The 4 Best Tattoo Aftercare Products

ByC Mandler

Tattoos are fickle. When you first get them, they're sensitive to sunlight, water, sweat, and basically any other bodily or elemental function that just naturally occurs when one leaves the house. You can't go swimming in saltwater or spend a day tanning on the beach without putting your brand new piece of art in harm's way. That's why it's absolutely crucial that you care for your new ink the way you'd care for any other part of your body, in which case you'll need one of the best tattoo aftercare products.

If you don't take proper care of your tattoo in its first few weeks of healing, you risk fading, scarring, infection, and more. It's not just about keeping your tattoo looking fresh and sharp, but also about keeping this new wound on your body safe from any unwanted bacteria that could do damage on more than just your ink.

I reached out to expert tattooer, Joseph Bryce, about the best aftercare products for any new tattoo, which range from moisturizers to ointments to dressings. Bryce also shared with us his specific aftercare instructions to keep your tattoo gorgeous and safe from any potential irritants:

  • Wash twice a day with one of the best soaps to clean tattoos.
  • Keep your tattoo clean and dry.
  • Moisturize with unscented lotion.
  • Avoid direct sunlight while healing.
  • Keep in mind that your tattoo will scab and look milky for up to two weeks, so DO NOT: pick, scratch, soak, or swim.

While these instructions are crucial for successful tattoo aftercare, you still need to know exactly which products are major must-haves from our resident expert himself. Read on to find out, ahead!

1The All-Around Best Moisturizer For Your New Tattoo

According to Bryce, moisturizer is a crucial component of good tattoo aftercare, and he specifically recommends unscented products, like this daily lotion from Aveeno. It's dermatologist-recommended and nourishes your skin with colloidal oatmeal, which reduces dryness, redness, and skin inflammation. Because tattoos are technically wounds on your skin, using moisturizer so that the scabs over your new ink don't dry out or crack is necessary for a successful healing process. Bryce also says, "The moisturizer should be applied [to the tattoo] like facial moisturizer: very sparingly, only when needed, and massaged all the way in." Using too much of a good thing really is a bad thing when it comes to tattoos, and over-moisturizing can cause your new ink to peel or itch, hindering the healing process.

2The Best Tattoo Aftercare Ointment

Ointments act as skin protectants on dry, chapped, or aching skin, and using one in conjunction with other aftercare products, like lotion and dressings, can be a great way to keep your tat safe from the elements and help facilitate the healing process. This formulation from Aquaphor is made with 41 percent petroleum, making it a perfect way to shield your tattoo from water when taking a bath or shower in its first days of healing. This formula also includes glycerin, which acts a humectant that moisturizes the skin around the tattoo while allowing enough oxygen to the wound for a protective scab to form on the dermal surface. In terms of application, Bryce warns against using too much: "You never want to leave a film of ointment," he states, as it can negatively impact tattoo health and healing.

3The Best No-Nonsense Dressing Method Of Keeping Your Tat Safe

Bandaging your tattoo with Tegaderm is a different method from the usual wash, dry, moisturize, repeat method of aftercare. If you prefer a healing process with fewer steps and generally, less things to think about, you might want to consider this method that Bryce says is more for the "experienced tattoo collector." He says, "A lot of people use tegaderm applied the day after." From there, you can keep the first piece on for around 12 hours, after which fluid from your new tat will likely collect under the bandage. After you remove the first bandage, clean your tattoo, and apply a second, you can leave that tegaderm on for up to four days without having to think too much about aftercare.

4The Best All-Natural Product For Tattoo Aftercare

If you're searching for an all-natural method of tattoo aftercare, look no further than this coconut oil from Viva Naturals. Coconut oil is not only a natural humectant, meaning it'll keep your healing skin moisturized, but it's also naturally antibacterial, which will help to keep your tattoo free of harmful infections. Just like with any other aftercare product, less is more. Your skin can only absorb so much of any product, and putting too much coconut oil on will prevent the wound from healing properly. Apply a small dollop with clean fingers and make sure there isn't too much oil sitting on top of the skin. Additionally, this coconut oil is budget-friendly, comes in a massive 16-ounce tub, and has an advertised shelf life of two years, making it perfect for anyone looking to collect new body art in years to come.

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