Moisturizer is crucial for tattoo aftercare. It also keeps the ink bright throughout the years.
But what is the best unscented lotion for tattoos? Why does it matter if the moisturizer is fragrance-free?
Can you use any lotion, or are there ingredients you should avoid?
Let’s talk about the basics of taking care of a new tattoo and what keeps old ink from fading.
How to care for a new tattoo
For the first couple of weeks after getting inked, you need to keep the skin clean and hydrated to help it heal. Every time you wash, you need to put on lotion.
Tattoo artists often recommend unscented or fragrance-free moisturizer because it’s less likely to cause irritation. That’s because artificial fragrances trigger allergic reactions for some people.
Why it’s smart to avoid lotions with fragrances
First off, there’s a difference between “unscented” and “fragrance-free” (1).
Obviously, if something is unscented, you shouldn’t be able to detect an odor from it. But unscented lotion isn’t necessarily fragrance-free. It may contain chemicals that disguise the smell of other ingredients.
If you have sensitive skin, you probably already avoid scented products. You know that they can make your skin red, itchy, and rashy (2).
Unfortunately, since a tattoo is a wound, it temporarily makes your skin more sensitive. Therefore, if you stick to fragrance-free products, you can help it heal faster.
The label should indicate whether or not the lotion is unscented or fragrance-free. When in doubt, check the ingredients. If they include words like “fragrance, perfume, or aroma”, you’ll know right away. Otherwise, it may be trickier. Check for the names of essential oils as well as linalool, cinnamal, geraniol, eugenol, citronellol, and limonene, as those are also fragrances.
Best Unscented Lotion for Tattoos in 2023
In the reviews below, we include both the best unscented and fragrance-free lotions for tattoos.
If you already know you have sensitive skin, skip to the fragrance-free section below. Otherwise, the following lotions are recommended by artists and collectors for new and old tattoos.
H2Ocean Ocean Care Tattoo Aftercare Lotion
H2Ocean formulated this moisturizer to soothe itching and speed up healing time. It’s designed for new tattoos as it won’t leach the ink.
It contains vegetable glycerin to draw in moisture and cooling aloe vera gel to calm irritation. There’s also vitamin E to support skin regeneration.
Tattoo Care Classic Balm
This little round tin has all you need for new and old tattoos. It fits in a pocket, so you never have an excuse to leave your lotion behind.
Wash your hands, then let a little of the balm melts on your fingers before applying it. It contains calendula, olive, and jojoba oil to calm and nourish the skin. It’s a formula developed in collaboration between dermatologists and tattoo artists.
Try it, and if you’re not pleased, they offer a full refund.
Lubriderm Daily Moisture Hydrating Unscented Body Lotion
Tattoo artists frequently recommend Lubriderm’s unscented lotion. It’s lightweight and non-greasy, absorbing quickly and leaving the skin smooth and comfortable.
Unlike some specialty tattoo products, it comes in a large bottle with a pump top. It’s convenient if you have large areas of skin, like a full sleeve, to cover.
It’s clinically proven to keep the skin hydrated for 24 hours. Plus, it’s enriched with vitamin B5 (panthenol) to encourage skin repair.
The only downside is if you’re trying to avoid parabens or mineral oil. It contains both.
Aveeno Skin Relief 24-Hour Moisturizing Lotion for Sensitive Skin
Aveeno’s lotion features dimethicone, a silicone-based skin protectant that seals in moisture. It leaves the surface silky smooth yet allows the skin to breathe.
It also has oats, one of the most soothing ingredients ever for sensitive skin. Plus, there’s shea butter, an excellent natural moisturizer that won’t clog pores.
Long after your tattoo has healed, you’re likely to continue buying this lotion. It’s affordable and works well on any part of the body.
Everyone Lotion for Everyone and Everybody, Unscented
Fans of this lotion say it makes their skin look younger. That’s not surprising as it’s packed with nutrients from natural ingredients.
The label reads like a recipe: coconut and sesame seed oil, organic aloe and chamomile, and rice protein. These nourish and promote healing while stopping the itch.
ACURE Everyday Eczema Lotion
Choose this lotion if you want to steer clear of harmful ingredients. It’s vegan and carries a third-party certification for the organic components, too.
With colloidal oatmeal and aloe, it calms redness and inflammation. Meanwhile, shea butter and sea buckthorn lock in moisture and repair the skin.
Users say it smells like nothing. Although it’s a little thick and sticky at first, it sinks in quickly.
Alba Botanica Very Emollient Unscented Body Lotion
Here’s a hypoallergenic lotion with no artificial fragrances, phthalates, or parabens. It’s vegetarian and cruelty-free.
What’s nice is that it’s surprisingly moisturizing without feeling greasy or heavy. It not only fixes dry skin, but it also helps heal minor cuts and new tattoos.
One reason for its success is the antioxidant-rich formula. It contains grape seed oil, shea butter, aloe, and tea leaf extract.
You may miss the sweet scent of your favorite lotion, but your tattoo will thank you for avoiding artificial fragrances while it heals.
After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer
What’s the best lotion to make tattoos stand out? This one is definitely at the front of the pack. It’s been featured on tattoo reality shows, plus professional artists recommend it.
Moreover, it’s been tested by dermatologists and clinically proven to work. It contains no allergens or irritants, not even petroleum, gluten, or parabens.
Instead, it’s based on a critical natural ingredient: grapeseed oil. Yes, it’s the same stuff you can use to erase wrinkles. It helps rebuild the skin structure from the inside out to keep it healthy and young-looking. It’s also excellent for renewing old tattoos.
Tattoo Goo Aftercare Lotion
This is another top recommendation for tattoo aftercare lotion. It has no lanolin or petroleum that could damage the ink or irritate the skin. It’s dermatologist-approved to help with healing and prevent scabbing.
