When you have spent all of the time and effort to find the perfect ink for your body, and the pain to have it done, you will want the best tattoo aftercare products to look after it. Here at Tattooli, we have made the ultimate list of products and aftercare steps for you to ensure the best outcome.
You may have heard people say that the bodies natural healing process is the best thing for healing the body. While that may be true for things such as small cuts and grazes, there are times that intervention is required. Natural minor injuries will heal on their own most of the time, but a tattoo is not a natural injury. You are adding ink to a “graze” that your body may way to inherently want to get rid of, or want to heal it differently.
What Do The Best Tattoo Aftercare Products Do?
The question of what do the best tattoo aftercare products do is a widely debated one. However, it shouldn’t be. There are some obvious benefits to having the right aftercare set up, with the right products. Before we go into those benefits, I would like to remind you to ensure that you use a reputable and licensed artist to do your inkwork. Not only will that mean you get the best possible outcome of your body art, but it will also give you a headstart in avoiding any following complications.
Here is a small list of essential things that tattoo aftercare products will do:
- Lower the chance of infection. – Any time that you open your skin to the elements, especially if you work in dirty environments, you are risking an infection. Keeping the area clean and covered with the right products will lower these risks dramatically. Trust me, the first time you have an infection in a tattoo, you will wish you followed the advice I am giving you here.
- Speed up healing. – Healing any wound will take some time. However, if you care for your tattoo correctly, then you are sure to speed up the process.
- Protect the ink. – Your body will try to get rid of the ink that you have had. Looking after the skin after you have had the tattoo will allow your skin to heal without needing to try and get rid of the ink.
- Reduces irritation. – When your body tries to remove the tattoo ink, you will feel irritation such as itching, and redness. However, if you make sure that your body can heal, and you are protecting the ink, you will also reduce the irritation that comes with it.
As you can see, these four points are all excellent reasons for using the correct aftercare process with the best products.
Tattoo Aftercare Products
Now that you have seen how vital aftercare is, we need to talk about what the best tattoo aftercare products are. There are so many on the market that it is challenging to decide what you should use. One thing that you need to think about is that there are tattoo parlors that will try to sell you their own brand “latest and greatest” available products.
However, before you spend an extortionate amount of money on those unproven products, you need to know that there are already products on the market that are ideal for tattoos, and even made for them specifically. Here is a little list of the things that we are going to be looking at:
- Tattoo aftercare soap
- Tattoo aftercare lotion
- Tattoo aftercare cream
- Tattoo aftercare balm
- Natural tattoo aftercare
After looking at the list of aftercare items, you are probably wondering the same as I did when I started on my tattoo aftercare journey. What is the difference between cream, balm, and lotion? Therefore, I will try to answer that question as best I can as I go through the products that I recommend.
Tattoo Aftercare Soap
Soap is essential for all day-to-day life. However, after a tattoo, the soap that you use will make a considerable difference to irritation levels and healing speed. Antibacterial soap is the best that you can use for your every day tattoo soap. That is especially true in the first few weeks while your tattoo is healing.
Another thing to consider is that you will probably not want to use a regular soap bar. That is because when you wash with standard bars of soap, they often dry out the natural oils in your skin. Although I have said that only natural healing is not the best way to look after your tattoo, your skin still needs the oils that it produces. Therefore, you will want a good quality, moisturizing soap. (Do not be tempted to use green soap, as it contains a high percentage of alcohol).
Provon is my absolute favorite soap for tattoo aftercare; there is no question about it. It is a medicated, antimicrobial soap used in many hospitals in the USA. It also contains conditioners to help it not be so harsh on the tattoo as other soaps can be. It is slightly more expensive than some other liquid soaps; however, the benefits of protection from infection and drying far outweigh the price. Also, as it is in a 16oz pump bottle, you will be able to use this after your tattoo has healed too.
Tattoo Aftercare Lotion
As I said before, I will explain the differences between lotions, balms, and creams. As I go through this article. Tattoo aftercare lotion is usually a thin moisturizer that will spread quickly across the skin. Therefore, you will not have to apply much force to cover your tattoo and to rub it in. The less time messing with a new tattoo, the better.
The thinness of After Inked is excellent for immediate use after your new tattoo. You can even use it on permanent make-up procedures such as lips, eyebrows, and liners. It is undoubtedly, by far, one of the best tattoo aftercare products that you can buy. We highly recommend that you wash your tattoo two to three times a day, and that can dry your skin, no matter the quality of the soap. Therefore, after you wash it, pat it dry gently, and apply a small amount of After Inked Lotion.
I think that this is the best tattoo aftercare lotion that you can buy. I even use it to refresh my tattoos if I am going out for a day where my tattoos will be prominent. It brings back the color and freshness of the ink.
Tattoo Aftercare Cream
Tattoo aftercare cream is often thicker and more viscous than a lotion. The cream will often contain oils combined with the other ingredients, making them richer and more moisturizing. Therefore, you may want to wait until the tattoo has started to heal to use creams if you’re going to.
Sometimes, depending on the weather, location of the tattoo, and humidity of where you live, you may still want to use cream. There are two leading tattoo aftercare creams that I would suggest myself:
Aquaphor has been touted as one of the best tattoo aftercare products for tattoos for a while now. While not specially formulated for your ink, it certainly does a brilliant job of hydrating and relieving irritation.
