Choosing which tattoo aftercare products to use can get hectic, especially since there are so many different treatments for healing tattoos. Along with the many different treatments, you can expect to find many different brands of the item you need—and choosing the wrong one can be disastrous! Thankfully, you have the internet to help. Here are all the tattoo aftercare products you can expect to use (The links are Amazon product links on which we get a commission if you purchase one of them. We only recommend products we tested and we use ourselves!), the best way to shop for them, and the best way to use them. I also recommend checking out our tattoo lotion, lidocaine ointment, and tattoo numbing cream pages for some specialized pre-care and aftercare products.
Related Article: Tattoo Healing Process
Don’t have time for the whole article? We got you covered; here is our best Tattoo Aftercare product pick!
The Best Tattoo Aftercare Products 2019
At first, it might seem overwhelming how much information you’re getting about what products you need when you need to apply them and how. But it’s not, believe. There are some basic products you need, some you have at home and some you should get in advance. Why in advance? If you have any type of allergy or if you’re not sure how you react to a certain product, it’s simply better to test it up front on a tiny spot on your skin. So what do you need? A towel for sure, some warm water, a lotion is really advisable to support your skin while it heals and if you want to go into the sun, a sunscreen. That’s pretty much it. So let’s have a look at what you should get.
First You Need a Clean Towel
After you get your tattoo, your tattoo artist will recommend a certain amount of time to you. Don’t take off your bandages before then! Once you do, you should have a clean towel at your disposal. Clean means freshly washed, warmed, and carefully isolated before using it. It doesn’t have to be stainless, but make sure that it’s not something you pulled from the hamper. After your initial washing is done, you can pat the tattoo clean very carefully with this towel. I emphasize carefully—your tattoo will be an open wound, and that’s not something you want to make worse from overzealous drying! For more detailed instruction on how to care for your new tattoo, read our Complete Tattoo Aftercare Guide. There you’ll learn how to treat your new ink right from the second you leave the tattoo parlor.
Tattoo Aftercare Moisturizing Lotion
Next, you’ll probably want some lotion. Different lotions have different purposes, so be careful which type you end up using. Lotions with a large amount of petroleum and alcohol will actually damage your tattoo and hinder your progress. Avoid them like the plague! Hustle Tattoo Butter can be considered as one of the best brands for Tattoo Lotions. With any lotion that you put on your skin, be sure that you don’t use too much. You can waterlog your skin and prevent it from drying out.
Scabs should not be flaked off, and you should avoid moisturizing them. They have to flake off naturally if you want them to absorb as much color as possible. If your product starts to irritate your skin or you feel a burning sensation, stop the application and seek medical advice. While it is normal for your skin to become puffy and red after a tattoo, an unusual amount of swelling and redness are a sign of an infection. If you do not see improvement or change two days after getting your tattoo, then it’s definitely something a doctor should look at. Check out our article comparing the best tattoo lotions, ointments, and creams. Alternatively, check out the best tattoo anesthetic on the market to help you pull through this annoying healing stage.
Hustle Tattoo Butter Deluxe
Richie Bulldog certified Hustle Butter works wonders for tattoo aftercare. Unlike the others on this list, Hustle Butter feels rich and creamy, and even vegans can use it. Hustle Butter only contains 100% natural ingredients, and tattoo artists love it. In fact, some artists use it before they even ink the tattoo! The smooth glide it gives to the skin keeps it workable and prevents buildup while they work. Afterward, Hustle Butter works hard to keep your tattoo fresh and healthy. Instead of a hospital scent, it contains a faint trace of cocoa and Shea butter. Keep it away from your kids and pets, or they might eat it (although it might be edible? Not sure on that one). Keep it around after your tattoo heals to use for regular old moisturizing.
Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve
This stuff uses only natural ingredients, so obviously it contains no paraben preservatives, lanolin, petroleum, or synthetic products. Instead, it contains a very tiny amount rosemary, thuja (cedar leaf), and tea tree scents. For the active ingredients, essential oils act to prevent infection. The reason this product even exists is because a mom, worried about her son’s angry-looking tattoo, smeared a little of their regular product on it. It worked excellently, she wrote in about it, and they developed a specialized salve just for tattoos. I personally use this one because of my sensitive skin and its good price point.
Aquaphor Baby Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment
For some reason, stuff labeled with ‘baby’ works much better for sensitive skin. Babying your skin pays off in the long run, since your skin will heal beautifully and silky smooth. Although not made explicitly for tattoo healing, Aquaphor’s Advanced Therapy keeps your tattoo colors untouched. Aquaphor also remains a very affordable member of this list! The only downside to using Aquaphor for tattoos is that you can easily apply too much. Before exiting the house, make sure to wipe off any excess lotion. When applying, only use a small layer of the stuff. After your tattoo heals, you can continue using it to moisturize your skin or heal your wounds. Pretty nifty stuff!
Believe it or not, sunscreen is an essential addition to your tattoo aftercare products. During your first few weeks of having a tattoo, the colors of your ink are incredibly prone to fading. If your ink fades now, it will appear faded forever. There is no way for your skin to regenerate the original colors of the ink, since the compounds that cause the colors are essentially recycled by the cells of your skin. The sun is your number one enemy during this time, so avoid it like the plague. When you do have to brave it outside, use sunscreen. Of course, not every sunscreen is appropriate for putting on a tattoo.
Tattoo Goo makes a specially formulated lotion that has SPF50. While that might be a little below average for sunscreen (the lowest SPF I’ve seen on shelves is SPF25, while the maximum is easily SPF150), it is still the best stuff you can get. It avoids chemicals that most sunscreens have which would damage your skin, and it helps speed up the healing process. Be sure to spread a very thin amount, especially if you are doubling up with other lotions. Reapply as often as you feel is needed. Most of Tattoo Goo’s products are amazing, so purchasing an entire aftercare kit from them isn’t a bad idea. Which brings us to our next topic…
Must read: The Best Tattoo Sunscreen You can Get!
