When I got my first tattoo twenty years ago, there was little talk about tattoo aftercare. Sporting my new, and somewhat painful emblem of independence, I was told to keep it clean and to moisturize it with petroleum jelly or A & D Ointment. Fast forward a couple of decades and the world of tattoo aftercare products has expanded exponentially. Now there are tattoo lotions, tattoo cleansers, tattoo creams and more stuff for tattoo after care than would fit in my medicine chest.
The benefits of this burgeoning world of new tattoo care are many – among them, avoiding irritation and infection. More importantly these tattoo aftercare products help with healing and preserve the design and colors of your awesome new tat. Whether your ink is fresh, or somewhat “mature” like mine, many of these products claim to refresh and renew your tattoos to keep them looking their best. Since people with tattoos love to expose a bit more skin than the average un-inked person, you also need to think about protecting your tats from the sun’s damaging UV rays, and believe it or not, there are even tattoo specific sunscreens.
As you’re healing, avoid spending a lot of time in the water, especially pools and hot tubs that are often bacteria filled. The risk of infection is much greater during this important time. Also, find comfy and loose fitting clothes that won’t rub or chafe your new tat. That will keep you from agitating already tender skin and making it itchy or causing a rash. And sweating, even if you’re a gym rat, may cause additional issues during the healing phase.
If you’re thinking about inking, remember this: tattoos are a lot easier to get, than get rid of, so it pays to pick a great design, and equally as important, to take care of your tat to keep it looking good for the long haul. Don’t forget, it’s going to hurt a little (or a lot) depending on size. I’d say the pain is equivalent to laser hair removal. Since tattoos can become kind of addictive, you’ll want to stock up on the best tattoo aftercare products. Here are my picks for Tattoo Aftercare: Top 10 Best Creams & Lotions
Let’s get started with some tattoo aftercare instructions from an expert:
1. Billy Jealousy Marked IV Life Tattoo Care Kit
Are you addicted to ink? This care kit contains Billy Jealousy’s Tattoo Wash, Tattoo Lotion, and Tattoo Salve. Billy Jealousy’s Tattoo Wash contains four fearsome cleaners to rid skin of dirt, excess oil and dead skin cells. Cucumber extract helps tattoos retain their color, while hydrolyzed oat protein helps skin retain moisture to enhance your tattoo’s vibrancy. Glycolic AHA and papaya extract exfoliate and polish. It’s especially good to use following a new tattoo, to assist in the healing process. Billy Jealousy’s Tattoo Lotion contains essential oils and shea butter to bring out your tat’s color, definition and just a little oomph. Green tea leaf extract delivers powerful antioxidant properties to protect against environmental forces, while grapeseed oil shields against harmful free radicals. Helps your tattoos look clean, colorful and shamelessly cool. Spread some on twice a day. Your skin and tats will be glad you did. Billy Jealousy’s Tattoo Salve is brimming over with vitamin E, natural olive and lavender oils and other goodies to bring out your tattoo’s color and assist in the healing process. It won’t clog pores and is non-irritating. To help heal your new tattoo, apply a thin layer three times a day for a week. Don’t need the whole care kit? Buy the Billy Jealousy Tattoo Wash or the Billy Jealousy Tattoo Lotion separately.
- Smells great
- Doesn’t clog pores
- Polishes and exfoliates skin
- Keeps tattoo color clean and bright
- On the spendy side
- Heavy floral scent might be overwhelming to some
- Most don’t need the whole kit
2. Hustle Butter Deluxe – Tattoo Butter
Post pen, this tub of Hustle Butter Deluxe is a 100 percent vegan replacement for all petroleum based products. It’s used as a tattoo lubricant before, during and after the tattoo process, helping your tattoo heal faster and better. Made from mango, cocoa, papaya and other Shea butters, it brings tremendous benefits. It will not remove stencils and doesn’t cause petroleum build up or clogged tubes. HBDlx® promotes healing upon contact, and helps to minimize redness, swelling and bleeding. For the professional tattoo artist, skin remains workable – you’ll never have anymore over-worked highlights, yellows and whites go in the first time, color goes in so easily. Hustle Butter Deluxe will heal fresh tattoos quicker, with better results.
