William Doolittle » Tattooist - Artist - Traveler


The following aftercare instructions are what I have found to be the most effective for myself, and the majority of my clientele.  Having said that, everyone’s body is different and you may develop your own specific routine that works better for you.  If you want your new tattoo to heal it’s very best, I recommend the following:  

After having the tattoo bandaged for 1 – 2 hours, remove the wrapping and wash thoroughly with unscented soap and warm water.  Leaving it wrapped for a longer period can cultivate bacteria, rob the tattoo of necessary oxygen, and irritate the skin.  It is completely fine to take a shower at this time, and can be an easier option if your tattoo is in a difficult to wash area.  Once you wash the tattoo, pat the area dry with clean paper towels.  Do not use normal bath towels because they can leave fabric particles behind on your tattoo and cause further irritation.  If you see a bit of residual ink coming off on the paper towel used for drying do not worry.  This is completely normal and can happen for the next day or two.  After your first wash it is very important to let your new tattoo breathe.  Wearing clothing over the area is not an issue but you never want to re-bandage the tattoo.  Leave the tattoo alone for the rest of this first day and do your best not to sleep directly on it.  I also recommend either changing your sheets or wearing something you don’t really care about to sleep for the first few nights.  The new tattoo is an open wound and will most likely stain fabric during this time.

Typically, it takes about 10 – 14 days for your tattoo to completely heal.  During this healing time you will need to get in the routine of washing twice a day, and applying a very small amount of unscented lotion after each wash.  The most common mistake that people make is going overboard with the lotion application.  Essentially you should be treating the tattoo as if it were just normal dry skin, and applying only the necessary amount of lotion to completely absorb.  Unscented lotion and soap is key, as fragrance can irritate the area. I personally use foam soap since it is much easier to apply and more gentle to the skin.  While the tattoo heals, it will more than likely peel or scab and go through a rather ugly stage.  It is very important not to pick at these areas!  These scabs and flakes will eventually fall off when they are ready.  If you do pick at your tattoo, you can lift ink out of the skin and cause imperfections.  Let your body heal the area at it’s own pace while continuing your wash and moisturize routine.  Within the two weeks of healing it is crucial to avoid any sun exposure and water submersion.  The only water that should ever touch a fresh tattoo would either be washing by hand, or in the shower.  Lastly, I highly recommend staying out of the gym during this time as it is an extremely contaminated environment.

Once the tattoo is completely healed, always keep it moisturized and apply sunscreen when spending time outdoors!