Best lotion for tattoo aftercare? It’s not a lotion!

After my first color session on my sleeve (didn’t heal well), I started looking around to try find the bestbest-lotion-for-tattoo-aftercare 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:best tattoo aftercare aquaphor

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!

The ingredients

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.


12 Replies to “Best lotion for tattoo aftercare? It’s not a lotion!”

  1. Lynne

    I was told after getting my tattooes to put vaseline on them but this was like 20+ years ago. Would the same things as vaseline be in Aquaphor.
    Different countries have different names for products, so I’m not sure what the equivalent would be here but I know Camphor cream is also marketed as the product for dry and chapped skin… or maybe it would be Aqueous Cream?

    Either way I am sure I can buy this product from South Africa?

  2. Ryan

    Love this article Jeremy, thanks for the insight. I’m looking into getting another tattoo (I got my first a couple years ago) and I will definitely try this out for lotion, the last one I used was terrible!

  3. Simon

    Hi Jeremy,
    Sounds like a good cream, Aquaphor. It’s the petrolatum that allows the skin to breath while keeping the moisture in so the skin doesn’t crack. I have used a similar cream before when I seriously cracked skin on my hands, that had petrolatum in it’s ingredients too and it really helped me. I found the pain came as your skin dries out but with a cream like this it will keep the moisture in.
    Great article,

  4. Dan

    This seems like a great option. When i got my tattoo over 20 years ago, it didn’t heal all that well and faded pretty bad. I think part of it was not having the right advice on how to care for it while it was healing. I’ve had the sense to get another tattoo all these years later and will keep this in mind. Thanks for the info.

  5. Kenzie

    I LOVE Aquaphor! I haven’t ever used it for tattoos, but I am planning on getting one soon and I’m glad I ran across this post. I will definitely be getting an extra supply for to keep on hand during the healing process. Thanks!

  6. Drew

    Would this product be a substitute for the generic body lotion?
    How does it smell? I usually choose my product based on how they smell.
    Good product review.

    • Jeremy Post author

      Hi Drew, it is fragrance free so it really doesn’t have much of a smell. You could probably substitute this for generic lotion I would just use a little bit at first to test and it will spread pretty far. Hope that helps!


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