12 Best Tattoo Aftercare Products (For Each Stage of the Healing Process)

A tattoo is a lifelong commitment. Getting one is a decision you can’t – and shouldn’t – be taking lightly. You’ll see your beautiful inked skin every single day, for the rest of your life. Just like our looks, that fresh and vibrant tattoo will also fade in time. It’s therefore important to take great care of your tattoo, so it’ll look good for years! That said, your tattoo preservation journey begins with the best tattoo aftercare products.

The 3-Stage Healing Process (And The Best Tattoo Aftercare Products For Each Stage)

The tattoo aftercare process begins as soon as the last needle leaves your skin. Thanks to thousands of tiny needle pricks, your tattoo is literally an open, oozing wound. Don’t worry though – there are plenty of tattoo aftercare products to help you cope through each stage of the healing process.

Here’s a summary table to help you out:

HEALING STAGEPRODUCTPICTUREOUR RATINGPRICE
Stage 1 – CleanTattoo Goo Deep Cleansing Soapthe first stage of the tattoo healing process is cleaning. use something like tattoo goo's cleansing soap to wash your tattoo4.6$$
Stage 1 – CleanTattooMed Cleansing Geltattoomed's cleansing gel is a vegan aftercare gel wash4.0$$
Stage 1 – CleanTek15 Tattoo Green Soapyou don't need to buy an expensive soap to wash your new tattoo. tek15's green soap is cheap and works just as well as expensive brands4.5$
Stage 2 – HealAquaphor Healing OintmentAquaphor healing ointment works not just for diaper rashes, but for new tattoos as well4.1$
Stage 2 – HealA+D Ointment & Skin ProtectantIf you're looking for a good aquaphor alternative, A+D Ointment & Skin Protectant is one4.5$
Stage 2 – HealHustle Butter DeluxeHustle butter deluxe is a good tattoo aftercare product that's petroleum-free4.6$$$
Stage 3 – MoisturiseUnedited Tattoo MoisturiserThe Unedited Tattoo Moisturiser is definitely one of the best tattoo aftercare products right now. It's organic, it's healthy, it's made from biodegradable materials, and it's great for your tattooed skin!4.8$
Stage 3 – MoisturiseCoconut King Tattoo AftercareCoconut King is affordable and is generally regarded as a good tattoo aftercare product4.2$$
Stage 3 – MoisturiseH2Ocean Moisturising CreamH2Ocean's ocean care cream is recommended by tattooists, but the price may be prohibitive for some4.0$$$
Stage 3 – MoisturiseAveeno Daily Moisturising LotionLooking for an affordable aftercare lotion? Check out Aveeno's Unscented Daily Moisturising Body Lotion4.5$
Stage 3 – MoisturiseLubriderm Daily Lotionnot a fan of aveeno's oat-based lotions? check out lubriderm's daily moisture lotion instead to keep your tattoo looking fresh4.4$$
Stage 3 – MoisturiseButter Up Tattoo AftercareButter Up Tattoo care rich body butter may be a bit expensive, but users love this stuff4.5$$

Stage 1 In The Tattoo Healing Process: CLEAN

When you leave the studio, you’ll have cling film wrapped around your new tattoo to protect it from the elements. After a few hours, wash your hands and peel off the dirty, gooey, and bloody film. Use lukewarm water together with antibacterial soap to wash your tattoo. Do this twice or thrice daily for a few days.

Note: If you’re thinking of re-wrapping your tattoo, here’s a detailed guide on how to do this properly at home.

Best Antibacterial Soaps To Wash Your New Tattoo With

1. Tattoo Goo Deep Cleansing Soap

The Tattoo Goo aftercare soap is especially formulated for freshly tattooed skin. It’s gentle and non-abrasive, and its PCMX-L micro molecular formula will disinfect and give your skin a much deeper clean.

Don’t worry if you see a lot more ink go down the drain than usual – the soap is designed to remove more dead skin cells than your regular bath soap.

