment such as Aquaphor Healing Ointment which is available at just about any pharmacy or grocery store. If you can see a shiny layer on top of your tattoo, you’ve used too much. Thin the ointment out across your skin as much as possible. Again, the fresh tattoo might weep a bit of fluid in the first day or two, so feel free to blot off this fluid with a clean paper towel and use CLEAN hands to smooth your ointment back out across the tattoo. Leaving this fluid sitting on your skin will lead to scabbing and delayed healing.
2-3 times per day, gently wash your tattoo with the unscented mild soap such as Dial or Softsoap, let air dry, and reapply a small amount of your ointment. Again, blot if your tattoo looks shiny. You do not need to re-bandage your tattoo at any point unless recommended for special circumstances. If you must wear clothing over the tattoo, make sure it’s something that will not leave lint stuck to your tattoo. Sticking can happen, and if it does be sure to soak the fabric to loosen rather than tear off the fabric.
Around day four, after your tattoo has done it’s flaking, your tattoo is ready to switch to a unscented, hypoallergenic skin moisturizer. Curel, Aveeno, Eucerin, Lubriderm and Gold Bond all make lotions that meet these criteria. Again, it is very important to use as small of an amount as possible to prevent any clogging or suffocation.
Continue with the moisturizer as needed until your skin has returned to its normal state. This will take approximately 2-3 weeks from the day the tattoo was done.
Be aware your tattoo may look irritated for a few days. It will flake, peel, and possibly scab. DO NOT PICK ANYTHING. This is completely normal during healing. Let flakes fall off naturally to avoid scarring or loss of color.
Do NOT allow your tattoo to soak for 1-2 weeks: ex. Pool, ocean, hot tub, bath, etc.
Do NOT allow direct sunlight or a tanning bed for 1-2 weeks. After your tattoo is healed, sun block will keep your tattoos bright.
Do NOT, and I cannot stress this enough, pick or scratch at your tattoo. Touch-ups are not free-of-charge when I can tell you haven’t cared for your tattoo properly.
The internet is full of conflicting aftercare tips, and what works for your friends may not be what’s best for you, so best to come back to the source with any questions.