Tattoos are one of the ultimate forms of self-expression. Okay…they’re not for everyone, but if you are into your body and looking to get creative, the sky’s the limit.
Whether you’re getting inked with a small tattoo, a 3D tattoo, a beloved quote, a sweet sleeve, an out-there pattern—or anything in between—looking after your brand new body art is essential. And to do just that, you need to invest in a quality tattoo lotion.
Tattoo lotion will help to hydrate the skin and protect your body art in those delicate early phases—the right product will also make the ink site feel fresh throughout the day.
But, with so many options out there on the market these days, how do you pick a tattoo aftercare lotion that will work for you? The answer: we’re going to give you a helping hand with our ultimate best lotion for a new tattoo guide.
Read on to discover the best tattoo lotions on the market, plus top tips on what to look for in a quality body aftercare product.
This 100% vegan aftercare lotion is organic and boasts luxurious hints of mango. Not only is this creamy lotion recommended by top tattoo artists worldwide, but it’s excellent at keeping the skin hydrated and maintaining tattoo color in those all-important early days.
Active Ingredient: Vitamin E complex | Skin Type: All | Size: 5 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes
- The natural, petroleum-free ingredients contained within this lotion
- The professional seal of approval
- If you don’t like fruit or mango scents, this probably isn’t for you
If you have dry or sensitive skin and you’re worried about scratching your brand new body art into oblivion, Mad Rabbit—the repair edition—is what you need to succeed. Not only will this spritely tattoo aftercare lotion soothe the skin with essential oils, but with faint whiffs of almond, you’ll smell great too.
Active Ingredient: Argan oil | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 3.4 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes
- The lotions cool, soothing nature
- The fact that this tattoo lotion comes with a recommendation from ‘Inked Magazine’
- The gel-like texture might not suit everyone
The Mad Rabbit Defend edition protects pale skin from the sun’s rays to ensure your brand new ink doesn’t get sore and scorched. This bad boy’s clean ingredients also work to keep the skin cool while soothing the inked area for hours at a time. A double threat product for anyone with fair or irritable skin.
Active Ingredient: Zinc oxide and vitamin C | Skin Type: Fair | Size: 3.4 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes
- The active clean ingredients locked into the lotion
- The sun protecting SPF 30 defense
- The quantity is quite small, so you might have to buy several tubes to get the job done
Harnessing the healing powers of olive oil (yes, you can use it for more than frying things or drizzling over salads), Tattoo Goo’s delicate aftercare lotion is packed with fast-healing natural ingredients that are especially effective for looking after larger surfaces areas—or in other words—big, bold pieces of body ink.
Active Ingredient: Olive oil | Skin Type: Normal to dry | Size: 2 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes
- The fact that this bold tattoo aftercare lotion contains olive oil
- The cool name and branding
- This lotion may not gel well with every skin type
While this tattoo lotion may contain petrolatum and be a little less natural than other products on our list, this reliable salve not only helps to protect and preserve new tattoos, but it’s also great for soothing burns, aches, or for everyday skincare use. Basically, with Aquaphor, you get a lot of
Active Ingredient: Petrolatum | Skin Type: All | Size: 14 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No
- The robust, protective qualities of this reliable lotion
- The friendly price tag
- The viscosity of this lotion might be a little much for some freshly tattooed gents, better suited for mostly healed pieces
As you might have guessed, H2Ocean’s tattoo aftercare lotion is water-based—it’s also petroleum-free. Oh, and it’s brimming with all-natural ingredients found in the Red Sea’s ecosystem. This fragrance-free concoction’s soothing properties reduce scabbing, are great for ultra-itchy skin, and are allergy-free—a real triple threat.
Active Ingredient: Sea mineral | Skin Type: Itchy | Size: 2.5 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes
- The lotion’s soothing water-based texture
- The hypo-allergenic ingredients
- Some gents might prefer a thicker, more robust option
If you’re rocking a sleeve or a vivid tattoo design with lots of lines or colors, this tasty little number from INKredible may be the skin elixir for you. Known as a glow salve, the lotion contains beeswax to work as an anti-inflammatory while helping to preserve, as well as intensify, detailed patterns and colors.
Active Ingredient: Beeswax | Skin Type: All | Size: 3.8 fl. oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes
- This bold lotion’s magic ‘tattoo popping’ qualities
- The understated beeswax aroma
- If you have a smaller or simpler tattoo, you may find a better value lotion
This light and airy lotion from After Inked works wonders with every skin type and its balanced blend of ingredients are so kind, that you can even apply it to facial tattoos (in case you’re sporting that Post Mallone, Lil’ Wayne, or Travis Barker kind of look). The great thing about this delicate lotion is that it’s great for new tattoos and keeps older tattoos looking fresh.
