What’s the best stuff to use on a new tattoo?
After all, you’ll want your ink to heal quickly and stay vibrant.
It all starts with the most important tattoo care during the first 48 hours.
It’s crucial to have the best tattoo aftercare products on hand.
How to heal a tattoo as quickly as possible
Here’s the TLDR version:
- Always clean your hands before taking care of the new tattoo.
- Gently wash the tattoo and apply moisturizer each day.
- Don’t pick or scratch.
- Hang in there for a couple of weeks.
Once the artist finishes, they’ll put ointment and wrap the new tattoo in a bandage. To avoid ruining the ink, we recommend leaving the dressing in place for at least 4 hours.
The new tattoo is going to ooze ink and bleed a little. That’s normal. It’s also going to be a bit swollen, red, and possibly warm to the touch. That’s also okay for the first day or so. (If it gets worse and oozes pus, or develops a rash, seek medical attention).
Before you remove the bandage, wash your hands. Always clean your hands before touching the tattoo or any open wound.
Peel off the bandage carefully and wash the skin with lukewarm water and soap. Please don’t hold it under a running faucet or submerge it under water as it may force out the ink. Be gentle and only use your fingers to work dried blood and secretions from the skin.
No matter how bad it itches or how attractive those scabs are, don’t pick, scratch, or peel. Try numbing soap and switch to a different tattoo lotion if needed.
In the meantime, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, and eat as healthy as possible to help your body regenerate skin cells.
Once the natural peeling has finished, and the skin is smooth once more, you can begin using sunscreen to protect the ink when you go outdoors.
What to expect during the tattoo healing process
During the first week, the inked skin may look red and slightly swollen. It may feel warm, too. Scabs may form, and a little ink may emerge from the skin. As the days pass, the redness and swelling will decrease.
Throughout the second week, the tattoo will itch, flake, and peel. It’s essential to continue moisturizing and avoid picking to prevent wrecking the ink or getting an infection.
In the third week, the skin will continue to clear up and look more normal. The outer layers may be healed by now, but the inner layers are still being repaired. Keep up the healthy habits (like hydrating), but it’s unnecessary to wash twice a day if the surface looks healed.
If you apply lotion every day to a healed tattoo, it will stay looking clear and bright.
Best Stuff to Use on a New Tattoo in 2023
Bandages and ointment for new tattoos
If you ask an artist what kind of ointment they put on tattoos, you may hear responses like Aquaphor, A&D, Vaseline, and so on. We suggest asking your tattoo artist what they recommend. Chances are, it will be one of the products below.
Saniderm Tattoo Bandage
We’ve been asked, “What can I put on my new tattoo at night?” This is a good question as new tattoos tend to leak ink that could stain the sheets. Also, friction from clothes will irritate the skin.
The solution is to cover the tattoo with a bandage like this one. Saniderm makes medical-grade adhesive bandages that are breathable yet waterproof. They can help the tattoo heal faster.
Moreover, the material is latex-free to prevent allergic reactions.
Choose from a variety of sizes, including individual pre-cut bandages as well as rolls.
SaniGlide Tattoo Aftercare Non-Petroleum Roll-On Balm By Saniderm
Many tattoo artists avoid petroleum jelly because it can clog pores and smother a new tattoo. It’s also greasy.
Instead, try this roll-on made with natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial ingredients like sea buckthorn. It’s rich in omega 7 to accelerate healing.
Other ingredients include coconut oil, lavender, and colloidal silver.
Try it, and if you don’t love it, the manufacturer offers a replacement or refund.
Users say that this tattoo balm feels very soothing, and it stops the itching. They’ve noticed it cuts down on recovery time.
Aquaphor Healing Ointment
Aquaphor’s appointment comes in a tube to prevent contamination. It has no artificial preservatives or fragrances to protect sensitive skin. Although it contains petroleum jelly, it’s much more breathable than Vaseline.
It’s thicker than a lotion, made to heal cracked skin. Yet, it’s mild enough to use as a lip moisturizer.
Put a thin layer over your new tattoo for the first few days to keep it hydrated and protected.
Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve
Take a pass on petroleum and use organic, natural ingredients to baby your new tattoo. This tattoo ointment calms itching and redness and encourages rapid healing.
The formula has no synthetic ingredients. It’s also free of lanolin, gluten, colors, fragrances, and lanolin. It contains nothing that would harm the ink or irritate the skin. After your tattoo is healed, use it to maintain the brilliant color, or treat cuts and bug bites with it.
The label lists organic botanicals like grapeseed oil, calendula, comfrey, and coconut oil. Let it melt a little in your hand before applying it.
After Inked NPJ Non-Petroleum Jelly
If you’re an artist, this is a handy product to have around. It preps the skin and serves as a glide during the tattooing process. It won’t erase the stencil or clog tubes.
Afterward, it’s an excellent moisturizer that can take the place of Vaseline. It’s based on grape seed oil, which is packed with antioxidants for rapid healing.
H2Ocean Aquatat Moisturizer
This ointment will help you get past the first week of healing. It’s fortified with vitamins and palm seed oil to promote faster recovery.
There’s no artificial fragrance, petroleum, mineral oil, or dyes in it. It’s not sticky or greasy, either.
Ink Scribd Premium Tattoo Aftercare Healing Balm Ointment
We won’t lie – we find the itchy part of the healing process the hardest to deal with. That’s where this ointment saved the day. It moisturizes the skin to calm the itching and handle scabs and peeling like a champ.
