The second your tattoo is finished, you’ll be eager to show it to the world. However, you’ll need to keep in mind that it will take a little bit of time before your finished piece is fully healed and looking at its best.
Thankfully, the healing process doesn’t take too long, and your tattoo will look almost perfect within a week. However, that said, it will take a couple of weeks before all restrictions on your lifestyle end and your skin won’t be fully healed for a few months.
Although each tattoo heals slightly differently depending on the tattoo equipment used, the location of the tattoo and its size, most healing processes usually follow a similar timeline. With this in mind, let’s take a comprehensive look at the tattoo healing process and examine how the right aftercare can help you achieve the best possible results.
Immediately after tattooing
As soon as the professional tattoo equipment is removed from your skin for the final time, the healing process begins. Well, after you’ve managed to capture a few snaps for your Instagram, anyway.
When the tattooist has finished working, they will wrap your artwork. This is usually done with cling film, but some tattooists now use ‘second skin products’. At this point, you can expect your tattoo to look a little red and feel tender.
Once your tattoo has been wrapped, the artist will tell you how long the wrap needs to stay on for. If your tattoo is only small, this may only be a couple of hours. However, if it’s a large piece, it could be as long as a week.
It’s vitally important that you follow the advice of the tattooist and do not remove the wrap early. Remember, at this point, your tattoo is essentially an open wound. As a result, your body will make the area ooze in order to protect it with plasma.
During this stage, it’s also normal to see what looks like tattoo ink coming out of the tattoo. This is known as ‘weeping’. However, if the redness and oozing do not subside after a week, you should call your doctor.
The early days of the tattoo healing process
Once the tenderness has subsided (this shouldn’t last longer than a couple of days), you’ll notice that the tattoo will start to dry out and itch slightly. This is perfectly normal for the tattoo healing.
At this time, the tattoo is starting to scab and the top layers of your skin are starting to heal. You should never pick at the scabs and you should always allow them to come off naturally. If not, you may change the look of the tattoo or cause scarring.
At this point of the healing process, you should avoid exposing it to direct sunlight and you should keep it as clean and dry as possible. You should also stay away from sports and exercise as much as possible, because the risk of infection is very high until the skin has fully healed.
The next few weeks after getting a tattoo
As your tattoo heals over the next few weeks, it will itch. However, you should resist the urge to scratch it at all costs. Instead, apply a gentle lotion to the area, which should help soothe it. That said, you’ll need to make sure that you avoid any lotions or ointments that contain fragrances because these will irritate the skin. If in doubt, ask your tattooist about the best options available and what will work for your skin.
When the itching begins to subside (generally within 2-4 weeks), you’ll then notice that your tattoo has started to peel. Again, this is completely normal. At this point of the process, your body believes that it’s injured, and the peeling skin is your body’s natural response to this. As a result, there’s no need to worry that the tattoo will flake off.
During this phase, it’s common for your tattoo to appear a little dull. The phenomenon is called ‘silver skin’ and it happens because a new layer of skin has formed above the tattoo. The brightness will return when the tattoo is fully healed.
After the first month of getting a tattoo
After the first month or so, your tattoo should look vibrant and fully healed. However, the bottom layers of your skin are still healing. At this time, you can go swimming, take baths and exercise again.
But, at this point, some people tend to forget about aftercare. However, continuing the aftercare for the entirety of the first six months is vital if you want your tattoo to stay clean and look its best. As a result, you should continue to moisturise the tattoo regularly and ensure it stays clean and dry. You should also wear sunscreen to ensure that it doesn’t become damaged.
After six months of getting a tattoo
When six months have passed, your tattoo will be fully healed and the colours created by your artist’s tattoo ink sets will have been completely absorbed by the skin. As a result, your tattoo will now be looking at its best and you can start to care for your tattoo just like you would the rest of your skin.
However, keep in mind that your tattoo will still age like the rest of your skin. As a result, to keep the colours bright, you should still ensure that the area stays moisturised and you should continue to wear a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor.
Remember, how quickly your tattoo heals will depend on a variety of factors. For example, a small tattoo with black ink will heal much faster than a large tattoo that’s multi-coloured. In addition, the tattoo supplies used, your skin type, your lifestyle, the position of the tattoo and your physical condition will all play a role in determining the healing process.
However, if you follow the steps we’ve outlined above, your tattoo will heal quickly and you’ll achieve the best possible results. Just received your new tattoo and starting the healing process? Tag us on Instagram and show us the results.