As soon as your tattoo is done, you’re plastic-wrapped and sent on your way with instructions on how to keep it clean and healthy. For the most part, aftercare is the same for each tattoo; but there can be slight variances when you get tattoos with special coloration. In the early stages while your tattoo is healing, it’s worth looking into whether or not your specific tattoo – and the colors it features – may require additional care.

All-Purpose Tattoo Tips

Be sure to clean your tattoo carefully and regularly, as instructed by your tattoo artist. Keeping the skin clean is essential to a successful healing process. Avoid getting your new tattoo wet, or allowing it to become too dry – either extreme can negatively affect your freshly inked skin.

As soon as your tattoo is healed, you’ll want to take your fresh and fantastic piece of art out to show off to the world. Be cautious about how much sun you expose your ink to, as the sun’s rays damage your skin and can create premature aging of your gorgeous design. Avoid tanning beds too – they can have a similar effect. If you can’t avoid being in the sun, wear something that’s over your tattoo, like socks or a cardigan, to limit its exposure to the harmful rays.

Color Tattoos

Color tattoos are different from black ink tattoos in a lot of ways. They take more time to complete, as the artist has to layer the color; and since those layers are added on top of each other, and on top of your fresh black outlines, they tend to hurt a lot more. Combine that with the increased cost – for the amount of time and work the artist puts into it – and it makes sense that someone with a color tattoo wants to make sure they’re going the extra mile to take care of it.

In addition to the all-purpose tips above, make sure to keep your ink well-moisturized. Cover it with lotions and ointments whenever possible – ask for product recommendations from your tattoo artist. Keeping your skin moist is one of the easiest ways to keep those colors sharp. Just be careful not to oversaturate the area; a light layer of ointment should be sufficient. If your tattoo has already begun to fade, you can pick up some exfoliating gel to wash off those layers of dead skin cells that are keeping your ink from being it’s best and brightest self. If all else fails, consider making an appointment to touch it up with a local tattoo artist.

Color tattoos can be more difficult to remove than tattoos with black ink, depending on the absorption spectra of each pigment – black and dark blue ink is easier to remove than, say, yellow or fluorescent ink. Tattoo removal is advanced enough today to be successful on all sorts of tattoo compositions, it just requires more treatments with more varied colors. Be mindful of the colors you choose when planning out your tattoo; and if you aren’t totally positive that you’ll want this tattoo forever, you may want to opt for darker pigment (black and blue), in case you choose to remove or change the tattoo later.

White Ink Tattoos

Many tattoo artists try to talk their clients out of white ink tattoos, and for a valid reason: they’re a lot harder to keep up with. As a newer tattoo method, we don’t have a lot of information yet on how well they age. Consider the placement you want and your skin tone – white ink tends to age more gracefully on darker skin because any discoloration of the ink will be less visible. Due to the nature of the white ink, it’s impossible to tell whether it comes out poorly until it’s too late to fix anything. One of the key things to consider before getting a white tattoo is the design. Since the design relies on the shadows cast by the raised portion of your skin, it’s easy to see how time and aging can warp the tattoo – until it looks more like a scar than the flower you picked out a decade ago. Know the advantages and drawbacks before deciding on white ink, and find a well-reviewed and highly experienced tattoo artist, who can work with this ink successfully.

While it’s important to take care of all your tattoos, white ink tattoos require special attention and caution. Be extra vigilant about keeping the area sterile, clean and healthy – otherwise, poor healing or infection can turn that white ink to grey (or even green), and cause it to heal unevenly. If contaminants enter your skin before the tattoo has fully healed, they will be much more visible, especially as the white ink fades. Unlike other tattoos, which can be touched up by your tattoo artist after they begin to fade, white ink is difficult to touch-up; in most cases, even the best tattoo artist won’t be able to make the ink look fresh and new again.

Whether you’ve opted for a white tattoo, a colorful design, or standard black ink, knowing the right way to care for your tattoo will keep it healthy, clean, and brighter longer. Carefully consider the pros and cons of different pigments, and the aftercare required for each one, before you sit down in the chair. You can always ask your tattoo artist for input, as it’s always beneficial to get a professional opinion. Follow these tips, as well as any specific instructions from your tattoo artist, and you’ll be on your way to having a tattoo with a much longer shelf life.

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