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Taking great care of your tattoo will be easy as long as you remember two things:

1. no touching unless you JUST washed your hands

2. the first three days are the most crucial, but are easy  if you follow the following instructions.

Every tattoo should heal great.  Nickhole makes it easy by including an aftercare kit and instructions.  These instructions are clear, effective,  and based on 17+ years of experience as tattooer and collector.  Check out the video and feel free to message me at [email protected] if you have any questions, concerns, or comments. Thank You!

complete instructions

these same written instructions are available by request. please ask for a paper copy if you would like one


"Taking care of your tattoo starts before you even get the darn thing."

Some things to consider when preparing to be tattooed:

With a little preparation, you can give your tattoo's healing a head start by clearing the way of any personal filth. This means clean your room, do your laundry, and clean your bathroom. Dirty laundry, messy bathroom countertops, dirty couches and other such conditions will prolong healing time. The body's natural reaction to an open wound in a dirty environment will be to send more fluid to the irritated area, resulting in thicker, nastier scabs.

Some things to consider when healing a tattoo:

A tattoo is an open wound.

Healing your tattoo properly is your responsibility.

Everyone heals differently, and each artist has their individual ways of explaining aftercare.

Please ask your artist if you have any questions to make sure you understand how they want you to take care of your new tattoo before you leave the studio.

Once you're back out into the dirty world, it is your job to make sure your tattoo stays clean, so it can heal quickly.

If you have any concerns or questions, come into the tattoo shop so we can see you.

The most important thing to remember above anything else:


We touch a lot of gross things with our hands and fingertips. Irritation, infection, and the spread of germs can be almost completely prevented by committing to proper hand washing. Not just when you use the bathroom, or are about to prepare some food. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm to hot water, and Dr. Bronner's soap before and after you touch your tattoo.

What is the expected healing timeline?

Before we talk about specific aftercare instructions, let's talk about the healing timeline. It takes about two weeks to one month to completely heal a fresh tattoo. There are 4 overlapping phases during healing. The First two happen very quickly; both first steps happen in the same day as being tattooed. For this illustration, and to keep things simple, we will condense the first two phases into one phase:

Phase 1: Hemostasis/ Inflammation

(Days 1 through 3)

This is when the skin has been broken and is beginning its natural reaction.The skin may be pink, sore, swollen, a little slimy, and maybe a little bit warm to the touch. It is important to keep your tattoo very clean in this phase so that other phases go smoothly.

Phase 2: Proliferative

(Days 4 through 7)

This is when the skin starts to rebuild. If all goes well, the skin should have a very thin, flexible scab texture to it that is between rough and smooth. If the tattoo is left unwashed and allowed to dry out too much during the first few days, it will be very rough. The slime coming out in the first few days will become crusty and scab heavily. This causes cracking, pain, and bleeding.

Phase 3: Remodelling

(Days 8 through 14)

This is the phase when the skin has almost completely regained control over the surface of the tattoo. The skin may be dry, shiny, and waxy to the touch. It is important to keep the tattoo clean and gently moisturized to prevent the healing timeline from starting over.

How Should I take care of my tattoo?

Always start with clean hands. Please wash your hands completely before and after touching your tattoo. Make sure you have everything you need before starting.


a clean bathroom

sink with hot and cold running water

clean hands (in case you haven't read this on every other section of the page)

clean, dry paper towels

a few drops of Dr.Bronner's Magic Soap


WASH YOUR HANDS FIRST, then clean your tattoo using warm/ hot water and a few drops of diluted Dr. Bronner's magic soap 3-5 times daily. For the first 3 days only, you will be using a massaging motion to relieve the swelling and tension. Always massage towards your heart. Do not go too roughly, and after 3 days, just wash once per day, very gently.

Rinse your tattoo clean with warm to hot water and pat dry with a clean paper towel.

If after any of the first few washings the tattooed skin looks like it is "sweating", please wash it again. This is fluid released by the act of washing. This is natural and helpful. Let it come out, and clean it away from the skin so it doesn't collect and dry into a thick, nasty scab.

Pat your tattoo dry with a clean paper towel.

Only wear loose, clean cotton clothing during the healing of your tattoo. Nothing should be tight to the tattoo (i.e. tights/spandex etc.) If any of your clothing or hair dries to the healing tattoo, use warm water to release it. Never pull on the tattoo to release any fused textile or fiber.

Keep the tattoo completely out of the sun during healing, after healing, and forever. Sun is equivalent to free laser tattoo removal.

After the 3 days of washing/ massaging is over you may start using a small amount of non-scented, water-based lotion as needed. Some examples would be Aveeno naturals, Eucerin, or Curel. A small, fresh bottle is recommended so that you may carry it with you.

When your tattoo is completely healed, please come see me so that I can look at the tattoo and give you a hi-five for doing such a great job taking care of it. THANKS!


  1. Make sure your tattoo is fully healed & done peeling before scrubbing your tattoo with anything besides your clean hands
  2. Once your tattoo is fully done peeling & healed, we will use a scrub to complete the process of tattoo healing 
  3. Mix equal parts of ground sea salt & oil (olive oil or vegetable oil, etc. ) in your clean hands 
  4. Scrub mixture in circles on and around tattoo, being sure to focus on any areas that are still very shiny 
  5. Skin may become pink during scrub, that is normal. You can do this 3 times daily every other day 

Lotion Selection and Application

choose a lotion without SPF for use during healing

don't use any fragrant lotions or potions (THEY BURN SO BADDDD!)

only apply lotion with clean hands

choose a high-quality lotion like INK-EEZE for best results

use a small bottle for easy traveling

What should I avoid while healing a tattoo?

Here are a few things that will absolutely RUIN a fresh tattoo.

Please don't do any of these things:

NO touching with dirty hands. This means your own hands or anyone else's. Wash up!

NO soaking the tattoo in standing water like the bathtub, hot tub, ocean, lake, river, or pool. Just washing in the shower.

NO sun exposure or sunscreen on the tattoo while healing.

NO scrubbing the tattoo with sponges, washcloths or using anything but your clean hands to wash it.

NO shaving on or near the tattoo until it's healed completely.

What can I do to heal my tattoo faster?

Drink lots of water, eat well, get plenty of rest.

Wash your tattoo 5-6 times the first few days.

Keep hands off your new tattoo.

Keep hair, dirt, animals and babies away.