What Tattoo Care Products Do You Need? Here's Exactly What To Shop — PHOTOS

So you're thinking of getting a tattoo, and you have pretty much everything planned: The shop, the artist, and the designs are all picked out. Finally, you take the plunge and the needle is in, but what tattoo care products do you need after? I mean, you did just drop some cash, time, and pain into the damn thing, so why not take care of it with the utmost care?

I got my first tattoo when I was freshly 18 years old and visiting my friends in San Diego. This was the peak of my rebellious phase (by rebellious, I mean I asked my mother if I could get a nose ring, and she said no), and I wanted to get a permanent souvenir. After some research and a quick trip to the ATM, it was time. I probably nearly passed out from the terror I had felt beforehand.

The artist was not enthused by my nerves, but five minutes later and a lot of silent "f*cks" under my breath, it was done. A tiny cross on my left wrist. But now what? Of course, my paranoid self did not want to get it wet at all, which meant showering with one arm outside the shower. And constant applications of ointment and lotion (which, actually, turned out to be detrimental).

Here's the lesson, folks: Don't be like me. Listen to your artist's instructions, because they do know best. I have no idea what made me think I suddenly knew more than the professional. Consider this your product guide for dummies. (You, of course, are not a dummy, but I sure was!)

1. Mild, Fragrance-Free Soap

Aveeno Active Naturals Fragrance-Free Bar Soap, $11, Amazon

Your artist will most likely wrap the tattooed area in a bandage to make sure ink or blood does not get on your clothing. Usually, it's saran wrap or some type of bandage. This, you'll keep on for the next few hours. When you finally decide to wash it, use a mild, fragrance-free soap. This is important! Of course, make sure your hands are clean. Pat the area dry, and whatever you do, do not scrub it!

2. Gentle Moisturizing Ointment

A+D First Aid Ointment, $5, Amazon

Aquaphor Healing Ointment Advanced Therapy, $10, Amazon

After you wash the area, you'll want to make sure that you moisturize it with A+D Ointment or Aquaphor for the first three days. Make sure that the area is dry, and apply a very thin layer. Less is more in this situation! Apply every few hours — you don't want to be applying it too frequently.

3. Mild, Fragrance-Free Lotion

Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion for Normal to Dry Skin Fragrance Free, $11, Amazon

As the fourth day rolls around, you can finally start to use a mild, fragrance-free lotion, like Lubriderm.You'll be applying this lotion on for the next few weeks, so it'll become your new best friend! Do remember that flaking and peeling is normal, and you shouldn't scratch or pick at it! It's the number one cardinal rule, people.

That's basically it! Of course, no sun, swimming, or soaking the area for the next two weeks. As long as you're careful, attentive, and make sure the area is not dry (but not over-moisturized, either! It's gotta breathe...) then you're pretty much golden. Here's a video from Ink's YouTube channel with more tips on how to care for your tattoo.

ink on YouTube

In a few weeks, you'll get to do the fun part: Showing it off to everyone, and Instagramming a photo or two. Happy tattooing!

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Images: Magnolia Lux/Flickr; Courtesy of Brands