The Best Tattoo Aftercare

When it comes to tattoo aftercare, I’ve tried pretty much every product on the market. I have dry, sensitive skin, and many tattoos. Tattoos require a lot of care, and the market is overloaded with different products suited for different needs.

Finding the right product for you can be tricky, and knowing where to start might be overwhelming. Balms, lotions, and cleansers each serve a common purpose in tattoo aftercare, but each has their own function.

After thorough research, word of mouth, and plenty of trial and error, we’ve compiled an aftercare guide for tattoos, including a list of our top product picks. Keep reading to learn which best tattoo aftercare product is right for you!

Applying cream to a tattoo. Creams are some of the best tattoo aftercare products.

Our Top Picks for Tattoo Aftercare

Best Overall:
SPF 50 Tattoo Aftercare Balm

Best Vegan Option:
Hustle Butter Tattoo Aftercare

Best High-End Kit:
Billy Jealousy Marked IV Life Tattoo Care Kit

Crowd Favorite:
Aquaphor Healing Ointment

Best Overall

SPF 50 Tattoo Aftercare Balm

SPF 50 Tattoo Aftercare Balm, All Weather Skin Protection, Moisturizing, Healing, Biodegradable, Water Resistant, Made with Natural Ingredients.

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember to layer all the products you need to make sure your tattoo is taken care of, especially in its early stages. Or sometimes you’re in a rush, or on a budget. The Tattoo Aftercare Balm has got your back.

This tattoo aftercare balm is thick and long-lasting, creating a protecting, hydrating layer on your tattoo. It’s infused with allantoin, which keeps the skin moisturized and allows it to heal quickly and evenly, preventing the formation of scabs and scars.

Most importantly, this balm already contains SPF 50! This way, you’ll never forget to protect your tattoo from the sun.

This product is also made with all-natural ingredients and a non-greasy formula. It is coral safe, meaning that it does not contain oxybenzone and octinoxate – UV-blocking chemicals that can cause coral bleaching.


  • All-natural ingredients
  • Non-greasy, long-lasting formula
  • Coral safe
  • SPF 50


  • There are none!

Best Vegan Product

Hustle Butter Tattoo Aftercare

Hustle Butter Tattoo Aftercare 5 fl oz Tattoo Balm, Heals + Protects New Tattoos and Rejuvenates Older Tattoos - 100% Vegan Tattoo Cream No-Petroleum

Hustle Butter was the first tattoo aftercare product I ever tried, and that’s not a coincidence! It’s beloved by tattoo artists and often sold at tattoo shops.

Much like Aquaphor, this thick, long-lasting balm heals and protects tattoos. I have it as part of my tattoo care during the colder months, even if I don’t have any new tattoos! Unlike Aquaphor, though, the Hustle Butter is vegan.

Hustle Butter has a higher price point than Aquaphor, but that’s to be expected of a specialty product geared toward tattoos. Its specialized formula is geared towards not only healing new tattoos, reducing inflammation, and softening skin, but also keeping old tattoos looking fresh and feeling hydrated.

It also smells great, which is always a bonus.


  • Hydrates and protects
  • Thick
  • Long-lasting wear
  • Anti-inflammatory formula
  • Vegan


  • On the pricier side

Best High-End Kit

Billy Jealousy Marked IV Life Tattoo Care Kit

Billy Jealousy Marked IV Life Complete Tattoo Care Kit, Includes Tattoo Defining Aftercare Salve, Brightening Tattoo Wash and Moisturizing Tattoo Lotion

This kit, although more expensive than some of the options listed above, is a great option if you have several tattoos of different ages that require short and long-term aftercare.

The kit includes:

  • A clear, gel tattoo wash with a rosemary mint scent.
  • A tattoo lotion with a light rosemary scent.
  • A tattoo salve – a thick, yellow paste with a light rosemary scent.

These products are all incredibly nourishing and effective in lending new and old tattoos vibrancy by keeping them hydrated. It is also anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory.


  • Paraben-Free
  • Cruelty-Free
  • Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory
  • Improved tattoo vibrancy


  • More expensive than other tattoo aftercare kits on the market

Crowd Favorite

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

Aquaphor Healing Ointment - Variety Pack, Moisturizing Skin Protectant For Dry Cracked Hands, Heels and Elbows - 14 oz. jar + 1.75 oz. tube

The Aquaphor Healing Ointment is a classic. Even though I’ve tried several different specialized products, Aquaphor is a great tattoo aftercare product I continue to reach for time and time again.

Aquaphor is a thick, jelly-like paste that melts easily into the skin and stays on for hours. Not only does it help your tattoo heal faster and stay hydrated, it also creates a protective layer between your new tattoo and the environment.

The best part about Aquaphor is how inexpensive it is. There are different sizes available, from travel-sized tubes to larger tubs that will last you months.

