Taking Care of A New Tattoo (and after)

Have you been thinking of getting a tattoo or just got a new one? Or maybe you already have one and you want to read more about how to properly take care of your body art?

I’ve had 4 tattoos now and I’ve learned some good practices that I’d like to share with fellow body ink enthusiasts. Hopefully, these steps can help you heal your fresh tattoo effectively, avoid possible irritations that may happen to a new one, and take care of an existing one so it stays looking great for as long as possible.

Before you go into any of my tips, just remember to listen to what your tattoo artist advises you. That should be your primary basis in taking care of your tattoo. Techniques and processes change over time, and your artist is always the best person who knows how to take care of the new tattoo you had.

How to take care of a new tattoo

Right after your tattoo is done, your artist may cover it with a plastic seal to prevent ink and blood from smudging. He/she will tell you how long to keep the seal on. Normally, you can take a quick shower within the same day that you got your tattoo. But to be very sure, you can ask your artist as well.

Here are the dos and don’ts that I follow when I have a new tattoo and some products that I’ve been using to take care of my tattoo:

1. When I take a shower, I use lukewarm or room-temperature water. And I take a quick one instead of my usual long bath. I personally enjoy long showers, I take my time to scrub my body with a bath sponge. But when I have a fresh tattoo, I make it quick to avoid soaking my new tattoo.

2. Use a shower gel or liquid soap that cleanses but is mild enough for a fresh wound. I use Clinique Liquid Facial Soap on my body tattoos. I’ve used this on small and bigger tattoos, and it never irritated any of them. Other good options would be Cetaphil, Sebamed, and baby cleansing products. I avoid cleansers with strong fragrances during my first few weeks. Some fragrances can be harsh and cause irritation.

When washing, I make a foam on my hand then gently cleanse the tattoo with the foam. Don’t put the soap directly on the tattoo then foam it on the tattoo. This could force you to rub roughly on the wound while forming the foam.

3. During the first 3 days, I only take a shower once a day instead of my usual twice a day. Although, yes, washing keeps the tattoo clean, water exposure increases the risk of bacteria getting into the wound as well. So I just shower once for the day for the first 3 days then I go back to my twice-daily shower routine.

I also normally don’t place my tattoo directly under the shower when my tattoo is still fresh. I use my hand to cup water and let it flow to my tattoo. This is because my shower is flowing directly above my head, not the angled type.

No swimming, no sauna, no long baths, no bathtub for new tattoo.

4. A very important step to follow is to never use your regular bath towel to dry a new tattoo. This is a step that I missed before on my second tattoo that probably caused irritation. Some say to use a separate tower for the tattoo, but that can still pose a risk of accumulating bacteria. For safety, I don’t use my normal towel on a fresh tattoo for at least 4 weeks.

5. Instead of using my bath towel that may have some dirt or bacteria even if I change it regularly, I use disposable serviettes, the type that doesn’t leave fibers behind. I buy this cheap serviette, costs me RM1.00 (USD0.25), and works really great. Remember to pat the serviette gently across your tattoo. Don’t rub.

6. Once I step out of the shower, the first thing I do is sanitize my hands. This is to ensure that my hands are bacteria-free before I apply anything to my tattoo. Don’t worry, this won’t be forever, only until my tattoo has completed its scabbing phase, probably within 2-3 weeks, and only the art is left behind.

I am from The Philippines and I grew up using 70% alcohol to sanitize my hands. We even use it to sanitize our office items like phones, computer keyboards, mouse, and more. That’s how we prevent spreading diseases. Some even use it for massage.

I’m now in Malaysia, but the great thing is I can still get hold of the same alcohol. I buy my stock from Kota Raya, where many Filipino shops are selling Filipino products. Lucky me!

I transfer the alcohol into a small spray bottle to make it easier and more economical to dispense than the usual pouring from the bottle or even a pump.

7. After sanitizing, I allow my hands to completely dry before I can start with the moisturizing step. It’s important to allow the hands to dry completely from the sanitizer because the alcohol content will not be good for a fresh tattoo. It does kill bacteria but it can damage the ink too.

8. Apply the moisturizing lotion to the entire tattoo. Your artist will advise or recommend the moisturizer or lotion that is best to use. He/she might even have it available for sale at her studio. I’m lucky to have access to After Inked Daily Moisturizer, which is great for fresh tattoos.

