It’s normal for ink to fade over time.
Years down the road, you may want to have your tattoo re-touched.
In the meantime, the best product to keep tattoos bright is the one you’ll actually use.
You need the best moisturizer and lotion for old tattoos.
How should you moisturize old tattoos?
The two best ways to keep old ink vibrant is to hydrate the skin and protect it from UV radiation (1).
The ink is below the epidermis so that it doesn’t exfoliate. But cells from the immune system will break it down and disperse it little by little.
Then, if the epidermis is dehydrated, it’s like dusty glass. It makes it harder to see the tattoo.
Therefore, apply moisturizer at least once, preferably twice, each day. Think of it as polishing your window. The lotion keeps the skin from getting dull and clouding the view of the ink.
It doesn’t hurt to exfoliate, either, as you won’t rub off the tattoo after it’s healed completely.
Next, ultraviolet radiation causes the ink to fade, just like it does house paint. Red ink used to be notorious, but new azo pigments seem to be holding up well in modern tattoos.
White ink also tends to discolor. If you tan, it will fade faster, or go brown or gray.
That’s why you need to apply sunscreen as well as moisturize. (You can save yourself the trouble by purchasing a body lotion with SPF protection. See the reviews below for recommendations.)
It doesn’t hurt to drink plenty of water, either. If your skin stays healthy, your tattoo will look better (2).
Best Moisturizers and Lotions for Old Tattoos
Now, let’s review the best tattoo aftercare products for old ink.
After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer and Aftercare Lotion
One of the best lotions to make tattoos stand out is After Inked, which is used by professional artists. It’s been featured on shows like NY Ink and Ink Master.
It’s vegan and contains no petroleum, parabens, or gluten. It doesn’t feel greasy, and it won’t make your clothes stick to your tattoo.
Although it’s perfect for brightening old tattoos, it’s also mild enough to help new tattoos heal.
The primary active ingredient is grape seed oil. Why does that matter?
It turns out that grape seed oil is an excellent moisturizer. It fights acne and premature aging. Plus, it absorbs quickly and leaves the skin supple.
Although there is no artificial fragrance, the lotion smells citrusy because it contains real orange oil.
Billy Jealousy Tattoo Lotion
This tattoo lotion is rich in antioxidants. They protect the skin against harmful UV rays that cause wrinkles and dryness. They aren’t sunscreen, however.
It’s formulated to leave the skin so soft you’ll want to use it over your whole body, not just the ink. With green tea, olive oil, aloe, and seabuckthorn, it re-hydrates and revives.
It smells good, too. But the artificial fragrance may make a new tattoo sting, so wait until after it’s healed to enjoy it.
Ed Hardy INK Tattoo & Color Fade Moisturizer
You may recognize the name Ed Hardy as he’s a famed tattoo artist. His name appears on a line of tanning products as well.
This is a tan extender lotion with additional benefits. It was created to protect tattoos from fading.
As one reviewer points out, it gives tattoos a “wet look” while it leaves the skin silken. It has a lightweight whipped texture, and it sinks in fast, never leaving any noticeable residue.
It has shea butter, a potent natural moisturizer. There’s also a patented formula called Body Fit that makes cellulite less noticeable.
The honey and bourbon scent appeals to both men and women.
Tattoo Goo Aftercare Lotion
Tattoo Goo makes one of the best lotions for tattoo maintenance. It’s also perfect for healing new ink.
It prevents scabbing and reduces itching to speed up recovery. Over the long term, it keeps tattoos bright with skin enhancers like panthenol and olive oil.
It contains no petroleum, lanolin, or alcohol.
What’s more, it has no scent, so it never clashes with cologne or your favorite body wash.
Hempz Sensitive Skin Herbal Body Moisturizer
Hempz makes a variety of body lotions, including this one that’s customized for sensitive skin. It has potent natural ingredients like hemp seed oil, shea butter, and a soothing oat complex.
Although it wasn’t designed specifically to keep tattoos from fading, it works well for that purpose. It’s packed with fatty acids and other nutrients to keep the skin healthy.
It has no parabens, artificial color, or gluten.
Kiss My Face Sensitive Skin Natural Moisturizer
Avoid everything unnatural that you possibly can by choosing Kiss My Face moisturizer. It gets the job done without harsh ingredients like parabens, phthalates, and perfume.
Instead, it relies on olive fruit oil, shea butter, aloe juice, and grapeseed oil. You’ll be feeding your skin the nutrients it needs to look younger and feel comfortable.
It helps tattoos stay bright with a dose of instant moisture.
Advanced Clinicals Anti-Aging Hyaluronic Acid Cream
Surprisingly, the best lotion to keep tattoos from fading might not have been created for that specific purpose. It’s an anti-aging cream for the face and body.
The manufacturer states that their goal of making clinical-grade products available at a reasonable price to the ordinary person. That’s why they’ve included hyaluronic acid in this cream.
Hyaluronic acid is an astonishingly good moisturizer. It attracts up to 1000 times its weight in water. Consequently, it plumps the skin to reduce wrinkles and soften it. Well-hydrated skin will revive dull tattoos.
The formula also features vitamin E and borage oil for healing.
Fortunately, there are no hormone disruptors like parabens in the bottle.
It’s made in the USA and comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Cetaphil Restoring Lotion
If you don’t mind mineral oil, Cetaphil’s lotion could help a new tattoo heal, then keep it vibrant for the years to come.
When the tattoo artist recommends avoiding alcohol in tattoo lotion, they meant drying alcohol like isopropyl or ethanol. (Think hand sanitizer).