H2Ocean SPF 45 Sea Life Sunscreen
From an esteemed tattoo aftercare company, H2Ocean Sea Life Sunscreen answers the call of inked outside workers everywhere. It contains soft ingredients that moisturize your skin while giving you and your tattoo ample protection from the rays of the sun. Its SPF goes all the way up to 45, and it protects against both UBA and UVB. The product contains no oil, so your skin stays smooth and non-slippery. Because zinc serves as the active ingredient, your skin will look the same both before and after application. None of that weird, white grease! On top of all that, it works well while swimming. Go figure!
Coppertone Tattoo Guard Continuous Spray
If you need tattoo sunscreen applied instantly, look no further than Coppertone Tattoo Guard Continuous Spray. You won’t find it in stores because it sells like hotcakes. It protects against UVA and UVB, contains hypoallergic ingredients to prevent allergic reactions, and keeps your tattoo looking vivid. Anyone with color tattoos understands how quickly light damages your tattoo, so keeping this spray on the go for any surprise outings keeps your ink safe! Its portability and ease of application make this great for people who work outside. Along with that, it makes covering large tattoo covers and sleeves a breeze. You invested in your tattoo, now you protect that investment! No sunburns will shatter your day or ruin your ink. If you are an artist looking for ways to care for your client, check out some of our featured portable tattoo chairs and portable tattoo tables to see if you can give your clients both a unique and healthy experience.
Tattoo Aftercare Products Kit
Having a specific kit is optional, but it helps a bunch. There are name brand kits out there that give you everything you need to take care of your tattoo, without shopping around for different products at a million different stores. The best brand seems to be H2Ocean Ultimate Tattoo Kit. It uses water-based foams that also have several nutrients your skin requires to heal. The products don’t contain alcohol, and they’re made specifically for tattoos. Another tattoo aftercare products kit is the Tattoo Goo Tattoo Aftercare Kit. Both of them work exceptionally well, so if you want to go with an all-in-one kit, either of these products will work for you. To supplement your kit, consider looking into tattoo numbing cream for the itchy and painful parts of your aftercare process.
H2Ocean Ultimate Tattoo Kit
H2Ocean praises themselves being the “#1 Complete Tattoo Aftercare Kit”. We can’t really tell if this is just a marketing claim or if that’s true. What we can tell about H2Oceans products, is that they work, well known in the tattoo community and popular. H2Ocean’s products are water based and support your skins self healing capabilities. The kit includes a cleaning foam, a moisturizing cream and a “ink lock” cream. We are not aware of any allergic reactions, but as with any aftercare product, please check the ingredients for any substance you are allergic to! Given our own experience with H2Ocean and the positive reviews on amazon we believe it’s safe to recommend this aftercare kit.
Tattoo Goo Tattoo Aftercare Kit
Another really popular aftercare products brand is Tattoo Goo. Founded in 1998 they are in the business for a while and they did gather decent amount of experience. That’s the second Aftercare Kit we can recommend. Besides a salve, a lotion and soap Tattoo Goo also comes with a sunscreen. That little detail makes the Tattoo Goo a really complete set (under the assumption you need a sunscreen at all). Please read the instructions carefully and check the ingredients for any allergy you have before you buy it.
Tattoo Aftercare Antibacterial Lotion
There are some people who go without using antibacterial lotion, and that might be for the best. If you just grab an antibacterial lotion off the shelf, it would more than likely harm your skin rather than help it. This is because most antibiotics contain alcohol. Alcohol is a simple antibacterial substance on its own, so it’s only natural that it would be in most antibacterial lotions—but that same alcohol will also clean off all those colors you just had tattooed on! Look for lotions with minimal—and preferably no—alcohol content in them.
Satin and Provon seem to have the best products, but if your general store doesn’t have those and you don’t feel like ordering the lotions online, you know how to shop and avoid the alcohol-based lotions now! As with moisturizing lotions, you’ll want to limit the amount you use. A small bit of lotion on the tip of your finger will cover a good 3 x 3 inch circle of skin. Instead of pouring a glob onto your skin and smothering your tattoo, as if you were putting on sunscreen at the beach, be conservative and put on a little at a time. Your lotion should be spread thin enough that it is not noticeable. Why didn’t I include it in my product overview? Simply, because I don’t feel having a special antibacterial lotion, in addition, will bring you that much benefit. If you wash your new tattoo with fresh warm water and dry it with a clean towel afterward, that should be fine. In the Tattoo Aftercare Kits is a soap included you can use during washing your new ink. That will be an added benefit.
Picking The Best Tattoo Aftercare Product
So, 2,500 words later and you’re still here? That’s great. Which is the best tattoo aftercare product and what should I buy you’re asking? Well, what do you need? What do you want to do? When do you get your tattoo? Summer? Sun? California? Florida? Get a tattoo sunscreen for sure! Allergies? Check the ingredients list carefully and if you’re not sure, consult your doctor. But the thing you should definitely get is an aftercare lotion! Either get yourself one of the lotions above or simply pick an aftercare kit. Both ways work perfectly. The kit has to advantage of having everything you need/want in it. But if you don’t want to pay for stuff that’s not absolutely necessaire, just go with a lotion!
Of course, there is a lot more that goes into tattoo aftercare than just the products, so be sure to check out our Tattoo Aftercare Article. Listen carefully to what brands and procedures your artist recommends—write them down, if you are able—and always be sure to seek out a doctor for any medical advice if you think you are having allergic reactions, complications with your tattoo, or any strange feeling you would want medical attention for. As always, thanks for reading!