What Cream Or Lotion Should You Put On A New Tattoo?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 25, 2019
    Last Updated: November 28, 2020

After getting a new tattoo, the area of skin becomes extra sensitive, and it has to work very hard over the next 2-3 weeks to heal itself from the trauma caused by the needles during the tattooing process. One aspect of tattoo aftercare which seems to confuse many people is how to choose the best type of lotion for fast and effective healing.

Due to the huge array of lotions, creams, and ointments that are commercially available as skincare products, it can be very difficult to spot which ones are actually helpful at aiding a tattoo while it’s healing, and which ones can actually do more harm than good.

Which Lotions, Creams & Ointments Can Be Used On New Tattoos?

Specialized Tattoo Healing Creams/Lotions

These are the products that are specifically created in order to be used during the tattoo aftercare period. They normally contain blends of ingredients and nutrients that are great at aiding the tattoo as it heals.

As well as nutrients, these tattoo aftercare products are designed to ensure they cause as little irritation to the sensitive area of skin as possible.

This is because they’re usually largely made up of completely natural ingredients, and don’t contain anything that would cause skin irritation, such as harsh chemicals or artificial colors or scents.

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.

Standard Moisturizing Lotion

Many over the counter moisturizing lotions will be perfectly fine when used on 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, make sure it contains primarily natural products, and contains no artificial color, scents or preservatives, as these very often cause irritation to a new tattoo.

Most popular skincare brands sell products for sensitive skin that clearly state on the labeling that they color and scent free.

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, and they are therefore not recommended by Board Certified dermatologists.

Natural Oils/Butters

Many people nowadays have started to go completely natural with their tattoo aftercare.

Many popular 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 are nowhere near as irritating to your skin as 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 cause irritation to a tattoo depending on skin type and sensitivity, so just keep an eye on the area during the first couple of days of use.

Therefore, it’s usually recommended to initially use a specialized tattoo lotion and wait until a tattoo begins to scab over before moving over to a natural butter or oil.

What Products Should You NOT Use On A New Tattoo?

Any 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 the oxygen it requires in order to efficiently heal.

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 in order to aid the tattoo’s healing.

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


As a new tattoo begins to heal, it is initially very damaged (and is essentially just a large open wound). The tattoo will therefore go through quite a few different stages of the healing process 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, and can cause scabs to crack and bleed.

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


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

Soothing Properties

Sometimes a new tattoo can be very sensitive to various materials and products, and 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 to calm the skin down and reduce the above symptoms.

Ability To Improve Appearance

Once a tattoo reaches a certain point in the healing process, it will begin to peel. This peeling can look very unsightly as large chunks of skin pull away and dangle down from wherever your healing tattoo is situated on your body.

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

Should I Apply Lotion On My Older/Healed Tattoo

Certainly! 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 as healthy as the skin it’s on, and therefore you should aim to keep your inked skin as well-nourished and hydrated as you possibly can.

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 in the tattooed area – preventing your tattoo from looking as crinkled, distorted and faded as it ages.


While the number of skincare products on the market today can make choosing what kind of lotion to put on your tattoo quite confusing, there are many options that 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 years to come.