What Is Tattoo Green Soap?

tattoo artist at work
Tattoo artist. (Image: Dirk Ott/iStock/Getty Images)

Professional tattoo artists use the brand Tincture of Green Soap before, during and after a tattoo procedure. A medical level soap, green soap is not available in stores, only from medical and tattoo supply companies. It is called "green soap" by tattoo artists, who place the soap into a spray bottle and dilute the soap with water prior to a tattoo procedure. The spray bottle allows the tattoo artist to apply the solution to several tattoo clients' skin without ever touching a client's skin, to keep the procedure sanitary.

Green Soap for Sanitizing

Tincture of green soap sanitizes the skin of a tattoo client before the artist begins the tattoo. The tattoo artist wipes the client's skin with a disposable paper towel after spraying green soap onto the skin, while wearing a fresh pair of latex or nitrile gloves. The green soap moistens the client's skin while sanitizing the area to prepare the skin for hair removal. While the green soap is on the client's skin, the tattoo artist shaves the body part to prevent ingrown hairs from the needle entering the skin and for ease of stencil transfer.

Applying the Tattoo

After shaving the skin in the area designated for the tattoo, the tattoo artist will wipe your skin again with a paper towel and green soap to remove any loose hair. The tattoo artist sprays your skin again to moisten the clean, shaven skin. You will be asked to stand still while the tattoo artist applies the stencil for your tattoo. A tattoo stencil is an outline of your tattoo design on transfer paper, which your tattoo artist uses as reference while performing your tattoo. The tattoo artist will peel the stencil paper off after a minute or two and will ask you to look at the stencil and approve the position of the design. If the design is improperly placed or needs to be removed for a last minute design change, the tattoo artist will spray the purple stencil with green soap and wipe with a paper towel to remove the stencil.

When Ink Meets Skin

Because the green soap is made free of dyes and with low alcohol content, the green soap also serves as a wiping agent during a tattoo procedure. During your tattoo procedure, the tattoo artist will wipe excess ink off the tattoo while performing the outline and shading. Removing excess ink allows the tattoo artist to preview the next line in the design and to examine the previous lines or shading in case additional ink is necessary. The constant wiping of the ink from your skin could cause irritation to your skin with products that have a high alcohol content or strong fragrances or dyes.

Cleaning Up Afterward

The tattoo artist will wipe blood and remaining excess ink off your skin at the end of your tattoo. Before placing a bandage on your tattoo, the tattoo artist not only uses the green soap to clean blood and ink off your tattoo, but to also ensure your newly tattooed skin is sanitized underneath the bandage. Most tattoo artists recommend leaving the bandage on for several hours after the tattoo is finished. The tattoo artist washes the skin with green soap to ensure the cleanliness of your new tattoo until you remove the bandage and wash your skin.

A Few Cautions

Green soap should never get into a tattoo client's eyes or other mucous membranes. Transmission of diseases such as hepatitis C is possible if a tattoo artist cross contaminates the spray bottle containing the green soap. To prevent contamination, the tip of the spray bottle should never come into contact with a client's skin. Tubes from the tattoo machine are not sterile, only sanitary, after being sprayed and cleaned by Tincture of Green Soap. Tincture of Green Soap should never be used in place of an ultrasonic and autoclave to clean tattoo tubes.

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