Why tattoo care is poised to become a mainstream staple

Published: 8-May-2024

Stu Jolley, founder of Stories & Ink, discusses aftercare and the blurring of the tattoo and beauty sectors

A quarter of Americans and one in three people in the UK have at least one tattoo.

Stu Jolley, founder of Stories & Ink (S&I), a specialist skin care range formulated for people with tattooed skin, explains why tattoo care is set to disrupt the mainstream body care category, while celebrating and normalising self-expression.

What does tattooed skin need?

Inked skin has various stages: from the initial application of a tattoo where skin needs help to repair fully; to protection of inked skin from the sun and elements; to long term maintenance – exfoliating dead skin and moisturising to maintain suppleness, elasticity and prevent skin ageing.

Tattoos can appear dull and lifeless if you do not follow a suitable skin regime.

For people who have invested in a tattoo, looking after it is incredibly important and requires efficacious and non-irritating products designed to enhance and protect skin and ink.

What can happen to tattoos and tattooed skin with incorrect care?

Proper care of a fresh tattoo is essential in order to avoid infection. A tattoo may become swollen, red and painful and may lead to blurring and distortion.

People should keep their new tattoos moisturised but without overdoing it, as this may lead to heavy, soggy scabs that are liable to get knocked off, potentially pulling the ink and disrupting a tattoo’s appearance.

Many people think tattoo care stops once their tattoo is healed and then wonder why it has faded within a couple of years, so long term care is equally important.

UV radiation from the sun can break down the pigments in the tattoo ink, causing the colours to fade and the lines to blur over time.

Regular moisturising with products that don’t irritate or disrupt the microbiome can help prevent signs of ageing, which can become more apparent on tattooed skin.

Stories & Ink was founded in 2016 by Simon Forster and Stu Jolley

Stories & Ink was founded in 2016 by Simon Forster and Stu Jolley

What do we want to impart to tattooed skin?

There are a lot of traditional tattoo aftercare remedies which can range from occlusive petrolatum formulas (which can dry out skin and damage tattoos) to repurposed products, such as haemorrhoid and nappy rash creams.

Most tattoo skin care products available at tattoo studios lack sophistication, scientific expertise or provable efficacy.

S&I’s formulation approach centres on four principles of lightweight textures that allow the skin to breathe; key actives with anti-inflammatory and healing properties; minimising irrigation by using ‘clean’ and high quality ingredients; and a natural first approach formulating with sophisticated ingredients with impressive clinical efficacy data.

S&I’s products are formulated for the different stages of tattoos with ingredients such as aloe and bisabolol to soothe irritated skin, and with panthenol and blackcurrant seed oil to aid healthy skin regeneration following a tattoo.

For long term care, we deploy smart collagen boosters including naturally derived knipholone and acetylated polymannose to aid skin rejuvenation, as well as humectant boosters to maximise hydration.

How many skus are there in Stories & Ink’s line-up and what jobs do they do?

We held focus groups with artists and consumers to find out why current products in the market were not meeting their requirements and developed six products to satisfy their unmet needs, with more on the way.

These include Aftercare Cream and Aftercare Foam Cleanser for use with new tattoos.

For regular maintenance, we have our Daily Moisturiser, Exfoliating Body Wash and two treatment products: our Vibrancy Serum and Highlighting Body Oil, designed to boost the brightness of tattoos.

What are the latest tattoo trends you’re noticing? Do these require any particular kind of specialist care?

We are seeing the blurring of tattoos and beauty.

Our first tattoo studio in Cornwall has more of a spa atmosphere, for example (as do many other modern studios), where natural light, lots of plants and clean, minimal interiors have replaced the traditional black, grungy feel of some old-school studios.

The scent of tattoo care products is important too – continuing the luxurious, spa feel of getting tattooed – and is something we work hard on to get right

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