There are many different methods to care for your new tattoo and depending on the tattoo artist, you could hear something very different from what you’ve heard before. That said, there are generally some commonalities to how to care for your beautiful new open wound, involving ointments, lotions, certain types of soaps, etc. You can even use baby wipes to ensure cleanliness and wipe away plasma and other excrement from your tattoo while it heals, but make sure that they are unscented and do not contain lotions or other additives.
Not all tattoo artists will suggest this as an option for tattoo aftercare, so if you’re hearing this for the first time there are a few things to know about the types of wipes to use and other things to keep in mind while your tattoo heals.
What kind of wipes are acceptable to use on a healing tattoo?
The main goal here is to ensure your tattoo is clean to reduce the chance for infection and to keep it moistened without over-saturating the skin. The baby wipes should be unscented and shouldn’t contain added chemicals, lotions, aloe, or other unnecessary ingredients. You can use this kind of pure baby wipes to initially clean your new tattoo immediately after you remove the bandage, or you can use warm water and unscented, antibacterial soap to gently clean off the blood, plasma, and other excessive moisture or ink.
As stated above, you want to keep your tattoo moist but not too moist. If the wipe you use is generously saturated and leaves your skin damp (or you go the soap and water route), gently pat the tattoo dry with a clean paper towel and apply a thin layer of moisturizing ointment (not lotion) such as Aquaphor.
Repeat the process of cleaning and moisturizing your tattoo 2-3 times throughout the day, ensuring that the tattoo is clean and moisturized without overdoing it!
Can You Use Antibacterial Wipes on a New Tattoo?
There is a bit of a gray area here – some tattoo artists recommend to keep it to pure baby wipes that don’t contain any soaps, lotions or other additives and then use antibacterial ointment when moisturizing your tattoo. Others simply say to keep it as simple as possible, just keep it clean with regular baby wipes and any unscented moisturizing ointment.
However, using an unscented, antibacterial liquid soap to keep your tattoo clean is also a good option. Just use your best judgement and follow the aftercare instructions given by your artist.
Can You Use Alcohol Wipes on a New Tattoo?
The short answer is NO. As stated above, the main goal in tattoo aftercare is to ensure the tattoo is clean and moisturized. A thin layer of moisture on your tattoo provides a layer of protection to the wound and also aids in the reproduction of new cells to help the healing process. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it removes water from the body – both when ingested and when applied to the skin. It actively sucks the moisture from the cells in the new tattoo which can make it wrinkly, cracked, and very painful while also warping the skin and could possibly result in a ruined design in the ink.
Aquaphor is great to use on a brand new tattoo for the first couple days before it begins to scab. Once it scabs over, it’ll be itchy but do not itch it. The best method of satisfying the itch is to gently slap the tattoo, but not too hard lest you cause it to swell and become inflamed. Continue to moisturize your tattoo after it starts to scab, but now you can switch to lotions, though continue to stick to unscented kinds.
What Do Tattoo Artists use to Wipe Off Excess Ink
Everyone who has gotten a professional tattoo before knows what I’m talking about – the solution used before, during, and after a tattoo that has a unique, sterile smell that is the telltale scent of a tattoo shop. Maybe you experience flashbacks to your first tattoo – sitting in the chair and praying for the next pause for the artist to wipe your skin with that lovely unknown solution.
The constant wiping at the new tattoo has several purposes. First, the artist needs to wipe off the excess ink in order to examine the line or shading s/he just made and to make modifications if necessary. Second, if there is any ink covering the stencil, the artist needs to wipe it away to ensure s/he is inking the right area.
And last, the needle puncturing the skin repeatedly will cause bleeding, and the trauma to the skin could also cause sweating and other natural responses in the body resulting in skin secretions. This sounds gross, but it’s completely natural and your artist is prepared to handle it with the help of the aforementioned unknown solution, which is actually called Tincture of Green Soap (dubbed just “Green Soap” by artists).
This soap is used to cleanse the skin prior to shaving the selected to-be-tattooed area as well as during and after the tattoo to wipe off blood, excess ink, and other secretions off the skin. It is also used in medical practices since it is ideal for cleansing dried blood off skin and for cleaning surgical/medical utensils before sterilization.
In the inking world, the soap is gentle enough not to cause irritation while the skin is actively incurring trauma from a tattoo needle. It is made from completely natural ingredients, has a low alcohol concentration, and does not have any fragrances or dyes, making it the ideal solution to constantly wipe over a fresh wound.
The internet is a bottomless pit of information on how you might clean and care for your new tattoo, but it is most important to listen to your artist. Most if not all tattoo artists will give you detailed instructions on how to care for your tattoo, and as professionals in their field they most definitely know what they are talking about. It is best to listen to him/her to the letter unless you have had previous tattoos and have a tried and true method of caring for them.
After your tattoo has completely healed, the work doesn’t come to a halt. In order to preserve the design and vibrance you will want to continue to moisturize the skin with any lotion that you wish – once it’s no longer an open wound, perfumed lotions should be fine to use. It’s also extremely important to use sunscreen when in direct sunlight to provide added protection and ensure your tattoo is beautiful for years to come.