Active Ingredient: Grapeseed | Skin Type: All | Size: 3 x 0.24 fl. Oz pillow packs | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes
- The light and kind grapeseed oil concoction
- The fact that it’s brilliant for facial tattoos
- If you have bigger tattoos, you might need something a little stronger
Besides the fact that the Badger branding is simply epic (just look at that cheeky furball), this non-GMO lotion is a brilliant allrounder that is effective for every type of skin and style of tattoo. The natural botanic ingredients offer top-notch ink protection and they smell wonderful (in a subtle, non-overbearing way).
Active Ingredient: Coconut and tamanu oil | Skin Type: All | Size: 2 fl. Oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes (it’s a super eco-friendly product)
- The lotion’s cool branding and pure versatility
- The antioxidizing ingredients
- The botanical aromas might not be to everyone’s taste
While Devoted Creations’ tattoo lotion is indeed powerful, we’re pleased to let you know that it is cruelty and paraben-free. The lotion’s unique Pure Accelerator Formula helps to lock in tattoo color while helping your skin go up to three shades darker, ensuring your body art continues to pop in the process.
Active Ingredient: Acai oil | Skin Type: All | Size: 8.5 fl. Oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes
- The lotion’s unique Blue Cypress fragrance
- It’s superior skin protecting capabilities
- If you’re not into self-tanning, there’s not much point in buying this lotion
Branded as an aftercare lubricant, this cheeky little pot of goodness from Redemption looks and feels like a petroleum barrier ointment—but, it’s petroleum-free (bonus). Made with mainly natural products, this tattoo lotion is an excellent option if you’re looking for a robust protective layer post-inking (or for the times when you feel your tat needs a little extra TLC).
Active Ingredient: Organic castor oil | Skin Type: All | Size: 1 fl. Oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes
- The lotion’s robust, viscous barrier protection
- The neat little pocket-sized pot it comes in
- Thick barrier creams or lotions can be a little bit much for some
Last but certainly not least in our best lotion for new tattoo list is this welcome addition from CalfLove. This lotion is excellent for keeping simpler tattoos moisturized and healthy, but it’s excellent for colorful body art—and its versatile formula is perfect for treating the skin before and after your inking and daily tattoo care.
Active Ingredient: Shea butter | Skin Type: All | Size: 2.5 fl. Oz | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes
- This lotion’s ability to aid skin at every stage of the tattoo journey
- The luxurious buttery feel
- If you have very vivid colored tattoos, something a little more specialist might be better
What to look for in a tattoo lotion
You know which tattoo lotions are the best of the best. Now, to help you cement your decision, we’re going to tell you what to look for in the right tattoo lotion by considering the Three S’s.
Containing an SPF—or sun protection factor—is by no means a deal-breaker (many lotions don’t contain an SPF). But, if you’re going away on holiday freshly tattooed, you’re fair-skinned or you live in a hot climate, grabbing a lotion that soothes your tattoo while shielding the area from the sun’s rays is probably a good idea.
When it comes to being kind to the skin, not all tattoo lotions are made equal. That means that while some lotions are kind to very sensitive skin, some can act as an irritant and could harm your tattoo. That said, you should always check what kind of skin type a lotion caters for before hitting the buy button.
Depending on your budget and how long you plan to use your lotion (a few weeks versus ongoing), you should look at the flow-ounce quantity of a lotion before committing. If you’re looking to use a lotion long term, getting something in larger quantities is advisable. But, if you travel a lot, smaller tubes or tubs will be far more convenient.
Bonus tip: Always check a lotion’s active ingredients and what they do for your skin. This will ensure you get the right product for your skin type, tattoo style, and personal goals, preferences, or needs.
Many professional tattoo artists recommend applying tattoo lotion to your body art before you go to bed or when you wake up, preferably after you’ve washed or showered. However many advise to wait 24hrs before moisturizing.
The reason for this is because your skin gets dehydrated overnight which can make your tattoo dry and sore. Apply your tattoo lotion before and after sleep and you will keep you body art in tip-top condition at all times.
As a general rule of thumb, applying tattoo lotion to your body art twice a day will provide the best results.
Applying tattoo lotion in the morning and evening will keep it hydrated and healthy without experiencing any unwanted oily buildup.
If your tattoo is brand new (more or less fresh out of the studio), you should avoid using scented tattoo lotions.
After around three days, you can safely use a scented lotion as long as it’s largely made with natural substances and has a healthy active ingredient. Always read the instructions or labels before applying any tattoo lotions.