How to Care for a New Tattoo

For those of us that are tattooed, we have been given the list and lecture of how to care for new ink. But prior to making bath and body products, I only knew enough to avoid fragrances, colorants and petroleum.  So today’s post is dedicated to the younger, less informed me. 

Yes, this is going to be another one of those lectures filled with lists, but organized specifically around new tattoo skincare.  After all, caring for your skin IS caring for your new tattoo.

Things to Avoid
Sadly many of the brands recommended by tattoo artists often contain one or more of the ingredients to avoid.  Run away from soaps and moisturizers containing:

  • Alcohol – Drying to the skin
  • Aloe Vera – A natural bleaching agent (not ideal for new tattoos)
  • Colorants – Generally not natural
  • Fragrance – Not natural (may cause allergic reactions)
  • Parabens – Those preservatives that mimic estrogen in the body
  • Phthalates – Plasticizer
  • Petroleum – Crude oil (Petrolatum is a byproduct of petroleum)
  • Sulfates – Cleansing and foaming agents (can cause drying of the skin)
  • Bar soap - Potential to harbor bacteria on its surface

Things to Use
You’ll want to use liquid soap to cleanse your tattooed skin. You’ll also want to use moisturizers made with the following ingredients:

  • Botanicals – Liquids, powders, essential oils
  • Butters – i.e. avocado, mango, Shea
  • Emulsifiers – It creates the emulsification between oils/butters and liquids
  • Natural liquids – Water, hydrosols
  • Oils – i.e. argan, green tea seed, hemp seed, jojoba
  • Preservatives – Synthetic but absolutely necessary (the usage rate is as low as 0.5 – 1.5% of the total product weight)

Things to Buy – Liquid Soap
In an exhaustive search I found Dr. Bronner’s 18-In-1-Hemp Baby Unscented Pure-Castile Soap. < a bit of a mouthful.> Thankfully this liquid soap can be found in many retail locations as well as online. What’s good about this particular product is that the ingredients are recognizable and beneficial.

“Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Organic Palm Kernel Oil*, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid (often plant derived), Tocopherol (plant derived antioxidant). **None remains after saponifying oils into soap & glycerin.”

After scanning though the list and arriving at Potassium Hydroxide (KOH), one may start to worry. Yes it is an inorganic material, but without it you cannot have a true liquid soap. Just as without Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH / lye) we cannot have a true bar soap. Rest assured that none of the potassium hydroxide or lye remains after a process called saponification is completed (that is a future post topic all together).

In the end if all you do is purchase a liquid soap like Dr. Bronner’s, you’ve met half of the equation in maximizing the health of longevity of your new tattoo.

Things to Buy - Moisturizer
In addition to a liquid soap, you’ll also want to buy a moisturizer.  I don’t have one specific brand to recommend, but I do have a location.  I recommend looking for lotions, ointments or oils on Etsy. They offer a lot of options created by tattoo aficionados and small businesses, which is always great to support.

Keep in mind that the FDA has stringent labeling laws when it comes to listing ingredients. If a company does not list the ingredients or show them in a picture on the label, avoid it! There’s no telling what ingredients went in to that product. And if you don’t know what something is, look it up and find out.

Want to Make Your Own?
There is always the option to make your own aftercare product.  Here is a quick and easy recipe:

Until next time, discover the power of natural ingredients.

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