We’re often asked, “What’s the best thing to put on a new tattoo?”
Since you basically have a wound on your body, it’s crucial to keep it clean and moisturized.
After you’ve washed it, use one of the best healing creams for tattoos.
Consult with your artist about recommended aftercare products, or see our reviews below.
We’ll help you to choose a moisturizer that keeps itching and scabbing to a minimum so that you can heal faster.
- When Should I Put Cream on My Tattoo?
- How to Prevent Infections and Protect the Ink from Fading
- What Ingredients Help Tattoos Heal Faster?
- Sanibalm Tattoo Aftercare Roll-On Balm By Saniderm
- Bayer Bepanthen Antiseptic Cream
- Dynarex Vitamins A & D Ointment Without Lanolin
- Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment Skin Protectant
- Hustle Butter Deluxe
- H2Ocean Aquatat Moisturizer
- H2Ocean Ocean Care Cream
- After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer & Aftercare Lotion
- Tattoo Goo Original Aftercare Lotion
- Tattoo Goo – The Original Aftercare Salve
- Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve
- Lubriderm Daily Moisture Hydrating Unscented Body Lotion
- Lubriderm Tattoo Daily Care Water-Based Lotion
- Urban ReLeaf TATTOO SKIN SILK
- Badger Tattoo Balm
- Redemption Tattoo Care Aftercare
- Platinum Rose Tattoo Butter
- Fisticuffs Tattoo Balm
- Viking Revolution Tattoo Care Balm
- Barker Goods Organic Tattoo Aftercare Balm
- INK FIXX Tattoo Aftercare Ointment
- Aveeno Skin Relief 24-Hour Moisturizing Lotion
- Minimize Pain During the Healing Process
When Should I Put Cream on My Tattoo?
Each time you wash your skin put cream on your tattoo.
At a minimum, do this twice a day – morning and night. But you should wash and moisturize again if you get sweaty or dirty.
The cream seals in moisture and protects against infection, but it lets the skin breathe.
Tattoo healing creams contain nourishment for injured skin. Plus, they keep the ink from leeching and fading.
For ultimate tattoo protection, wash with one of the best antibacterial soaps for tattoos.
How to Prevent Infections and Protect the Ink from Fading
Once you go home with your new tattoo, and you remove the bandage, wash your skin gently.
Use lukewarm or cool water, but don’t submerge the ink. Don’t even allow the stream of water to hit the skin.
Instead, use clean hands to splash water on the tattoo. Wash carefully with antibacterial soap and rinse.
Then pat dry with a soft towel. Don’t rub even if you’re itchy.
Apply healing cream with a gentle massage. Don’t press hard.
Let the ointment absorb before you put on clothing or cover the tattoo.
Continue to use a thicker cream to boost healing during the first three days before you switch to a fragrance-free lotion.
Don’t go swimming for at least two weeks, and keep your new ink out of the sun. Once your skin has healed, you can wear sunscreen (1).
Avoid picking scabs to prevent scars, damage to the ink, and infection.
What Ingredients Help Tattoos Heal Faster?
There’s quite a bit of debate over whether it’s better to use a product with petrolatum or one based on plant oils.
For example, coconut oil has proven to be healing for skin infections (2).
If you choose to use a product with petrolatum, pick one with pure pharmaceutical-grade white petrolatum. It will have something like “White petrolatum USP” on the label.
Then only apply a thin layer as it forms a barrier that might stop the skin from breathing.
Now let’s look at reviews of the top healing creams for tattoos.
Sanibalm Tattoo Aftercare Roll-On Balm By Saniderm
Your tattoo artist might apply Sanibalm and a Saniderm bandage before you leave the studio.
It’s one of the most popular tattoo aftercare solutions on the market.
We like Sanibalm for a number of reasons.
First, it comes in a twist-up applicator that keeps the cream sanitary. It’s effortless to apply without making a mess.
Second, it’s made without parabens or other artificial preservatives. It’s based on sea buckthorn, an excellent source of Omega fatty acids to repair the skin.
Third, we found that it calms itchy skin.
If you’d like to give it a try, the company offers a money-back guarantee if you don’t love their product.
Bayer Bepanthen Antiseptic Cream
Bepanthen cream is another popular treatment for new tattoos.
