Keep in mind that before your new tattoo begins peeling it is essentially an open wound and needs to be treated as such. Give your tattoo the time and attention it needs to heal properly. Engaging in actions such as swimming, tanning, and general disregard for your tattoo are done at your own peril.
Remove the bandage after 1-3 hours. Do not remove the bandage until you can properly cleanse the tattoo with mild soap and warm/hot water. Rinse it well with water, sloughing off as much of the slimy coating that may have formed underneath the bandage. Gently pat dry with a clean paper towel. The tattoo should not be re-bandaged unless you are instructed to do otherwise by your artist. Fragrance free liquid Dial Gold soap is recommended for cleansing the skin.
For the first day or two, your tattoo may require more cleaning or blotting as the traumatized skin will still be seeping a small amount of fluid. Apply the appropriate aftercare product (referred by your tattoo artist) to the tattoo as needed when the area feels tight or dry. Massage a very small amount of product into the skin to keep the tattoo slightly moist, but NOT smothered/overly saturated. Use just enough product to make the tattoo slightly shiny and blot off any excess. Your skin needs to breathe and preventing it from doing so can result in a longer healing period and/or excess scabbing. To ensure that excess moisture is not trapped under the surface, blot and air-dry after each washing.
During the first two nights it is best to keep the tattoo uncovered, not under any clothing or sheets. Pigment loss can happen if the tattooed skin becomes stuck to fabric in this early stage. If it does happen, pour warm water over the fabric and remove very gently.
During the healing period your new tattoo should never stay submerged in water. Limit yourself to taking short showers until the tattoo has finished peeling and do not take any baths. It is also important to keep your tattoo protected from the sun and dirty environments, as it is still an open wound at this time. All activities involving water submersion or sun exposure can usually be resumed in two weeks. The longer you protect the tattoo from sun exposure the better. If you must expose your tattoo to sunlight, be sure to use sun block of at least 30SPF.
Only apply ointment/product for as long as it takes for your tattoo to peel, which is usually 3-7 days. When the peeling begins, the tattooed skin will flake like a sunburn. When the tattoo has fully entered the heavy peeling phase the area will become dry and itchy, but it is very important NOT TO PICK OR SCRATCH AT YOUR TATTOO. A high quality, fragrance-free lotion can be used during this stage until the skin returns to its normal texture. Everyone's skin is different and heals at different rates. Proper nutrition (fresh fruits, vegetables, etc.) and plenty of sleep each night will aid in your bodys ability to heal itself. Staying hydrated during and after a tattoo session is also important. It is normal for the line work in your new tattoo to be raised for the first month following your tattoo session. In most cases the skin will go back down to its normal smoothness 1 or 2 months after the day of your tattoo.
If bubbles form on the surface of the fresh tattoo, stop applying ointment/product, and allow it to dry and peel by itself. This bubbling is caused by moisture trapped in your tattoo (usually caused by the application of too much ointment) and could lead to scabbing. If scabs develop, they can remove the color beneath them if prematurely removed. It is important that they are allowed to dry out completely without becoming waterlogged. The scab will eventually fall off and reveal your new tattoo.