After my first color session on my sleeve (didn’t heal well), I started looking around to try find the best lotion for tattoo after care. Well, what I found and experienced is that it’s not a lotion at all. If you have read my aftercare instructions you will see that I am a huge fan of Aquaphor.
I have used this ointment from start to finish during every step of the healing process without issue. Even after peeling and any scabs come off.
What is Aquaphor?
According to their website, Aquaphor is a multipurpose ointment that protects and soothes extremely dry skin, chapped lips, cracked hands and feet, minor cuts and burns, and many other skin irritations. I think tattoos count as a minor cut!
Its main ingredient (41%) is petrolatum, which allows oxygen to flow and heal the skin. It also has panthenol and glycerin which help moisturize and protect the skin. It also does not contain any preservatives or fragrance which could irritate the skin.
How does it work?
They actually have a pretty cool graphic on their website:
So as you can see, it creates a barrier on the skin that still allows oxygen to flow in and fluid to flow out while keeping the skin’s natural moisture. This is exactly my experience as well. During the first couple days after my tattoos when I wash and apply this ointment after about 2-3 hours I notice my skin oozing plasma/ink. This is always my reminder to wash and reapply!
Petrolatum is the protectant. It coats and prevents the skins’ moisture from evaporating. Glycerin is commonly used in all kinds of lotions for its properties that draw moisture to the skin. Panthenol is a derivative of vitamin B that penetrates and hydrates the skin. Bisabolol has been used for hundreds of years. It is a natural ingredient that comes from a chamomile plant.
All Stages of Healing
Like I mentioned earlier, I like to use this for the entire healing process. During the first couple days, when the pain is the worst, I find it is difficult to get a real thin layer on (since it hurts!). It is thin enough that the skin can still breathe but it might feel a bit wet. As your pain tolerance increases you can really spread the ointment thin and it will not feel wet at all.
Many people recommend switching to lotion after the first couple days but I stick with the Aquaphor. I find that my skin feels and looks dry after an hour or so using lotion while the Aquaphor keeps my skin feeling moisturized for 3-4 hours.