Ingredients: Chloroxylenol (PCMX) 0.1%, aqua, sodium peg-7 olive oil carboxylate, propanediol, olive oil, peg-7 esters, sodium lauryl sulfate, polyquaternium-10, cocamide mea, cocamidopropyl betaine, diazolidinyl urea, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, fragrance, citric acid

the first stage of the tattoo healing process is cleaning. use something like tattoo goo's cleansing soap to wash your tattoo

What I like:

  • Aids in faster recovery for your tattoo
  • Doesn’t dry out the skin
  • Deep cleaning formula helps reveal your tattoo’s final form faster

What I don’t like:

  • The manufacturer lists ‘fragrance’ in their ingredients but they assure their customers it’s minimal
  • Not lathery at all, so if that’s something you like in your soap, you’ll be disappointed
  • A bit pricey
2. TattooMed Cleansing Gel  

Looking for a vegan aftercare gel wash? Then this TattooMed cleansing gel is the right product for you. It promises not to dry out your skin and it lathers really well, so if that’s your thing, you’re going to love this gel! It’s 100% free from animal ingredients (go vegan!), so you’ve got one less thing to worry about if you have ultra-sensitive skin.  

Ingredients: Aqua, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium chloride, coco glucoside, panthenol, glycol distearate, glycerin, laureth-4, parfum, phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, citric acid

tattoomed's cleansing gel is a vegan aftercare gel wash

What I like:

  • Hypoallergenic formula promises to soothe, cool and moisturise freshly tattooed skin
  • Cleans without affecting the ink in your skin’s dermis layer
  • Protects your tattoo from drying out
  • Lathers really well so you only need a small amount per wash

What I don’t like:

  • Some users claim it’s over-perfumed and irritated their skin
  • A bit pricey with a 100ml bottle costing almost 10 pounds
3. Tek 15 Tattoo Green Soap

Choosing the right soap to wash your brand-new tattoo with is important. You want to make sure you use an antibacterial, antimicrobial, dye-free, and fragrance-free soap. And this Tek15 Tattoo Green Soap perfectly fits the bill. It’s great for sterilising not just tattoo equipments, but the tattoo itself as well. Plus, you’ll also get your money’s worth since a 500ml bottle costs less than 10 quid!  

Ingredients: Aqua, oxide, glycerin, isopropanol, chlorhexidine, lavender oil

you don't need to buy an expensive soap to wash your new tattoo. tek15's green soap is cheap and works just as well as expensive brands

What I like:

  • Really affordable and will last you a long while
  • It’s sticky which helps with applying transfer stencils to skin (great for tattooists)
  • Spray cap is very convenient
  • Works as intended and keeps your tattoo clean

What I don’t like:

  • It does contain alcohol (even though it’s diluted), so if you’re sensitive to this, use milder soap
  • Not for people allergic to lavender oil

Stage 2 In The Tattoo Healing Process: HEAL

After washing, let your skin air dry. Or, if you’re in a hurry, pat it gently with a few sheets of kitchen roll. Then put a thin layer of tattoo ointment while the skin’s still wet.

Note: For best tattoo healing, apply your aftercare healing ointment or cream until the ‘weeping’ stops. This stage normally lasts a few days, depending on the size of the tattoo and your body’s healing rate.

Best Aftercare Healing Ointments and Creams

1. Aquaphor Healing Ointment

Aquaphor may not be made especially for tattoos. But, by its very nature, it acts as a protective barrier which prevents pathogens from entering your unhealed tattoo. Just make sure you apply a very thin layer to allow your skin to ‘breathe’ so it can heal properly. Otherwise, if you lay it on too thick, you can clog up your pores and cause some damage to your tattoo.

