In a hurry? Check out the table below to see a helpful overview of each of our favorite products. Keep scrolling down to see a more in-depth review of each item.
1. After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion
When it comes to tattoo aftercare products, After Inked is probably the one that you’ve already most likely heard of. This lotion is an extremely popular choice for not only customers, but also for tattoo artists themselves.
The beauty of this product is that the list of ingredients is very ‘bare’, and only the best, most natural choices have been used. This will be very important for users who prefer to keep away from artificial chemical-filled products as much as possible; you won’t find any of that here.
When used often and correctly, After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion is capable of speeding up the healing process while ensuring the tattooed area of skin retains as much moisture and nourishment as possible.
Although the texture may feel quite thick, this tattoo lotion is completely petroleum free, so it won’t smother and suffocate your tattoo as long as you don’t overdo it with the application.
In terms of smell, it has a slight grape oil scent, but definitely nothing too overpowering.
Ingredients: Water, Grape Seed Oil, Glycerin (veg), Stearic Acid (veg), Shea Butter, Synthetic Beeswax, Jojoba Seed Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Orange Essential Oil, Benzyl Alcohol and Dehydroacetic Acid.
After Inked: Our Top Pick
9.4/10 Our Score
Overall, this is one of the best lotions for tattoos on the market, and if used consistently during the initial aftercare period of 2-3 weeks, your tattoo should heal up very nicely – and quickly, too.
2. Hustle Butter Deluxe
Hustle Butter works superbly during the initial stages of recovery, keeping your tattoo well hydrated as well as keeping the area feeling cool and soothed, which helps greatly if you suffer a lot from tattoo itching.
Many customers note that when used from the very start of the aftercare period, Hustle Butter helps to decrease the amount of heavy scabbing that sometimes occurs on the skin.
This tattoo cream is completely vegan-friendly, with only the most natural and organic ingredients included, and of course it is totally petroleum-free. Shea butter and coconut oil give this product a great smooth feeling as it’s being applied to the skin. You can continue to use Hustle Butter even after the skin has completely healed, as it also acts as a great moisturizing lotion.
Ingredients include : Mango, Aloe Butters, Organic Shea Butter, Green Tea, Vitamin E Complex, Organic Coconut Oil, Rosemary Oleoresin, Sunflower and Rice Bran Oils, and Mint Arvenus Essential Oil with Essence of Papaya.
Best Tattoo Lotions
Hustle Butter Deluxe
8.6/10 Our Score
Hustle Butter is one of the best tattoo creams currently available. The fact that this lotion is 100% natural means that it should work wonderfully on all skin types, especially sensitive skin, reducing the likelihood of adverse reactions to any of the ingredients (which is a common occurrence with many products containing artificial/chemical ingredients).
3. Ora’s Herbal Tattoo Salve
Ora’s Herbal Tattoo Salve is an extremely natural and reliable tattoo lotion. It contains 100% organic, artificial-free ingredients.
Of course, it is also totally free of petroleum, as well as being free from: Lanolin, parabens, aloe, synthetic fragrances, mineral oil, wheat, gluten, grain and food coloring.
The small family business that creates this herbal tattoo salve wanted to make sure that their product was completely natural, yet super useful when applied to a new tattoo by improving healing quality and speeding up the whole healing process.
One advantage of this lotion is that it contains antimicrobial properties which help to ensure that the risk of infection is kept to a minimum while your tattoo is still healing.
The company also advises that this tattoo balm is completely safe to use even after the aftercare process has finished. You can carry on applying this product for as long as you like to ensure that your ink remains in a great condition throughout its life and continues to look great.
Grapeseed Oil Infused With Organic Calendula, Organic Plantain, Organic Comfrey, Organic St. John’s Wort, Organic Burdock And Organic Thyme, Organic Chickweed, Organic Coconut Oil, Beeswax, Vitamin E And Essential Oils Of Rosemary, Thuja, Tea Tree
Ora’s Herbal Tattoo Salve
8.1/10 Our Score
This is another great, completely natural product that can be used right at the start of your healing process, and can continue to be used for as long as you’d like. The infection/bacteria-fighting properties are also a big advantage.
This cream has satisfied an extremely large amount of customers, and has been proven time and time again to work excellently on thousands of new tattoos – therefore I have absolutely no problem in recommending it to you.
4. A+D Ointment
This is the only tattoo healing ointment on this list because, well, it’s the only one you really need to use if you go down the ointment route.
A+D ointment is a generalized product used on many varying skin conditions and is extremely effective due to the combination of two very important vitamins used by the skin for a large variety of different tasks. If you haven’t already guessed, these two vitamins are A and D.
This tattoo aftercare ointment, unlike the other lotions on the list, is petroleum-based. As previously mentioned, this can be problematic if used too often as it smothers the tattoo and can draw ink from the area if smothered on too much – but used correctly for the right amount of time, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Ingredients – Purpose. Lanolin 15.5% – Diaper Rash Ointment. Petrolatum 53.4% – Skin Protectant. Inactive Ingredients: Cod Liver Oil (Contains Vitamin A & Vitamin D), Fragrance, Light Mineral Oil, Microcrystalline Wax, Paraffin.
7.6/10 Our Score
Ointments are rather hit-and-miss. On one hand, many customers and artists swear by their favorite products and advocate that healing is much better and faster when ointments are used for the first few days.
