Taking care of a fresh tattoo, or what we like to call “aftercare,” is super super important! Do you want your new tattoo to keep its beautiful ink and heal with no problems? Then you better take good care as soon as you walk out that shop door! There is a lot of advice floating around the internet about how to care for your tattoo, and every artist will have their own advice as well. One new trend we are seeing in the tattoo world is the use of Saniderm bandages. This is different from the ol’ throw-some-bulk-brand-Saran-wrap-on-it-and-go method, and HUSH is here for it. Let’s see what Saniderm bandages are all about!
What Is a Saniderm Bandage?
A Saniderm bandage is a medical-grade bandage designed with tattoos in mind. Made of polyurethane acrylic adhesive, it is both waterproof and breathable. It’s also flexible, comes in different sizes, and can be cut into different shapes to fit your tattoo.
What Is Polyurethane?
Polyurethane is a versatile, plastic material. Polyurethanes have a wide variety of uses spanning from adhesives to insulation to car parts.
What Is Acrylic?
Acrylic is a transparent plastic material with notable strength. There’s a ton more to it, but you honestly don’t need to know any of it in this context (you can use it for fake nails, if that helps quench your thirst for knowledge).
How Does Saniderm Work?
Saniderm is a bandage barrier that helps protect your tattoo from dirt, friction, and bacteria, while being breathable enough to allow healing oxygen in, while also keeping essential moisture from escaping. After your artist finishes your tattoo, they are going to get you all cleaned up. Once you get a good look and a pic to post on the gram, they will cover the tattoo in some way. Some artists put on some healing ointment and a bandage of some sort and send you on your way, but the newer method is using a Saniderm bandage. These bandages look like plastic wrap and can be cut to specifically fit your new tat. Some artists will put an ointment and this bandage, and others will just put the bandage. Both methods are fine — it’s mostly a judge-in-the-moment kind of thing. Some tattoo artists will tell you that it’s actually good if you are seeing blood in your bandage, and that’s not a reason to take it off. There’s some science behind this. The plasma in your blood carries awesome goodies that help to heal your wound. Saniderm traps your blood so it doesn’t go leaking onto your favorite clothing, and stays right there healing your tattoo where it should be. Unless you’ve got quite a bit of leakage, you can generally keep your Saniderm on for the first 24 hours after you get your tattoo.
Is Saniderm Good For Your Tattoo?
Short answer: Yes! Saniderm bandages were made with tattoos specifically in mind. Unlike kitchen plastic wrap (don’t even get us started), Saniderm bandages are breathable and sanitary.
How Do You Apply a Saniderm Bandage?
What happens after you take that first bandage off? You want to keep your tattoo protected, so let's chuck on another Saniderm.
- First, you are going to do some arts and crafts. Trim the Saniderm to fit your tattoo, but not be unnecessarily large. Leave about an inch surrounding the tattoo, and round the sharp edges to help keep it from peeling up easily.
- Get your skin ready. Make sure the skin and wound are clean and hair-free. You don’t want any nasty snagging from the adhesive when you remove it later on. Also, Saniderm warns to avoid cleaning agents with isopropyl alcohol which can dry out your wound. You can give your tattoo and the surrounding skin a gentle scrub with our specially crafted CBD foam soap.
- Add a layer of healing balm or ointment (glycerin-free).
- Peel the paper off the sticky side of the Saniderm and carefully and gently place it over your tattoo.
- Now you can remove the other side of the paper so your beautiful tattoo can shine through!
How Do You Take Off a Saniderm Bandage?
So, you’ve left the shop and you didn’t listen to a word your tattoo artist said because you were too busy admiring your new ink. No hay problema, we’ll tell you how to remove that Saniderm — pay attention, now!
- Get it warm and wet. Running warm water over the Saniderm will help loosen up the sticky side and get your skin ready for removal. Find a looser edge of the bandage and pull. Nice and gentle.
- Trash the bandage and gently wash your tattoo with our CBD foam soap.
