Life·6 min read

9 Tattoo Aftercare Must-Haves to Help with Healing

tattoo aftercare products
Design: theSkimm | Image: Mad Rabbit, Supergoop
Oct 6, 2022

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Getting a tattoo means being prepared with products that'll help your new ink heal properly — and stay vibrant for years to come. So we've rounded up the items that HQ'rs swear by for the care and maintenance of their own tattoos, as well as ones with tons of glowing reviews, including lotion, soap, and more. Psst…every artist may have their own suggestions for the best tattoo aftercare methods, and we rec listening to their advice. Fresh ink, incoming.

Aquaphor healing ointment that’ll keep your brand-new tattoo hydrated…

The holy grail when it comes to ointment for tattoos, you may have used Aquaphor for dry or cracked skin in the past. We’ve also used it on pretty much every tattoo we’ve gotten to help aid with the healing process in the first few days before it starts to peel. And a little goes a long way — it’s got a thick, petrolatum-based formula that can help with all types of issues. So when your ink is all healed, you’ll be happy to have it on hand to help with everything from dry hands to chapped lips to minor wounds. ($9.59, Amazon)

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An unscented tattoo lotion that’ll keep you hydrated…

Fact: Your new tattoo is going to get super dry and itchy before you know it. So you’re gonna want to keep your skin moisturized until it’s totally healed. This lotion from Lubriderm is the OG — it’s an HQ’r fave (and we have a hunch your artist will rec it too) thanks to its non-greasy feel and fragrance-free formula. Use it to keep your tattoos moisturized for up to 24 hours. ($9.82, Amazon)

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A tattoo balm that’ll keep your ink bright and fresh…

For both new and old tattoos. Its formula works for all black, gray, and color tattoos, and comes in two scents: vanilla and coconut, and frankincense and lavender. The combination of fatty acids, antioxidant-rich butters, and lightweight oils creates a barrier for your skin and protects against dryness and environmental stressors. Plus, there’s no oily finish so you won’t feel greasy during the day. Psst…if you subscribe to monthly shipments, you’ll get 20% off each order. ($14.40+, Mad Rabbit)

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Luxury tattoo aftercare worth the price tag…

Another HQ’r fave is this tattoo aftercare maintenance cream. It’s been developed as a petroleum replacement with ingredients like shea butter, aloe butter, coconut, and sunflower oils. The brand recs applying a small amount (since a little goes a long way) after you’ve washed with an antibacterial or antimicrobial soap. ($21.99, Ulta)

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An adhesive waterproof bandage you can use during healing…

These medical-grade bandages will act as a sort of second skin thanks to their super-thin and clear adhesive design. They come in over 10 different sizes and are designed to be waterproof, hypoallergenic, and breathable. You may want to use these after you’ve removed the original wrapping your artist has placed on your new piece and you’ve cleaned your tattoo (e.g., to prevent ink transfer onto your sheets while you sleep or to avoid submerging it in water). As always, consult with your artist first about the best tattoo aftercare methods. ($9.59+, Amazon)

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And more traditional tattoo bandages that’ll stay put…

If you’ve got a smaller tattoo or don’t wanna deal with having to size and measure individual bandages, these may be a great option. They’re 5 by 4 inches and offer the same protection as the bandages above — you’ll get waterproof, breathable coverage with a germ barrier for infection prevention no matter what. Customers say that they even speed up the healing process and prevent scabbing. Sounds like a win-win. ($5.56/4 pack, Amazon)

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Tattoo soap that’s antimicrobial and unscented…

It can be used for piercings too. Its alcohol- and fragrance-free formula is made with moisturizing olive oil, and customers say that it’s great for sensitive skin and removing excess ink. ($6.64, Amazon)

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A tattoo sunscreen from a cult-fave brand that’ll keep your colors fresh…

Thanks to its clean chemical formula and water-resistant design. Use it on your fresh ink daily and spread the SPF love to your face and body to protect from UVA, UVB, and IRA rays. And check out more of our sunscreen recs here. ($10+, Supergoop)

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A tailored tattoo care kit for every stage of healing…

You’ll get a healing cream meant for the first stages of tattoo healing, a hydrating cream for keeping your ink looking as fresh as possible in the years to come, and a brightening cream with SPF to prevent fading from sun exposure. It’s the perfect trifecta if you’re a tattoo collector who wants to keep ’em in tip-top shape. ($79, Foreverist)

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