On the other hand, lots of customers see no difference in healing speed or quality when compared to using standard lotions right from the beginning of the healing process. This is an entirely personal decision that you must make as nobody else can guess how effective an ointment will be for you and your healing when compared to a moisturizing tattoo lotion.
Why You Should Use Lotion on a New Tattoo
When your ink is brand new, it is essentially a large open wound. This wound needs to be cared for extremely well from the very start of the healing process, and for the next 2-3 weeks following on from your tattooing session, otherwise it could be left prone to infection, irritation and poor healing. This is where aftercare lotion is extremely helpful.
These products are generally only used for the first few days of healing. Ointments usually contain a more concentrated dosage of vitamins used to help the skin heal and to help close the wound up as quickly as possible during the initial healing stages.
While very helpful in the earlier stages of healing, it’s not advisable to use ointments on your tattoo for any longer than the first 2-3 days of healing as they are generally quite thick and oily (and most are petroleum-based). Even on lighter applications, the thick oily texture can smother a wound and prevent it from ‘breathing’ optimally. Tattoos need to extract elements (like oxygen) from the air in order for healing to continue.
The main components of most tattoo ointments are vitamins A and D. These specific vitamins are used by the skin/body for a large number of different biological reasons – the most important reason in this case being the efficient healing of traumatized skin (which of course happens when getting a new tattoo).
These products can either be used after you’ve finished using ointments, or can be used instead of ointments as soon as you’ve gotten your new tattoo. Unlike ointments, tattoo lotions and creams can be used throughout the whole aftercare process, until the skin has healed completely.
While they do still contain helpful vitamins and minerals, tattoo lotions and creams are more aimed towards keeping the skin well-moisturized and hydrated. The combination of vitamins, minerals and moisturizing elements can definitely help to improve the quality and speed of your tattoo’s healing when compared to using nothing at all (known as dry healing). Of course, organic ingredients such as coconut oil and shea butter can be applied completely on their own and still provide various moisturizing and healing benefits to the area. Of course, however, the greater variety of vitamin-rich ingredients in a product, the higher variation of goodness that will be applied to the tattoo.
Tattoo Lotion Application Instructions
It’s very important to ensure that you apply any lotion correctly and carefully – failure to do this can result in poorer healing or even loss of ink. Below are the main steps you should take to make sure that the product you are applying ends up being as effective as possible.
1. Wash your hands
This is an extremely important step, and one you should always do before touching the area. Make sure you wash your hands with warm water and a good antibacterial soap.
Make sure that you wash all of the soap from your hands before touching your tattoo so the soap doesn’t cause any irritation.
You can use any kind of antibacterial soap on your hands before touching your tattoo as long as you wash it all off beforehand. This is because you should only use natural, sensitive-skin friendly soaps directly on your tattoo (as mentioned in more detail below).
2. Wash your tattoo
Whenever you apply any ointments or lotions, you will want to ensure that your tattoo is completely clean beforehand. Below are the main steps of cleaning a tattoo correctly:
- Wet the tattooed area with lukewarm water using your clean hands
- Gently rub a generous amount of soap over the tattooed area, focusing on areas that may have build-ups of excess dried-up ink/blood/plasma
- Ensure that the soap is fragrance/alcohol free and is friendly on sensitive skin. Artificial fragrances and added chemicals can have nasty side-effects on your tattoo such as causing rashes, dry skin, itching and excess scabbing. We review our favourite tattoo soaps here
- After cleaning the area, wash off any excess soap with more lukewarm water
If you would like a more detailed explanation, we have a great article on tattoo cleaning here.
3. Dry the area
You must ensure that the area is completely dry of any excess moisture before adding lotion or ointment. Any moisture trapped beneath a layer of lotion can get drawn into any scabbed areas and cause the scabs to swell and turn soft and sticky, increasing the risk of the scabs sticking to various object and getting pulled off.
To dry the tattoo after washing, you can either use a paper towel gently pressed onto the area, or just let the tattoo naturally air-dry.
If you choose to use a paper towel, remember that you should just gently dab/blot the area, and never rub or scrub as this can pull off scabs and cause loss of ink. Also, be careful when pulling the paper away from the tattoo as it may stick slightly, potentially loosening any scabs.
4. Apply lotion/ointment of choice
Once the area is completely clean and dry, add a very small amount of lotion to your hands and begin to gently rub onto your tattoo using the tips of your fingers. If your tattoo is brand new (a day or two old) it is likely to be quite sore when going over the area with your fingertips – this is normal.
Ensure that you cover the whole tattooed area, but make sure you don’t apply the lotion or ointment on too thick. As already mentioned, a thick covering of lotion can smother your wound and delay healing, as well as potentially drawing ink out from the area.
You will only want to add a very thin layer so your tattoo is slightly shiny once the product has been applied. If you end up adding too much, gently blot off excess lotion using a paper towel.
Continue with this procedure 2-3 times a day until your tattoo is completely healed, which will normally take between 2-3 weeks.
Once your tattooed has fully healed, continue to add a good moisturizer to the area daily to ensure that your skin remains in a good hydrated and healthy state. Remember – healthy and hydrated skin means a healthy looking tattoo.
Also, remember to only apply ointment for the first few days of recovery (usually until your tattoo starts to peel. After these first few days, move onto using a lotion to avoid any unwanted issues with your tattoo.