Yes, it’s diaper cream. But it also cures cuts, sunburn, and bug bites.
You only need a thin layer as it’s rather greasy and thick.
Dynarex Vitamins A & D Ointment Without Lanolin
A&D ointment is based on 93% white petrolatum, USP pharmaceutical-grade. Other ingredients include liquid paraffin, lavender oil, and Vitamins A and D.
This version does not have lanolin from animal sources as it may provoke allergies for some people.
It seals in moisture and prevents bacteria from getting into wounds. But please be careful to only put on a little each time so that your skin can breathe.
Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment Skin Protectant
Aquaphor comes in jars and tubes. We prefer the tube as it’s sanitary and protects the cream from contamination.
Dermatologists recommend it to patients with dehydrated, cracked skin. It’s based on 41% petrolatum, but it’s not greasy or sticky like Vaseline. It absorbs much better than that.
Still, though, just a little goes a long way.
It also has glycerin and panthenol to keep your skin soft and nourished while it heals.
Hustle Butter Deluxe
Hustle Butter is a favorite tool of tattoo artists around the world.
They use it to prepare the skin for inking as it allows their hand to glide smoothly as they work. It won’t clog tubes or mess up stencils, either.
As for our clients, Hustle Butter reduces swelling and redness during the inking.
Since it’s very healing, it also helps the skin recover quickly after you get a tattoo.
The creamy texture comes from vegan ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, green tea, Vitamin E, and mint oil.
Even long after your tattoo has healed, you can use Hustle Butter to keep the colors bright.
H2Ocean Aquatat Moisturizer
H2Ocean makes both this moisturizer and the aftercare cream below.
Use the Aquatat for the first two or three days after you get a tattoo. Then switch to the cream to continue the healing process.
This moisturizer has a few essential qualities to consider. Not only is it FDA-approved to protect the skin, but it’s also made with pharmaceutical-grade ingredients.
Moreover, it’s lightweight, fragrance-free, and doesn’t contain mineral oil.
H2Ocean Ocean Care Cream
The H2Ocean Care Cream is also fragrance-free and made with vegan-friendly ingredients.
It won’t make your clothes stick to your skin while your tattoo is healing.
Use it up to five times a day to promote healing and prevent scab formation and itchiness.
After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer & Aftercare Lotion
Do you want to know the best lotion to keep a tattoo from fading? It’s probably this one from After Inked. And you’ve seen it in action on Ink Masters.
You can use it to help new tattoos heal and keep old tattoos bright and colorful.
This daily moisturizer isn’t sticky or greasy. It’s fragrance-free and based on natural ingredients like grapeseed oil and shea butter.
The vegan formula doesn’t have gluten, parabens, or petroleum.
Furthermore, it comes in a compact tube that fits in a pocket and keeps the product sterile.
Tattoo Goo Original Aftercare Lotion
Tattoo Goo is free of lanolin and petroleum. It proves that you don’t need either of those ingredients to heal the skin quickly.
It’s ideal if you have sensitive skin because it doesn’t have a fragrance, either.
But it does have healthy doses of Vitamins A and D. It keeps your skin soft and won’t clog pores.
Use it for the first few days before you switch to the salve.
Tattoo Goo – The Original Aftercare Salve
The Tattoo Goo Salve is best for continuing the healing process and keeping tattoos vibrant.
It’s based on beeswax, olive oil, cocoa butter, and Vitamin E. It also has lavender and rosemary to avoid infection and boost healing.
Rub it into inked skin and use it for chapped lips, too.
Although it’s free of petroleum, mineral oil, and lanolin, it has an artificial dye.
Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve
Ora’s Herbal Salve is made in small batches by a family business. It avoids synthetic ingredients like petroleum, mineral oil, and artificial fragrances. What’s more, it doesn’t have lanolin or gluten.
The natural scent comes from rosemary, cedar, and tea tree. Other natural elements, like comfrey and calendula, alleviate itching.
Meanwhile, it keeps the skin supple with grapeseed and coconut oil. The formula also guards the ink against leaching.
Lubriderm Daily Moisture Hydrating Unscented Body Lotion
What’s the difference between Lubriderm’s unscented regular lotion and the Tattoo Daily Care lotion below?
It’s hard to see at first glance.
They’re both water-based moisturizers that hydrate for 24 hours after you apply them.
