Using Aquaphor On A New Tattoo

Do you want to prevent your new tattoo from getting damaged or infected during the healing process? If so, then you need to be sure to follow good aftercare procedures. An important part of aftercare is keeping the freshly-inked skin moisturized and well-protected.

Aquaphor is a product often recommended by tattoo professionals for taking care of new ink. If you haven’t heard of it, or are thinking of trying it, read on to learn more.

Aquaphor is a product commonly recommended by tattoo artists. It has the ability to hydrate and soothe your skin, allowing it to heal faster and more comfortably throughout the first few weeks after getting your tattoo.

If you’re thinking about getting inked or have a tattoo that’s currently healing, Aquaphor may be beneficial to you.

What Is Aquaphor?

Aquaphor is a skin protectant ointment that is made from petroleum jelly, which has been used for decades to heal skin issues. It works to hydrate severely dry skin and soothe skin that is irritated for various reasons.

As newly inked skin can be both dry and irritated, Aquaphor makes a good moisturizer and protectant.

New tattoos can become extremely dry

So why should you consider Aquaphor tattoo care instead of just plain old petroleum jelly? Aquaphor has additional ingredients that add to its moisturizing properties. Mineral oil and ceresin in this ointment provide even more protection for your skin and tattoo.

There are also other ingredients in Aquaphor that help it to rub onto the skin smoothly and not get sticky. To further facilitate healing and soothe inflammation, the ointment contains chamomile extract. Chamomile is a natural ingredient that is also a known anti-inflammatory.

Still, Aquaphor is not just used for tattoos. It can be used for a variety of skin issues and for the prevention of dry skin. It’s good to know that if you buy a container of Aquaphor for your tattoo aftercare, you can still use the rest of it rather than wasting it.

When Should You Use Aquaphor On A Tattoo?

You don’t need to apply Aquaphor until the container runs out or for the rest of your life. For the most part, your tattoo should be treated just like the rest of your skin after it is healed.

What Aquaphor is good for is speeding up the healing process of a new tattoo and making sure the design or color doesn’t get damaged from irritated skin, excess scabbing, or rashes. Therefore, this means you only need to use Aquaphor during the initial aftercare period.

It works as a hydrating medium to bathe skin cells and allow them to heal and meet each other to re-form the natural protective barrier.  When a scab forms, it acts as a wall preventing skin cells from coming together to heal.  Aquaphor provides a proper medium without overhydrating the skin that can lead to other problems with your artwork.

How long is that? Your tattoo should be nicely healed after two-to-three weeks, depending on the size and style of the design, and your individual healing abilities. You’re not going to do any harm using Aquaphor for a little longer than is actually necessary.

Aquaphor can also be used daily on healthy skin. A good guide, however, is to at least continue using it until the redness and scabbing on your tattoo subsides.

As for how often to apply the ointment, you should put it on about once a day. For some people, Aquaphor provides too much moisture.

If you find that your scabs are getting mushy or you’re developing any kind of irritation or pimples from the ointment, then cut back on how much you’re using. Or it may be time to switch from a heavy healing ointment to a lighter fragrance-free lotion for the remainder of aftercare. After all, a petroleum jelly base is never really recommended for use on a new tattoo (more on this in the next section).

How Long Should Aquaphor Be Used On A Tattoo?

If your tattoo is healing well, you may only want to use Aquaphor for the first 3 days. Then you can switch to a lighter moisturizer for your tattoo. Never use products with heavy fragrances, dyes, or irritating ingredients on freshly inked skin.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Aquaphor On A Tattoo

Aquaphor can have several positive effects on a new tattoo. Below are the most important.

Prevents crusting and tattoo damage

New tattoos ooze lymph fluids, blood, and excess ink. All of those draining fluids can dry and form a crust on the skin. Using Aquaphor helps to keep that skin moisturized so the fluids don’t dry and form crusts around the area.

A tattoo that has become so dry that the scabs have cracked and begun to bleed

Reduces scabbing

Most tattoos are going to scab up a little. That’s normal. You want to avoid getting large scabs on your tattoo, and you certainly don’t want scabs to crack open. That can lead to excess ink loss and create areas of less color in your design.

