7 Best Lotions for Tattoos That Make Your New Ink Shine

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Tattoos are a traditional and effective way to express yourself, your desires, and your achievements. Millions of people around the world have tattoos, and the vast majority turn out great.

But for your skin to fully recover and to make your tattoo really shine, you need to invest in a quality tattoo lotion.

The tattoo lotions should not only be fragrance-free, but should be made from quality ingredients, absent of colorants, highly breathable to prevent infection, and perhaps most importantly, moisturize your skin for a quicker (and non-peeling) aftercare healing process.

Here’s a look at some lotions that should work well for your new ink:

The 7 Best Tattoo Lotions & Creams

1. Best Overall: After Inked Tattoo Lotion

Enriched with Grape Seed Oil, the After Inked Moisturizer and Aftercare Lotion comes in a handy 3 oz. tube that ensures your new ink stays protected and moist anywhere you go. It is not derived from petroleum, does not contain parabens or fragrances, and is vegan and cruelty-free.

Applying After Inked is easy, as it goes on smooth and dries clear. Perfect for those days you have to spend in the sun, the After Inked moisturizer is one of the best lotions for new tattoos.

Pros

  • No oily residue
  • Natural ingredients
  • Environmentally responsible

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Only available in small packages

What You Need To Know

Perfect for brand new ink, the After Inked moisturizing lotion is safe for all skin types and is recommended by world-renowned tattoo artists. It can be pricey for a small tube, but don’t skimp – you’ll regret a faded, ashy-looking tattoo if you do.

2. Best Tattoo Butter: Hustle Butter Deluxe

Hustle Butter Deluxe is a thicker product recommended and used for both before and aftercare of tattoos. Hustle Butter is 100% natural and vegan to provide you with a great alternative to petroleum-based tattoo products. It’s also often used during the tattoo process to keep the skin supple and moist. Shea and aloe butter prevent scabs and protect tattooed areas.

You’ll feel the difference when your skin is fresh and clean. It’s also fragrance-free, meaning you can wear it anywhere. Available in small and large sizes for home or travel use, the Hustle Butter Deluxe tattoo butter will keep your brand new ink glistening.

Pros

  • Available in two sizes
  • Infused with essential oils and minerals
  • Not oily – easy to use

Cons

  • Butter is thicker
  • Pricey

What You Need To Know

If you need a bit of a thicker option for your post-tattoo care, consider Hustle Butter Deluxe. Your tattoo artist may already be using it during your inking anyway, and it leaves you feeling protected.

3. Best Tattoo Salve: Ora’s Tattoo Salve

Salve has a soothing ring to it – you just feel better knowing you’re using a salve as your tattoo aftercare product. Ora’s Tattoo salve is no different. Infused with organic herbs and chemical-free, Ora’s is designed to combat itching and scabbing naturally, without petroleum.

It specifically reduces inflammation and infection by providing a thin layer of protection, keeping tattoos and skin supple and soothed. It goes on a bit thicker and greasier than lotions but dries very clean. At the lower end of our price spectrum, one jar will be able to cover your relatively small tattoo as it heals.

Pros

  • All-natural
  • Prevents color leaching and itch
  • Not expensive

Cons

  • Would need more than one tub for larger tattoos
  • Salve can be oily to start

What You Need To Know

Ora’s Tattoo Salve provides a bit more protection than does butter or lotion without suffocating your skin. At the cheaper end of the spectrum, it’s a great option for new and existing tattoos.

4. Aquaphor Healing Ointment Advanced Therapy

Completely fragrance-free and made with skin health in mind, Aquaphor Healing Ointment is dermatologist recommended for a variety of different skin ailments, including new tattoos. A rare exception to the rule against ointment for tattoos, using Aquaphor for tattoos is a gentle and economical choice.

If you’re environmentally conscious or are concerned about what you’re putting on your skin, his product may not be for you. It contains mineral oil as well as some other preservatives and chemicals. Its main ingredient is also a substance derived from petroleum. Still, if you don’t mind, the product will work wonders for your new tattoo. It goes on a little thicker and oilier than some other options but provides great protection.

Pros

  • Dermatologist recommended
  • Cheapest option
  • Thicker for protection

Cons

  • Contains petroleum and other artificial ingredients

What You Need To Know

Aquaphor’s Healing Ointment Advanced Therapy uses tried and true ingredients that work exceptionally well despite their artificial nature.

5. Lubriderm Advanced Therapy Lotion

Lubriderm was specifically developed by a dermatologist to address some of the many skin issues they saw in their practices. The Advanced Therapy Lotion is clinically shown to moisturize for up to 24 hours after application and is the most recommended brand by tattoo artists.

