So you got a new tattoo. Now what? You should do everything you can to preserve the beauty of this piece of artwork on your skin! After all, you took the time to decide on a design, paid your artist a decent amount of money and sat through a bit of pain. Here’s how to keep your tattoos looking fresh with 5 essential tattoo aftercare tips from the staff at Guardian Art Tattoos.

Slipknot Tattoo Back Piece

1. Follow Aftercare Instructions

First and foremost, you should follow the aftercare instructions given to you by your tattooer. Their recommendations may be different from the last person who tattooed you, so you should know what to do before leaving the studio. These directions are tried and true to your artist’s process and how their tattoos heal best. Ignoring your tattooer’s aftercare instructions can negatively impact the quality of your tattoo.

2. Keep it Clean

The most important thing is to keep your new tattoo clean. Although it is an open wound and technically susceptible to infection, it’s pretty easy to avoid this problem altogether. Always wash it thoroughly with clean hands and never put new ointment on top of an old layer. The only time you or anyone else should be touching your tattoo is when you are either washing it or applying ointment. When showing off your new tattoo, it may help to warn people that it’s new so they aren’t tempted to touch it.

3. Avoid the Sun & Soaking in Water

It’s crucial to keep your new tattoo out of the sun for at least two weeks. Not only is getting a sunburn on your fresh tattoo very painful, it can cause excessive blistering and disrupt the healing process. Also, you should refrain from swimming and taking baths during this time. Of course you can take showers, but definitely avoid soaking your tattoo at all costs to decrease the chance of infection.

4. Long-Term UV Protection

Once your tattoo is at least two weeks old and all of the scabs have fallen off, apply sunscreen any time you plan to be in the sun. You may also choose to wear clothing that covers your tattoo and protects it from receiving direct sunlight. Daily exposure to the sun is your biggest enemy in preserving your tattoos, even in the car. Similarly, tanning beds will cause your tattoo to fade excessively, so it’s best to cut out fake baking altogether.

5. Daily Moisturizing

Keep your tattoo moisturized by applying lotion every day. This will ensure that your skin stays hydrated, more elastic and prevent the effects of aging. Moisturizing is a must for areas of the body that are known to fade rapidly, especially the elbows, knees and hands. Not to mention, your tattoos will look more vibrant when your skin isn’t dried out and ashy.

Although it’s inevitable for tattoos to fade naturally, you can get much more time out of the original pass if you’re dedicated to taking care of your skin. All it takes is few minutes out of your day to be sure your new tattoo heals properly and stays looking fresh for years to come.

Click Here for Guardian Art Tattoos’ Aftercare Instructions