- #1 Amazon Best Seller
- Reduces swelling and redness
- Used by professional tattoo artists before, during and after tattooing
- Can also be used as a healing ointment for other cuts, scrapes and scratches
- Product seems hard until rubbed into warm skin
- More expensive than products with similar results
- May cause allergy issues for some users
- Can feel greasy
3. Tattoo Goo Aftercare Kit
The Tattoo Goo aftercare kit is for the complete aftercare and perpetual care of all of your tattoos. This awesome kit contains one each of Tattoo Goo salve in a 3/4 ounce tin, a two ounce Tattoo Goo deep cleansing soap for immediate healing, a two ounce Tattoo Goo quick penetrating lotion for moisturizing and enhancement of your new ink, and a Tattoo Goo color guard, fade protection stick with 30 SPF outdoor activities and protection against the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. This makes a great gift for that tat happy someone you love who wants a one stop solution to tattoo aftercare. Tattoo Goo also has a fantastic new formula cleansing soap for both your tattoos and piercings. And because summer’s coming and you’ll have a lot more skin showing, grab this awesome two pack of Tattoo Goo and Tattoo Goo Color Renew Lotion at a killer price.
Price: $13.50 (16 percent off MSRP)
- Comes with great instructions on tattoo aftercare
- Goo spreads evenly in a thin layer
- 30 SPF sunscreen works effectively
- Lotion moisturizes and aids healing
- Salve seems hard at first
- So many products may seem like overkill
- Can cause skin irritation and breakouts
- Scent was bothersome to some
4. H2Ocean Ultimate Tattoo Care Kit
This H2Ocean Ultimate tattoo aftercare kit is essential for all of the healing stages of your new tattoo, plus it can be used after healing on your existing tattoos. This kit is designed to cleanse your tattoo, while also providing nourishment and moisture to your skin, which is bound to feel a little touchy right now. This one-of-a-kind, all-natural water based aftercare system will keep your new tattoo bright and beautiful for many years to come. The ultimate tattoo care aftercare kit provides you with a three-step, safe, unscented, and revitalizing skin care regimen that is made for the tattoo industry by the tattoo industry. Once your tat is healed, keep it moisturized and looking gorgeous with H2Ocean Aquatat Moisturizer. Protect your tattoos and all the rest of you from too much sun exposure with H2Ocean SPF 45 Sea Life Extreme Sunscreen.
- Effectively aids the healing process
- Can help accelerate healing time
- Soap doesn’t dry out skin
- Easy instructions for use
- Somewhat spendy
- Moisturizing cream contains parabens
- Foam lotion can irritate skin
- Scent was an issue for some
5. After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer & Aftercare Lotion
After Inked is well-respected in the tattoo, piercing and permanent makeup industry. It’s a daily skin moisturizer for new and existing tattoos that won’t stick to your clothes. If you’re looking for a truly natural tattoo aftercare product, Aft Ink is a non-petroleum based, paraben-free, fragrance-free, vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free formula. It’s been clinically tested and dermatologist tested, so it’s safe for all skin types. Plus, it’s non-allergenic so it won’t irritate sensitive skin. After Inked is a premium product that’s been used and recommended by many world-renowned tattoo artists. Enriched with grapeseed oil, this is a great daily moisturizer for all your tats. It can also be used on any permanent makeup procedure on lips, brows, eyeliner and areola. You can use it as well, as an after-laser tattoo removal moisturizing lotion. And why carry a big bottle around, post tattooing? You can get the After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion in convenient, disposable pillow packs. They also make a terrific piercing aftercare spray.
