Ointment vs. Dry healing

Depending on whom you ask, some technicians and their clients insist upon using an ointment on post-procedure eyebrows while others swear by dry-healing, or making sure that absolutely nothing touches them, including any moisture. Some aftercare instructions may call for as many as 10 days of no face washing or showering in order to preserve the fine hairstrokes of color placed in the skin. So who is right?

What I have found is that there is nothing wrong with dry healing. In fact, keeping the skin clean, dry and exposed to air allows the skin to heal as just well as if it were protected by an ointment. The critical window of healing takes place within the first 24-48 hours after the tattoo procedure. After that period the skin is well on its way to closing the superficial wounds that the tattoo procedure has introduced, and the risk of infection is minimal.  What the ointment does for the skin is to provide soothing relief immediately after the procedure and also offers a protective film against the elements, including moisture, and perhaps particles in the air such as from pollution. A small amount applied sparingly over a few days is all that is needed. When used correctly, it does not appear to negatively affect the results of an eyebrow tattoo. Nor does dry-healing appear to guarantee that the fine hairstrokes of color will stay after the skin has fully healed. The skin itself is what largely determines how the color and shape will look once the skin is healed, as well as how it will continue to look as it fades. Sometimes on the very same client one brow will appear to take color better than the other eyebrow and sometimes in the same eyebrow color in one area might come off as patchy due to localized irregularity in the skin. Even when there are defined hairstrokes in the healed skin, eventually they will look less and less clear as the skin grows out (which is happening all the time as it does for all bodily organs) and the color gradually fades as well.

The one instance where dry-healing may offer an advantage is for certain sensitive skin types (the kind that easily gets red and irritated, and which may or may not be as a result of an inflammatory skin condition) who have trouble with color retention. What appears to be helpful in this instance may be the result of not washing the face for several days or even a week. Washing (whether overzealously, too frequently, and/or using a cleanser that is too harsh or high in pH for the skin) away the skin’s natural protective oils can disrupt the skin’s barrier and cause sensitivity. So a taking a temporary break from washing allows the skin’s own protective barrier to return to its equilibrium and become less sensitized. Less sensitive skin tends to also have an easier time healing, which might explain better color retention and cosmetic tattoo results.

But for those who do not have skin sensitivity issues, a small amount of ointment to help keep the skin protected while allowing you to still wash and shower right away. . . . that goes a long way.





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