All artists have slightly different recommendations for aftercare. Generally speaking, you should do what works best for you if you’ve gotten a tattoo before - you know your body best! If you don’t know what works, or want to try something different, I would personally recommend the following.
Keep your new tattoo wrapped for a minimum of 2 hours and maximum or 8 hours.
Wash your hands with soap before cleaning or touching your tattoo.
After the clingfilm is removed, use lukewarm water and mild/sensitive, liquid antibacterial soap to gently wash off any ointment, blood and/or plasma with your fingertips. Excess plasma will cause scabbing, and you want to minimise this as much as possible. Do not use anything abrasive to clean your new tattoo.
Rinse and pat dry (don’t rub) with a clean towel or paper towel.
Rewrap your tattoo in fresh clingfilm before bed to avoid your new tattoo sticking to the sheets.
The following morning, repeat the washing steps above, but don’t wrap in clingfilm and leave to air.
For the first few days, wash your tattoo twice a day with antibacterial soap and then once a day until it’s completely healed. Do not over-wash (showering is fine).
Over the next few days a thin scab should form evenly over the tattoo and peel like a sunburn, and the skin will become flaky, dry, and tight.
Use a light, non-greasy moisturiser one-two times a day (or when your tattoo feels dry) sparingly (Palmer’s cocoa butter or Lush’s Dream Cream are ideal). Do not over moisturise.
Around this time, your tattoo will probably itch like hell. Don’t scratch it and don’t pick at it - this removes ink and can lead to infections. Leave the scabs and let them fall off naturally.
Linework heals very quickly and easily, but for the first week your tattoo may feel like sunburn, and may be slightly swollen, red and sore.
Your tattoo may appear dull until it has completely healed - this is completely normal as your tattoo changes from an open wound to a healing scar, and will go away after a few weeks.
If possible, use freshly washed bedsheets, clothes, and always use clean towels during the healing process.
Wear loose, clean clothing/shoes around your tattoo. Be aware of waistbands/ belts, jewellery/ watches, bras/binders and tight socks.
Depending on the size of your tattoo, take it easy for a few days and avoid hard workouts and excess sweating, if possible. If you are sweating a lot in the area of the tattoo, make sure to wash afterwards during the healing process.
Keep your tattoo out of direct sunlight for at least two weeks. If you know you'll be out in the sun for prolonged periods during the healing process, wear a thin layer of clothing over the tattoo. After it has healed and there are no visible scabs after 2-3 weeks, you can start using a high SPF sunscreen. Sunburning/tanning your tattoo will make it fade quicker.
Do not submerge your tattoo for an extended amount of time. This includes soaking in any water (bath, pool, lake, ocean) for the first month, and is especially critical during the first two weeks.
Do not let anyone touch your new tattoo. The includes pets.
Do not shave or use any other products or creams on top of your tattoo when it’s healing. This includes perfume and fake tan.