Updated: April 10, 2020
By Derek Martin
Have you ever seen someone with a dull or faded tattoo and thought to yourself, “that looks like shit“?
That might sound kind of harsh, but the fact is a dull and faded tattoo has almost zero aesthetic appeal. While that faded tattoo may have garnered compliments in it’s early days, I can guarantee you this: nobody’s complimenting it now.
No one gets a tattoo in hopes that it will one day dull and fade, but the truth is all tattoos lose some of their brightness and vibrancy over time.
And although I probably sound a bit pessimistic — I want you to know that I’m really not. In fact I believe that all tattoos are capable of living long, bright, and vibrant lives — if they’re properly cared for that is.
How to Prevent Tattoo Fading
The truth is, dull and faded tattoos are fuggin ugly. That’s why some of the most popular tattoo products on the market are ones that help make tattoos brighter.
But waiting for a tattoo to dull and fade before you actually do something about it doesn’t make much sense, does it? That’s why it’s important to protect your ink and help maintain it’s color before it even gets the chance to fade.
Two of the most important products that every tattoo collector should be using are: sunscreen and a moisturizing tattoo brightener.
If you don’t already know — the sun is a tattoo’s worst enemy. And unless your ink has some serious backup when it goes outside (sunscreen) — the sun is going to kick it’s ass from morning until night.
The problem is that the sun produces ultraviolet rays that can seriously dull and fade tattoos over time. The most important thing you can do to protect your ink is to apply a high quality SPF sunscreen whenever you go outside. This will help prevent fading, and even stop faded tattoos from getting any worse.
Another awesome product that every tattoo collector should make part of their daily routine is a tattoo brightening lotion or oil that is designed to keep new tattoos bright and make old tattoos brighter.
Tattoo brighteners work by delivering moisture and hydration deep into the skin, allowing tattoos to appear more visible and vibrant.
Using a tattoo brightener is a lot like washing a window. A clean window is much easier to see through than a dirty one, right? Same general rule applies.
When it comes to choosing tattoo brighteners it can be difficult to determine which ones actually work — and which ones don’t. So in an effort to help you find exactly what you’re looking for, I made this list of best lotions and oils designed to conserve new tattoos and enhance older ones. Enjoy.
- Kiwi Glow – Tattoo Brightener
- Ink-Eeze – Ink Enhance Lotion
- Inked Oil – Tattoo Brightener
- Piper Cove – Color Stay Lotion
- Dr. Pickles – Tattoo Balm
- Urban Nomads – Tattoo Oil
- After Inked – Tattoo Lotion
- Nat-A-Tat2 – Tattoo Balm
Best Tattoo Brighteners (Lotions and Oils) Reviewed
Kiwi Glow – Tattoo Brightener
Consider brightening your tattoos the all-natural way with Kiwi Glow Tattoo Oil. Kiwi Glow specializes in a premium line of skincare oils that are all formulated using sesame oil as the key ingredient. Sesame oil is not only great at nourishing and hydrating the skin, but it also gives tattoos a noticeable boost of color and vibrancy. Kiwi Glow Tattoo Oil also contains a bunch of all-natural and organic ingredients that smooth and soften the skin, protect, and even promote healing when used on a new tattoo. It’s definitely one of my personal favorite products for boosting color and vibrancy in new or old tattoos.
What I like about Kiwi Glow Tattoo Brightener:
• All-natural and organic
One of great things about Kiwi Glow Tattoo Oil is that it’s formulated using only safe, all-natural and organic ingredients. Here’s what’s inside:
- Sesame oil – A lightweight oil that is derived from sesame seeds. It moisturizes and hydrates the skin, and is full of vitamin E that helps protect the skin from UV rays, pollutants, and toxins.
- Vetiver oil – A deeply moisturizing and hydrating oil that is derived from the roots of the vetiver plant. Aside from it’s moisturizing properties, vetiver oil is also known for it’s fresh, earthy scent. It also contains antioxidants which help protect the skin from damaging UV rays.
- Lime oil – Contains antimicrobial properties that protect the skin from microorganisms. It also adds a touch of citrus fragrance.
- Eucalyptus oil – An anti-inflammatory that has been shown to reduce skin redness and irritation, and has even been shown to promote healing. Great for use on a healing tattoo.