Talk to any tattooist, and they will tell you that you can use this for your aftercare. They may even recommend it before you ask. Some people will use this on its own from day one, and they have no adverse effects at all. It will help heal your tattoo quite fast, therefore keep the ink in better. However, personally, I like to use lotion at first as it is thinner. But that is my own opinion.
Having said that, after a few days of using the lotion, I will tend to start using Aquaphor as it certainly helps with the dry skin that you will inevitably get during healing.
If you want something that has been designed specifically for tattoos, then you may want to have a look at Hustle Butter Deluxe. It is a vegan substitute for petroleum-based products that you can even use while you are having your artwork done.
Hustle Butter Deluxe is also one of my favorites for tattoo aftercare. It is super moisturizing and packed with natural ingredients like Shea, mango, aloe butter, sunflower and rice bran oils along with traces of papaya and coconut. All of which will promote supple and soft skin. Having supple skin will stop your scabs drying out, cracking, and bleeding. If your scabs bleed, then you will lose some of the ink too!
Tattoo Aftercare Balm
Tattoo aftercare balm is something that you can carry around with you all of the time. Keeping it with you will allow you to add a small amount of it when you are feeling itchy, or seeing some flaking of the skin, or if you have been irritated by the sun while you are away from home.
Although not recommended for the first few days after your tattoo, balms will be brilliant for on the spot relief from itching and flaking skin. My favorite to keep in the car is Tattoo Goo:
Using Tattoo Goo after the first few days, I find that it reduces scabbing and peeling of the skin. Those two points alone will help with reducing itching and irritation. As I said, I tend not to use products like these in the first few days as the tattoo is similar to an open wound. That is not to say that you can’t, I tend to like using thinner products such as the aftercare lotion that I spoke about earlier.
One other thing that I like to do is to use a small amount of Tattoo Goo on my tattoos, no matter how old they are, to add some freshness back to them while I am on the go.
Natural Tattoo Aftercare
If you are someone who does not like buying products for healing tattoos, then there are some natural tattoo aftercare ideas that you can use. I prefer to buy them myself, as I do not have the time to make the homemade remedies. Although a lot of the products will have natural ingredients in them, there are still people who want to make them for themselves.
Before I get into this section of the article, make sure that you do not have reactions to any of the ingredients, and consult your tattooist or doctor first. I have used both of the items on the list. However, I prefer the ease of the products that I have already spoken about earlier.
Aloe Vera Gel
One of the most common homemade tattoo aftercare ingredients is Aloe Vera gel. Its healing properties are exceptionally well known as it is the main constituent in many aftersun products.
If you want to use Aloe Vera gel for your tattoo aftercare, then I would suggest using a 100% pure, organic gel that has no additives.
Aloe Vera is one of the home remedies that I have used, and I have to say, it worked quite well. Therefore, if you are looking for something natural, then this may be what you want. One thing that I would suggest, however, is that if you are going to try anything with Aloe Vera in for your tattoos, make sure you buy something of equal quality to this one.
Apply it as liberally as you wish whenever you feel the need.
Coconut Oil For Tattoo Aftercare
Coconut oil is another popular aftercare product within the natural product community. The same principals apply for coconut oil as the Aloe Vera. Try to use 100% pure, extra virgin oil so that you are less likely to encounter any problems.
Tattoo Aftercare Steps
Now that you know what products you should be using, you need to know how to use them and when.
Aftercare starts with the tattooist, or at least it should. They usually apply an aftercare product such as petroleum ointment, as soon as they have finished, followed by a dressing of either a bandage or plastic wrap. This dressing will stay on for a few hours. That is to keep the ointment on, and the blood and ink off your clothes.
After a couple of hours, you can remove the dressing. First of all, though, you should thoroughly wash your hands with the Provon soap to ensure that you do not contaminate the tattoo.
Wash the area with the Provon soap. Be gentle, do not push too hard, and make sure that the water is not too hot or cold. A great way to test the temperature is with a baby bath thermometer, or with your elbow. If you dip your elbow into the water and do not feel a temperature change, then it is likely to be ok.
Pat the tattoo dry gently with a soft towel. Ensure that it is not the type that the fibers will come off easily.
Apply the tattoo aftercare lotion that you choose. The first time that you apply it, I suggest After Inked, and I use that for the first few days after the tattoo completion.
Leave the tattoo uncovered to allow it to start to dry out a little and to let your skin breathe.
After the first few days, your tattoo will begin to look a bit cloudy and dull. That is normal as the skin is starting to form over the site. They may scab a little, but not as much as if it was a cut. Ensure to keep doing steps 1 to 5 at least two or three times a day.
After the first week, your scabs will have started to flake off. It is at this point that you can begin to use thicker creams such as the Aquaphor or Hustle Butter. However, still remember to complete steps 1-5 each time, change the cream if you wish. Do Not Pick!! At this point, if it is still red or swollen, it may have become infected. Therefore, you will need to go to see the tattooist again, and possibly a doctor.
During weeks two to four, most of the healing should have completed. That is the point where the itching can become more severe. Do Not Scratch It! If you feel like the itching is too much, then gently slap the tattoo to try and relieve the itch, and apply the moisturizer of your choice regularly.
The tattoo will also start to look duller at this time. But that is just because the skin is healing over the top. Moisturize more to speed up the final healing process.
Getting the best tattoo aftercare products is an excellent start to looking after your new ink. However, if you do not follow the guidelines for the care, then you could run into problems.