My Tattoos // Personal Care Guide
Happy Sunday, pretty people!
A common thing I get asked about are my tattoos, like what they mean + where I get them + how I take care of them to keep them looking dark and bold. I thought it would be fun to do a post sharing a little about my tattoos in the order I got them and then how I personally take care of them in the healing process. I love seeing other people’s tattoos and hearing about meanings (if any) and designs they choose. So if you’re interested in learning a little about my tattoos, then keep on reading.
All of my tattoos so far have been done by Jeff Slack at Fort City in Fort Smith, AR. I love traditional style tattoos and I think Jeff is one of the best around. I think it’s important to find an artist that you trust and can build a relationship with, and I personally have enjoyed staying with the same artist to keep my style consistent and the placement smart with future pieces in mind. I mean, it’s permanently on your skin, so finding the artist that is the right fit for you and what you’re envisioning is crucial to being happy with your tattoos. I know it can be tempting to go with the first artist that can fit you into a walk in appointment, but in the long run it is always a good idea to do the research, find your ideal artist, and check out the facility in person before booking (if possible), even if that means having to wait a little longer on getting your tattoo.
XXIII - Back // Personal Pain Level - 1/5 It felt like if you have a sunburn and then someone takes a pen and draws on your back. Not bad. // If one of your tattoos isn’t a matching sibling tattoo then are you really a millennial? In all reality my first tattoo was the one that I had planned on getting the longest. My older sister and I were both born on the 23rd of our respective birth months and swore growing up that it was our family’s lucky number because it followed us all everywhere. Back in our very cringe scene gal phase (apparently it was a phase, y’all) we used to talk about how we were going to get matching ‘23’ tattoos and be so cool. Back in 2015 for my birthday Laurel and I decided it was time to take the plunge and I remember being so worried about my parents finding out about them, which cracks me up now. I don’t think I ever formally “told” my parents about this one. Laurel and I rented a duplex together so our secret was hidden until baseball season was in full swing and my dad finally saw Laurel’s on her shoulder while they were at a game together. I think the beans were spilled after that and I remember my mom told me “Don’t you think it would have looked cuter smaller?” #NoRagrets
“to the end of the world’ - Outer right forearm // Personal Pain Level - 1/5 // My most sentimental tattoo is on my right outer forearm. I had my mother begrudgingly write the line after a lot of persuading on my end, and then more persuading came on her part of her trying to convince me to get it somewhere I could hide- like on my foot. The quote comes from Dave Matthews Band - You & Me, a song that my mom has sang to me for the greater part of my life. “All the way to the end of the world / Oh, and when the kids are old enough / We're gonna teach them to fly / You and me together, we could do anything, Baby”
Thrift Store Floral // Inner left bicep // Personal Pain Level - 4/5 This was a doozy // In my mind, this was my first “real tattoo” ya know? Flowers are my favorite. If I could exclusively tattoo myself in flowers I would be a very happy camper. This tattoo was my “when I grow up” tattoo. “When I grow up I’m going to get a big floral peony tattoo on my arm and no one will ever stop me!” I honestly can’t imagine loving another tattoo as much as I do this one. Once upon a time in January 2017 I was at Thrift Town in Fort Smith, AR and I happened upon a set of plates that to this day are the most beautiful dishes I have ever seen in my life. I loved the print so much that I took a picture of them, finally knowing that is what I wanted my tattoo to look like. I could not be happier with the outcome. I think chinaware floral makes for perfect floral inspiration. Timeless, beautiful. Anyway- Flash forward to Valentines Day 2018, sweet Grayson went to Thrift Town and bought me the entire set of dishes and surprised me. Sweetest gift I’ve ever received. (Until he proposed the next day. )
Lemon branch // Outer left bicep // Personal Pain Level - 3/5 // - As someone who has struggled with depression for most of my life, the concept of happiness / positivity / and joy has been something I have wrestled with, often. But, I’m okay. I’m happy to say that most days I choose to fight the good fight. Through the serotonin lacking days. Through the days of hurt, fear, anxiety, I am still thriving. Give me all the lemons, I love lemonade.
