Can You Use E45 Cream On Tattoos?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on January 7, 2020
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

You can use E45 on tattoos, but it’s best not to use it on a tattoo that’s still healing. Even though E45 is a lotion used for dry skin that forms a protective barrier on the skin, it contains ingredients that can interfere with your skin’s natural healing mechanism.

You might have been told once or twice you need to use the trusted old E45 cream after getting a new tattoo. Some swear by this remedy in tattoo-healing from start to finish; others wouldn’t touch it.

With so many contrasting ideas out there, it can be hard to know exactly what steps you should follow and whose advice to take.


What Is E45?

E45 is a cream that’s used for dry, flaky skin, eczema and sunburn. It’s non-greasy and absorbs quickly. However, it might not be the best option for tattoo healing. Read more about E45 cream here.

These are the principal ingredients found on E45, and their purpose:

White Soft Paraffin — 14.5 Percent

Another name for this ingredient is white petroleum jelly. It’s a petroleum byproduct that works as a barrier to protect your skin from losing moisture or to keep moisture out. That’s why it’s used to prevent nappy rash and several dry-skin conditions.

Petroleum jelly used to be widely recommended for tattoo care, but it can drain the color from tattoos. Because it works as a moisture barrier, it also doesn’t let your tattoo breathe. 

Light Liquid Paraffin — 12.6 Percent

This is another subproduct of the petroleum distillation process that has many different uses in cosmetics. It also generates a kind of protective layer that keeps moisture in.

Anhydrous Lanolin — 1 Percent 

Lanolin is made out of wool and has the same effect as petroleum jelly: trapping water in the skin. This might work great if you’re battling dry skin, but it can also suffocate your skin.

Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerol Monostearate

Both are used as thickening agents or emulsifiers in cosmetics, as well as a food additive. They’re safe to use and shouldn’t cause irritation.

What Your Skin Needs

A tattoo requires different kinds of treatment, depending on whether it’s brand new or not. You might want to use a different product in the first few days and another for the next four weeks of healing.

First Days

It’s important to understand that a tattoo is essentially an open wound, and you need to treat it as such. Especially during the first couple of days, you need to make sure it’s clean and can breathe.

Many people swear by lotions like E45, but your skin needs to heal. This means that you need to leave it room to breathe while protecting it from harmful bacteria. It’s not always an easy combination to achieve since lotions and creams that are too oily or thick can suffocate your skin.

Wash your tattoo with antibacterial soap, and if you need to use some kind of lotion, choose an antibacterial one. Follow the instructions of your tattoo artist and invest in a tattoo-specific cream or lotion if possible. 

Remember: You don’t want bacteria to get to the wound, but you also don’t want to trap anything in.

After the First Days

To avoid itching, make sure your skin remains hydrated by applying some moisturizer. However, nothing too heavy, as your skin is still healing during the first month. You might end up clogging your pores and risk getting milia or cysts.

The best possible products for this are tattoo-specific. There are numerous different options for both higher and lower price ranges. A good product might cost you extra but will make sure the colors stay vibrant and your skin healthy. 

In the Long Term

Moisturizer is important to keep the tattoo’s colors vibrant, even after the healing period. Use a high-quality one that’s right for your skin and environment. If E45 feels good for your skin, use it.

Some people swear by heavier moisturizers, especially in colder climates. Others will choose lighter lotions. Cocoa butter is a popular choice if you’re looking for a natural option. Here’s my favorite: Unrefined Cocoa Butter by Better Shea Butter.

The Verdict

After getting a tattoo, your skin needs to breathe to be able to heal itself. The main ingredients of E45 are exactly the kinds you should avoid in the first days. Like you would with any open wound, steer clear of lotions or ointments that are oily or heavy, including E45.

Depending on the kind of work you’ve got on your skin, you can even skip using lotions. After the healing period is over, it’s safer to use the kind of lotion you’re most comfortable with.