What Cream or Lotion Should You Put on a New Tattoo?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on May 22, 2023
    Last Updated: May 22, 2023

Getting a new tattoo causes considerable damage to the top layers of the skin, making the area extra sensitive while it recovers.

Your skin takes around two weeks to heal from the tattooing process fully. With a wide variety of lotions, creams, and ointments available, it can be challenging to discern which products will support the tattoo healing process and which might impede it.

Which Products Can Be Used on New Tattoos?

Specialized Tattoo Healing Creams/Lotions

Tattoo lotions are specifically created for use during the healing period. They normally contain blends of ingredients and nutrients that are great at aiding the skin as it heals. These tattoo aftercare products are specifically designed to cause as little irritation to the tattoo as possible.

Tattoo lotions can achieve this thanks to being largely made up of natural ingredients. The well-established brands produce lotions that are free from harsh chemicals, artificial colors and scents; all of which can irritate a new tattoo.

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.

Standard Moisturizing Lotion

Many over-the-counter moisturizing lotions will be fine for a new tattoo. Even specialist ointments for conditions such as eczema can often be used safely.

If looking for a moisturizing lotion in a supermarket or online, ensure it contains primarily natural products and no artificial colors, scents or preservatives. Most popular skin care products clearly state on the labeling whether or not they include artificial colors or scents.

Other, more specialized products such as Aquaphor and Vanicream moisturizing ointment are also often recommended.

While Neosporin and Bacitracin are sometimes recommended by tattoo artists, up to 40% of people who use them can develop an allergic reaction. Therefore, they are not recommended by Board Certified dermatologists.

Natural Oils/Butter

Many natural products, such as coconut oil and cocoa butter, contain tons of goodness within them. Not to mention they normally feel/smell amazing (these are natural scents and aren’t irritating like artificial ones).

This means they can be great to use on a tattoo during the initial (and most important) healing phases.

However, although completely natural, these products can still irritate a tattoo depending on skin type and sensitivity, so keep an eye on the area during the first couple of days of use. For this reason, it’s usually recommended to use a specialized tattoo healing lotion first and wait until a tattoo begins to scab over before moving to a natural butter or oil.

What Products Should You NOT Use On A New Tattoo?

Petroleum-based products such as Vaseline should not be used on a new tattoo. These products are non-porous (air & water-tight), meaning they can stave the area of oxygen and delay healing.

We’ve actually written a whole article explaining why Vaseline should not be used on a new tattoo.

The Main Purposes Of Using Lotion On Tattoos

While most people acknowledge that applying lotion to a tattoo is generally a sensible thing to do, some are unsure about what the lotion actually does to aid the tattoo’s healing.

Below are a few reasons why applying lotion to a new tattoo can be beneficial:


New tattoos are essentially just large open wounds and will therefore go through a few different stages of healing before the skin is completely repaired. As the skin repairs itself, it can become very dry. This dryness can cause problems such as irritation and itching. It can also cause scabs to crack open and bleed.

By applying lotion to a tattoo, the skin will begin to absorb it, allowing the area to rehydrate and become more elasticated and supple. This help to speed up the healing process and prevent any undesirable symptoms.


Many creams and lotions are specially formulated to ensure they contain the perfect blend of vitamins and nutrients that your skin can absorb and use to heal itself.

Soothing Properties

A new tattoo can be sensitive to various materials and products. The skin can become irritated by merely rubbing against something. This irritation can present itself as rednessa rash, or sometimes, intense itching. Applying a good lotion to the area can help calm the skin down and reduce these symptoms.

Ability To Improve Appearance

Once a tattoo reaches a certain point in the healing process, it will begin to peel. The peeling can look rather unsightly as large chunks of skin pull away and dangle from the tattoo.

Although you should never pull loose skin away from a tattoo, applying lotion can help to mask the peeling skin. The lotion’s dampness will help to fold down the loose ends and keep them pinned tight against your body, helping the area to look less ugly.

