Everyone has different opinions and ideas of what works best to heal a brand new tattoo, so I thought I would share what has worked for me and was also recommend by my amazing and reputable tattoo artist, Shannon aka Mo'Better owner of Inkestry in Livermore, Ca.
1. Give your tattoo some air, your artist may or may not bandage your tattoo upon completion but ultimately bandaging isn't totally necessary unless you are bleeding or oozing a lot in which case a gauze bandage will help soak it up on your way home. Once you get home remove your bandage and following the next steps...
2. Clean your tattoo with anti-bacterial soap once you get home and 3 to 4 times daily for the first few days. Dial Anti-Bacterial foaming cleanser works great as the foam is gentle and easy to spread around without much rubbing and easy to wash off without much rubbing. Once clean pat your tattoo dry, DO NOT rub with a towel or paper towel, very gently pat it dry.
3. Once your tattoo is clean apply a thin layer of Aquaphor healing ointment. This ointment works great for healing tattoos and is what I have used with much success. Make sure you do not cake the ointment on, you want your tattoo to still be able to breath, remember it is an open wound and you don't want to further irritate it or cause infection. When your tattoo begins to feel dry or tight re-apply a thin layer of aquaphor again, but make sure to wash your hands first.
4. DO NOT submerge/soak your tattoo in water, this will not only open it up to infection but could cause our colors to bleed and fade. Showering is ok. It will be safe to take baths or swim again after at least a month.
Additional tip... if you have any spot that looks a little red/infected/irritated be sure to clean your tattoo more frequently and after applying your thin layer of aquaphor apply a very very very small dab of an antibiotic ointment to only the area that is irritated. You do not want to use antibiotic ointment all over your tattoo or in a large amount as it could case your tattoo color to bleed and fade, but a small dab over the aquaphor is safe for irritated areas.
Lastly, your tattoo will shed the first layer of skin, this is completely normal during the healing process and will look like pieces of color. Also be sure to not scratch or pick at your tattoo as this can also cause infection and cause fading of the color.
I hope this helps everyone out there!