My first tattoo was in a different studio and my artist did not sell tattoo lotion in the studio. He recommended Rosken Repair for Dry Skin. This was also great. My tattoo healed nicely with no irritation.

Other good options would be Sebamed Moisturizing Body Lotion for Sensitive Skin, around RM35 (USD8.50). You can also try other baby-safe brands like Cetaphil and Aveeno.

9. When applying the lotion, I develop a directional routine for the tattoo, meaning which part I start with first and where I finish. This may sound ridiculous, but I find it helpful especially for my bigger, semi-full arm tattoo. If your tattoo is a small one, it may not matter where you start and finish. When you have a big one, it is easy to miss or overdo a spot, which is what I’m trying to avoid. So on my arm tattoo, I developed a directional routine. I start with the upper arm area, from outer arm to inner arm, then I go to my forearm, from outer to inner as well.

Missing a spot will risk drying up that part of the tattoo, and therefore not heal nicely. Overdoing a spot might irritate it.

10. Don’t forget to moisturize the surrounding skin around the tattoo as well. Part of basic body care includes moisturizing, with or without a tattoo. Don’t just moisturize your tattooed part; make sure your skin is healthy overall.

11. Wear loose cotton clothes or allow the tattoo to ‘breathe’. When I had my first 3 tattoos, I let them heal without covering them under my clothes. This has worked well for me. However, on my fourth tattoo, which was covering almost my entire left arm, I already had a cat and I know I have risks of getting scratched, or worse, bacteria from fur and other stuff. I had to cover up every day.

Before my schedule for the fourth tattoo, I bought long sleeve cotton shirts, some online, some from the mall. Loose shirts are great because it covers you up but still allows your tattoo to breathe inside. Don’t ever wear tight-fitting clothes during the healing phase. The dried-up blood/ink might stick to them and might cause the tattoo to be damaged.

I wear clothes that I won’t mind having ink stains if in case some bleeding occurs.

12. Avoid sun exposure. I’d use an umbrella if I really need to get out and be exposed to the sun. Applying sunscreen during the healing phase is not a good idea yet. The ingredients for sunscreen products are not wound-friendly so I’d rather not apply until the tattoo is fully healed, which will be around 4 weeks or more.

13. Don’t do extensive exercise activities that will result in sweating heavily. I opt for simpler exercises during the healing phase, such as walking or stretching. I know, I know. I don’t like the fact that I can’t go for my usual Muay Thai training. But this is part of the healing process.

14. I stick to a body care routine to take care of my skin and my tattoo. I want my body art to stay beautiful for as long as possible. After all the pain and process (and budget) that I go through for each tattoo, it wouldn’t make sense to just leave it be and not take care of it.

15. When it itches, don’t scratch. It’s a definite no-no to scratch your healing tattoo. I actually didn’t experience itchiness on my first 3 tattoos. But the big one on my arm certainly itched during the 5th to 8th day, when it started to peel and scab.

It may look disgusting when you see this happening to your tattoo. But whatever happens, don’t help the tattoo to peel. Leave it alone and allow it to peel itself naturally.

Remember, a new tattoo is a new wound.

The only difference is that a tattoo is artistic and formed in the design you wanted. But it still is a wound. It needs to be handled with the same extra care you would give any wound. It needs to be free from dirt and bacteria, and it needs time to heal.

Once my tattoo has fully healed, around 3 to 4 weeks (could be longer for some, depending on the size of the tattoo and the person’s skin), there are other steps that I do for my skin.

Now, I can use sunscreen. When I have to go out and be exposed to the sun, I spray Banana Boat Clear Ultra Mist SPF50. You can also use the cream type as this one easily allows you to see where you apply the sunscreen. I still avoid the sun whenever possible, and use an umbrella when I can.

After 3 months, I also use body oil at night on my tattoo. I was advised by a friend before that it helps to maintain the black tone of the tattoo. So I gave it a try and it works! I’ve been doing this now for more than 3 months and it does help to make my tattoo have the black tone more defined. But I only do it at night. During the day, it’s lotion plus sunscreen for my tattoos.