Price: $19.99 (17 percent off MSRP)
- True vegan tattoo aftercare
- Good consistency
- Pleasant, light scent
- Moisturizes well, without feeling heavy or sticky
- May enhance scabs
- Can cause itching or irritation
- May sting when used on fresh ink
- Can cause pimples and rash
6. Urban Nomads Tattoo Aftercare Oil
This Urban Nomads tattoo oil is made with the best of Mother Earth’s treasures, to make your ink pop out and come to life. Its healing, moisturizing properties work perfectly on your new tattoo. It also helps to bring luminescence and clear contours back to your older tattoos. This special formula combines Argan oil, vitamin E, and other nutrients that are well-known to be excellent for skin and hair. Because it’s so versatile, it can even be applied as a hair oil to help repair split ends. It is crafted with ingredients that penetrate your skin profusely, deeply moisturizing your tat. Plus it has an amazing scent. It contains 100 percent natural ingredients including Moroccan cold-pressed Argan oil, sweet almond oil, sunflower seed oil and Bergamot oil. Hand-crafted in Spain, Urban Nomads tattoo oil is the perfect tattoo aftercare, guilt free, because it’s cruelty free and completely natural. Urban Nomads makes a full line of beard care products as well, from beard wax and shave gel, to aftershave balm and beard oil.
Price: $18.95 (5 percent off MSRP)
- Good for skin and hair
- Great scent
- Helps renew and revitalize older tattoos
- Feels smooth and clean on the skin
- Unabsorbed oil can stain clothes
- Scent isn’t perfect for everyone
- Expensive for its size
7. Aquaphor Healing Ointment
Trusted by dermatologists, pediatricians and people with new tattoos like you, Aquaphor Healing Ointment provides the special care that your new tat needs. That makes it a popular choice among those with lots of tattoo aftercare experience. It’s also great for your whole family, healing any very dry, chapped or irritated skin. Specially formulated to create an ideal environment that protects and helps heal your skin, it’s perfect on your fresh ink. It’s also free of fragrance, dyes and preservatives, making it gentle for sensitive skin. Use this multi-purpose ointment to protect or soothe extremely dry skin, chapped lips, cracked hands and feet, minor cuts and burns, and any other skin irritations, so you can get on with your day comfortably. It also helps prevent and soothe chafing, blisters, dry or chapped skin resulting from wind burn, cold or dry air. Because it protects, it will help to heal your new tattoo as well as other minor cuts, scrapes and burns. To add extreme moisture to your tattoo area, soothe it with Eucerin Aquaphor Healing Ointment. Aquaphor also makes an awesome Healing Lip Repair.
Price: $11.11 (5 percent off MSRP)
- #1 Amazon Best Seller
- Heavy duty healing power
- Medicated to soothe discomfort
- Good for many uses in addition to healing your tats
- Pretty greasy feeling
- Doesn’t smell great
- Isn’t as easily absorbed as some
- May cause breakouts
8. Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve
If you’re really into organic products, this 100 percent natural tattoo salve works because herbs are amazing healers. This tattoo ointment is slow-infused with an herbal blend formulated specifically for healing tissue, reducing inflammation, and reducing risk of infection. Applying a thin layer to new tattoos will help to protect and keep them supple. The best tattoo aftercare products heal, soothe and relieve itching without clogging pores or leaching color. This salve is lanolin, petroleum, synthetic and paraben free. It is gently scented with essential oils of rosemary, thuja (cedar leaf) and tea tree. Essential oils have been used throughout herb medicine history to help prevent infection. All ingredients were carefully selected for their healing, soothing, and protective qualities. This tattoo care salve contains moisturizing grapeseed oil infused with organic calendula, organic comfrey, organic plantain, organic chickweed, organic St. John’s Wort, organic burdock and thyme, organic coconut oil, beeswax, vitamin E And essential oils. Ora’s Amazing Herbal also makes an Intensive Skin Salve for deep hydration and healing. If you’re especially sensitive to scents, or if you have extra sensitive skin, Touchy Skin Salve might be the solution for healing your new ink.