“A Long Way From Home” Valentine // Left forearm - // Personal Pain Level - 3/5 Of all the tattoos I have, I get asked about this one almost everyday. “So, where’s home?” “Are you really a long way from home?” Interestingly enough, this is what I was originally going to have my mom write out for my 2nd tattoo. She didn’t want to. She told me it was too sad, and she “didn’t want to think about her baby being a long way from home.” I told her fine, but it would just be a new tattoo later on. #Sassy Fast forward 3 years and I’m married to a rockstar that has to leave me for 5 weeks after our 6 month anniversary to record a new album - missing our first Valentines Day. It just seemed like the perfect time to revisit this idea, which is where I pulled the vintage Valentine inspiration. A little Valentines Day gift to myself. As for meaning, I’m reminded of that old hymn, “This World is Not My Home” In fact, I’m a long way from my home. I like the reminder. It grounds me on the good days, and gives me hope on the bad days.
Click through these pictures to see all of my current tattoos!
Tattoo Care - Before you get a tattoo for the first time, it’s really easy to not think about the aftercare that comes into play. You need to remember it’s like taking care of a very delicate wound. Scratch it, you might lose color or inflect it. Bothering it by cleaning it too much and you might irritate it. Here are my tips that I’ve found to work for me.
After getting the tattoo, keep the bandage on as long as you can bear to over the next 12 hours. I know it is so tempting to peel that bad boy off the moment you leave the tattoo parlor, but the longer you have it bandaged up ( up to 12 hours ) the more protection it will have from infections. Depending on the kind of tattoo you get, it might bleed or seep, so just be mindful of that.
Wash it regularly, at least 2-3 times a day, with unscented soap. We use Dove unscented because its pretty moisturizing and gentle. You don’t want to use something like Irish Spring soap, anything super stripping and/or with fragrance is a big no no.
Exfoliate Gently As It Heals - The first couple of times you wash your tattoo it will be tender and a little sore. The last thing you will want to do is scrub it with your salt scrub or glove exfoliator. I recommend using a soft washcloth or microfiber towel and going in soft, circular motions over the tattoo. I personally use an exfoliating soap pouch like this, and it keeps the soap from getting gunky and overly soft, but provides a nice gentle exfoliating surface to get the dead skin off with. As it heals, it’s going to scab and peel. This is normal and good, but it can get itchy and uncomfortable so try and ignore it. Bonus Tip- DON’T PICK IT. Not only is this super unsanitary, but it can cause ink to fall out and look patchy.
LOTION! Unscented body lotion is very important too. Some people go for a “dry” healing approach and personally the idea of that makes my skin crawl. Keeping the skin moisturized seems to speed up the healing process in my experience and keeps the ink from falling out. It’s normal for some ink to scab and fall out- meaning you might need a touch up a few months later- but this is certainly preventable with proper care. It’s good to keep lotion with you all day, but if that’s not possible, doing it when you have meal times should keep you pretty set.
Optional: Therapeutic Skin Salve. Okay, I know I said “optional” but if you are planning on getting a tattoo I feel like you NEED this stuff. Simplified Soap is one of my favorite lines- their goat milk lotion is wonderful. This salve cuts healing time in half. HALF I’ve even got Grayson hooked at this point, and I don’t know how I could go through the healing process without this stuff now. All you need is a dime to nickel sized amount (For reference- A nickel sized amount covered Grayson’s entire chest piece) and rub it on after showering and/or before bed time. Any time you wash its a good idea to reapply. Use in replacement of lotion, and be amazed at how quickly it heals. 100% natural- coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, beeswax, arrowroot powder, vitamin E, and essential oils of lavender, melaleuca, thyme, geranium and frankincense. As the website says, “If you didn't already know, frankincense is the king of all essential oils. It heals, it kills germs and bacteria, it disappears things. And if it was good enough for baby Jesus, its good enough for me!” Amen to that.
BONUS TIP: Another thing to note is the importance of sunscreen. Sunscreen is important, tattoos or not, but wearing sunscreen when you know you’ll have sun exposure for extended periods of time will keep your ink from premature fading!
I’m by no means a tattoo expert, (with all 5 of my tattoos hahaha) but these are tips that I’ve picked up on over the last few years that really helped me. Everyone is different though, so let me know what works for you!
Do you have any tattoos? What methods do you use to deal with the yucky healing process?