With more than 330 days of sunshine each year, and an average annual high of 85 degrees, Phoenix gives its residents plenty of opportunities to display tattoos and other body art. Unfortunately, that same sunshine can wreak havoc on brand-new art from a Phoenix tattoo studio. Proper aftercare means keeping fresh ink covered, protected, and clean. Though all tattoo artists in Phoenix will give you specific instructions for your aftercare, here is a rundown of what to expect:The First DayKeep the bandage on. Wearing the gauze or plastic-wrap layer over your tattoo isn’t just the first step to looking cool—it’s there to keep bacteria out. Keep it on for as long as your artist recommends—usually between two and six hours, and no more than eight with plastic wrap. Clean the area. Using only your clean hands, gently cleanse your tattoo and the surrounding skin with warm water and a mild liquid soap—it should be unscented and nonabrasive. Many of the best tattoo shops in Phoenix, including TCB Tattoo, acknowledge this part may be a bit uncomfortable. It’s not unusual to find some pigment and blood under your bandage, and you also want to remove the antibacterial ointment that your artist applied at this point. Don’t scrub or shower. Showering isn’t recommended for the first 48 hours—any direct stream of water can oversaturate the ink, and too much heat may open the pores, leaving the skin more susceptible to infection. If you need to shower, use lukewarm water, don’t let it directly touch the tattooed area, and finish with an indirect stream of cold water for 45 seconds or so to help close the pores. After each cleaning, pat the area dry gently instead of rubbing. Wear loose-fitting clothes. You don’t want to re-bandage your tattoo—the skin needs to breathe so the healing can begin—but you will want to avoid anything that will be too restrictive. Seams or straps rubbing against the tattoo area can impede healing, or worse, damage the delicate skin.Day Two and OnwardMoisturize. To heal properly and prevent scabbing, your tattoo has to stay moist. Using whatever moisturizer your artist recommends, reapply lotion every few hours for 7–14 days or as long as your tattoo needs it. Om Ink Gallery usually recommends Lubriderm or Curel, which can also help reduce itching that might make you want to scratch. (Don’t!) Avoid the sun. Do not let your tattoo catch rays while you heal. Besides drying out your skin, the sun can cause tattoo ink to fade. Keep it covered for three weeks to a month, and even after that, apply sunscreen of SPF 45 or higher when it’s going to be exposed. Don’t go swimming. Just like a shower, a pool can cause the ink to leach from the skin. The chlorine also reacts badly with tattoos, causing skin irritation. Non-chlorinated water like lakes and rivers is just as bad, with creepy crawlies and bacteria that increase the likelihood of infection.
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