It’s fragrance-free, non-greasy, and uses Vitamin B5 to help speed up the healing process. It does contain glycerin, which some men may avoid, but is extremely effective at delivering moisture. The emphasis on the non-greasy residue makes the Lubriderm a great option, especially at such a low price.

Pros

  • Low price for bulk
  • Effective on both tattoos and other parts of your skin
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • No SPF

What You Need To Know

Lubriderm brings its many years of dermatologically proven science to keep your tattoo looking fresh and new and protecting it when you first receive it.

6. Viking Revolution Tattoo Balm

Viking Revolution Tattoo Balm is specifically designed to speed up the healing process. It’s chemical-free, vegan, and smells fantastic. It’s called a balm but goes on clean and clear with no greasy residue. The balm also comes with a 100% money-back guarantee.

Relying on a mixture of all-natural ingredients including grape seed oil, shea butter, coconut oil, and vitamin E oil – it will be effective at keeping tattoos, both old and new, fresh and protected. A regular here on Tools of Men, Viking Revolution makes a full line of men’s grooming products – such as their award-winning beard shampoo.

Pros

  • Awesome design with lots of other products
  • Goes on clean
  • All-natural

Cons

  • Small package requiring replacement more frequently

What You Need To Know

Wicked cool packaging combined with a product that works well for protecting tattoos, the Viking Revolution Tattoo Balm is a great option for both new tattoo wearers and those who have older ink.

7. Tattoo Goo

Boasting its natural ingredients such as olive oil, beeswax, and vitamin E, Tattoo Goo is recommended not only for tattoos but also for skin that’s been abused by the conditions of extreme sports.

The formula is made with herbs, vitamins, and oils, which allow the skin to breathe while healing and soothing tattoos. It does have a smell, but most considered it light and pleasant. One Tattoo Goo review likened the scent to the green soap used in many tattoo shops. This thick “goo” can be used both as a tattoo healer and an aftercare product. It generally comes in a small 3/4 ounce tin, but it’s inexpensive and you don’t need to use much when applying.

Pros

  • Natural ingredients
  • Pleasant smell

Cons

  • Comes in a very small tin

What You Need To Know

If you’re in search of an all-natural tattoo lotion that will aid healing without breaking the bank, Tattoo Goo would certainly be one of our top picks.

5 Considerations When Buying Tattoo Lotion

1. Colorants

Anytime you have an open wound, you want to ensure that you choose a lotion that avoids colorants. For one thing, colorants can alter the color of the tattoo itself. More importantly, however, they can cause irritation.

2. Moisturizer

Your skin is a living breathing part of your body that needs vitamins and moisture to stay healthy. The perfect moisturizer is one that is vitamin-rich, prevents dry and ashy-looking skin, and quickens the healing process. The moisturizer should allow the skin to breathe, leaving your tattoo area feeling fresh and clean.

Natural oils are perfect here and carrier oils are particularly good at adding to and retaining skin’s moisture. Aloe vera provides a soothing barrier to the tattooed area. Jojoba performs a similar, protective barrier.

3. Fragrance

Fragrance is a personal choice for a man. Those who have sensitive skin will prefer a fragrance-free option and a number of tattoo parlors recommend going fragrance-free as well.

Note: Unscented lotions may actually contain a chemical fragrance to neutralize smells – it is best to avoid this ingredient as fragrance has been known to be highly irritable for many (source).

4. Non-Comedogenic

Non-comedogenic lotions mean that they are specifically designed to moisturize without clogging pores. Non-clogging lotions will leave your tattoo with bright color while still nourishing your skin.

5. Size

Tattoo lotions come in all shapes and sizes. It’s recommended that you have a larger option for home and work use and then a smaller bottle to take with you.

Tattoo Lotion FAQs

Can I use any type of lotion on my tattoo?

No – you should use a moisturizer, lotion, ointment, or balm that is specifically formulated for use on a tattoo (i.e., no colorants, hypoallergenic, goes on light, etc.) Tattoos are open wounds, and the less “junk” you put on, the better. Aftercare for a tattoo can be a grueling process.

Is it ok if my tattoo lotion has beeswax?

Yes – just make sure it goes on thin. Know that a beeswax-based lotion may leave a residue. Beeswax is non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores. Still, it may not allow your skin to breathe as much as other options.

What happens if you don’t moisturize a tattoo?

Taking care of your tattoo is important.  Common problems men face when not caring for their tattoo includes the following:

  • The skin can become dry and cracked
  • Your ink can fade
  • Irritating
  • Invites infection
  • The area will be very itchy
  • It will take many days longer to heal

None of those sound fun…

When can I start putting lotion on my tattoo?

Tattoo artists recommend that you apply a moisturizing lotion as soon as a couple of hours after. Ask your tattoo artist or check the sheet he/she should have given you for aftercare.