- Air dry! Let your tattoo breathe a bit and get some fresh air.
- Once your tattoo has had a chance to breathe, apply a thin layer of Sana Sana (our amazing CBD healing balm).
- Go back up to the previous header and repeat the steps for applying a Saniderm bandage!
Should I Put Anything on My Tattoo Before the Saniderm?
Unless you have naturally oily skin where your tattoo is, then you’ll want to apply a healing ointment. Make sure you use a glycerin-free ointment (i.e. no Aquaphor) under your Saniderm bandage. Saniderm warns that the use of a product with glycerin will react with the adhesive and could cause issues like rashes or the adhesive going hulk mode and binding too strongly. Grab a tub of our CBD healing balm, Sana Sana for all your under-Saniderm needs! Unlike an ointment, Saniderm doesn’t leave room for mistakes. With a healing ointment, you might use too little product and not fully protect your tattoo. On the other hand, you might use too much product and suffocate your new tattoo resulting in irritated skin. When you’re applying that balm, remember: protect and moisturize but don’t drown your tattoo!
How Long Should You Leave Saniderm on a Tattoo?
A Saniderm bandage can be left on for up to 6 days. Your first Saniderm bandage after a tattoo should only be left on for up to 24 hours. That first bandage needs to be removed after 24 hours because the build-up of plasma and excess ink doesn’t do anything good for the fresh wound after those first 24 hours, and your tattoo is stable enough to remove the bandage. Anytime your bandage is feeling leaky or dirty, remove it and apply a new one. The most important thing is that your tattoo is kept protected, clean, and moisturized! Your sign to stop using Saniderm bandages is when the tattoo starts scabbing and the skin starts flaking off. At this point, you’ll want to keep your tattoo moisturized with a healing balm but let it go free so the flaking skin and scabs can do their thang.
You’ll want to keep a few things in mind while using a Saniderm bandage:
- No glycerin products. Glycerin can negatively react with the bandage’s adhesive causing anything from rashes to super stickiness.
- Keep showering to a minimum while you’re wearing a Saniderm bandage. The water can weaken the adhesive and allow for bacteria to get in.
- Full submerging whilst wearing that Saniderm is also going to be a no — for the same reasons above, only stronger. It’s going to weaken your Saniderm and could also cause negative friction between the tattoo and the bandage.
- Sweating. No (heavy) sweating, sweetie! If you wanted an excuse not to exercise, this is it. Sweating will also weaken the bandage.
Keep that bandage dry, and if you don’t… remove it ASAP and try again.
What Is the Difference Between Saniderm and Other Bandages?
If you’ve read this article so far (or have at least done a good skim-job), then you know Saniderm bandages are great for tattoos because they are protective and breathable. Other bandages are not made for tattoos and have different properties. A lot of them aren’t breathable, flexible, or sanitary (we’re looking at you, food wrap). Speaking of, don’t use plastic wrap! If your tattoo artist puts some plastic wrap on your new tat we suggest swapping it for a Saniderm as soon as you feel that tattoo has stopped bleeding and you feel comfortable removing the wrapping. Plastic wrap has no breathability and just isn’t sanitary. We’ve seen some artists using gauze. Our issue with this is there’s no real filtering happening. Gauze lets bacteria in and sops up the moisture coming out of your skin, and frankly, it can be a real pain in the ass to take off. The best way to go is any way that thoroughly protects your wound while also keeping it moisturized.
Saniderm or any equivalent bandage type is a great way to protect your tattoo and help it heal the best it can. Apply with a thin layer of non-reactive healing ointment and you are silver! Make sure to clean and re-dress your tattoo properly and often and you are golden! Keep your tattoo moisturized and sun-protected after your bandaged days and you are more than golden — you are the owner of a beautiful new tattoo! Check out more of our aftercare tips here. Sources: What is Polyurethane? | Polyurethanes Org Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injection: How It Works | HSS Saniderm's Guide To New Tattoo Care | Saniderm Wound Dressings and Comparative Effectiveness Data | NCBI