Furthermore, it’s chemical-free and natural. If you don’t love it, the company offers a whole year for you to claim a refund.
Not all soaps are equal when it comes to wound care. It’s best if you can avoid drying soap with artificial fragrances, sulfates, or alcohol.
H2Ocean Blue Green Foam Soap
H2Ocean has an entire lineup of tattoo aftercare products starting with this blue-green foaming soap. It’s designed explicitly for new tattoos.
The antibacterial formula features benzalkonium chloride to prevent infection. There’s also aloe to moisturize the skin and reduce irritation.
The bottle is small, but one reviewer got a week and a half out of it while washing a half sleeve tattoo three times per day.
The directions say to wash a maximum of 4 times per day using warm water. Follow up with a moisturizer.
Tattoo Goo Deep Cleansing Soap
Tattoo Goo uses a different antimicrobial agent called PCMX-L in their soap. It’s mild and clinically proven for wound care. The formula is mildly acidic to prevent dryness and irritation, too.
One of the highlights is that when you use this soap, you feel cleaner. Water sheets right off the skin when it’s rinsed.
Reviewers say it lathers nicely and smells pleasant.
Dial Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap
Many artists and tattoo collectors depend on Dial soap. It’s been reformulated to use benzalkonium chloride instead of triclosan to kill bacteria.
Work it into a lather and let it work for at least 20 seconds to kill off the germs.
If you’re not a fan of the Gold version, it’s available now in other scents. Keep in mind that these are perfumed soaps (with dyes) that could cause irritation for sensitive skin.
Dr Numb Topical Anesthetic Foaming Soap
When you can’t bear the pain and the itching, turn to Dr Numb. It contains 4% lidocaine to desensitize the skin and block nerve signals. This fact makes it useful to prepare for getting a tattoo as well.
It also happens to have benzethonium chloride, an antibacterial agent.
Take note that it will numb your hands if you don’t wear gloves when you wash with it. But it will definitely take the sting out of a new tattoo as well as other minor injuries.
It’s one thing to keep your new tattoo clean. But it’s just as essential to keep it moisturized. Ask any doctor or nurse, and they will tell you that wounds heal faster when properly hydrated.
After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer
Which is the best lotion for a new tattoo? Many artists recommend After Inked. It’s been featured on tattoo reality shows and touted by professionals.
Even more importantly, it’s been tested by dermatologists and in clinical trials. It’s safe for all skin types and contains no allergens or irritants. It’s made in the USA and free of petroleum, parabens, fragrances, animal ingredients, and gluten.
The secret to its success is grape seed oil, an antioxidant-rich moisturizer that won’t clog pores. It can be applied immediately after tattooing without harming the ink or the skin.
The only complaint we heard is that it comes in a small bottle. People love it so much they always want more.
H2Ocean OCEAN FOAM Skin Moisturizing Foam
When your skin is sore and sensitive, rubbing in ointment or lotion doesn’t feel like fun. Try this moisturizing foam instead.
It’s formulated to lock in the ink and dose the skin with essential minerals and vitamins for healing.
The water-based formula forms a protective barrier and treats inflammation.
What’s more, it’s hypoallergenic and mild enough to use up to 5 times per day. It absorbs quickly and won’t stain clothing.
Hustle Butter Deluxe
Every artist has heard of Hustle Butter because it’s an all-purpose tattooing product. Not only does it act as a lubricant during the process, but it’s also excellent for moisturizing afterward.
It’s a vegan tattoo balm based on shea and mango butter, coconut oil, green tea, and other natural ingredients. The appealing fragrance comes from the herbs, not chemicals.
Use it to calm itchiness and reduce swelling and redness. Then, keep putting it on to keep your healed tattoo looking fabulous.
Tattoo Goo Aftercare Lotion
This aftercare lotion has the same vitamins A and D as the well-known ointment does, yet it’s not greasy. It’s based on olive oil, panthenol, and herbs, not petroleum.
Smooth it on, and it sinks in fast to soothe the skin. Fans say it’s their preference for healing tattoos as it locks in the color and prevents itching.
Tattoo aftercare kits
Rather than picking out individual products for tattoo aftercare, get a kit. Often, the products inside are formulated to maximize each other’s benefits.
H2Ocean Ultimate Tattoo Care
H2Ocean packages their Blue Green Foaming Soap, the Moisturizing Foam, and tattoo lotion together in the Ultimate kit. If you have a small to medium-sized tattoo to treat, there should be enough for at least two weeks.
Tattoo Goo Aftercare Kit
Tattoo Goo’s kit features Deep Cleansing Soap, aftercare lotion, tattoo balm, and sunscreen. They are designed to keep the skin healthy and the ink vibrant.
The antibacterial soap wards off infection while the moisturizer and balm stimulate circulation and regeneration.
Once your tattoo has healed, continue taking good care of it by applying the SPF 30 plus sunscreen.
Stock up on the stuff you need for your new tattoo. Get the soap and moisturizer that will speed up healing so that you can show off your new ink with pride.
If our reviews helped you find your new favorite tattoo products, we’d love to hear about what you’re using now. Drop us a comment below.
1. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/taking-care-of-your-tattoo#1 WebMD Medical Reference, Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on March 06, 2019, accessed January 5, 2021
2. https://journals.lww.com/nursing/Fulltext/2019/10000/Wound_Care_101.10.aspx Wound Care 101, by Cox, Jill PhD, RN, APN-C, CWOCN, published in Nursing October 2019 – Volume 49 – Issue 10 – p 32-39, accessed January 5, 2021