After you get inked, it’s crucial to keep the skin clean and moisturized so that everything heals up nicely. For tattoo aftercare, your artist may recommend putting on ointment like A+D or Aquaphor. These keep the tattoo hydrated and protected against infection. But how long should you use Aquaphor after getting a tattoo?
When should you stop putting ointment on your tattoo?
Inked Magazine says to apply Aquaphor for the first three days after getting a new tattoo (1). So do artists like Anka Lavriv of Black Iris Tattoo.
After the first three days, switch from Aquaphor to a fragrance-free lotion.
How often should you put Aquaphor on your new tattoo?
Apply ointment at least twice per day and up to three times per day, depending on how often you wash and how dry, scabby, or itchy the skin gets. Put it on after cleansing the tattoo.
How much Aquaphor do you put on a new tattoo?
Since Aquaphor contains petroleum jelly, only use a thin layer. Use less than you think you’ll need so that you don’t block oxygen from reaching the skin or trap too much moisture inside the tattoo. Wipe off excess ointment with a clean paper towel.
What’s the best way to use Aquaphor on a new tattoo?
Always wash your hands before touching a tattoo that’s healing. Then wash the skin with mild soap and rinse with lukewarm water. Pat the skin dry with a clean paper towel or let it air dry.
Next, we highly recommend Aquaphor ointment in the tube instead of the jar because it’s protected from contamination. (If you use tattoo moisturizer that comes from a jar or tin, always sanitize your hands before using it. Otherwise, you’ll end up contaminating the ointment with germs and spreading the germs on your skin). Take a dime-sized dab or less and spread it on the tattoo in a very thin layer. Let it absorb before dressing.
Aquaphor Healing Ointment
Here’s Aquaphor ointment in a tube instead of a jar. There’s more than enough to take care of multiple tattoos. It’s also handy for healing cracked hands and heels, smoothing rough elbows, and serves as lip balm in a pinch.
The formula contains no artificial fragrance or preservatives, plus it’s been tested to be safe for sensitive skin. The base ingredients are 41% petrolatum and mineral oil, which are occlusives that seal in moisture and form a protective layer. Unlike Vaseline which is 100% petroleum jelly, the ointment is still breathable. It allows oxygen to reach the skin to help it heal.
Aquaphor also has glycerin, a humectant that draws in water to hydrate the skin. Lastly, panthenol (vitamin B5) and bisabolol (a derivative of chamomile) promote rapid healing. These are all reasons why Aquaphor is one of the best ointments for tattoos.
The downside to Aquaphor is that the ointment is thick, although it spreads easily. You have to be careful not to put on too much. Worse, it takes a while to absorb and tends to leave a greasy residue.
Does Aquaphor pull ink out of tattoos?
No, Aquaphor does not pull ink out of the skin. The ink is in the dermis, the layer below the epidermis or surface of the skin. However, it may look like the ointment is causing ink to leach because excess ink leaks out of a new tattoo during the first forty-eight hours.
What happens if you use too much Aquaphor on a tattoo?
If you put on too much ointment, it keeps the skin from breathing. Water vapor can’t escape and contaminants might get trapped, making it prone to infection.
Can you use Aquaphor longer than two or three days?
Some collectors swear by Aquaphor and use it throughout the entire healing process. If you’re not sure what to do, watch how your skin reacts to the ointment.
If your scabs are mushy, or if you’ve developed a rash, acne, or other irritation, it’s time to switch to a different tattoo aftercare product.
Aquaphor naturally reduces scabbing and prevents the skin from cracking open and bleeding. But you have to walk a fine line and not apply too much. Try the spray below as an alternative to the ointment.
Aquaphor Ointment Body Spray
Aquaphor also makes a spray version that’s perfect for back tattoos and other hard to reach areas. Still, even though it’s a spray, it needs to be rubbed in. So, it’s not as convenient as you might think. On the bright side, the continuous spray bottle works upside down. Just remember to shake it first.
Just like the ointment in the tube, it’s a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizer. It’s made to soothe sensitive skin and keep it hydrated. The formula is almost the same with the addition of butane to make it an aerosol.
Reviewers say it feels cooling and soothing and it’s easy to use. The biggest con is having to wipe the nozzle repeatedly so that it doesn’t clog.
How do you know if there’s a problem with a new tattoo?
If this is your first tattoo, it might be shocking to see how red and swollen the skin is during the first day or two. You might be astonished at how much the tattoo leaks blood, plasma, and ink. Colorful, highly saturated tattoos will ooze more than script and line drawings, of course.
However, if the inflammation doesn’t go down after the first forty-eight hours, that could be a bad sign. If the tattoo leaks pus or has a foul smell, that’s definitely a problem. You might also see red streaks spreading out beyond the ink (2).
If you develop a fever, vomiting, or have extreme pain, get medical attention immediately. Do not put it off and hope that it will pass. It could be sepsis, a blood infection that could kill you.
Can Aquaphor prevent infection?
The best way to prevent infection in a new tattoo is to keep it clean. Ointment alone isn’t enough to prevent infection, but it helps by forming a protective layer over the skin. Moreover, if the skin is moisturized, it’s less prone to cracking and irritation and safer from infection.