Ingredients: Petrolatum (41%), mineral oil, ceresin, lanolin alcohol, panthenol, glycerin, bisabolol

Aquaphor healing ointment works not just for diaper rashes, but for new tattoos as well

What I like:

  • Helps protects your skin against infections
  • Prevents crusting, scabbing and tattoo damage
  • Helps with the itching and improves healing time
  • Widely available in most chemists and pharmacies
  • Very affordable and can last a long time

What I don’t like:

  • If applied thickly, your skin can clog up and cause an acne breakout (bad for your tattoo)
  • A bit greasy
2. A+D Ointment & Skin Protectant

For some users, this vitamin A and D infused ointment is a step above Aquaphor. In addition to its skin protectant properties (it acts as a barrier), it keeps the skin supple. It’s primarily used to treat minor abrasions and wounds, which your tattoo technically is. Just like Aquaphor, however, this ointment should be applied very thinly so it doesn’t clog up your pores.

Ingredients: Petrolatum (53.4%), lanolin (15.5%), cod liver oil (contains vitamins a & d), light mineral oil, fragrance, microcrystalline wax, paraffin

If you're looking for a good aquaphor alternative, A+D Ointment & Skin Protectant is one

What I like:

  • Helps soothe your stinging, newly tattooed skin
  • Protects your skin from germs and bacteria
  • Improves your tattoo’s healing time
  • Affordable and widely available

What I don’t like:

  • Contains lanolin which may be an irritant for those allergic to wool
  • You need to be aware of how much ointment you put otherwise you might get red bumps, ingrown hair, and acne
3. Hustle Butter Deluxe

This tattoo ointment’s popularity is on the rise and is fast being viewed as one of the top alternatives to petroleum-based healing creams and ointments. It ticks all the right boxes for the health conscious – it’s vegan, petroleum-free, and paraben-free.

Hustle Butter may be a tad more expensive than other tattoo healing products, but its growing user base swears by it. It’s not just for aftercare, too. Tattooists use it before, during, and after a session.

Ingredients: Shea, mango and aloe butters, coconut, sunflower and rice bran oils, rosemary oleoresin, green tea, vitamin e complex & mint arvenis essential oil. With essence of papaya and coconut.

Hustle butter deluxe is a good tattoo aftercare product that's petroleum-free

What I like:

  • Non-comedogenic so it’s not going to block your pores
  • Gluten-free, synthetic-free and fragrance-free
  • Certified vegan and animal cruelty free
  • Promotes a faster and healthier way for your brand-new tattoo to heal

What I don’t like:

  • Some users say Hustle Butter is far too greasy for their liking
  • More expensive than other options

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Stage 3 In The Tattoo Healing Process: MOISTURISE

After the ‘weeping’ stops, you can start using a fragrance-free lotion or moisturiser to ensure your skin stays hydrated. The products we recommend in this stage will complete your tattoo aftercare kit.  

Best Aftercare Lotions and Moisturisers

1. Unedited Tattoo Moisturiser

The whole team here at TattooMoisturiser.co.uk unanimously agreed that Unedited Tattoo Moisturiser is THE winner in this particular category. This is an excellent moisturiser that will give your tattoo luster and life for many years!

Unedited is a coconut oil-based lotion infused with vitamins E and D. It’s made from vegan and organic ingredients, and even its packaging is 100% biodegradable. Our ink-loving team believes this to be one of the best tattoo healing products in the market right now.    

Ingredients: Aqua, organic ceylon extra virgin coconut oil, monoglycerides (plant origin), vegetable glycerine, stearic acid, vitamin e, phenoxyethanol

The Unedited Tattoo Moisturiser is definitely one of the best tattoo aftercare products right now. It's organic, it's healthy, it's made from biodegradable materials, and it's great for your tattooed skin!

What I like:

  • It’s a coconut oil-based product meaning it has antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
  • Vitamin E aids in the tattoo healing process and protects your skin from free radicals
  • The tube is biodegradable and is made from ethically sourced spruce wood (no plastic!)
  • Priced very reasonably and a small amount can go a long way!
  • It’s fair trade and cruelty-free (not tested on animals)

What I don’t like:

  • Coconut oil thickens in cold temperatures, so you may need to wait for it to settle first before applying to your tattoo
2. Coconut King Tattoo Aftercare Balm

This aftercare balm from Coconut King is also made from coconut oil (just like Unedited Moisturiser). Naturally, it means that this will also have a host of healing properties that will help speed up the tattoo healing process. Application is easy and non-greasy, and will be quickly absorbed by the skin.