Because the Aquaphor Healing Ointment is so soothing to the skin, it can make for a great moisturizer for dry patches, and is my personal favorite solution for chapped lips. You’ll want to use it on your tattoo long after it’s healed, and wherever else you feel it’s needed!


  • Inexpensive
  • Thick ointment
  • Long-lasting
  • Healing and hydrating
  • Multi-use
  • Anti-inflammatory


  • Not vegan (contains lanolin, an animal-based ingredient harvested from sheep’s wool)

Best Specialized Aftercare Cream

Stories & Ink Tattoo Care – Aftercare Cream

Stories & Ink Tattoo Care - Aftercare & Repair Lotion - Safe Before, During & After Tattoo, 100% Natural & Hypoallergenic, Fragrance Free, Gluten Free- 100% Vegan & Cruelty Free, Made in UK - 2 FL. OZ

If you’re looking for a lotion catered specifically to tattoo aftercare, and have extra sensitive skin, the Stories & Ink Aftercare Cream will do the trick. It’s fragrance free, hypoallergenic, gluten free, petroleum and paraben free. It’s also 100% vegan and cruelty free.

This aftercare cream also contains panthenol, as well as other specialized ingredients, to reduce redness and inflammation. Its non-greasy texture allows for breathability, while still soothing and hydrating your skin.


  • Reduces redness and inflammation
  • Soothes and hydrates skin
  • For sensitive skin
  • Fragrance-free
  • Non-greasy
  • Vegan & cruelty free


  • Not as thick or long-lasting as an ointment
  • More expensive than other moisturizers on the market

Best Budget Lotion

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion

Aveeno Sheer Hydration Daily Moisturizing Fragrance-Free Lotion with Nourishing Prebiotic Oat, Fast-Absorbing Body Moisturizer for Dry Skin with Lightweight, Breathable Feel, 18 fl. oz

If balms and ointments are too dense for your skin, lotion is a good option to keep your tattoos hydrated with a lightweight finish. The Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion is a cheap, easy to find option for tattoo maintenance, and overall skin hydration.

It’s also multi-use and soothing, so you’ll be able to apply it to help with other skin concerns. It is also cruelty-free!

This non-greasy, non-comedogenic body lotion is paraben free, dye free, and allergy tested, making it perfect for most skin types.


  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Multi-use
  • Soothing
  • Paraben free, dye free, and allergy tested
  • Cruelty-Free


  • Not as thick or long-lasting as an ointment
  • Not vegan (contains beeswax)

Best Sunscreen

Mad Rabbit Defend Tattoo Sunscreen

Mad Rabbit Defend Tattoo Sunscreen- SPF 30 100mL Tube- All-Natural Mineral Sunscreen Lotion - Tattoo Fade Protection and Moisturizer, Anti-Aging Formula

Sunscreen is an indispensable part of the best tattoo aftercare, and should be worn long after your tattoo has healed. The best approach to prevent cosmetic damage to your tattoos, such as fading and wrinkles, is to protect yourself from the sun. Wearing sunscreen is essential to keeping your body ink looking its best.

This is also a mineral sunscreen, meaning it contains zinc oxide/titanium dioxide. Mineral sunscreens sit on top of the skin, and therefore help physically protect it from UV rays

The Mad Rabbit Defend Tattoo Sunscreen is exactly what it sounds like: a specialized sunscreen, tailored to tattoos. This daily sunscreen is lightweight, with a sheer finish, and long-lasting wear.


  • Mineral sunscreen
  • Lightweight
  • Sheer finish
  • Long-lasting wear
  • Specialized tattoo product


  • More expensive than other non-specialized sunscreen options in the market

Best Affordable Kit

Tattoo Goo Aftercare Kit

Tattoo Goo Aftercare Kit Includes Antimicrobial Soap, Balm, and Lotion, Tattoo Care for Color Enhancement + Quick Healing - Vegan, Cruelty-Free, Petroleum-Free (3 Piece Set)

The Tattoo Goo is a classic and well-loved tattoo aftercare lotion, known to enhance the colors of new and old tattoos. While you can still buy all of their products individually, this kit has everything you could need for a speedy tattoo healing process, as well as effective tattoo maintenance.

The kit includes:

  • The Tattoo Goo Antimicrobial Soap, an antimicrobial and antibacterial tattoo cleanser.
  • The Tattoo Goo Tattoo Balm, a balm that provides tattoos with a protective barrier and hydration.
  • The Tattoo Goo Tattoo Lotion, a lightweight lotion that prevents scabbing and speeds up the healing process.

These products are dermatologist tested, contain panthenol, which helps stop itching, and are petroleum jelly and lanolin-free. They are also vegan and cruelty-free.

All in all, this is a great (and affordable!) one and done best tattoo aftercare kit.