I also exfoliate with a gentle body scrub after 3 months. Just because there’s ink on that area of the skin doesn’t mean that dead skin cells don’t form on that spot. To keep the tattooed skin healthy, I exfoliate once a week.

How long do I wait after my new tattoo before I go back to extensive training?

1 month. Your tattoo artist would be the best to advise how long before you can train. In my case, I add 2 weeks before I train and sweat heavily.

How long do I wait after my new tattoo before I go swimming?

2 months. I don’t want to soak my new tattoo in chlorine water just yet. I normally wait a bit longer.

How long do I wait before I get another one?

I don’t really place a timeline on this, the artist can advise better. If the next tattoo will be on the same location, for example, you want another tattoo on the same left upper arm, the artist might advise giving it a month before adding another one on the same spot.

Some tattoos may need to be split into 2 or more sessions because of the amount of shading needed. When it needs to be split, the artist advises having the next session after 4 weeks, so that the skin has time to recover before the next round on the same location.

Here is my 50% completed fourth tattoo. It covers around 3/4th of my arm. The first session took around 4 hours, and now I am still waiting for the second session to finally complete this. The flower on top, close to my shoulder, is my 3rd tattoo, then I decided to fill up my arm with similar design of flowers.

My first tattoo was on my left ankle

My second one was on my right ankle

The third is on my left upper arm / shoulder

And the fourth one that’s still in progress is on my full left arm. Some shading are not yet completed, and I might add a few more leaves.

Have fun taking care of your tattoos! Cheers to us who enjoy body art and getting inked!

Staying Fit with 10-minute Daily Exercises

It’s definitely been tough to stay fit through the pandemic, with lockdowns affecting gym schedule and other sports activities. But, in a way, there’s a positive side to it. We had to learn to find other ways, to be creative, and to do what we can at home.

This is my first post after more than a year of silence (or laziness or not making time) from writing here and sharing my thoughts and experiences. It has been challenging, working our asses off to keep our jobs, to make our jobs contribute well to the company, to manage our lives, to manage a child / children’s learning at home, and, on top of all these, to stay safe, healthy, and hopefully, COVID-free.

One of the key activities I’ve been doing before and during the pandemic was having 10-minute daily workouts. I know it sounds simple, but that’s the key. It IS simple. It IS fast. That’s what makes it EASY to commit to. Many of us have busy daily lives, we can’t commit to going to the gym daily, even when we are allowed to. But imagine if you only need to commit to 10 minutes of your day. It may not be much and may not do much, but it’s still so much better than doing 0 minute exercise everyday. 10 minutes every day is still 70 minutes in a week.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) that lasts for 10 minutes or more each day has helped me stay fit during the past year and now. Although I am now back to my regular weekly Muay Thai sessions, HIIT helps me accomplish active minutes every day and improve specific areas of my body.

I’ve been using this app that I’ve also been recommending to friends who are keen to move and sweat every day. I love this app that I’ve been using for probably 3 years now: Workout for Women. Although it says “for Women”, it’s actually great for all. And, yes, it’s FREE. You’d only need to pay for selected features that you want, like guided programs.

The app comes with more than 1,000 workouts. And what I love the most about it is that it has very specific exercises for specific areas of the body that you’d like to address. It also takes away the repetitiveness that might result to boredom from the training. For example, I can choose to work on my arms on Mondays, then switch to legs on Tuesdays, then abs on Wednesdays.

It’s great for beginners and experts alike as the exercises come with different difficulty levels to choose from. Each training comes with a list of exercises, and if you want to see how to do each exercises properly, there’s a video guide that shows you how.

The app comes with daily motivational quotes which I love. Because sometimes, we just need that extra something to get us moving. It also tracks your progress so you can monitor how many days in a week or month have you done your exercise. Don’t be disappointed or disheartened when you miss a day, two, or three…what matters is that you always have another new day to move and sweat.

You can download the app through these links:

App Store https://apps.apple.com/my/app/workout-for-women-fitness-app/id839285684

Google Play https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.workoutinc.seven_7minutesfitness_forwomen

It is never too late to get started with a movement activity for your body. We don’t need to be experts nor be like those super fit gym buffs you see on social media.

The important thing is we keep loving ourselves and our bodies, stay active and try to stay fit and healthy.