After Inked Tattoo & Piercing Aftercare Foam Cleanser
You can use any mild soap to clean a new tattoo, it doesn’t have to be an antibacterial cleanser. Never use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide because they will slow down the healing process and probably wreck the ink.
Nevertheless, this foaming cleanser was featured on Ink Master and NY Ink because it’s used by professional artists. Not only is it vegan and sulfate-free, but it has no fragrance, alcohol, or parabens, either.
The simple formula removes dirt and dried secretions to promote healing. It doesn’t sting or cause dryness.
What are good alternatives to Aquaphor?
One of the leading competitors to Aquaphor is A+D ointment. Did you know that both products are recommended for treating diaper rash? That’s how you know they are safe for sensitive skin.
On the other hand, if you want to steer clear of petrolatum, there are excellent natural alternatives to Aquaphor like Hustle Butter and Ora’s Herbal Salve.
A+D Tattoo Moisturizing Ointment
This tattoo ointment has been reformulated from the original A+D and it’s free of artificial fragrances and dyes. The hypoallergenic formula features almond oil, beeswax, and pro-vitamin B5 to accelerate healing and keep the skin hydrated and comfortable.
It’s a clinically-tested product beloved by tattoo artists and collectors worldwide. Just like Aquaphor, the breathable ointment allows oxygen to reach the skin but protects it against contaminants.
What’s nice is that the creamy texture is thick but easy to spread and doesn’t leave a tacky residue once it absorbs. It won’t stain clothing, either. Users say it calms the hot feeling of a fresh tattoo. Just apply a thin layer after washing.
The main con is that it contains both petrolatum and mineral oil, which are downers if you’re trying to avoid climate-change-inducing ingredients. Also, the second ingredient is lanolin which comes from sheep, so this is not a vegan product.
Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve
Go vegan and stay natural with this herbal tattoo ointment. It contains no synthetic ingredients whatsoever. That’s right, it’s completely free of artificial fragrances, dyes, petroleum, mineral oil, and parabens. Obviously, it contains no lanolin or beeswax. And happily, it’s gluten-free.
This is an American product made in small batches by a family business that strives to be ethical and socially responsible. They package it in a recyclable glass jar, too.
It’s the perfect ointment for relieving the pain and itching of a new tattoo. The base is grapeseed oil, rich in antioxidants for healing the skin in record time. Plus, it has organic calendula and comfrey to soothe irritated skin. Meanwhile, tea tree and rosemary ward off infection.
After your tattoo heals, the ointment keeps the ink looking crisp and vibrant. Furthermore, it makes for an excellent hand cream and it heals cracked feet, too.
If there’s any downside, it’s that it’s not unscented. The natural components make it smell a little like vapor rub.
What should you use after Aquaphor?
After the first two or three days, switch to a tattoo aftercare lotion. Basically, any fragrance-free moisturizer that’s safe for sensitive skin is ideal for healing a new tattoo.
CETAPHIL Moisturizing Lotion
Both Cetaphil and CeraVe have lotions designed for dry, sensitive skin. Both are appropriate to take care of a tattoo that’s really just a wound that you’re trying to heal.
Cetaphil’s lotion offers twenty-four hour hydration and it’s mild enough to use on the whole body including the face. It’s not greasy or oily at all.
The formula helps the skin retain moisture and it completely restores the skin’s natural barrier within a week of daily use.
Does that mean that your tattoo will be healed by then? Probably not, as it takes two or three weeks for most tattoos to finish healing. But it might be enough time for a small tattoo with only linework.
At any rate, the lotion is easier to apply than Aquaphor or A+D and you don’t have to worry about using too much of it.
Who should not use Aquaphor?
If you’re vegan, Aquaphor is off the table because it contains lanolin that comes from sheep. However, if you’re vegetarian, it’s borderline acceptable because the lanolin comes from the wool and does not require the death of the animal.
Next, persons with eczema should also be cautious. Do a patch test because a small percentage have an allergic reaction to lanolin.
Lastly, it contains both mineral oil and petrolatum that may clog pores on acne-prone skin. If you develop pimples on a new tattoo, it’s not pleasant. You can’t pop them or treat them with acne medication. Instead of using ointment, go straight to a non-comedogenic moisturizer like the Cetaphil lotion above.
|The best tattoo ointments||Highlights|
|Aquaphor Healing Ointment||
|Aquaphor Ointment Body Spray||
|After Inked Tattoo & Piercing Aftercare Foam Cleanser||
|A+D Tattoo Moisturizing Ointment||
|Ora's Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve||
|CETAPHIL Moisturizing Lotion||
We hope we answered your questions today about using Aquaphor on tattoos. Here’s a brief summary of the products we included in this article about tattoo aftercare.
1. https://www.inkedmag.com/the-list/9-tips-for-tattoo-aftercare 9 Essential Tips For Tattoo Aftercare by Inked Mag Staff, published October 10, 2018
2. https://www.eadv.org/cms-admin/showfile/Tattoo%20Aftercare.pdf Tattoo Aftercare by the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, published 2021
3. https://dtb.bmj.com/content/9/6/22 Helping patients who are allergic to lanolin and parabensDrug and Therapeutics Bulletin 1971;9:22-23.