- Highly rated by users
- 100 percent natural and organic
- Soothes itching and irritation on new tattoos
- Helps quickly heal fresh ink
- Not as moisturizing as some
- May cause breakouts
- Scent might be overwhelming to some
9. Tattoo Skin Silk
For those of us with an ink addiction, we know new tattoos need protection and healing vitamins. Unlike lanolin and petroleum based products, all-natural Tattoo Silk won’t clog pores or pull out your new ink. You’ll heal quickly with this hypoallergenic balm that protects and heals, while allowing your skin to breathe. Full of vitamins and beneficial natural oils, this silk balm is a great tattoo aftercare solution. This tattoo cream helps rejuvenate, heal and protect your body’s largest organ – your skin – naturally. Vitamin-rich ingredients soften, replenish, restore and repair the most delicate, damaged, and itchy skin. Two ounces of this natural balm can easily last as long as ten ounces of products diluted with water. With no water to evaporate, the moisture is sealed deeply into your skin, lasting much longer. Tattoo Skin Silk will leave your tat feeling soft, healthy, healed and smooth.To nourish the rest of your body and fight dryness and itching, try Healing Skin Silk. For soothing and relaxing your stressed out self, try the Itchy Bitch Skin Silk.
- Great natural ingredients aid in healing
- Moisturizes and smooths
- Doesn’t feel greasy
- Smells great
- Scent is unappealing to some
- Product can seem hard and waxy
- May require warming to spread effectively
10. Motherlove Organic Tattoo Care
Handcrafted in Colorado, Motherlove’s tattoo cream is made with certified organic calendula flowers and marshmallow root infused in extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, and shea butter. It helps to promote quicker healing of your new tattoo and its organic ingredients keep your pores from getting clogged. This allows your fresh ink to fully penetrate your skin. The thoughtful formulation of herbs provides optimal moisturizing and healing properties, yet retains a consistency that is comfortable to apply. Unlike petroleum based products, Motherlove Tattoo Care allows your skin to breathe easy. Motherlove makes a full line of organic products, like their Green Salve that quickly and effectively takes the itch out of insect bites, bee stings, and poison ivy. Motherlove is especially well known for their pregnancy and nursing products. Their Motherlove Nurturing Life gift box would make a wonderful gift for someone special.
- Reasonably priced compared to many
- Certified organic ingredients
- Hydrates and moisturizes without feeling sticky
- Smells great
- Reported inconsistencies with packaging
- Scent may be overpowering for some
11. Fisticuffs Tattoo Balm
Fisticuffs Tattoo Balm is a fast healing formula for tattoo aftercare. This balm is comprised of the highest quality ingredients and is specially formulated to aid in the recovery of your tattoos during the healing process. It contains no petroleum jelly, instead relying on an array of all natural ingredients that address issues like swelling, pain cracking and skin damage while fighting bacteria. After washing your new tattoo, just apply a thin layer of Fisticuffs Tattoo Balm over your entire tattooed area once or twice a day until it’s healed.
Price: $13.99 (13 Percent off MSRP)
- Reasonably priced compared to many
- All natural ingredients ingredients
- Fights bacteria, cracking and swelling
- Helps speed healing
- Eucalyptus and peppermint scent isn’t for everyone
- Can feel grainy compared to some
- May not be best on super sensitive skin
12. Redemption Lubricant, Barrier and Aftercare
The terrific product was developed for specifically for tattoo artists and collectors. It acts as a lubricant, barrier and aftercare, all in one. While it may look and feel smooth like petroleum based products, it is 100% natural with powerful healing ingredients that include: organic Castor Oil, organic Sunflower Oil, organic Beeswax, organic Cocoa butter, organic Coconut oil, organic vegetable glycerin, organic Arrowroot powder, organic Calendula oil, organic Arnica, organic Chamomile extract, organic Rosemary extract, and mixed Tocopherols. This super natural formula helps soothe and heal your new tat for a beautiful outcome.
- Rated 4.7 out of 5 stars by users
- Helps to minimize scabbing and itching
- Soothes pain and speeds healing
- Powerful and effective organic ingredients
- Excellent for sensitive skin
- Requires frequent reapplication
- Expensive compared to many