Getting Started with Resistance Training using LILA EXOGEN

Keen to improve the way you move? Whether it’s for competitive sports or regular fitness activities, resistance training has valuable benefits.
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Maintaining a healthy weight, having firmer body, and being more energetic are my personal goals when it comes to health and fitness. I’m sure I’m not alone with these goals. After all, who doesn’t want a happier life with healthy body and mind? But I do accept that this is easier said than done.

One of the activities I do towards having healthy weight is to have regular exercises. I’m a working mom, and like many other busy mums, whether working or not, it can be challenging to allot time and energy every day to exercise. On weekdays, what I’ve been doing over the years is to perform 10-20 minute shots of exercises for specific areas of the body. On weekends, I run / walk for an hour. These have been great routines for me for the past, hmmm, 4 to 5 years.
However, I’ve been starting to feel that I want to improve what I do. Ageing doesn’t make my metabolism better (aaaarrrrrhhh!). And I noticed that I’m starting to gain weight again instead of losing or maintaining my target, at least. Signs that I need to “up” my level, yes?
I know that I need to improve how I do my exercises. I need to improve the way I move. I cannot stretch the time I spend on workout too much as there are many things in life that I need to balance, just like a lot of you. I need to be more efficient with how I work out, either through increasing the intensity or…resistance training.

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My regular workouts include Tabata body, 7-minute leg workout, abs workout, and 10-minute HIIT. Plank, jumping jacks, leg lifts, v-sits, lunges, squat jumps, high knee running in place…these are some of the steps that I regularly do. I’ll share more about this wonderful app that I follow to do these at home. I’m no expert and definitely a newbie on the subject of resistance training so I’ve done some research to understand more.

One of the interesting articles I’ve read from TIME said:
“If you just do cardio, you’re sabotaging yourself,” says Jacob Wilson, Ph.D., certified strength and conditioning specialist and associate editor of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. “Your metabolism will actually go down, making weight loss more difficult. Resistance training, however, builds muscle to increase your metabolic rate.” That explains why, in one Harvard School of Public Health study of 10,500 adults, those who spent 20 minutes a day weight training gained less abdominal fat over the course of 12 years (compared to those who spent the same amount of time performing cardio).
No wonder it was getting harder to maintain my target weight…
So what then is resistance training? There are so many definitions you can find online but one of the simplest one I found says that resistance training, also called strength training or weight training, is a form of exercise that improves muscular strength and endurance. It increases muscle strength by making your muscles work against a weight or force.
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There are many ways that you can do resistance training. Some of them include sand bags, resistance bands, suspension equipment, free weights like dumbbells and I’ve seen ankle weights and wrist weights as well. I tried using some dumbbells but I somehow didn’t enjoy it. I like to move and sweat all over after some short but intense (at least intense for me) workouts, without the need to hold weights in my hands. I did check ankle weights and wrist weights, too, but I wasn’t sure if I’ll be comfortable strapping those heavy loads while I jump or run. It didn’t look and sound right. I was worried about injuries specially on my knees. The ones I saw were quite heavy, ranging from 1kg to even 6kg.

I’ve also read that ankle weights can be good complement for exercises like leg lifts, squats, planks with leg lifts, bicycle kicks, mountain climbers and other similar exercises. But I was looking for something more multi-functional and something that can move with me, whether it’s for HIIT, running and, potentially, muay thai. There should be a solution out there for people like me who switch between different types of workouts, right?
I encountered Light Variable Resistance Training or LILA calls it LVRT. Wait, what?  
Light Variable Resistance Training is a way of training with significantly less load than traditional resistance training. It’s a signature training system developed by LILA and it emphasises 100% user-defined resistance training. In other words, we control it and we define how we move with it.

lila-exogen-for-strength-resistance-training

LILA (pronounced lee-lah) has developed EXOGEN EXOSKELETONS. Sounds fancy, huh? It deserves to sound fancy. It is, after all, the world’s 1st generation of multi-function, high-performance exoskeletons that accelerate the future of user-defined movement training.

