Why Do Tattoo Artists Use Vaseline While Tattooing?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on October 1, 2020
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

If you’ve recently gotten a tattoo and wondered why your tattoo artist was smothering copious amounts of jelly-like substance onto the area every few minutes, you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll advise exactly what they’re putting onto your skin throughout the tattooing process, and what its actual purpose is.


Tattoo Structure

A tattoo may seem like an artistic design you can put anywhere on your body, but getting that tattoo requires changing your body and the skin cells where you get inked. The tattoo artist’s needle causes the ink to penetrate below the top layer of skin, called the epidermis.

Tattoo ink reaches the dermis, which is still part of your skin. The dermis contains hair follicles, connective tissue, and sweat glands. Meanwhile, the epidermis is the skin layer that sheds, so a tattoo there wouldn’t last.

By reaching the dermis, the tattoo can be permanent, yet it can also create scarring. Biologically speaking, your body isn’t supposed to have such a modification, therefore, the scarring is a natural reaction that Vaseline can help treat.

Vaseline Purpose

Vaseline is the most common brand name for petroleum jelly, which is a mixture of natural waxes and oils. It’s a purified version of petroleum jelly that can moisturize dry skin and heal minor wounds.

Tattoo artists take advantage of the healing properties of Vaseline to help their clients. Artists can use standard Vaseline jelly, which is 100 percent petroleum jelly.

During the Tattooing Process

Tattoo artists use Vaseline when tattooing because the needle and ink are creating a wound. The wound needs something to help heal, and Vaseline can act as a protector for your skin. While it may not prevent scarring and other changes, it can help keep your skin healthy.

A tattoo artist may use a little bit of Vaseline, or they can use more of it all over the tattoo site. Using a small amount can help prepare your skin for getting a tattoo, so you don’t need a ton of Vaseline for it to help.

After the artist finishes your tattoo, they can wipe away the product. Then, you can apply a new layer of it as part of your aftercare.

Why Water Doesn’t Work

You can use a lot of things to add moisture to your tattoo, though water isn’t the best. Water can help moisturize the area, but it doesn’t stay as well as some products. 

Tattoo artists and clients can use Vaseline to provide moisture that lasts longer. You won’t have to worry about applying moisturizer all of the time, you can still get the benefits of hydrating your skin.

Even a regular moisturizer without Vaseline can add moisture and help your tattoo heal. You can use a tattoo-specific moisturizer, still, almost anything will be more effective than water alone.

Healing the Tattoo

Before you leave your tattooist, ask him/her any questions you have about aftercare. While the tattoo artist can use Vaseline to help during the tattooing process, you need to follow their instructions to keep your new body art in good condition as it heals. Vaseline isn’t always the best thing to use on your tattoo once you’ve left the studio, thus you must be careful if you’ve been instructed to use it by your artist.

Using some of it will help lock in moisture and promote healing and repair for your skin. However, using too much of it can trap bacteria and lead to an infection.

Too much Vaseline can also affect the ink, and it can make your tattoo start to fade. If you want to use Vaseline in your tattoo aftercare, use it sparingly. Be sure to use other moisturizers and aftercare products, recommended by tattoo artists to help your tattoo heal without increasing your chances of an infection.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan-friendly aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing.

Why Tattoo Artists Use Vaseline

Using Vaseline when tattooing can help protect the skin from scars and other changes that come with getting a tattoo. It can also be a useful tool during tattoo aftercare, but it is possible to use too much of it.

If you’re getting a tattoo, make sure you talk to your tattoo artist about what to use to clean and protect your tattoo as it heals. Then, you can lower your risk of infection and other issues, while enjoying your tattoo for years to come.