How to care for your new tattoo

First and foremost, getting tattooed is draining on your body so make sure you eat something soon after your appointment. It is best to have a quiet afternoon/night of rest. To alleviate swelling, elevate the area and take ibruprofen. Additionally you may apply a cold pack to the wrapped tattoo for 20 minutes per hour.

There are three main methods to healing a tattoo that I recommend: The Ointment Method, Transparent Film Method and the Wet Heal.



  1.  Leave wrap on for approximately 1 – 2 hours.

  2. Wash hands, remove wrap & gently wash tattoo with soap + warm water. Pat dry with a clean towel.

  3. Apply a thin, shiny, “barely there” layer of Bepanthen Antiseptic Cream over the tattoo.

  4. Rewrap the tattoo before you go to sleep on the first night.

  5. Continue washing the tattoo & applying a thin layer of bepanthen cream twice daily (morning & night).
  6. After a few days the tattoo will begin to itch and flake/peel like a sunburn. DO NOT pick or scratch.
  7. Once the shedding process completes, revealing shiny smooth new skin, your tattoo is healed.
  8. Apply moisturiser for the next two weeks to assist the deeper layers of skin that are still repairing.


  • Your Tattoo can take anywhere between 7 – 21 days to heal.
  • Do not soak tattoo. Avoid sun/ surf/ chlorinated water/ baths / saunas until tattoo is healed.
  • Do not let tight clothing sit or rub on your tattoo as it heals (bra straps, waistbands, shoes etc).
  • Sleep on freshly washed sheets, but not your best linen as it may get stained.
  • No pets in the bed until the tattoo heals, otherwise your tattoo is at risk for infection.
  • Absence of itching, flaking, peeling is of no concern – that’s an exceptionally good heal!
  • Pimples appearing on or around your fresh tattoo are generally caused by too much ointment blocking the pores. Adjust your usage or try swapping to different aftercare ointment.
  • Always apply 30+ sunscreen to protect your healed tattoos when going into the sun. Sun exposure damages the skin and will accelerate the fading and ageing of your tattoo.



The film is applied in the studio at the completion of the tattoo and can be left on for 2 – 3 days. In the first 12 – 24 hours, the tattoo may accumulate a copious build up of fluid (serosanguinous or serous exudate) under the film requiring the tattoo to be redressed. The film may be removed and reapplied as per below. As exudation diminishes, the new bandage may be worn for another 2 or 3 days. Once you remove the dressing, follow the standard ointment healing method until fully healed.


  1. Wash and dry your hands & thoroughly. Clean & dry the surfaces & scissors you are using.
  2. Clean the tattoo with soap + warm water and dry thoroughly with paper towel or clean towel.
  3. Cut the film to the desired length and shape, using multiple pieces overlapped at least 2.5cms if needed. You should account for an extra 3 – 5 centimetres around the tattoo to cover un-tattooed, dry skin.
  4. Expose the sticky side by peeling off the backing and place over the tattoo. It may be easier to peel off the narrow strip first to place the film with the exposed adhesive before removing the rest of the backing.
  5. Smooth the dressing over the tattoo using gentle pressure and a piece of paper towel to push out any air bubbles. Do not stretch the dressing during application as tension can cause skin trauma.
  6. Remove the supportive top layer.

The film is waterproof so you will be able to shower as normal. Avoid excessive exposure to water. Submersion should be avoided.


  1. Peel up an edge or corner of the dressing. If this proves difficult, you can attach medical tape to the corner of the film to help lift it or have a warm shower to weaken the adhesive.
  2. Gently stretch the dressing straight out and parallel to skin while supporting the dressing with your other hand. This will release the adhesion of the dressing to the skin. See a video example here
  3. Alternately, you can slowly pull the film off back and across parallel to you skin like a zipper while supporting the newly exposed skin with other hand.
  4. Wash & dry the tattoo & either redress or switch to standard healing method.

  • Ink will shed underneath the dressing obscuring the tattoo. This is completely normal.
  • Be sure to pat the dressing dry after bathing/exposure to water.
  • Change the dressing if you have an excess amount of exudate fluid building up.
  • If you do develop an adverse reaction to the adhesive, discontinue use immediately & switch to the standard healing method.
  • If you experience any unusual heat, pain or redness or milky discharge from your tattoo, please remove the dressing and check in with your tattoo artist or doctor.
  • If you need to redress your tattoo, transparent film can be purchased at a chemist or online. Film dressing brands include Opsite Flexigrid, Tegaderm, Second Skin and Saniderm etc. The most affordable film dressing I have found is Fixomull at Chemist Warehouse.


Wet healing is an alternative to the film healing method, that may be more cost effective, can be used on areas where the film won’t stick, for people that have adhesive allergies and is better in summer/hot weather as the tattoo is still regularly cleaned so there is less risk of sweat build up in the dressing. Wet healing is generally used in areas where you have lots of motion, larger tattoos and areas that will be covered with clothing as the material can irritate & dehydrate the tattooed skin.

  1.  Leave wrap on for approximately 1 – 2 hours.

  2. Wash hands, remove wrap & gently wash tattoo with soap + warm water. Pat dry with a clean towel.

  3. Apply a thin, shiny, “barely there” layer of Bepanthen Antiseptic Cream over the tattoo.

  4. Cut a square of cling wrap just larger than the tattoo, carefully place over and use medical tape or coflex bandage to secure. You can also use a non stick absorbent wound dressing instead of cling wrap.

  5. Every morning & night remove the wrap or dressing, wash tattoo, reapply Bepanthen & rewrap tattoo
  6. Continue to do this for 4 – 5 days
  7. Once you stop wrapping the tattoo, continue with bepanthen cream as per the ointment method until flaking and peeling ceases.
  • Do not wrap cling wrap completely around a limb onto untattooed skin as this may cause heat/sweat rash
  • If you get very sweaty you may need to change your bandage during the middle of the day as well
  • Non stick absorbent wound dressings are great for extra protection and absorbing excess fluid.


* You may have heard somewhere that letting your tattoo heal in dry air is the best way. However, medical research has shown that the opposite is true, and that creating slightly moist wound conditions will not only accelerate the healing process, but decrease pain and also help to reduce the risk of scarring and scabs. Be aware that this is a balance as excess fluid in contact with the skin for a prolonged amount of time can lead to skin maceration.

* Remember that your tattoo is an open wound. Infections can and do happen, so it is very important not to get complacent with hygiene and aftercare practice. Please get in touch if you have any concerns.

* Bepanthen antiseptic cream is the recommended aftercare as it both an emollient with occlusive properties, a humectant, is antiseptic and contains pro-vitamin b5 for faster healing. Please note Bepanthen is not vegan as it contains lanolin.

* Vegan alternatives to Bepanthen are organic raw shea butter, Hustle Butter Deluxe,  Inky Tattoo Salve, Dr Pickles, Tattoo Goo and Protat Natural Aftercare Cream. Check the ingredients for these products to ensure you do not have allergies to any of the essential oils etc. Please note that unlike Bepanthen, Vegan tattoo products are not antiseptic.

* Bepanthen is available at all chemists and supermarkets. Dr pickles can be purchased from Woolworths. Raw Shea butter can be found in health food stores. Other tattoo ointments may be stocked in tattoo studios or purchased directly from their respective website.