So you just got your new tattoo and you love it, and now the aftercare process has commenced. Per your artist’s instructions, you likely were recommended to apply balms and/or ointments. But which are the best ointment for tattoo care specifically? New York City dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner says that he typically recommends his patients apply a balm or ointment to fresh tattoos. “They provide a protective seal over the skin to allow it to heal from the inside out,” he explains. Says New York City dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur, “Tattoo healing should be quick if done in a credible, clean environment.” So you can actually speed up your wound healing time overall if you choose the right products. Here are some of the best ointment for tattoo care with some of their favorite recommendations in addition to a few of our own.
This one requires an Rx from your own derm. Marmur says that this is an affordable prescription antibiotic healing balm that will shield against staph infections. It works by killing bacteria or at a minimum, preventing their growth.
Aveeno Cracked Skin Relief Moisturizing Cica Balm
Zeichner is a fan of Aveeno Cracked Skin Relief Moisturizing Cica Balm ($3; target.com) as well for those with fresh ink. Perfect even for those with sensitive skin, this therapeutic cream provides relief from chapped and cracked skin, locking in moisture while your skin heals.
Doctor Rogers Restore Healing Balm
Recommended by Marmur, Doctor Rogers Restore Healing Balm ($30; dermstore.com) is a gentler alternative to petroleum products. This plant-based balm speeds up the healing process for tattoos and piercings, as well. It boasts glycerin and castor seed oil, which also reduce inflammation, hydrate, and restore the skin barrier.
Stratpharma Stratamed Healing Ointment
Marmur says that Stratpharma Stratamed Healing Ointment ($60; lovelyskin.com) is a cult favorite, as well. This transparent gel dries into a thin, flexible protective sheet to hydrate and protect the wound. This creates reduced healing time and providing relief from redness, itching, and discomfort.
Vaseline Petroleum Jelly
One of the cheapest and best ointment for tattoo care is Vaseline Petroleum Jelly ($4.19; target.com). Vaseline Petroleum Jelly is the gold standard for everything from wound healing, of course, but it also does infinite other things from hydrating lips and heels to fixing flyaways in a pinch. This is one of Zeichner’s go-to recommendations for soothing the skin during the tattoo-healing process. Yi Stropky, a Vancover-based tattoo artist, likes that Vaseline is easy to obtain, in addition to being inexpensive. “Also, it probably has already been put on your fresh tattoo as many artists use it during the tattoo procedure,” he says.
Dove Derma Series Expert Balm
Dove Derma Series Expert Balm ($15.29; target.com) unscented and designed to soothe and repair everything from wounds to eczema to psoriasis to simple dry patches. Tested with dermatologists, this hypoallergenic balm is fast absorbing, non-greasy and clinically proven to address severe dryness.
Cetaphil Fragrance-Free Moisturizing Lotion
Stropky notes that Cetaphil Fragrance-Free Moisturizing Lotion ($10.79; target.com) is a product that he uses not only for his new tattoos, but regular skin care. “You can find them in most drug stores, and it’s fragrance-free.”
CV Skinlabs Restorative Skin Balm
CV Skinlabs Restorative Skin Balm ($14; cvskinlabs.com) features natural oils, butters, and emollients squalane and castor seed oil, which help protect the moisture barrier. It’s also formulated with antioxidant ingredients including Reishi mushroom, turmeric, chamomile, and arnica to minimize irritation, inflammation, and encourage wound healing.
Stropky says that Tattoo Goo ($6; walmart.com) is a tattoo-care product that you can purchase in tattoo shops and tattoo supply shops. “The ones I used before gives a minty feel on the skin and I think that helps with the itchiness of a healing tattoo,” he says.