What is an exoskeleton? An exoskeleton basically is an external skeleton that supports and protects the body. Think of it like the Iron Man suits. It turns Tony Stark into a superhero that can lift extremely heavy loads, fly, scan surroundings with superhuman speed and accuracy, shoot and more. In the US, exoskeletons are already being used to rehabilitate injuries and provide superhuman strength. 
LILA’s EXOGEN EXOSKELETONS are created and developed by sports scientists to improve the way you move. It combines the art of movement with science and technology to enhance your performance, provide protection and support, improve sensory feedback and deliver thermo-regulation.
What does it do? What are the benefits of using LILA EXOGEN?
LILA has research-based benefits that span across various areas, from improving calorie burn up to increasing leg power and jump. For more scientific details about EXOGEN performance benefits, you can check it out here https://movementrevolution.com/exogen/exogen-performance-benefits/
I’m most interested in its benefits for cardio and burning calories. If it can help increase my metabolic output or burn by 8 – 15% then I can increase my calorie burn every time I do my regular workouts and run. Let’s do some math:
Regular 10-minute HIIT
Without LILA = 84 calories x 5 days in a week = 420 calories / week x 4 = 1,680 / month
With LILA EXOGEN at 15% increase = 96.6 calories x 5 days in a week = 483 calories / week x 4 = 1,932 / month
That’s an increase of 252 calories in just 1 month with just my 10-minute workout.
Imagine doing that for 12 months. That’s an increase of 3,024 calories burned!
My weekend run
Without LILA = around 410 calories / week x 4 = 1,640 / month
With LILA at 15% increase = 471.5 calories / week x 4 = 1,886 / month
That’s an increase of 246 in 1 month with just my 1-hour run every weekend. If I do this for 12 months, that’s an increase of 2,952 calories burned.
Add my 10-minute HIIT and weekend runs, I can potentially increase my calorie burn by 5,976 in a year!
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What makes this really amazing is that it is wearable. Unlike old school or traditional resistance training equipment that are confined to the walls or floors of a gym, the LILA EXOGEN is worn on the body and moves with the body. The loads and sleeves are travel-friendly too. 

LILA EXOGEN High Performance Exoskeletons come in several forms targeted at specific areas of the body. The EXOGEN range includes Forearm Compression Sleeves, Upper Arm Compression Sleeves, Full ArmCompression Sleeves, Compression Calf Sleeves, Compression Shorts and CompressionSleeveless Top. I’m focused at the moment on improving my leg movements and workouts so I decided to purchase the Compression Calf Sleeves.
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The Compression Calf Sleeves come in a black carry box, containing a pair of compression calf sleeves, a mesh bag, an 8-piece set of loads in a travel-friendly roll pouch and the user guide.

Price: USD139 / RM588

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I’ve started using the calf sleeves on my daily short workouts and I felt an incredible difference. Starting with light load of 100g per leg, I can feel that I’m working harder yet it just feels natural with my movement.
I also use it for my weekend run. On my first run test, I was too ambitious, I loaded 300g on each leg. But this is too early for me to do, I felt that I need to make the load lighter after a few hundred meters. So I reduced the loads to 100g per leg, it felt right and I continued my run / walk for another hour. I love that I can control the amount of loads and play with the direction of the loads, too! That’s what I call true user freedom! And on my 2nd test run with LILA, I increased it to 200g per leg, 100g in front and 100g at the back.

 

 

 

There are various methods for arranging the loads or Fusiform on the sleeves. For my running and short workouts, I’m currently placing the loads downwards and with the belly (fatter side) on top.
I’m keen on progressing continuously with resistance training. According to Better Health Australia, doing resistance training / strength training / weight training has many health benefits, both for physical and mental health, such as:
  1. improved muscle strength and tone – to protect your joints from injury
  2. weight management and increased muscle-to-fat ratio – as you gain muscle, your body burns more kilojoules when at rest
  3. greater stamina – as you grow stronger, you won’t get tired as easily
  4. improved mobility and balance
  5. improved posture
  6. increased bone density and strength
  7. improved sense of wellbeing – resistance training may boost your self-confidence, improve your body image and your mood
  8. enhanced performance of everyday tasks
For full article about resistance training health benefits, visit https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/resistance-training-health-benefits


I had the honour of meeting the LILA EXOGEN team and got hooked by their concept and mission to improve the way we move. At the time of publishing this article, I’m already a happy member and delighted customer of the LILA EXOGEN team, moving forward to improve the way I move!

Stay tuned for updates on my LILa journey…progress on my workouts and Muay Thai training!
Born to move. Live to move.