As a tattoo commentator and writer, I rely on my personal experience and time working in a tattoo studio.
My experience as a tattoo commentator and writer who has worked in a tattoo studio has allowed me to test many aftercare lotions to find out which ones work best. Below, I review my top three choices of aftercare lotions: Ink Fixx, Tattoo Goo, and After Inked.
Ink Fixx vs. Tattoo Goo vs. After Inked
|Aftercare lotion||Form||Size||Approximate Cost||Of note|
Salve or lotion
1.4 oz salve, 2.5 oz lotion
Salve or lotion
.75 oz salve, 2 oz lotion
$6 (2 oz lotion), $3 (.75 oz salve)
Popular industry product
Vegan and gluten-free
Ink Fixx Tattoo All-Natural Aftercare Salve and Lotion
Ink Fixx is an all-natural lotion that does not contain any of the main allergy-causing ingredients, such as lanolin, petroleum, and fragrances, that are known to irritate fresh tattoos. It was developed by US tattoo artists in conjunction with dermatologists.
It comes in two forms: a salve (1.4 oz) and a lotion (2.5 oz).
The salve has a beeswax base with soy oil while the lotion is water-based and contains no oil. Otherwise, the main ingredients are very similar: vitamins A and C and grape seed extract, an ingredient that is said to be 50 times more effective at moisturizing skin than vitamin E. Grape seed extract is also an anti-inflammatory that helps reduce swelling and an antioxidant that protects and strengthens the skin while it's rejuvenating itself.
The lotion has a pleasant, natural scent and is soft and light with a consistency that makes it easy to apply over your sensitive tattoo. It is absorbed rapidly and allows your skin to remain moisturized for longer than most other aftercare lotions.
NOTE: Tattoo Goo has acquired Ink Fixx.
Tattoo Goo Aftercare Lotion
Tattoo Goo is one of the more recognized tattoo aftercare lotions currently on the market. After being developed and improved over an extended period of time, it is a product that many skin specialists and tattoo enthusiasts recommend alike for use on sensitive skin.
It comes in two forms: the salve (.75 oz or 1.5 oz tins) and the lotion (2 oz).
The salve is 97.5% natural and contains a premium blend of triglycerides and wax esters found in olive oil, cocoa butter, and wheat germ oil, which keeps the skin hydrated. It does not contain lanolin or petroleum, ingredients that can clog the pores as well as pull the ink out of the skin. It contains vitamin E, which helps the skin repair itself. It also brightens up older tattoos.
The lotion contains 95% all-natural ingredients and is a non-greasy, water-based solution which is light and rapidly absorbed by the skin, effectively moisturizing your tattoo. It contains a number of skin softeners and moisturizers, as well as soothing and healing agents. This lotion stimulates healing, as well as reinvigorates color in existing ink. In its new formula, it also contains panthenol, a vitamin known to help retain moisture. It contains no alcohol, no petroleum, no lanolin, no mineral oils, and no fragrance.
I found it easy to apply the lotion, though it had a thicker consistency so it took a little longer to rub in. Once rubbed into the skin, however, I immediately noticed its effects. It is ideal for sensitive skin and its color-enhancing and healing properties help decrease the usual healing time often required for a new tattoo.
After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion
After Inked is an aftercare lotion (2.5 oz tube) that is 100% vegan (no products derived from animals) and gluten-free. It is endorsed by tattoo artists and studios worldwide.
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This product has a base of aqua (purified water) and synthetic beeswax. It also has a lovely, natural scent which comes from citrus oil.
Other active ingredients include grape seed oil, shea butter, and jojoba oil. The grape seed oil is an anti-inflammatory and a source of vitamins E, C, and B, while shea butter and jojoba oil aid in keeping the skin moist.
I found this to be a highly effective lotion, though it had more of a glycerine-type consistency. I did find that it helped my skin heal faster and soothed the skin, relieving some of the discomfort associated with tattoos. It also smelled great!
I could easily rub the lotion into the tattoo, and my skin remained moisturized until the next application was due.
Why Tattoo Aftercare Is Important
Tattoos can be an expensive habit. Whether you've gotten one or one hundred, you've invested a fair amount of time and money into your piece of art.
Once you step outside that studio, however, it's up to you to make sure you and your tattoo stay healthy. Your tattoo artist should offer some tips on aftercare, but keep in mind that if there is damage due to poor care, he or she is not obligated to fix it in any way.
After it is inked, your new tattoo is a wound that needs to heal. Proper aftercare is extremely important in the first couple of weeks immediately. It is crucial that you keep foreign bodies out of it, as well as keep your skin moist (but not too moist) so your skin can heal properly.
To keep a tattoo looking as good as it did when it was first inked, and to avoid infection (a new tattoo's number one enemy), you must perform a few basic aftercare procedures such as:
- Washing it one to two hours after getting back home from the parlor.
- Applying aftercare lotion to it.
- Re-applying lotion sparingly several times a day.
- Washing it in the evening and in the morning.
- Keeping foreign bodies out of it (like fluff from clothes or bedsheets).
Can You Use Any Lotion or Cream on a Tattoo?
Only use an aftercare cream or lotion specifically made for tattoos. Other lotions contain chemicals, alcohol, and perfumes that can be irritating.
After thousands of dollars of tattoo work, I've learned that a little extra up-front cost for the best tattoo lotions is worth it in order to keep it looking as great as possible.
Look at it like an investment and tattoo lotion like a wax to buff your new car or surfboard.
Directions for use for all lotions, salves, and creams:
Apply a thin layer several times a day. Don't use too much, because overly moist skin impairs healing. Your tattoo should have a very slight shine to it and be only very slightly moist to the touch. Excessive shine or slickness is an indication of too much product.
How to Take Care of Your New Tattoo
Practicing good aftercare techniques is crucial if you want to have a successful tattoo. Part of this is using a first-rate lotion and maintaining the correct level of moisture required to keep your freshly inked one damp enough so it does not develop damaging scabs.
Right After You Get Your Tattoo:
- When you get home (or after about two hours), remove the bandage and gently wash off all blood and plasma, leached ink, and grime with an anti-bacterial tattoo wash, or a soap without fragrance or alcohol. If you find that the bandage is stuck, run cold water over it to help it loosen. Don't yank it off! Use cold water and your hand to wash it. Never use a wash cloth.
- Pat it dry with a paper towel (do not use a towel or wash cloth because these can harbor bacteria). Let it air dry.
- Apply a very small amount of ointment, salve, or lotion.
- Reapply a small amount of your favorite aftercare product three or four times a day to help keep it moist and to decrease healing time.
- Wash once in the morning and once in the evening. It will probably be oozing clear liquid or plasma for the first couple of days. This is normal. You should wear loose-fitting clothing around it and to bed. If the clothing sticks to it, run water over it to help loosen.
Of course there are differing opinions on the absolute best way to care for it. My opinion, however, is that if you've been fortunate enough to get an awesome tattoo, you should make the further investment and purchase a tube of aftercare lotion. Your tattoo will thank you as it heals quickly and the skin cells replenish themselves with healthy, repaired cells.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Eddie on May 20, 2016:
emla cream is the best cream