• It’s not greasy or “oily”
I personally hate using tattoo products that leave my skin feeling greasy or oily. If it doesn’t fully absorb into the skin or leaves a residue behind after it “dries” I simply won’t use it. One of the things that I really like about Kiwi Glow Tattoo oil is that the skin really drinks this stuff up. As long as you don’t overdue it on the application (you don’t need much) this oil fully absorbs into the skin and doesn’t leave any unpleasant residue or greasiness behind. One of the reasons why this oil absorbs so well is because sesame oil — it’s key ingredient — is one of the few oils in the world that has molecules small enough to actually fully penetrate the skin.
• Makes tattoos pop
Whether your tattoos are colorful or black and gray, I highly recommend you give Kiwi Glow Tattoo Oil a try. It not only provides nourishment, hydration, and protection for new tattoos, but it also makes a noticeable difference in the color and appearance of older tattoos. It helps darks appear darker, and colors appear more bright and vibrant. While I’m not going to call Kiwi Glow a miracle worker, I will say that it’s certainly one of the best performing tattoo brighteners on the market.
INK-EEZE – Ink Enhance Lotion
When it comes to anything tattoo-care related, INK-EEZE is one of the most popular brands on the market. Their products are not only very well reviewed by consumers, but they are commonly used and endorsed by a bunch of well known tattoo artists. Their Ink Enhance Lotion is one of their more popular products and is designed to conserve, protect, and enhance new or old tattoos. All of INK-EEZE’s line of products are formulated with natural ingredients and extracts, and Ink Enhance is no different. Some of it’s key ingredients include: kukui oil, cucumber fruit extract, glycerin, lavender oil, licorice root extract, and avocado oil. It’s definitely worth considering if you’re looking for the best lotion to keep your tattoos bright.
What I like about INK-EEZE Ink Enhance Lotion:
• Smells really good
The first thing you’ll notice when Ink Enhance Lotion comes out of the bottle is the clean, refreshing scent. INK-EEZE calls it Cucumber Lavender and it smells pretty damn good in my opinion. It’s light, fresh, and clean, but isn’t too strong or overbearing. Overall I would say it’s pretty gender neutral — it works well for both men and women.
• Skin beneficial ingredients
One of the things that I always like about INK-EEZE’s products is that they are formulated with a bunch of unique, skin beneficial ingredients that you don’t commonly see in other similar products. Here’s a closer look at the key ingredients found in Ink Enhance Lotion:
- Kukui nut oil – Used in Hawaii for centuries, this oil is derived from the kukui nut tree and is full of antioxidants and essential fatty acids that moisturize the skin and promote healing. It’s also known to make dull skin look bright, healthy, and radiant. Great for tattoos.
- Licorice root extract – Contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that soothe and protect the skin, and is known to help keep skin moisturized when used topically.
- Avocado oil – Full of essential fatty acids that nourish and moisturize the skin. It’s also known to act as a natural sunscreen by shielding and protecting the skin (and tattoos) from damaging UV rays.
- Cucumber fruit extract – Full of skin beneficial proteins, lipids, minerals, and vitamin C that help moisturize and hydrate the skin.
- Glycerin – A plant derived oil that nourishes and hydrates the skin by attracting moisture from the air and locking it into the skin.
- Lavender oil – Helps moisturize and hydrate the skin when used topically. It’s also known to provide protection from the sun by blocking UV rays that can dull and fade tattoos.
• Silky smooth and easy to apply
Conserving and enhancing tattoos doesn’t have to be unpleasant. Nobody enjoys using a lotion that leaves the skin feeling greasy or oily. That’s why I like Ink Enhance Lotion. It has a very smooth, creamy, and lightweight consistency that absorbs into the skin quickly, and dries really fast. It also doesn’t leave any greasy or oily residue behind — a big plus in my book.
Inked Oil – Tattoo Brightener
If you’re looking for a very safe and convenient way of keeping your tattoos bright and vibrant, you might want to check out this all-natural tattoo oil from Inked Oil. Formulated with all-natural essential oils, Inked Oil is designed to keep new tattoos bright and enhance the color of older tattoos. It also provides some natural SPF protection from the damaging and fading effects of the sun. It’s definitely worth a try if you want to keep your tattoos looking their best, and also like the idea of using a product that contains only natural ingredients.
What I like about Inked Oil:
• All-natural oils with SPF protection
Protecting your tattoos from the sun is one of the most important things you can do to keep it bright and vibrant. Another one of the things I like about Inked Oil is that it provides natural SPF protection built right in to help prevent tattoo fading. Here’s a closer look at the essential oils found in Ink Oil:
- Grapeseed oil – A non-comedogenic oil (doesn’t clog pores) that is pressed from the seeds of grapes (obviously). It helps keep the skin moisturized and hydrated and also contains healing properties.
