You’ve just had a tattoo done, it’ll be a part of you for the rest of your life yet the way in which the tattoo is preserved over time depends on you and you alone.
The tattoo artist will apply a bandage and a transparent film over the fresh tattoo. Once the film is removed your tattoo will need to be protected by way of specific post-tattooing care and treatment, such as creams or ointments.
Such treatment is a must if sharpness and colour are to remain vivid and well-defined over time. The tattoo artist will advise you what to do: doing it, however, depends on you.
TATTOOS AND SKIN
First of all, you need to think about how a tattoo is actually made: the skin is perforated by a small electric machine bristling with needles; these pierce the epidermis and inject special tattooing inks into the dermis, the innermost layer of skin.
Tattoos are, then, subcutaneous ink implants introduced via a seemingly endless series of ‘stings’ that cause actual wounds- artistic wounds, but still wounds – which irritate the skin. In some cases there may be an allergic reaction but in recent times this has become rarer and rarer; this is because a multiplicity of checks are run on the colours used for the tattoos and there are fixed standards with which these products must comply in order to obtain European certification and, ultimately, be used in tattoo workshops.
ASK THE TATTOO ARTIST
The tattoo artist’s professionalism goes beyond attentiveness to design and execution; he’ll also make it his job to take care of his customers afterwards and advise them on how to look after their new tattoos and stop the area from becoming sore.
To this end it’s wise to apply products that sooth and nourish the skin so as to aid recovery and regeneration of the cells that were damaged by perforation. The faster and more comprehensive the cellular regeneration process, the sharper and more vivid the tattoo will be.
HOW DO YOU LOOK AFTER A TATTOO?
The correct way to take care of a tattoo involves a few very simple tasks: wash it 2 or 3 hours after it has been done using neutral-pH soap and lukewarm water, then dry by patting gently; afterwards apply the selected product and let your tattoo breath, keeping it exposed to the air as much as possible or wearing suitable clothing (cotton, no synthetics).
When your tattoo looks dry, moisturise it again with a soothing emollient and repeat the process for at least 7/10 days.
Before going to bed apply more product than usual: this will prevent the skin from drying out too much during the night.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT CREAM
There are two product types on the market: water-based ones – which are totally inadvisable in that water does not penetrate the dermis and the action remain entirely on the surface and is ineffective – and oil-based ones. The latter can be divided into chemical/industrial oils and hand-made natural oils.
We all know that oil, dating back to the time of the Ancient Egyptians and the oldest Mediterranean cultures, has always been the best medication for irritation, burns and grazes, aiding the formation of scar tissue and natural regeneration.
Always remember that an oil containing a cream of natural origin is definitely to be preferred as it acts by penetrating the skin in depth. Industrial chemical oils, such as petrolatum or paraffin oil, because they are oil derivatives, tend to dull the redness of the irritation and so simulate a fast recovery. Natural oils, instead, when first applied, initially tend to emphasise the redness; what is actually happening though is that the irritation is pushing from the inner to the outer dermis: it will heal permanently shortly afterwards.
It should also be pointed out that chemical oils have none of the active ingredients, such as mineral salts, proteins and vitamins, found in natural oils.
WHICH PRODUCT TO PROTECT YOUR TATTOO?
The international market offers plenty of products. To keep your tattoo in tip-top shape you’ll want to choose one without any harmful components like irritating perfumes and alcohol, products containing genuine, natural top-quality raw materials.
Even better are those cosmetic products that have not been experimented on animals (labelled “cruelty free” or “not tested on animals”).
Everyone’s skin is different.
So before applying a layer of protective cream on a fresh tattoo carry out a simple test: spread a small amount on a small burn or graze and see if it ‘feels’ right for you. Because your tattoo needs to heal, your creams will come in handy on numerous occasions; use them to hydrate dry skin, cure irritations or burns and stop scratches or minor wounds leaving scars.
by Sara Mairo
English translation by Stephen Michael Davis