  • Contains panthenol, which helps stop itching.
  • Petroleum Jelly and Lanolin-Free
  • Dermatologist Tested
  • Vegan and Cruelty-Free


  • None that we can think of!

Tattoo Aftercare Buyer’s Guide

Tattoo artist washing new tattoo work.
Washing new tattoo work.

Types Of Aftercare Products

There are several different categories of products involved in tattoo aftercare. In the initial stages of tattoo care, more products are recommended to ensure that your tattoo heals thoroughly and well.

The first of these products is anti-bacterial wash. For the first two to three weeks, it’s important to make sure that your tattoo is dirt and bacteria-free. Wash your tattoos gently around three times a day.

Pomades and ointments are recommended while your tattoo is healing because they form a thick, protective barrier and promote hydration. This will keep your tattoo from collecting dirt, as well as remain vibrant. These products can be used regularly long after your tattoo is healed to lend your tattoo shine and to help avoid fading.

During the early healing stages, it’s more important than ever to make sure your tattoo is hydrated. Always apply a thin coat of a lotion-based product after you wash your tattoo. This is a step you should do regularly, even after your tattoo is healed, to ensure its longevity.

Sunscreen is arguably the most essential, and the most overlooked, best tattoo aftercare product. Nothing will damage your tattoo quicker than the sun. To avoid fading, wrinkling, and other diseases, it is important to always apply a generous amount of sunscreen on all your tattoos before you go out in the sun.

What to Look For: Ingredients & More

Not all tattoo aftercare ingredients are created equal, and it’s important to find the right product for your needs. Common ingredients can cause allergic reactions, or pose ethical concerns. For instance, people who prioritize vegan and/or cruelty-free products should look out for specifications on labels that indicate this standard.

Those with sensitive skin should opt for products that are fragrance-free. If you have dry skin, you might prefer a thicker ointment, and if those kinds of products feel uncomfortable on your skin you may want to try a more light-weight option.

For the first few weeks of your tattoo healing journey, look for products that are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.

You can find petroleum jelly-free products, paraben-free products, and fragrance-free products very easily. Just be sure to look out for what you need!

Tattoo Aftercare FAQS

Tattoo artist applying lotion to a tattoo.

How long should you keep a tattoo covered?

At least a few hours after you get it. This will prevent dirt and bacteria from getting into your skin, as well as scrapes/scratches that may irritate the area.

How often should I wash my tattoo?

For the first two to three weeks, wash your tattoo with antibacterial wash at least twice a day. Once your tattoo has healed, you may wash it normally in the shower.

Should I use ointments, balms, or moisturizers?

That depends on your skin needs. For the first few weeks, a balm/ointment is recommended because it provides more long-lasting hydration, and creates a thick, defensive barrier on top of the tattoo. Non-greasy options are available.

Once your tattoo has healed, it comes down to preference. Just make sure your tattoo is moisturized so that it remains vibrant.

Tattoo Aftercare Do’s and Don’ts

Tattoo artist applying disinfectant spray to a new tattoo.

How you care for your tattoo directly affects its longevity, and is critical for avoiding infections and other issues during the healing process.


You should always follow your tattoo artist’s instructions and recommendations for tattoo aftercare. It’s important to keep your tattoo clean and hydrated, and use soothing products to prevent inflammation.

Clean and moisturize your tattoo gently, especially in the initial stages of healing, and apply thin layers of product so that your tattoo can breathe while it is healing. It is also very important to wear sunscreen every time you go out in the sun.

Remember to carefully research the right products to suit your tattoo aftercare needs.


Going out in direct sun for the first few weeks can cause fading and pigment damage, as well as serious burning. After your tattoo has healed, wear sunscreen on your tattoo every time you go out in the sun.

Swimming in pools or the ocean, as well as going to the gym, for the first three weeks after you’ve gotten your tattoo can lead to infections. Avoid submerging your tattoo in water or sweating while it heals.

It’s also important to not be abrasive to new tattoos. Don’t shave or use loofahs or sponges to clean your tattoo, and avoid itching or picking at your tattoo.

Although it might be tempting, don’t apply too much product on your tattoo. Applying too much may cause bacteria to become trapped underneath. It’s always safer to apply a thin layer of ointments and cream products.

Lastly, never use rubbing alcohol or other harsh products on your tattoos. Stick to the products on this guide instead.

Our Recommendations for Best Tattoo Aftercare

Person applying cream to a tattoo on their arm.

I hope that this guide has helped you learn more about the types of tattoo aftercare products on the market, and provided you with the best options. The SPF 50 Tattoo Aftercare Balm is our personal favorite if you’re looking for a single product that covers most of the essential parts of tattoo aftercare.

Whatever aftercare products you choose, be consistent. And remember, never forget your sunscreen!

Now that you know the best aftercare products, check out our Tattoo Products posts for other great recommendations!

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