After months of arduous deliberation, he has decided to tattoo some detail on his wrist or some meaningful words on his ribs. Once it’s inked, your artist will likely tell you to clean it with a mild soap (like Dial) and keep it moist with something simple (like Aquaphor) for the first few weeks. And while these products get the job done, they aren’t as exciting or sophisticated in their formulations. Slowly but surely, tattoo aftercare is becoming its own skincare category, with brands like Mad Rabbit, Hustle Butter, and Billy Jealousy creating products designed to help those stars heal and keep them looking bright and fresh. as time goes by.
“If you’re a tattooed person, what you put on your skin every day is extremely important,” says Oliver Zak, co-founder of Mad Rabbit, a skincare line that specializes in tattoo care. “That starts with pre-tattoo care, so starting with healthy, moisturized skin, and post-tattoo care, which is essentially wound care for the first two weeks. Then there’s what I call ‘tattoo care’. tattoo skin’, which is those two weeks and beyond, we want to give you everything you need in your routine to make sure your tattoos are taken care of better.”
This is especially important as tattoos become more common. According to a report by data research firm Ipsos, 21% of Americans had tattoos in 2012. Now that number has risen to almost 35%, according to a Rasmussen survey from earlier this year, and the numbers are even higher among minors. 40 set, almost half of which have at least one tattoo. Tattoos have “gone from this kind of fringe dirty culture to being an accepted freedom of expression,” says Zak.
The basics of tattoo aftercare.
When a tattoo is fresh, it should be treated like a wound. If you don’t moisturize it enough, it can be dry, itchy and go away quickly; and if you on-moisten, it will not be able to heal properly and could leave scars.
“Tattooing is a traumatic process,” says Brennal Pierre, PhD, co-founder of Ephemeral Tattoo, a company that specializes in fade-in tattoos. “You’re using a needle. The needle is piercing your skin thousands of times. It’s breaking your skin and destroying it. And essentially you want your skin to go back to where it was. We all know you should have a wound. You don’t take care of that wound.” What happens? A lot of things can happen. You can get infected, you can end up with scarring. You can end up with hyperpigmentation, all these different kinds of things.”
The key is to achieve a delicate balance, something that traditional tattoo care products have not achieved. It’s easy to go overboard with Vaseline-based emollients like Vaseline or Aquaphor, as they thicken. Plus, “petroleum-based ointments can quickly scab over and mess with the design,” says Amy Gordinier, founder and CEO of skincare brand Skinfix. And panthenol, one of the seven ingredients in Aquaphor, has been linked to contact dermatitis in recent tattoos, a condition that can also be caused by the use of scented lotions.
Simply put, using new tattoo specific products makes aftercare much easier.
How to keep your tattoo fresh
Once you’re past the early stages of healing (which can take up to six months), it’s all about proper maintenance. The products you normally use for body care may not be the best for your new ink. You should avoid ingredients that will cause your tattoo to fade.
“An example I come back to again and again is vitamin E,” says Zak. “It’s amazing for people who don’t have tattoos because it’s a vitamin that targets impurities in the skin and washes them away. Unfortunately, if you’re a tattooed person, ink is technically a skin impurity. If you use it every day, over time, you’re actually working against the look of your tattoo. So that’s where intentional formulation throughout an entire skincare line and routine is extremely important.” He adds that body washes that strip the skin can also lead to premature discoloration. He’ll also want to avoid ingredients that increase cell turnover, like retinoids or exfoliants like alpha and beta-hydroxy acids.)
Keeping a tattoo hydrated also keeps the ink looking sharp in the long run. “There are some things that can ruin a tattoo over time,” says Zak. “One of them is time, which we can’t do much about, but the other two are sun exposure and lack of moisture,” Brenner says. Your ink should be protected with a minimum of SPF 50 and regularly nourished with water. tattoo free. moisturizers Shop everything you need, including healing balms, shower gels and SPFs, all made specifically for tattoo aftercare, below.
Mad Rabbit Enhance Tattoo Balm Stick — $12.00
This stick is a revamp of the tattoo balm that convinced Mark Cuban on Shark Tank in March 2021. “We saw a great opportunity to go back to our roots and really improve on the product that made us famous,” says Zak. Unlike the original, this balm is fragrance-free, so it can be used to help moisturize and heal fresh tattoos. It also comes in a biodegradable cardboard tube for easy application. It is made with a blend of moisturizing fatty acids; antioxidant-rich protective butters; and light oils to support the skin’s natural barrier.
Skinfix Inked+ Tattoo Aftercare Balm — $24.00
“We created Inked with a perfect balance of occlusives for protection, emollients to keep the wound soft and moist, and humectants to retain water in the skin and also promote gradual skin cell turnover,” says Gordinier. Use a vegetable-based occlusive and coconut oil to hydrate the skin, strengthen the moisture barrier, and minimize scabbing and discoloration. Also includes healing allantoin and antiseptic orange peel extract to help skin heal in a clean environment.
Billy Jealousy Marked IV Life Tattoo Care Kit — $30.00
This three-item pack helps you revive old tattoos. Includes a gentle antibacterial wash; a tattoo balm that can be used on new tattoos to help with healing or on existing tattoos to emphasize color and clarity; and a lotion to rejuvenate and protect tattoos from fading. These products deeply nourish the skin and moisturize it with ingredients like hydrolyzed oat protein, shea butter, and aloe. Keep in mind that some of these products include fragrance, so store them until your tattoo heals.
Ink-Eeze Tattoo Sunscreen SPF 50 — $25.00
Available in a spray and stick, this reef-safe sunscreen is perfect for protecting your tattoos from the sun. It was developed by a tattoo artist to help with long-term maintenance. It’s coconut scented, so don’t use it on a new tattoo; keep it in your stash for after you’re healed.
Hustle Butter Hustle Bubbles Deluxe — $20.00
Keep your tattoos clean with this rinse from Hustle Butter. It’s antimicrobial yet gentle and lathers effortlessly, so you don’t have to scrub hard to feel your tattoo clean. The first inactive ingredient is aloe vera, so you know it will soothe your skin as it cleanses.
BlackCatLabs Sekhmet – $25.00 to $40.00
For lighter skin hydration, try this hyaluronic acid tattoo serum. Use it as soon as your new tattoo breaks through to help it heal and keep it on your regular rotation to keep it looking good as time goes on. It also includes antioxidants to protect your ink from environmental stressors and goji berry extract to speed healing, while reducing the development of scar tissue.
See what it’s like to get a custom tattoo at Ephemeral:
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