The importance of aftercare for tattoos
A client last week said something I've heard a lot: " all my tattoo artist tell me different things about how to take care of my tattoos". Yeah... About that:
Regardless of artist, style of tattoo or studio: Caring for a tattoo is, at its core, about two things:
1. Good hygiene and preventing infections. A tattoo is an open wound and needs to be treated as such. Small or big: good hygiene is key. Cut your nails, wash your hands thoroughly and care for your tattoo right. Use your head and be sensible. (Lacking hand hygiene is the biggest cause of infections in clients. Cleaning under your nails and cutting them prevents a LOT of trouble when caring for your tattoo).
2. Preventing scabbing, scaring and loss of pigment by using an appropriate, perfume free ointment or lotion produced especially to be safe for use on damaged skin. Vaseline, coconut oil and such remedies are not even close to good enough. Invest in proper aftercare always.
Sounds simple right? The problem is that clients get told so many different things: each artist has their own take on it.
But lets take a walk down to common sense corner people: this is damaged skin. Pure and simple. You will not get away with anything less that proper hygiene and decent care.
Google makes it even worse and clients stress themselves out reading all kinds of advice and horror stories that all seem to go off in very different directions.
Think for yourself and consult your artist.
Google is not helpful when it comes to aftercare.
My pet peeve:
Many artist do not really put a great emphasis on aftercare. They have a bit of a " wash-it-and-slap-some-ointment-on-there-if-you-feel-like-it" type of attitude about it.
I will not go into detail on how I feel about that type of attitude here... but needless to say; I belive its an artist job to give a shit about what happens to their clients when they leave the shop and how the tattoos they do on their clients end up healing.
Many other artist have very clear diretions or their clients and thats amazing.
But its important that the client has access to this information in writing even after they leave the shop on the day of their tattoo session.
Verbal information is not enough:
And actually: in Norway where I work, artists are bound by law to give their clients aftercare instructions in writing when ever they get tattooed. Why?
Because the details matter and a client cant be expected to remember our aftercare rants verbatim when they leave their session.
Personally I have a brochure I give to clients with contact information, basic aftercare information and address to my website where I really go into depth on aftercare topics and questions.
The brochure is for the basics; what to do to stay safe and care for your tattoo. People can keep it in their pocket and feel safe they know what to do on the go.
The website information I provide is there to cover all bases: how to act while your tattoo is healing in regards to exercise, travel, how to use plastic and cream and so on. Its a place where people can go to get more detailed questions answered.
As an artist its my responsibility to provide this information.
What clients choose to actually DO with it is outside of my control.
But that does NOT excuse me from providing it!
A lot of artist i have met through the years have become completely demoralised by clients ignoring all advice and ruining their work with lacking aftercare so they have sort of given up: because as they have told me: " noone listens anyway ".
This is a defeatist attitude that does not belong in the professional world of tattooing.
It is our responsibility to inform our clients. 1 time, 1000 times.
We do not get to feel sorry for ourselves and become "sick and tired" of it.
Provide the information and encourage the clients to do the work. End of story.
What they choose to do with this information is on them!
But we do not get to give up just because its "annoying" or "hard" when the clients sometimes do not listen to us.
I hope this was somehow informative or interesting to you and that maybe it can help you as a client understand a bit better all the confusion and different information you have received from different artist.
I hope you do well!
Your body WANTS to heal the tattoo. Aftercare is there to support that process. Relax, do the work and heal well!
If you have any issues contact your artist immediately.
Thanks so much for your time!
I hope to have been helpful.