Should I Apply Lotion on My Older/Healed Tattoo

It is a great idea to apply lotion to any tattoo, no matter how old it is. Many people believe that once a tattoo has finished healing, it no longer needs to be maintained and moisturized. This, however, is a wrong assumption.

A tattoo will only ever look as good and healthy as the skin it’s on, so you should aim to keep your inked skin as well-nourished and hydrated as possible.

This not only ensures your tattoo continues to look fresh and vibrant for as long as possible, but many moisturizing lotions contain subtle anti-aging properties that will keep the collagen and elastic tissue healthy, preventing your tattoo from looking crinkled, distorted and faded as it ages.

What Are the Key Ingredients to Look for in a Lotion for a New Tattoo?

When choosing a lotion for your new tattoo, the focus should be on promoting healing and minimizing irritation. Look for products that contain hydrating and soothing ingredients. Here are a few key components:

  • Aloe Vera: Known for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, it can help reduce redness and irritation.
  • Vitamin E: This ingredient is a strong antioxidant and can aid in healing the skin.
  • Jojoba Oil: It closely resembles the skin’s natural oils and can help keep the tattooed area moisturized.
  • Panthenol (Pro Vitamin B5): This ingredient can promote skin healing and also provide hydration.

However, while these ingredients can be beneficial, everyone’s skin is different. It’s recommended to patch test any new lotion on a small area first to ensure there’s no adverse reaction.

Are There Any Lotions That Should Be Avoided When Caring for a New Tattoo?

Yes, there are certain types of lotions that should be avoided after getting a new tattoo. These include:

  • Fragranced Lotions: These may cause irritation and hinder the healing process.
  • Lotions with Alcohol: These can dry out the skin and potentially damage the tattoo.
  • Petroleum-based Products: They can clog pores and affect the healing process of your tattoo.

Always remember, a new tattoo is an open wound. Therefore, treat it with care and avoid any products that might cause harm or irritation.

Can I Use a Lotion That Contains SPF on My New Tattoo?

While it’s important to protect your tattoo from the sun, it’s generally recommended to wait until your tattoo is completely healed before applying SPF-containing products directly on it. SPF lotions often contain chemicals that might irritate a healing tattoo. However, once healed, using a lotion with a high SPF is crucial to protect your tattoo from fading and sun damage.

Should I Choose a Thicker or Thinner Lotion for My New Tattoo?

The thickness of the lotion isn’t as important as the ingredients it contains and how your skin reacts to it. That said, a lotion that’s too thick might not allow the skin to breathe properly, which could interfere with the healing process. A lotion that’s too thin might not provide sufficient hydration. It’s often about finding a balance and what works best for your skin type. Remember, when in doubt, consult your tattoo artist or dermatologist.

Are There Any Natural or Organic Lotions That Are Recommended for New Tattoos?

Yes, there are a variety of natural or organic lotions available that are suitable for new tattoos. These products tend to have fewer artificial additives which can help reduce the risk of skin irritation. However, it’s important to ensure the product is truly organic or natural as some products may claim to be, but still contain potentially harmful chemicals. Always check the ingredient list and, again, do a patch test before applying it to your tattooed area.

Be aware that “natural” and “organic” do not always mean “safe”, especially for a healing tattoo. Always consult your tattoo artist or a dermatologist for recommendations.

Here are a few examples of natural or organic lotions often recommended for new tattoos:

  • Hustle Butter Deluxe: This vegan product is made with natural ingredients like shea butter, mango, and aloe butter, and is designed specifically for tattoo care.
  • After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer: It’s a vegan product that uses grape seed oil, a potent antioxidant, as one of its main ingredients.
  • Mad Rabbit Tattoo Soothing Gel: This is an organic product made with lightweight botanical oils, designed to promote skin health and reduce irritation around your tattoo.


While the number of skincare products on the market today can make choosing the best lotion to put on your tattoo somewhat confusing, many of the options will do the job perfectly well.

As long as you pick something that is moisturizing, nourishing, and as natural as possible, you shouldn’t go too wrong, and your tattoo should proceed to heal beautifully and look great for many years to come.

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