WHAT ARE SOME BAD THINGS FOR MY NEW TATTOO?
SAUNA OR STEAMROOM
Once it is healed, there is very little that will screw up a tattoo. The one exception is prolonged exposure to sunlight. (the other is scarring, but that is patently obvious).
Well, unfortunately it is. The newer inks are better at resisting fading but whatever you do, if you spend lots of time in bright sunlight your tats will fade (over a lifetime, not over a week). Best to try and keep them out of bright sunlight. No one wants to become a cave dweller just to keep their tats looking good, so just use some common sense. Think of your tat as an investment--slather on that sunblock so it doesn't turn into a dark blob.
Our culture has erroneously labeled the tan as healthy. Did you know that your tan is your skin's way of dealing with the damage caused by the sun? It's like the formation of a scab when you have a cut. You will pay for your years of sun exposure when you are in your 40s and 50s. Leathery, wrinkled, dry skin with freckles and liver spots. Melanoma.
Skin cancer. Regular visits to the dermatologist. Like I say, "There's no such thing as a healthy tan!" Take it from a Hawaii local! I've seen my share of melanoma here, and they're not even from surfers or beach bunnies!
Some people have gotten angry at me about this, telling me that they have a seasonal disorder that requires them to get some sun. A little bit of sun is okay (and it gives you a dose of Vitamin D). But all you need is a few minutes' worth.
Tanning booths are not good for you! They are not regulated by the FDA, and the staff that work at these salons have been known to give out patently false information. Many salon operators will suggest dosages far exceeding industry recommendations, and the FDA would actually prefer that these booths be banned altogether. Do not believe the salon operators who tell you there is NO damage caused by their UV rays. There are indications that tanning booths emit rays that cause the type of damage that only shows up years later, when it is difficult to fault any one operator. Their industry motto is "tan safe." There is no such thing as a SAFE tan, folks. Sorry.
Kai says: IT IS TRUE THAT SUNTANNING TO A CONSIDERABLE EXTENT NOT ONLY DAMAGES YOUR SKIN BUT FADES THE TATTOOS. The UV light rays that damage skin can get below the outermost surface of the skin (that's why skin cancers are promoted by excess suntanning).
The following is information about suncare and sunblock, as well as some specific brand recommendations by RAB readers:
o Try to use products that do not clog your pores. If your sunblock makes you break out or feel itchy, this may be the cause.
o Avoid sunblock containing PABA, apparently found to be carcinogenic.
o "SPF" stands for Sun Protection Factor. If you can normally stay out for ten minutes without getting sunburnt, then an SPF 2 should protect you for 20 minutes, an SPF 6 for an hour, and so on. HOWEVER, this does *NOT* mean an SPF 30 will let you stay out for five hours with just one coat. Keep your exposure limited to the minimum amounts,
and always use an extra strong sunblock with at least SPF 30 for your
o "Waterproof" and "sweatproof" sunblocks protect you while in the water. However, reflections from the water add to your exposure. Make sure you use a high SPF number, and always re-apply your sunblock when coming out of the water.
o Sunblock is not just for the beach! Make it a habit to carry one with you during the sunnier months so you can protect your tattoo always! The Watermelon Stick from the Body Shop is nice and portable, but in a pinch, a tube of lip balm (Blistik, etc.) will work, as long as it has an SPF. Dab a bit on your tattoo whenever you will be outside.
Products recommended by some RABbits:
o Banana Boat for Kids - SPF 50.
PREPARATION-H HEMORRHOIDAL OINTMENT
o Banana Boat's SPF 50, for Extra Sesitive Skin
o "Deep Cover" Super Sunblock, advertised in some tattoo magazines (distributed by Deep Cover in Long Beach, CA)
o The Body Shop's Watermelon Stick
o Bullfrog Moisturizing Formula - The Body Lotion (not the Gel Formula).
o Neutrogena's Senisitive Skin SPF 17
o Schering-Plough's "Shade Sunblock" in various SPFs.
We have heard stories of tattoo artists recommending the use of Preparation-H in the healing of new tattoos. Preparation-H is a product marketed for the relief of hemorrhoidal tissue in the US, and comes in both cream and suppository form (I assume artists don't recommend the suppositories).
Dr. Jeff Herndon <JHERNDON@Gems.VCU.EDU>, resident assistant professor at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical College, says Preparation-H should *NOT* be used for tattoos:
According to the 1995 Drug Facts & Comparisons (Olin, et al., Facts and Comparisons Inc.: St Louis, 1995; p 540-541) the list of ingredients for Preparation-H are as follows:
- Live yeast cell derivative supplying 2000 units of skin respiratory factor per ounce
- 3% shark liver oil
- 1:10000 phenyl mercuric nitrate
Facts and Comparisons goes on to say that shark liver oil (similar to cod liver oil) is used primarily as a carrier of the active ingredients and as a protectant, forming a physical barrier on the skin. While this may be helpful in the healing of hemorroids, it provides no benefit and perhaps impedes the healing of new tattoos. Furthermore, while phenylmercuric nitrate may have antiseptic properties (similar to mercurichrome or tincture of iodine; neither of which should be used on fresh tattoos) it possesses very little anti-infective properties when compared to traditional antibacterial agents
(neosporin, baccitracin, etc.). Its use in such low quantities in Preperation-H is possibly as a preservative (Facts and Comparisons, 1995, p. 540).
The active ingredient of Preparation-H is the skin respiratory factor and this does nothing to relieve the itching and/or swelling associated with a new tattoo. In fact, it is best to simply keep the area moist and clean and to avoid picking the scabs or 'onion skin peel' that develop--and refrain from using Preparation-H. Not only will it NOT help your tattoo, it will actually probably do more harm than good. The product was developed for hemorrhoidal tissue only.
Jeff adds simply: "I just can't figure why you'd want to spread yeast cells on a tattoo."