Using Shea Butter On Tattoos

  • Written By Dan Hunter on October 12, 2019
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

Extracted from nuts of the native African Karite tree, this natural cream — solid at room temperature — is the kind of fatty oil you want in your life. With a pale tan color and earthy smell, its production means it comes in 100% natural form. You may find it as a base for your favorite beauty product, including the top-rated tattoo healing balms.

Shea butter is great for tattoos due to the following properties:

  • Moisturizing
  • Wound-healing
  • UV protectant

What Can Shea Butter Do?

Naturally existing in this firm, thick-textured cream is a collection of raw minerals and vitamins that add to the extraordinary qualities. Primarily, it’s composed of oleic acid, linoleic acid and stearic acid, which all are naturally occurring and have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.


In the tattoo world, petroleum has been used for many decades, and while it may stay in the industry, a lot of artists are fading out their recommendations of this crude material. They still need an effective agent that keeps the area from getting dry without adding water-based liquid to the healing tattoo. This is where natural ingredients have taken a step up into the limelight — such as in Shea Butter.

The solid touch melts under heat, which can be a pain if you have it out in the sun. However, it’ll naturally start to melt contact with your hands, so you can easily apply to the skin as a moisturizer. It’s also absorbed more easily in this state.


Shea butter is an excellent choice for tattoo care and an addition to your cupboard, as it’s high in vitamin A, making it an excellent choice for a natural skin barrier.

The skin affected by a tattoo needs to regenerate, and if the natural layer is protected, it can begin to push the ink out, resulting in blurred edges. Smoother healing equals a beautiful tattoo. 

UV Protectant

We speak from experience the importance of protecting your tattoo from the sun, especially in the first weeks. If possible, never use sunscreen on a new tattoo until you’re completely sure it’s healed. Sunscreen, as a chemical component agent, it can clog pores, trap bacteria and irritate the tattoo. 

Antioxidants are often marketed as aging reducers as they tighten the skin, which can result in a crisp tattoo appearance. High levels of vitamin E, vitamin C and cinnamic acid in shea butter provide a minor UV protecting film over your tattoo if in the chance you’ll be exposed to direct sun. Vitamin E even boasts a powerful quality for healing scars.

How To Use Shea Butter for a Tattoo

A little goes a long way and, with an almost infinite shelf life, it’s a great foundation for your tattoo care. Purchasing the pure form of shea butter, rather than an emulsion with chemicals, is the way to go.

With that said, you could become a DIY scientist and create shea butter as a base, with other healing beneficial materials such as coconut oil, tea tree oil, calendula, grape seed oil or manuka honey.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan 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. Click here to buy from Amazon.

Of course, Hustle Butter is also made up of primarily the ingredients listed above.

Depending on the size of your tattoo, an amount the size of a dime will generously cover a tattoo the size of your shoulder.

  1. Preparation: After ensuring you have clean hands, take the amount you need and gently rub it between your fingers or palm until it becomes a texture between cream and oil
  2. Apply gently: Apply to your tattoo using stroking movements with the natural direction of the hairs and skin
  3. Leave to absorb: Don’t rub vigorously — by putting the shea on top, the skin will do its work at absorbing it
This is FAR too much lotion and some should be blotted off with a paper towel


Shea butter is essentially a fatty acid composed of plenty of helpful and healing vitamins and minerals that assist in skin repair. It can have a great antioxidant and moisturizing effect on your tattoo wound while allowing the skin to breathe.

You can go out and buy a marketed tattoo product, especially if it has shea butter in it, although a lot of the additives in these creams can flair up skin sensitivities. The best option is to grab pure shea butter.