So I’m at the tattoo expo and one of the main reasons I’m here is to get information on skin care–before, during and after the tat is done. I was trying to explain to my new friend Brian, a local tattoo artist, that it literally drives me insane that people don’t take care of their piece of art–a pictorial expression of a piece of their life–after it’s done. He agreed. “They get it done, and literally forget about it. Most of the time they don’t even use the post-tat cream I give them. Then they either come back [complaining] that I did something wrong or worse…. they take their mess to someone else and [complain] that I [messed] it up. That’s the worst.”
While at the expo, I had the privilege to be able to talk to Casey, an employee of one of the expo’s sponsors, Spaulding & Rogers. She was not just a doll but she was VERY informed about the tattooing process and the care involved with it. We talked about the skin on the area that you want tattooed. Her and I agreed it should be taken care of beforehand. Me, being in the industry for as long as I have, believes targeted skin care should begin at the age of 18–head to toe–but that’s me. It’s important that the skin you want to tattoo is not dry, not cracked, not scarred. Skin like that can easily split open under a tattoo needle. Not good. After your tattoo is done, the healing process is really important. How you take care of it will make or break the condition, the design or the color intensity of the art. It’s really important….let me say that again…..it is really important!…that you follow your artist’s post tattoo instructions to the letter. TO THE LETTER!! Plus, be aware of the sun. A lot of people don’t realize that the sun is a drastic evil to any tattoo, especially a fresh one. If possible, keep a new tattoo covered when out in the sun for at least four weekss afterwards. Then Casey explained it a bit better: “A tattoo is really just a burn on your skin. You will heal the same way as if were to burn your skin on a stove.” Certainly a different thought process than thinking it’s a scraping filled with colored ink, isn’t it? But it certainly made sense. If you had a sunburn, would you go back outside tomorrow to hang in the blaring sun? Yeah….ummmm…..NO!
Once you’ve healed, now comes the make-it-or-break-it time, believe it or not. Remember, what is on your body is a piece of art. If you inherited an Andy Warhol original, would you hang it in the basement next to the cat box and Christmas lights? Hell no! You’d have it front and center, protected from the elements. DO THE SAME WITH YOUR TATTOO. Keep it moisturized with a lotion that is dye-free and perfume-free. And nothing that contains alcohol. All of those are serious culprits for not just irritating a tattoo even after it’s healed, but can also cause fading of the ink with prolong use. Just because that skin has ink, doesn’t mean it’s “covered” from the sun either. In fact, just the opposite. It’s a burn, remember? Burned skin, no matter how old, has less pigment in it than it would naturally. Tattoo professionals recommend at least an SPF of 50 for smaller tats, a higher SPF for bigger pieces. This also has a lot to do where the tat is. Bony, drier areas like knees and elbows will take much longer to heal so it is important to watch these areas carefully and tend to them exactly how you are instructed.
Remember everyone…this isn’t the lucky tattoo prize that you got in your box of Cracker Jack. This is yours. You own it. And you will have it forever. Think about it: if someone said that you could have ONE car for the rest of your life, wouldn’t you be very selective in what you chose? Wouldn’t you want the person selling it to you to be reputable with satisfied clients and photos of other cars they sold? Wouldn’t you take care of it every day so it stayed in its best condition possible for as long as possible? Yeah….think about just that when you start thinking about a tattoo. Wear it well, wear it with pride, and keep it looking as fabulous as the day you got it!