You did it! After years of going back and forth on designs and debating whether you really wanted a permanent mark on your body, you got a tattoo. The process was a little painful, but nothing you couldn’t handle, and now you have a work of art on your body. But, the process isn’t over yet. To make sure your ink lasts forever, you’ll have to take special care of your skin.

Replace your wrap

After getting tattooed, your artist should place a small layer of petroleum jelly over the tattoo and wrap it with a bandage. About two to five hours after the procedure, you should remove the bandage and replace it with a new one. There might be plasma or blood oozing from the site, but that’s completely normal. If you are using regular bandages, they should be replaced every two hours for anywhere from one to six weeks, depending on the design and color.

Sophia Tovpeko, a freshman majoring in mathematics, recommends using Saniderm bandages to keep the tattoo glossy and vibrant, which can be replaced weekly instead of every few hours.

“Saniderm can stay on for a lot longer and is way easier than traditional processes,” Tovpeko said. “You should replace it every week when you notice the area get too dry.”

Carry unscented soap with you

Aubrey Doyen, a sophomore majoring in biology, said keeping your tattoo clean is one of the most important steps in the healing process.

“I carried around soap and lotion and washed it like five times a day if my arms touched anything that might be dirty,” Doyen said. “I also wore long sleeves to bed to keep it clean.”

Remember, getting tattooed is a procedure. Keeping the area around it clean is essential for a speedy recovery. In addition, remember not to go swimming until healing is complete.

Wear sunscreen

This is something you should do every day, but it’s even more important to protect your skin from UV rays after getting a tattoo. Tovpeko suggests using a higher SPF sunscreen.

“If you go out a lot, especially for the first month or so, put a layer of sunscreen on it,” Tovpeko said. “Use SPF 30 or higher to make sure it’s fully protected.”

Remember to use sunscreen instead of sunblock, which can irritate the area with its ingredients. Instead, a light sunscreen, lotion or spray should do the trick.

Don’t use Vaseline

Although your artist may apply a layer of petroleum jelly to the tattoo, Camille Shapiro, a sophomore majoring in biology, said you should not use it again because petroleum-based products can make the ink fade. Instead, keep your skin moisturized with unscented lotions.

“Vaseline is bad if you want a list of products not to use,” Shapiro said. “I washed [my tattoo] with soap for two weeks, morning and night. After my skin was dry, I used Aquaphor lotion for the first three to four days, then Aveeno lotion for 10 days after that.”

Don’t itch or pick your tattoo

Zoe Heiderstadt, a junior majoring in psychology, said the itchiness of getting a tattoo is the worst part. Picking at it can also ruin the lines of a tattoo and lead to an infection.

“I feel like something people don’t tell you about the healing process is how itchy your tattoo will feel after a day or two,” Heiderstadt said. “I use a thin layer of Aquaphor healing ointment on my tattoo when it feels dry or itchy.”