Tattoo Aftercare: How Often Should You Apply Lotion On New Tattoo

Don’t you sometimes wish there’s a standard procedure for tattoo aftercare? For instance, there’s no hard and fast rule on how often you should apply lotion on a new tattoo. Understandably, it can get quite confusing – especially for beginners – to figure out the best way to get a new tattoo to heal properly.  

Just a quick disclaimer before we go any further:

We took measures to ensure this article’s veracity, but again, everyone’s different. So, please take our advice with a pinch of salt. If you’ve any concerns about aftercare, do have a chat with your tattooist – they know your tattoo best!

Applying Lotion on New Tattoo – Why Do It At All?

Not skin, obviously. But your skin can look like this if you don’t put lotion on new tattoo! (Photo by Dan Gold)

This is a pretty good question honestly. There are some people who swear by dry healing tattoo. But not everyone can handle the downsides of this natural approach to tattoo healing. If you’re not sure why you should even bother putting lotion on, here are 6 good reasons that may persuade you over.

1. Moisturisation is key to proper healing

Don’t you just hate it when your skin goes dry, especially in cold weather? It becomes even worse when you’ve got fresh ink on your skin. If you didn’t already know, dry skin is bad news for new tattoos. Why? Because it can dry out your tattoo and cause it to crack and bleed.

Fortunately, there’s a simple remedy to most dry skin – moisturising lotion. A thin layer of lotion applied regularly can hydrate and moisturise your skin, like magic! This helps your skin generate new cells, close up those tiny needle holes, and heal your tattoo.

2. Skin dehydrates after a few hours

Our skin loses water throughout the day, and we need to replenish it by drinking water and staying hydrated. This may be enough if you’ve got a healthy immune system.

But for better skin hydration, you need to rub some lotion on your skin. And your job doesn’t end there. Long after your tattoo has healed, you need to keep on applying lotion as part of your daily skincare routine (yes, you need one).

3. It prevents deep, ugly scabs from forming

Your tattoo will form scabs, whether you like it or not. But if your skin is not well-moisturised, those small, harmless scabs can turn into big, ugly ones. A little lotion applied a few times a day can go a long way to ensuring the scabs don’t go into the dermis, the skin layer where your tattooist inserted that special ink.

4. Aids in faster healing

Aside from making your skin look old, dry skin isn’t great for tattoo healing either. But when your skin is moisturised, you can most likely expect the healing process to go so much faster for you! 

5. Prevents cracking

Dry skin is prone to cracking, which, depending on the area, can be extremely painful. Additionally, if the cracks are deep enough, it can even draw some blood out. I’m sure it’s not something you want to experience, especially not while your tattoo is still unhealed.

6. Helps with itching and irritation

The discomfort that tattoo itching brings is immense, and the bigger the tattooed area is, the itchier it becomes. The right moisturising lotion can help reduce itchiness. And it increases the likelihood that your new tattoo will remain vibrant for years to come! 

What’s The Best Tattoo Healing Lotion Or Moisturiser For New Tattoos?

To be honest, there is no single best tattoo aftercare product. Tattooists and tattoo studios all have their opinions on what’s “the best.” And I don’t find it all that surprising either. After all, everyone’s skin is different and there are a lot of factors that affect the tattoo healing process.  

However, since we’re on this topic, we’d also like to put in our tuppence. In our opinion, these are the best and most affordable aftercare moisturising lotions you can buy right now:

1.   After Inked Tattoo Moisturiser

We’re truly big fans of this grapeseed oil-based lotion. This premium tattoo aftercare lotion is one of the best ones out there. We love the fact that the primary ingredient is grapeseed oil which is a potent antioxidant, so it will definitely help soften and protect your freshly tattooed skin.

This brand’s been on the market for years now – and it’s quite popular amongst tattooists and tattoo enthusiasts alike. It’s free of paraben, fragrance, gluten, and petroleum. The non-allergenic and non-irritant formula is perfect for all types of skin – even vegans can use this product!

Click the link below to buy a tube of this amazing tattoo moisturiser!

after inked vegan tattoo aftercare lotion

2.   Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion

If you’re wondering if you can put Aveeno lotion on your tattoo, well, the answer is yes. Aveeno’s got a comprehensive line of dermatologically approved skincare products.

This particular lotion variety is formulated with prebiotic oat which is perfect for normal to dry skin types. It’s also clinically proven to moisturise skin for 24 hours, so you literally only need to apply it once a day!

3.   Cetaphil Moisturising Lotion

Cetaphil may be a bit more expensive than Aveeno, but this is also a good lotion for tattoos. It’s fragrance-free, non-comedogenic (does not clog up pores) and provides 24-hour moisturisation.

Cetaphil lotion’s moisturising power lies in the fact that it binds water to the skin, thus reducing moisture loss!

4.   Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion

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

Fortified with vitamin B5, Lubriderm is another popular lotion for moisturising new tattoos. It’s more expensive than both Aveeno and Cetaphil, but pretty much works the same way.