The magic comes from panthenol and vitamins A and D, the key components of diaper ointment. They provide what the skin needs to recover quickly.
Repeat buyers say this is their favorite lotion for healing tattoos. It keeps them from itching and makes the colors look brighter.
Aquaphor Healing Ointment
The artist may have put Aquaphor ointment on your new tattoo before bandaging it. It’s one of the most frequently-recommended tattoo aftercare products.
It comes in either jars or tubes. We prefer the tubes because they prevent contamination.
Although it contains petroleum, the ointment is lightweight and not oily. The formula has no preservatives or artificial fragrances to protect sensitive skin.
INK Tattoo Brightener Stick
Make your ink pop when you treat it with this stick. The packaging resembles deodorant. It’s a no-mess applicator with organic moisturizers inside. You won’t have to get your hands greasy to use it.
Rub it on, and it creates an instant satin glow to bring out the best of your ink. It softens while it protects the skin from damage with antioxidants.
Fortunately, it’s not just free of toxins but also reef-safe in case you decide to go for a swim.
Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion
Those with allergy-prone skin already know about this brand. Vanicream leaves out more ingredients than they include. There are only 11 ingredients in the bottle.
This lotion calms red, itchy, and injured skin. It won’t clog pores, and it’s even good for eczema.
Solimo Daily Moisturizing Oatmeal Lotion, Fragrance-Free
We included Aveeno’s Skin Relief lotion at the beginning of the reviews in the unscented section. Now, here is a less-expensive knockoff that’s fragrance-free. It doesn’t have phthalates or parabens, either.
The formula has the same active ingredients, oats and dimethicone, to defend the skin against moisture loss.
It’s a product that’s made in the USA and tested by dermatologists for safety. The main complaint we saw is that the bottle’s pump doesn’t always work as it should.
Puracy Organic Hand & Body Lotion, Fragrance-Free
Puracy is an American company that continually improves its products. This is the fourth generation version of their lotion, which replaced coconut oil with organic sunflower oil. It ensures that the lotion is odorless and safer for those with nut allergies.
What’s more, it has no harsh chemicals like parabens, perfumes, dyes, phthalates, formaldehyde, petrochemicals, or silicone. There’s no gluten, and the formula is 99.95% natural and hypoallergenic.
If that hasn’t sold you on it yet, just know that it comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
In case you’re wondering whether it works well on tattoos, just check the reviews. You’ll find that many people are satisfied with the way it smooths the skin and restores hydration without feeling greasy or sticky.
Curél Skincare Comforting Body Lotion
Curél offers a variety of body lotions, including this one that’s hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. It has time-released moisturizers that continue working for 24 hours.
The more you use it, the more it restores and strengthens the skin’s natural barrier against infection and moisture loss. The key lies in the Advanced Ceramide Complex, proven to fix and prevent dry skin.
Interestingly, the lotion is mild enough to use on the face, not just the body, as it won’t clog pores. Reviewers say it’s not greasy, and it works miracles overnight.
CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion
CeraVe’s lotion also relies on ceramides to fortify the skin. They are a natural component of healthy skin, but there’s less of them when the skin is injured or dehydrated. Adding an extra dose ensures a healthy recovery.
Also, the formula keeps moisturizing for 24 hours. It uses hyaluronic acid to rehydrate thirsty skin. This single ingredient attracts and holds up to 1000 times its weight in water.
Lastly, this product holds a Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association. It’s been allergy-tested and found to be non-comedogenic and fragrance-free.
Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion
Cetaphil promises to repair the skin’s barrier within a week. What does that mean for tattoos? Well, each time you apply it, it moisturizes for 24 hours.
Furthermore, it has crucial vitamins like E and B5 to speed up healing. That means you can show off your ink sooner.
Happily, this dermatologist-recommended brand leaves out irritants like parabens, lanolin, and artificial fragrances.
Eucerin Advanced Repair Lotion, Fragrance-Free
This lotion is the kind of stuff that fixes cracked heels and bleeding knuckles. It’s so potent that it works for up to 48 hours.
It contains ceramides and a variety of moisturizers like shea butter and glycerin. However, the label lists lactic acid, an exfoliant that removes dead skin. Therefore, your mileage may vary if you try this on a new tattoo.
Instead, we suggest using it to bring out the color of faded tattoos. Sometimes the ink in old tattoos looks dull because it’s underneath dehydrated skin. You can revive it by merely moisturizing.
Kiss My Face Sensitive Skin Natural Moisturizer
Here’s a moisturizer that’s kind to the skin and eco-friendly, too. It’s vegan and cruelty-free, and based on natural ingredients.
It uses olive oil, aloe, and shea butter to revive dry skin. It’s also full of antioxidants and vitamins to help with healing.
Nature By Canus Creamy Body Lotion, Fragrance-Free
It’s based on goat’s milk, but it doesn’t smell like anything. The benefits of goat’s milk include fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that the skin needs to stay healthy.
Since the formula also contains natural exfoliants like lactic acid, it’s best for reviving the color of old tattoos.
Just like the curator of a museum, it’s up to you to take good care of your art. The best thing you can do for your tattoos, whether old or new, is to keep them hydrated.
Moisturizing new tattoos will help them heal faster. Putting lotion on old ink will make it look new again.
Choosing an unscented lotion can help you avoid irritation and keep your skin looking its best.
1. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-10/documents/saferchoice-factsheet-fragrancefree_0.pdf accessed January 6, 2021
2. https://www.paulaschoice.com/expert-advice/skincare-advice/sensitive-skin/why-fragrance-free-products-are-best-for-everyone.html accessed January 6, 2021