How should I prepare for my tattoo appointment?
I recommend eating and sleeping well before getting tattooed, as well as removing any hair on the area to be tattooed, unless you are happy for me to shave it for you. If you plan to wax it's best to do that at least a few days prior. For long tattoo sessions you might want to bring bottled water, something sugary like lollies or a soft drink to keep your blood sugar up (I have some lollies on hand also) and perhaps something to eat. Make sure you're either wearing clothes that allow easy access to the area to be tattooed, or are happy to remove them. Sometimes a cheap garment can be cut up in a way that exposes the tattooed area without requiring you to be naked (like cutting the back out of a t-shirt for a backpiece, or the side out of a pair of leggings).
How do I look after my new tattoo?
The recommendations for tattoo aftercare differ from artist to artist, and from client to client. Personally I find the following to be the most successful, particularly as I do quite dense work that causes more damage to the skin than some other styles of tattooing. Do what you feel is best for your own body, but please take good care of the work I've done as it can't always be easily fixed if it doesn't heal well the first time.
Leave the initial cling-wrap dressing on for at least one hour, or up to four hours.
Carefully remove the cling-wrap and wash the tattoo with a mild soap and warm water. A hot shower may sting a little at first but is beneficial.
Pat dry with a clean towel and allow your skin to fully air-dry as much as possible, around 10 or 15 minutes. If it's too cold to do that a quick blast with a hairdryer on low will dry your tattoo quickly.
Apply a thin layer of your chosen tattoo aftercare cream with clean hands; I personally recommend a natural product like Inky. Bepanthen Antiseptic cream is also fine and can be purchased at a pharmacy or most supermarkets. Whichever cream you choose, only apply a small amount and if you are ordering off the net make sure it will arrive in time!
Re-wrap your tattoo in cling-wrap and continue to repeat this cleaning/wrapping procedure for several days. Air your tattoo out if you feel you need to between dressings, but be careful not to get it dirty. If your clothes rub against your tattoo and it isn't wrapped you will need to re-apply the cream more often.
Keep your new tattoo out of direct sunlight, saltwater and chlorinated water for at least 10 days. Showering as usual is fine but don't soak your new tattoo in the bath until it has healed.
Your tattoo will start to peel within a week or so - don't pick or scratch at it! Your skin will be more or less back to normal within two weeks. You may like to apply moisturiser for a few weeks if your skin is still a little dry and scaly afterwards.
Update: the above information still stands and works well, but there are now new adhesive tattoo dressings available that also yield excellent results. Some people like them and others not - I keep some at my studio and they can also be purchased from a chemist or online. I'll discuss whether these dressings are right for you on the day of your tattoo.
Fine art prints of my work and others:
AMY C. DUNCAN
ADELAIDE SOUTH AUSTRALIA
I make natural history themed tattoos at Artemisia Custom Tattooing, my private appointment-only studio in Adelaide SA. I also accept commissions for paintings and illustrations.