That said, this product is non-greasy and fast absorbing, so it will keep your skin soft and supple for a solid 24-hour stretch.  

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Frequently Asked Questions About Applying Lotion on New Tattoos

You’ve got questions about putting lotion on your new tattoo, and we’ve got the answers for you.

1.   Can you put lotion on a new tattoo?

Yes and no. Actually, the answer depends on your tattooist. Some artists recommend putting on some lotion a few hours after the job is done. Others suggest waiting a few more days so the extra-tender skin can heal a bit first. For best results, you better follow whatever your tattooist’s aftercare sheet says.

2.   When to start using lotion or cream on new tattoos?

As soon as the tattoo starts drying up and the ‘weeping’ or oozing stops. This would be the right time to start using lotion or cream.

3.   How many days after tattooing can I use lotion?

Your tattoo will normally stop ‘weeping’ about 24-48 hours after getting done. But, of course, everybody’s different and yours may go beyond this timeframe. Of course, if your tattooist said you can use lotion right away, then by all means, feel free to follow their advice.

4.   How much healing ointment to put on tattoo?

A very thin layer only, please. Ointments like Aquaphor, A+D, and Bepanthen also act as a barrier that prevents harmful pathogens from entering those fresh needle wounds. If you put way too much ointment, you’re going to clog up the pores. At this point, your tattoo is still ‘weeping’ – the gooey stuff needs to come out. You don’t want all that fluid trapped on your skin as this can cause infections and other complications!

5.   When should you switch to lotion for a new tattoo?

During the ‘weeping’ period, you should use an ointment like Aquaphor or A+D to protect your skin from the elements. Just make sure you clean the area first before applying the ointment. Otherwise, you’ll trap the pathogens in the skin which really wouldn’t be ideal in any case. That said, you can stop using the healing ointment and switch to lotion once ‘weeping’ stops.

6.   How often should you put lotion on your new tattoo?

As often as you can – when you notice your tattoo getting dry and starting to pucker up, then it’s time to moisturise! The more moisture you retain in your skin, the better. But be careful not to overdo it though. In the first week or so, you should only apply a very thin layer of lotion to the tattoo so as not to soak the scab which can delay the healing process.

7.   How to moisturise or put lotion on new tattoo?

Well, putting on lotion may sound simple enough, but you’d be surprised by how many people get it wrong. Don’t just slap on a blob of lotion on your tattoo and leave it there. To encourage healing, give your skin a massage by applying lotion in a circular motion. Doing so will not only feel good but will also rejuvenate your skin cells.

8.   How much moisturising lotion to put on tattoo?

Well, it depends on how far along your tattoo is in the healing process.

If it’s still in the scabbing stage, that is, the scabs haven’t fallen off on their own yet, then you should only apply a thin layer. Applying a big gob of lotion will cause the scab to absorb it and make it gloopy, which can then cause it to easily fall off and take some precious ink with it.

The peeling stage is, thankfully, a different experience. At this point, your tattoo is almost fully healed, and you can now see bits of coloured skin (don’t panic – it’s totally normal) hanging off your tattoo. You can apply a thicker layer of lotion to keep the peeling skin close by (don’t rip or pick it off!) while you wait for it to fall off naturally. Doing so will also help ensure no peeling skin gets accidentally ripped off by your nails, your clothing, furniture, etc.

9.   What happens if you don’t moisturise your tattoo?

Well, it’s not the end of the world, for sure, but you may encounter some mild discomfort depending on whether you’re dry healing the tattoo or, you know, just forgot to moisturise a few times. If it’s the former, well, all the best to you because you’ve got the determination to stick with natural healing. If it’s the latter, well, you better apply lotion as soon as you’re able to. Otherwise, you may experience all the downsides that come with not moisturising, such as dry and cracked skin.

10.  Is it possible to over-moisturise your tattoo?

Yes, it’s very much possible, especially in the early stages of the healing process. Remember, your skin needs to breathe in order to repair itself. If you slather on far too much lotion, then you risk blocking your pores which can lead to acne and other skin conditions! Pimples are bad enough… but on your brand-new tattoo? No, thank you!

11. Can you use coconut oil instead of lotion?

Yes, absolutely. Coconut oil is a natural moisturiser, and it will do a great job of hydrating your skin! Of course, it will be more oily than traditional lotions and it’s absorbed relatively slowly into the skin. But it works just the same – if not better – than most lotions!

That said, here’s an infographic outlining the benefits of coconut oil on tattoos:

Infographic summarising the benefits of using coconut oil on tattoos

Alternatively, if you don’t like coconut oil for any reason, you can check out cocoa butter. It’s also a natural moisturiser, and will do a stellar job of keeping your skin nice and soft!


Find the best aftercare routine that works for you. This includes choosing the right aftercare products and knowing how often to moisturise or put lotion on a new tattoo. Remember to keep your skin moisturised at all times, so your tattoo will look fresh and vibrant for a long time!   

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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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