But the regular version contains parabens, a type of preservative that might interfere with the endocrine system of the body.
Lubriderm Tattoo Daily Care Water-Based Lotion
Meanwhile, the Lubriderm lotion made for tattoo care doesn’t have parabens.
It’s rich in skin conditioners like soybean seed extract and glycerin, plus petrolatum and mineral oil. The Vitamin B5 helps strengthen your skin’s natural barrier against moisture loss and infection.
It’s also fragrance-free.
Urban ReLeaf TATTOO SKIN SILK
Urban ReLeaf’s holistic moisturizer contains soothing natural ingredients like raw shea butter, lavender, tea tree, and rosemary essential oils.
It absorbs quickly and won’t clog pores or pull ink out of the skin. Within moments, it smooths dry skin and relieves itching.
Badger Tattoo Balm
Badger’s Tattoo Balm is kind to your skin and the environment.
It’s made with fair-trade-certified coconut oil and exotic Tamanu oil, too. Both are packed with vitamins and nutrients to restore your skin to health without harming the ink.
Redemption Tattoo Care Aftercare
Redemption’s aftercare ointment is nearly 100% organic. It’s loaded with natural remedies like castor oil, cocoa butter, calendula, arnica, chamomile, and rosemary.
Although the texture is similar to petrolatum-based products, there is no petroleum, mineral oil, or parabens in it.
The formula is nourishing for new tattoos and old alike.
Platinum Rose Tattoo Butter
Platinum Rose is scented with English Rose oil, so it may not be everyone’s first choice.
Like similar tattoo balms, it can also help heal sunburn, cuts, and dry skin.
It contains shea butter, avocado oil, cocoa, and aloe butter, plus Vitamin E. These ingredients lessen irritation and redness.
In fact, you can prep your skin before your next tattoo by using this moisturizer each day before you see the artist.
Fisticuffs Tattoo Balm
Fisticuffs smells like peppermint. Let it melt a little bit in your hand before you rub it into your skin.
It stops the swelling and itching and guards against infection with eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, and frankincense.
Viking Revolution Tattoo Care Balm
Viking Revolution makes some of the best beard balms, so it’s no surprise they also provide this beneficial tattoo cream.
They know you’re anxious to have your tattoo heal see you can get back to regular life. Therefore, they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Some of the critical components include grapeseed oil, shea butter, German chamomile, marigold, and Vitamin E.
Barker Goods Organic Tattoo Aftercare Balm
Barker’s Tattoo balm doubles as lip balm, lotion, and cuticle treatment. It’s based on organic coconut and olive oil, plus waxes like carnauba, jojoba, and beeswax.
It’s made in the USA from local ingredients.
INK FIXX Tattoo Aftercare Ointment
Ink Fixx comes in a tin like many other tattoo balms. That’s one reason why we recommend you use tattoo cream in a tube or pump-top bottle for the first few days. An open container is subject to contamination.
This product is made with beeswax, cocoa butter, soy oil, grapeseed extract, and vitamins A, C, and D. There is no petrolatum.
Aveeno Skin Relief 24-Hour Moisturizing Lotion
Clients want to know Aveeno’s unscented lotion on new tattoos.
Yes, they can.
After all, it’s made to heal the skin with oat extract and shea butter.
As always, apply a small amount after washing.
Minimize Pain During the Healing Process
Here’s a bonus tip for you.
Use a painkilling antibacterial soap while you heal to cut down on how much it hurts and itches.
H2ocean Nothing Pain Relieving Soap W/Lidocaine
H2Ocean’s soap foams out of a pump top bottle. It has lidocaine, a topical anesthetic. Use it on broken skin for maximum effect – otherwise, it won’t work.
Once you’ve rinsed and dried, use the tattoo healing cream of your choice. The numbing effects last for a little while afterward.
Healing creams for tattoos get you back to regular life as quickly as possible.
They reduce redness and irritation and promote quick healing.
The moisture they provide is essential to minimize scabbing.
If you’ve discovered a new favorite tattoo cream, let us know in the comments below.
1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/tattoos-and-piercings/art-20045067 published March 03, 2018, accessed September 9, 2019
2. https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2014-05/treatment-dermal-infections-topical-coconut-oil by Lindsey K. Elmore, et al., published May 2014, accessed September 9, 2019