Prevents infection

Although not extremely common, tattoos can become infected. When you get a tattoo, the needle or needles make lots of tiny openings in your skin to place the ink below the top layers.

These are essentially shallow wounds in your skin, and even small wounds can let in bacteria and become infected. Aquaphor, because it is a thick ointment, forms a protective barrier that keeps dirt and bacteria out.

Prevents itchy skin

New tattoos itch. There’s no way around it. The top layers of your skin are irritated and healing, and that makes your skin feel itchy. Aquaphor moisturizes the skin and soothes irritation, in turn making the itching a little more bearable.

Decreases healing time

By keeping your tattoo moisturized and bacteria-free, Aquaphor can speed up the amount of time it takes for your tattoo to heal.

As an added benefit, Aquaphor is also pretty inexpensive compared to other tattoo healing products. You can get it at most drug stores and other places that sell skincare products.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Using Aquaphor On A Tattoo

Aquaphor is one of many products used for tattoo aftercare. It can be an excellent healing aid, but it does occasionally have drawbacks.

Potential sensitivity

For some people, Aquaphor doesn’t work out. It can be too much for those with sensitive skin. If you start forming little bumps or a rash around your tattoo, you may want to stop using Aquaphor and switch to another product to see if that helps.

Skin breakouts

If you use a lot of Aquaphor, it can clog your pores due to the thick, heavy petroleum jelly. Depending on where your tattoo is located, this made lead to a breakout of pimples. To prevent this problem, apply the ointment after cleaning the tattoo, and continue cleaning it daily and reapplying the Aquaphor. Of course, using a lighter lotion will be the best option.

The side effect that is not actually a disadvantage

Some people notice ink leaking from their tattoo when they use Aquaphor. The truth is that all new tattoos bleed out some excess ink. It’s nothing to worry about, and your tattoo is still going to have plenty of color when it heals.

It’s just that the thick texture of Aquaphor captures some of that leaking ink, and it may look like you’re losing more than you actually are.

Usually, the disadvantages of using Aquaphor can be prevented by using the right amount. A little goes a long way.

How To Use Aquaphor On A Tattoo

When you apply the ointment, use just a little bit. Your tattoo does need oxygen to heal, and putting on too much Aquaphor can suffocate the skin and clog pores.

To make sure you’re not using too much, use a clean paper towel to dab off the extra ointment after you apply it. Don’t worry about taking off too much. As long as you’re not wiping it, it should be fine. Again, it only takes a small amount to keep your tattoo protected.

1. Remove the bandage/wrap

You can usually take this off after a few hours, but leave it on for as long as your artist recommends. Some tattoo artists recommend leaving the protective wrapping on overnight.

2. Clean your tattoo

Before applying Aquaphor, whether you just removed the bandage or not, you need to wash your tattoo. New tattoos leak and scab, so you’ll want to gently wash it with a mild soap. Just use wet hands in a circular motion.

Don’t try to scrub it with a washcloth or pick at any crusts or scabs, as this can cause potential loss of ink, and therefore fading.

How to clean a new tattoo:

3. Dry the tattoo

You don’t want to trap a lot of excess moisture in when you apply the ointment, so pat your tattoo dry with a clean paper towel.

4. Apply a thin layer of Aquaphor

When you apply the ointment, use just a little bit. Your tattoo does need some oxygen to heal, and putting on too much Aquaphor can suffocate the skin and clog pores. If you start to get bumps like pimples or a rash, then your skin might be telling you you’re using too much Aquaphor.

5. Remove the excess

To make sure you’re not using too much, use a clean paper towel to dab off the extra ointment after you apply it. Don’t worry about taking off too much. As long as you’re not wiping it, it should be fine. Again, it only takes a small amount to keep your tattoo protected.  Purchase Aquaphor in a tube (buy here) rather than a tub to prevent “double-dipping” that may increase your risk of infection.


Aquaphor is one of the most popular and least expensive tattoo protectants available for aftercare. It’s made from well-known skin-soothing ingredients and will keep your tattoo from crusting, scabbing, and cracking open.

Using Aquaphor daily can help your tattoo to look the best it can when it’s fully healed. Just rub a small amount of the ointment on to clean, dry skin.

Related Tattoo Aftercare Articles