Ingredients: Coconut oil, shea butter, mango butter, cocoa butter

Coconut King is affordable and is generally regarded as a good tattoo aftercare product

What I like:

  • Its blend of coconut oil and natural butters make for an effective tattoo moisturiser
  • Aids in faster tattoo healing
  • Very nice smell once applied to skin
  • Priced very fairly too just like Unedited

What I don’t like:

  • Just like most coconut oil products, you’ll need to get it warmed up first before use
3. H2Ocean Tattoo Aftercare Moisturizing Cream

If you’re looking for the best cream to use for tattoo aftercare (and you’ve got the cash for it), then H2Ocean’s petroleum-free product may be to your liking. It doesn’t just moisturise, it also acts as a protective skin barrier. Since it’s water-based, it won’t stick and will allow your skin to breathe (great for those with sensitive skin). It’s also anti-inflammatory and fragrance-free.

Ingredients: Purified water, stearic acid (coconut), glyceryl stearate, peg 100 stearate, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, caprylic/capric triglyceride, glycerin (vegetable), dimethicone (silica), jojoba oil, microcrystalline cellulose, rose hip seed oil, peg 8 stearate, cety alcohol, aloe vera gel, triethanolamine, tocopheryl acetate, allantoin, methylparaben, propylparaben, sclerotium gum, sea salt

H2Ocean's ocean care cream is recommended by tattooists, but the price may be prohibitive for some

What I like:

  • Non-greasy and has a fairly neutral scent
  • Won’t stick to clothes even in warm weather
  • Scabbing is minimised and helps reduce itching as well

What I don’t like:

  • One of the most expensive products on this list. If you’re on a budget, better look at something like Unedited or another non-perfumed moisturising lotion
4. Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion

Aveeno is a popular, dermatologist-tested-and-recommended brand. They make a wide range of skin products, but this particular variety is paraben and fragrance-free.

This lotion is also formulated with prebiotic colloidal ointment which is great for moisturising your newly inked skin. It’s extremely affordable and works just as well as more expensive lotions out there.

Ingredients: [FPT-0574], aqua, glycerin, distearyldimonium chloride, isopropyl palmitate, paraffinum liquidum, cetyl alcohol, dimethicone, avena sativa (oat), kernel flour, paraffin, cera microcristallina, stearyl alcohol, myristyl alcohol, benzyl alcohol, sodium chloride

Looking for an affordable aftercare lotion? Check out Aveeno's Unscented Daily Moisturising Body Lotion

What I like:

  • Excellent value for your money
  • Clinically proven to moisturise skin for 24 hours
  • Fast absorbing and non-greasy
  • Can use throughout your entire body and not feel like you’re wasting it
  • Feel free to share with your entire family

What I don’t like:

  • If you’re allergic to oats, you need to look at something else
5. Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion

If you’re not a fan of Aveeno’s oat formula, then you might like Lubriderm. It’s a bit more expensive than Aveeno, but many tattooed folks swear by this brand, too.

It’s fast-absorbing and is fortified with vitamin B5 which keeps skin soft. Plus, this lotion is also clinically proven to moisturise the skin for a solid 24 hours.

