Everyone wants to achieve healing perfection when getting a new tattoo, right? Well, how can we make that happen?
When you get a fresh tattoo, your artist will tell you to keep it clean and moisturise it regularly (if they have any sense, they will recommend our aftercare cream). But you never hear them say ‘stay off of the chips for a couple of weeks, buddy’. Would it be weird if they did? Maybe...but, knowledge is power!
There’s a million different methods of cleaning, moisturising and taking care of your tattoo when you first get out of the studio. But how many of us know how our diet can impact our ink? Although it’s a lesser spoken subject in the tattoo scene, diet has a direct impact on skin health and therefore, tattoo health.
Happy skin = Happy tattoos. Simple.
Here is our little guide on eating for healing.
What to avoid?
So, if your post tattoo ritual is to stay out until 4am, drink 27 rum and cokes and finish your night with a kebab and chips, your tattoo may not heal as well as you might like. All of the above should be avoided for the entire healing process as they are full of inflammatory compounds(1). Although a healthy level of inflammation is necessary for healing, excess inflammation can slow down the healing process and increase the likelihood of infection(4).
For example, fried foods contain vast amounts of vegetable oils. Vegetable oils can have extremely high omega-6:omega-3 ratios which is a breeding ground for inflammation when consumed in large quantities(2). Not only this, but fried foods often have high levels of trans fats which may make skin more vulnerable to UV injury and photoaging (the arch nemesis of tattooed skin) (3).
Obviously, eating one portion of onion rings when you need to treat yo self won’t ruin your tattoo...but, there are a bunch of things you can add to your diet to improve your healing.
What to add?
Unprocessed foods - Unprocessed foods is a pretty broad term but it’s important. Unprocessed foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables don’t contain any of those nasty inflammatory compounds we spoke about earlier. They are also nutrient dense and packed full of high quality h20 (thanks waterboy). Hydrated skin is happy skin!
Berries - So it turns out that your smoothie bowl is good for more than just showing people how healthy you are on Instagram...
Berries are literally ‘Among the healthiest foods on earth’. They can help improve blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and are packed full of fibre (5). So, it’s really no surprise that they can give you a helping hand when healing your tattoo. Berries are full of antioxidants which do a great job fighting oxidative stress, meaning your tattoo will heal faster(6). They also tend to have high concentrations of Vitamin C which helps with the synthesis of collagen, a vital player in skin healing and general skin health (7).
Herbs and spices - Herbs and spices have the highest concentration of antioxidants out of all of the foods available to us and as we already know we want as many of those bad boys as possible (8).
But there is one spice that deserves a special mention and it’s turmeric. If you were to ignore everything else I’ve written in this blog and just start eating more turmeric I would be ok with that. Turmeric contains a very powerful antioxidant named curcumin (the pigment that makes it so relentlessly orange). Aside from being an antioxidant, Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory, has been shown to improve the speed that wounds heal and has antimicrobial properties meaning your tattoo is less likely to become infected (9). Now I’m definitely not saying you should rub turmeric into your tattoo...that would suck, but maybe it’s time to ditch the caramel latte and get yourself a cup of golden milk! (recipe here: https://foolproofliving.com/turmeric-golden-milk/).
Citrus Fruits - Citrus fruits like oranges, limes and grapefruit can help improve circulation which will help fast track nutrients to your tattoo that it needs for healing (11). Not sure if having a lime in your spirits counts? I’ll get back to you.
Nuts and Seeds - Nuts and seeds are a great source of Vitamin E and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Vitamin E helps the skin stay hydrated, improves healing and some research suggests that it can help to treat UV photodamage (9). Omega-3 Fatty Acids help to regulate the skin's oil levels and can soothe irritation (10). A cure for the itch perhaps?
So that is our guide to quick and easy healing. Now, I haven’t made a whole section on this and that is because I trust you to do the right thing, but just in case...drink water! It is imperative that you drink enough water, not just for healing your tattoo but in everyday life. Why are you still here? Go and get a glass of water!