I have always loved tattoos, and I love hearing the stories behind them.
I got my first tattoo 5 1/2 years ago, at the age of 17. My mom and I both got our black belts and we went in to get our first tattoos together that same day. I want every tattoo I get to mean that much. In the first 6 months of 2014 I have experienced 6 major life events so I figured it was about time to get my second tattoo.
Although tattooing is an ancient art, and getting a tattoo can be a beautiful, spiritual, and healing process, it’s not exactly natural. It is so important, therefore, that you help your new tattoo heal as naturally and completely as possible.
Set yourself up for healing
The best way to heal your tattoo is to minimize the damage it will have on your body. If your body is prepared to heal, it will.
- Find a tattoo artist you are comfortable with. First find an artist that is talented and certified. Your tattoo is permanent – you want it to be perfect. You want a tattoo artist who can look at your idea and tell you if it will look good 10 years from now. And making sure your artist uses sterile equipment is a must – don’t be afraid to ask them about it and watch them work. But you also want a tattoo artist that can put you at ease and minimize the emotional stress getting a tattoo puts on your body.
- Eat something light. Ideally with healthy fats and protein. Again, a tattoo is a traumatic event on your body, and can be emotionally draining. You want your blood sugars to be stable, without experiencing stomach discomfort before the butterflies start. You should also bring a light snack for after, in case you get really shaky afterwards like I do.
- Find the right mindset. My tattoo artist helped me emotionally as well as physically prepare for my tattoo. She told me a tattoo can be painful, or it can be healing. This is so true – a tattoo can be incredibly cathartic and help you find closure to the story it tells. Find this mindset, and channel the energy to heal your spirit, rather than this just being a pain you must get through. This will help your body be more prepared to heal the tattoo.
- Find your stress relief. Find something that allows you to relax and not focus on being in pain. Meditation and deep breathing can be very helpful. I like to hug a pillow and inhale lavender essential oil off my hands.
Natural Tattoo Care and Healing
If you google tattoo care, you will find many different answers. It is important that you do your own research and talk to your tattoo artist about what they recommend. However, the following are some general guidelines to help you heal your new tat naturally:
- If your tattoo was bandaged, leave it on overnight. This helps the tattoo start to heal and it is nice to not have it exposed when it is the most sensitive.
- Keep it clean. Wash your tattoo once or twice a day, especially before bed. Use a mild soap (or make your own), without added colors, scents, or chemicals. Apply it gently with your hand and pat dry when you are done – do not rub. Do not touch it except for when you are washing it.
- Expose it to air. If your tattoo was administered properly and you are keeping it clean, you should not have to worry about it getting infected. It will heal best exposed to the air. Initially, avoid applying thick creams and body butters and avoid having straps or tight clothes over the tattoo. If necessary, a light homemade lotion or diluted lavender essential oil can be used to soothe irritated skin. If you don’t feel like making your own lotion but want a product that is completely natural, try Scratch Mommy lavender lotion.
- Don’t scratch! Eventually the tattoo will start to peel and flake. Avoid picking at it or scratching. You can try using a stress ball to distract you from those times of serious itchiness. Not only does it delay healing, but it can also affect the hold of the ink. Plus it hurts!
- Protect it. Once the tattoo is healed (after about 2 weeks), protect it with skin nourishing lotions, balms, and sunscreen. Sun exposure can fade a tattoo, so make sure it is always protected by a natural, organic sunscreen, like Scratch Mommy’s! I also developed a recipe for a cream that helped heal *MY* own tattoo.
Most importantly, enjoy your new tattoo! The body is amazing in its capacity to heal, so as long as you’re taking care of yourself, you should have no problem keeping your tattoo healthy, too.