Though the tattooers at Crooked Tree Gallery are licensed and professionally trained, they are not medical professionals. These aftercare instructions are recommended based upon our personal and professional experience, industry research, and common sense.


    •    Right after your tattoo was finished, we wiped off any ink and blood and you left the shop with a thin layer of ointment on your tattoo. If your tattoo was bandaged be sure to remove your bandage as soon as possible, leaving it on no longer than one hour.
    •    Your tattoo will go through an ooze-y stage for the first hour or so. Mostly this 'ooze' will consist of clear plasma, but some ink and blood can be in there as well, which is normal. This 'ooze' will give your tattoo the appearance of 'sweating' (think, like a soda can on a hot day) and it will probably run- so we usually recommend dabbing it with a clean, disposable cloth, like a paper towel, but avoid washing it until it seems like most of that oozing has stopped.
    •    Once you're ready to wash your new tattoo, simply clean it with an unscented, antibacterial soap (like the regular orange dial), warm water, and your fingers (wash those hands first!) and wash your tattoo very gently- usually circular motions works best. Be sure to get all the blood and plasma off your tattoo. Then, pat it dry (gently!) with a clean and dry paper towel. You're going to want to avoid using regular towels and rags on your tattoo as it heals, because they tend to harbor bacteria- just clean hands and clean disposable paper towels only!
    •    After washing, cover your tattoo with only a thin (THIN! SUPER THIN! ALMOST-NOTHING-THERE THIN!) layer of ointment. We recommend (and personally use) Aquaphor ointment (or a tattoo-industry equivalent, like H2Ocean's Aquatat ointment). These are a little more forgiving and are much better for your skin than the traditional A&D ointment. The key is to just use a tiny amount of ointment- just barely enough to make your skin shiny. If you feel like you may have too much ointment on your tattoo, simply blot it with a fresh paper towel and that should remove any excess.
    •    After applying the ointment after the first hour, you're going to be good for the rest of the day. You will need to repeat the process of washing old ointment off of your tattoo and reapplying the ointment, very thinly, that first night before bed. If possible, be sure to have clean sheets, blankets and/or pillowcases on your bed.
    •    The next day, you're going to start to repeat the process of washing off of your tattoo and reapplying the ointment thinly 3x/day for the next 3 days (morning when you wake up, sometime in the afternoon, and then once more at night before bed). Use the ointment no more than 3x/day (it is perfectly fine for your tattoo to become dry between applications; that is much better than it being smothered in ointment!).
    •    On the 4th day, stop using the ointment, and switch to a fragrance-free, medication-free lotion. You can use just about any brand of lotion (though there are specific ones made just for healing up fresh tattoos), as long as it has no medicines or perfumes in it. We usually recommend putting lotion on your tattoo about 3-4x/day for the next 4 weeks, but feel free to use it more! Unlike with the ointment (where using barely any is key) you can feel free to lotion your tattoo as many times a day as you like. The healthier and more moisturized your skin is, the better your tattoo will be!
    •    During this lotion-ing phase, your tattoo will go through a flakey-peely stage- similar to how a sunburn peels. This may cause some itchiness and discomfort- however, don't pick at or scratch at your tattoo! Those flakes need to come off on their own; any that come off prematurely can cause some light spots and uneven healing. If it is uncomfortable, try applying more lotion to your tattoo- usually that itchiness is your skin signaling to you that it is dry, and needs some moisture.
    •    Once your tattoo is all done flaking and peeling, let us see it! You might notice some light spots- even if you followed these instructions to the letter, sometimes it just happens- for a variety of reasons (your skin, the size and location of the tattoo, etc). It's all however part of the healing process, which you are now almost all the way done with. When we look at your tattoo, we'll be able to tell you if you'll be needing a touch up. Get in contact with us, and we can tell you the best time to stop by. WE HAVE TO SEE YOUR TATTOO IN PERSON BEFORE WE CAN SCHEDULE YOU A TOUCH UP APPOINTMENT!
    •    DO NOT SUBMERGE YOUR TATTOO COMPLETELY UNDERWATER FOR THE FIRST 2 WEEKS. You can get your tattoo wet (like when you wash it off between each new layer of ointment, and in the shower) but don't soak it completely underwater for any extended amount of time. In the shower, do not scrub your tattoo. Try to avoid using scented soaps and abrasive sponges/loofahs on your tattoo.
    •    DO NOT TAN (AT ALL!!!! IN A BED OR IN THE NATURAL SUN!) FOR THE FIRST 3 WEEKS. Ideally, you should try not to tan at all, ever, once you get tattooed... tanning is major tattoo abuse. Each session can add years to the appearance of your tattoo, cause fading and blurring, and just all-around be not good. If you do choose to tan with a fully-healed tattoo, you should protect your tattoo by either covering it completely with clothing or by using at least 50SPF sunblock.