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When it comes to the world of skincare, following a strict routine is key for keeping your complexion in order. If you’re new to the tattoo world, you’ll find that the same rules apply. Whether you fancy small art work or prefer to go big with a full-sleeve, tattoo aftercare is a top priority — especially if you want to keep your body art in mint condition.

Skipping out on the appropriate tattoo aftercare methods can compromise your new ink. It can also compromise the look and health of your skin, which Connecticut-based dermatologist Dr.Mona Gohara explains can get a bit messy. The tell-tale signs of an infected tattoo is “redness, crusting, oozing or yellow discharge from the skin,” she explains. Experiencing a fever can also be a sign that something is wrong. 

Since aftercare starts as soon as your tattoo artist puts down the needle, it’s essential to make sure you have all the information you need. This is where Dr. Gohara comes in handy. The dermatologist is giving us a breakdown on how to properly care for your fresh ink along with a few products to make the process a breeze. Grab a pen and notepad or simply bookmark this article to keep this info handy!

1. Allow your tattoo to breathe.

The first thing you probably want to do is show off your new ink, but allowing your tattoo to dry out can get in the way of the healing process and damage your skin. “Keep your tattoo uncovered but always moisturized,” Dr.Gohara shares. “Scabbing can delay wound healing so make sure ambient air doesn’t dry it out.”

2. Use a gentle, hydrating cream to keep your new ink moisturized.

The overall goal is for your new tattoo to heal seamlessly. Failing to provide your skin with moisture will not only delay the healing process, but it can ruin the quality of your ink and make infections a reality. “A gentle, hydrating product always speeds up healing,” she notes. “Dove Cream Oil Intensive Body Lotion ($5.99, Target.com) delivers 24 hours of moisture and skin nourishing oils that can aid with healing.”

3. Always protect your tattoo (and the rest of your body) with sunscreen.

Failing to use sunscreen can lead to sun damage on both your skin and tattoos. “A broad-spectrum SPF thirty or higher can help protect your arm art from the sun,” Dr. Gohara explains. “UV rays make the color less vibrant and of course are the number one cause of skin cancer. SPF daily is key.”

4. Washing your tattoo at least once a day is ideal to keep bacteria away and keep your ink intact.

Contrary to popular belief, excess washing can take a toll on your new artwork. That’s why it’s essential to wash your tattoo at least once a day to remain in the clear. “Washing with a gentle soap and moisturizing cleanser daily is essential,” she shares. “Harsh soaps can not only irritate but fade your tattoo. The Dove Beauty Bar ($3.29, Target.com) is a perfect choice because it deposits moisture into the skin as it cleans protecting the barrier.” 

5. New tattoos can itch, but following a simple wash routine can help keep the itch at bay.

You may be tempted to scratch your skin, but you should avoid it at all costs. Not only can this disrupt the healing process and damage your tattoo, but it can harm the surrounding skin. You’ll need to stay the course and follow your wash routine. “Keeping it simple goes a long way,” Dr.Gohara says. “Use a barrier repair cream and a gentle cleanser.” 

6. Keeping your tattoo clean and moist is the only way to help speed up the healing process.

Tattoo healing times vary from person to person. While we understand that you want to get into the safe zone quickly, it’s important to follow your aftercare routine to a tee. “Keep the area clean and moisturized to speed up healing,” she shares.

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