Ingredients: Water, mineral oil, glycerin, caprylic/capric triglyceride, stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alchol, dimethicone, petrolatum, ethylhexylglycerin, carbomer, ceteareth-20, dmdh hydantoin, sodium hydroxide, sodium citrate, panthenol, citric acid, titanium dioxide

not a fan of aveeno's oat-based lotions? check out lubriderm's daily moisture lotion instead to keep your tattoo looking fresh

What I like:

  • Lanolin-free, dye-free, and fragrance-free
  • Fast absorption into the skin
  • Seals in moisture for 24 hours so it won’t dry out your tattoo

What I don’t like:

  • A tad more expensive than Aveeno
6. Butter Up Tattoo Aftercare

This creamy body butter is made for tattoos – whether it be fresh from the studio or it’s been on for several years. Made from organic ingredients such as cocoa butter, avocado oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and olive oil, this product will soothe your skin and help your ink stay vibrant for years to come.

Ingredients: Aqua, cocoa butter, avocado oil, sunflower seed oil, cetearyl alcohol, polysorbate 60, olive oil, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, stearic acid, xanthan gum, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, parfum

Butter Up Tattoo care rich body butter may be a bit expensive, but users love this stuff

What I like:

  • Enriched with vitamin E and has antioxidants and anti-inflammatories
  • No irritants, allergens and toxins
  • Can be used before, during and after getting tattooed
  • Absorbs quickly into skin for fast moisturising effect

What I don’t like:

  • More expensive than similar products, e.g. Unedited Tattoo Moisturiser and Coconut King Aftercare Balm

Now that you know the best tattoo aftercare products, you’re probably wondering why you should even bother with aftercare. Well, read on to find out why!


Why Is Good Tattoo Aftercare Important?

The tattooing process is painful (some may say extremely so), but the agony is only temporary. Proper aftercare, on the other hand, lasts a lifetime. Here’s why good aftercare is so important:

1.   Good aftercare helps prevent infections and complications

Getting inked is technically a medical procedure. But instead of a medical professional, your skin is worked on by – hopefully – a talented tattooist (or ‘tattoer’ if you’re from the other side of the Atlantic). As you know, your tattooist then uses needles to puncture your skin thousands of times to insert that precious ink in the dermis.   

Your skin (in its unbroken or unwounded state) protects you from all sorts of germs, bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. When the barrier is broken (courtesy of tattoo needles), it’s basically an open invitation for these harmful pathogens to enter your body. But with proper aftercare, you’ll minimise and possibly eliminate such risks.

2.   Proper aftercare will help your tattoo last much longer

Tattoos aren’t exactly cheap. Unless you like throwing money away, you want your skin art investment to last as long as possible. Of course, nature (biology specifically) is unstoppable. You’ll grow older, your weight will fluctuate, you’ll get sick, etc. All these changes will have an effect on your skin and your tattoo.

Even if you follow your aftercare routine religiously, your tattoo’s appearance will change over time. That’s just the very nature of tattooing. With good aftercare, however, your tattoo will look bright and vibrant for many years instead of a few, short months.


Follow Your Tattooist’s Aftercare Tips

Aftercare instructions vary from artist to artist, and studio to studio. While there’s no single best stuff to put on tattoos that everyone can agree on, your tattooist will only suggest whatever has worked for them and their clients in the past.

No, they’re not going to purposely sabotage their reputation – you’re their walking portfolio, after all – so you can trust they’ll have your best interest in mind.

Reputable shops and tattoo artists will have handy printouts of their aftercare instructions. And it is standard procedure to give clients a copy before leaving their shop. If they forget, just ask for a copy.

That said, here’s a general infographic summarising the things you need to do to help your tattoo heal properly:

infographic for tattoo aftercare

I can’t stress this enough: there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to aftercare. So, make sure you follow your tattooist’s aftercare instructions to the letter. Don’t get creative and deviate from the plan, especially if you’re just on your first tattoo.

Remember, your tattooist is not responsible for your tattoo’s healing process – YOU ARE!

Conclusion

Your tattoo may be permanent, but if you don’t take care of it now, it will fade and lose its vibrancy far earlier than it should. Obviously, getting a tattoo is a choice, but aftercare isn’t. With the right tattoo healing products or post tattoo care products, you can enjoy – and show off – your new ink for years to come!

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* Don't worry, we won't bombard you with emails. We'll only send updates once in a blue moon. Promise.

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