I've been getting tattoos since I turned 18, and now at 34 I have somewhere around 14 or15 with no plans to stop anytime soon. Though the years I've been given different advice on how to handle the aftercare of my tattoos. I think with my first few I was told to clean it with liquid bacitracin a few times a day, the next few bacitracin ointment, and in more recent years I was told to use a quality lotion like Aveeno. I always went with what I was advised, or went with something similar and my heal process was always the same. Sore a few days until my tattoo would form a light dry sometimes scabby surface, then I'd wait for that scabby area to heal and peel doing my best not to pick at it so that color didn't bleed out making imperfect spots on my tattoo. After that phase was over and it stopped peeling, I'd finally have my healed tattoo that felt like natural soft skin. Until recently I just thought that was how it worked. That's how all tattoos healed. I was wrong.
My latest tattoo is necklace that circles my entire neck and has a large cameo on my chest. It was done by Larry Spano of Defiance Tattoos in Kent OH. The guy is amazing and I feel that he is the best in our area. This was my second by him. He did a squirrel that wraps around my arm last year that I absolutely love and he was the only tattoo artist I felt completely comfortable getting a necklace done by since it was one that will almost always be exposed and become a large part of my self image.
When it was over he asked how I took care of past tattoos as he was covering my new tatt with plastic wrap and tape and I told him lotion and he said he wanted me to try something different. His exact words were "I'm kind of going to force you to try this instead". My necklace was detailed and had a bit of white shading in it which he said liked to bleed out and disappear a little easier then darker shades.
He told me to get Eucerin Aquaphor healing ointment and each night I was to cover my new tattoo in a thin layer of it and then to cover that with plastic wrap and tape and sleep that way. When I woke up, gently wash away the goo that had built up overnight in a warm shower. After the shower put on a really light layer of more Aquaphor and that was it for the day. I was to do that for three nights. After those three night, just put a light layer of Aquaphor on it two times a day.
It feels a lot like Vaseline.
This is my tattoo right after it was done freshly wrapped up. I slept in this the first night. When I woke and removed the plastic I was covered in slimy gooey gunk that was the color of the inks used in my tattoo with a little blood. I wish I would of had the foresight to take pictures, but I didn't realize I'd be blogging it later. I half thought about not doing it the next night but my husband convinced me to just do what Larry had advised because the guy knows his tattoos. So for three nights I did.
By the forth day my tattoo felt almost completely healed. It was like natural skin again and I had only formed scabs in one or two very small spots on the side of my neck where I was probably stingy with the Aquaphor. It was the fastest heal time I had ever experienced with a tattoo and I didn't have a single spot that needed retouched. Unlike this star on my wrist from a few years back that has a big bare spot in the center where it had scabbed over the worst.
This method of tattoo aftercare worked better for me then anything I had tried in the past and I plan to use it from now on.