The alcohol in this formula is fatty alcohol that acts as an emulsifier and a moisturizer.
Why choose this particular Cetaphil lotion instead of one of the others they make? For one, it’s fortified with antioxidants. That’s one of the ingredients you need to prevent premature aging and dullness.
Furthermore, it’s fragrance-free and never greasy. It’s made for sensitive skin.
The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow-Protect Lotion SPF 30
I know not everyone is interested in the details, but I’m glad to see that The Body Shop explains all the ingredients on the label of this lotion. If you are curious about why they include octisalate, for example, you can read that it’s sunscreen.
Plus, you can see that glycerin is a humectant that attracts water. Then, there’s sesame seed oil as a skin conditioning agent.
But what you won’t see are parabens, although there are other preservatives like sorbic acid. And there’s an artificial fragrance, which is why the lotion smells tasty like citrus.
If you’d like to keep your tattoos bright, use a moisturizer with sunscreen. It keeps the ink from fading as fast.
Eucerin Daily Hydration Body Cream with SPF 30
Here’s a version of Eucerin’s body lotion with sunscreen. It’s from a dermatologist-recommended brand.
It contains chemical UV filters, which aren’t the best choice if you have rosacea or sensitive skin. Go for mineral sunscreen instead.
On the other hand, it won’t turn the skin white or leave it oily. It has no fragrance, either.
The moisturizing effects last up to a full day after you apply it.
INK Tattoo Brightener Balm
Which is the best tattoo brightening cream? INK should improve the tattoo’s appearance as soon as you rub it into the skin.
While you use it, it also gently exfoliates. By encouraging cellular turnover and regeneration, it keeps the epidermis from looking dull and dry. That’s why it helps ink look brighter with crisp details.
The formula is kind to the skin as it’s rich in organic moisturizers and antioxidants. It has no perfume or harsh chemicals. When you read the label, it sounds good enough to eat.
Yet, it’s also safe for the environment as it contains nothing that would harm wildlife.
Viking Revolution Tattoo Care Balm
Here’s another tattoo balm with hardly any scent at all. There’s no fragrance – the smell comes from the natural ingredients inside.
It comes in a small metal tin, which means it’s best for spot treatment, not moisturizing large areas. If you have sleeves, you might want to go for a bottle of lotion instead.
But this is a product that’s gentle enough for new tattoos, not just brightening up old ones. Plus, it comes with a satisfaction guarantee.
Hustle Butter Deluxe
If you’re an artist, I bet you’ve heard of Hustle Butter. It’s not just good for tattoo aftercare, but it’s also helpful during inking.
It’s a lubricant that won’t clog tubes, and it’s a moisturizer that promotes rapid healing.
The vegan cream contains no petroleum or toxic ingredients. Instead, it soothes itching and leaves the skin soft with mint essential oil, rosemary, green tea, and aloe butter.
Dab some on twice a day to make those tats glisten.
Barker Goods Organic Tattoo Balm
Keep it natural with a certified USDA-organic tattoo balm. There are only five ingredients: olive and coconut oil, beeswax, carnauba wax, and vitamin E.
There are no preservatives, perfumes, or chemicals of any kind.
That’s why you can soothe new tattoos with it. Besides, it’s excellent for brightening up old tattoos. (And you can use it as lip balm if you want).
The manufacturer offers a satisfaction guarantee, which allows you 30 days to try it.
Barbero Natural Tattoo Cream
Monoi oil is a blend of coconut and gardenia. It’s a traditional treatment for dry skin and hair that’s used in the islands.
But this tattoo cream comes from California. It’s free of artificial colors, fragrances, and parabens. The scent is rosemary and clove from the natural ingredients.
Once it absorbs, the moisturizer isn’t greasy, and it won’t stain clothes. But please do keep it away from the eyes.
Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve
As you might imagine, this herbal salve is free of synthetic ingredients of all kinds. There’s not even any gluten in it.
It’s made by a family business that developed it to help heal new tattoos. It’s also helpful for treating cuts and scrapes.
It won’t pull out the ink, but it will reduce the risk of infection. Later on, it will keep the ink looking sharp by conditioning the skin with natural moisturizers.
The pleasant fragrance is a blend of essential oils like rosemary and cedarwood.
Urban Nomads Tattoo Aftercare Oil
This is a product that can do it all. It brightens old tattoos and helps tame the beard.
It’s a blend of natural oils like argan, sunflower, and bergamot. Oddly, they don’t leave the skin or hair greasy.
They absorb quickly to refresh the ink’s appearance.
The product is handcrafted in Spain and free of synthetic ingredients.
H2Ocean InkRenu Moisturizing Foam
Not everyone loves lotion. If you hate dealing with creams and oils, try this water-based moisturizing foam.
It works fast to revive the color of old tattoos.
There’s no fragrance and no greasy feeling. It’s silicone-based, so it’s effective at sealing in moisture.
What’s more, it leaves the skin looking natural, yet soft to the touch.
Once your tattoo has healed, it still requires maintenance. The ink will stay vibrant and crisp for longer if you take good care of your skin.
After all the time in the chair and the money you spent to enjoy this work of art, you deserve to take good care of it.
Take a moment to moisturize and put on sunscreen. It will keep your ink beautiful so that you and those around you can continue to enjoy it in the years to come.
1. https://www.sciencefocus.com/the-human-body/why-do-tattoos-fade/ by Luis Villazon, accessed September 23, 2020
2. https://www.usdermatologypartners.com/blog/how-to-care-for-your-tattoo-long-term/ published August 24, 2018, accessed September 23, 2020