Every tattoo artist has different specific instructions on how to keep your new tattoo in good condition, and specific products that they recommend, but there are some basic instructions that ring true regardless of what a particular individual has to say. After all, they are a business and selling products helps to increase their profit.
But the basic things that you need to do to make sure your tattoo stays beautiful and free from infection are to clean it and protect it. When it comes to cleaning it, you want to use warm water and soap. The soap should be a basic soap, ideally fragrance free, with as few extra chemicals as possible. As far as how to clean it with the soap and water, you never want to rub the tattoo. This is one of the worst things you can do. Instead, you want to take a fresh rag, get it nice and wet with warm soapy water, and blot the tattoo gently. Then, you can use antibiotic cream or neosporin and gently apply it to the tattoo. It is basically like taking care of a wound, because that is essentially what a tattoo is!
You want to let your tattoo breathe and get oxygen as well. So don’t cover it up, unless you have to because it is in a spot where it will get chafed by clothes, or a place where your skin regularly comes in contact with other things that may cause friction on the surface of the tattoo. Even if you have to cover it up, try to do so as minimally as possible. Also, you may want to cover it up if you are going into direct sunlight, because this can cause problems for the tattoo as well.
Other things to avoid doing when you have a new tattoo are letting come in contact with harsh chemicals. You may think that this is not something you often run into, but examples like rubbing alcohol, chlorine, or bromine from pools and hot tubs can ruin your tattoo. So stay out of the pool for a couple weeks until your tattoo has had a chance to really stick and become permanent. Your tattoo may start to scab up a little bit over time. This is completely normal, and it is very important to not touch the scabs. Let them fall of naturally! Picking at the scabs can also ruin the tattoo. They will start to itch so you are going to have to either suck it up or if you are desperate you can gently blot them with a warm wet rag, similar to when you clean them.
Once the healing process is over, your skin in the tattoo area may become dry. Apply unscented moisturizing lotion with minimal chemicals to the tattoo and you will not only keep your skin moist but your tattoo will be bright and vibrant. This will help keep it in the best condition possible for many years.