- Coconut oil – Derived from the kernel of mature coconuts, this oil is full of essential fatty acids that moisturize and hydrate the skin. It also provides natural SPF protection and it also contains antioxidants that protect the skin and tattoos from harmful sun radiation.
- Lavender oil – Helps keep the skin moisturized and hydrated and is naturally antibacterial. It also contains low levels of SPF protection from the sun.
- Red raspberry seed oil – Provides natural SPF protection from the sun that is similar in strength to titanium dioxide (28-50 SPF). It also helps moisturize the skin and improve elasticity.
- Lemongrass oil – Contains anti-inflammatory properties that soothe skin redness, irritation, and discomfort. It also helps tone and brighten the skin which can help improve the appearance of tattoos.
- Peppermint oil – Helps soothe and cool the skin and adds a nice refreshing scent.
• Convenient spray bottle
Nobody wants their tattoos to look dull and faded. But at the same time many people with tattoos won’t make the effort to apply a product that will keep their ink protected. Laziness maybe? Either way, one of the things that I like about Inked Oil is how quick and easy it is to apply. Just 1 or 2 quick squirts from the convenient spray bottle is enough to make tattoos appear brighter and more vibrant.
Piper Cove – Color Stay Lotion
Conserve and protect your tattoos with the power of hemp seed oil. Piper Clove Color Stay lotion is formulated with a ton of all-natural ingredients that are specifically chosen for their ability to brighten and enhance new or old tattoos. Here’s what’s inside: hempseed oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, and sunflower oil. It’s also packed with a ton of vitamins and nutrients that help protect the skin and tattoos from the damaging effects UV rays.
What I like about Piper Clove Color Stay Lotion:
• Smells really good
The first thing you will notice when you squeeze this lotion out of the tube is the great scent. The fragrance is a complex blend of patchouli, grapefruit, blackberry, clementine, passion fruit, fig, black cassis, black currant, sandalwood, fool’s gold, vanilla orchid, and white musk. It smells slightly sweet, citrusy, warm, woody, and very unique. It’s definitely worth a sniff.
• All-natural ingredients
This Color Stay Lotion is full of all-natural oils and butters that not only enhance the color of tattoos, but are also extremely nourishing and hydrating for the skin. Here’s a closer look at the ingredients:
- Hempseed oil – Moisturizes and hydrates the skin without clogging pores. It also rejuvenates the skin and gives it a more full appearance.
- Shea butter – Full of essential fatty acids that moisturize the skin. It also reduces skin inflammation and even restores skin elasticity.
- Cocoa butter – High in fatty acids that penetrate the skin and provide deep down moisture and hydration. Great for enhancing the color and brightness of tattoos.
- Mango butter – Full of vitamins A and C that help brighten the skin, moisturize, and even promote healing.
- Grapeseed oil – Contains anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness and irritation. It also helps keep the skin moisturized and hydrated, and even helps with healing.
- Coconut oil – Contains essential fatty acids that nourish and hydrate the skin without clogging pores. It also contains antimicrobial properties that protect the skin from harmful bacteria.
- Sunflower oil – Rich in vitamins A and E that protect the skin from harmful environmental factors such as UV rays. It also helps moisturize and remove dead skin cells — helping tattoos appear more sharp and defined.
• A little goes a long way
When it comes to applying Color Stay Lotion it’s important to remember that less is more. A little bit of this stuff goes further than you might think. To avoid over-applying — and wasting product — I suggest you start off using less than you think you need. You can always add more if you need it. You probably won’t.
Dr. Pickles – Tattoo Balm
While I call bullshit on Dr. Pickles use of the doctor title (let’s see a degree buddy), I will however admit that this tattoo balm is pretty awesome. It’s designed to be used as an aftercare ointment on a healing tattoo and can also be used as a long-term moisturizer to keep tattoos bright and looking their best. It’s also effective at making older, faded tattoos appear more rich and vibrant. Dr. Pickles Tattoo Balm is made in Australia, and is formulated using only safe, all-natural ingredients. Here’s what’s inside: panthenol, paw-paw, fermented papaya, allantoin, glycerin, beeswax, coconut oil, and sweet almond oil.
What I like about Dr. Pickles Tattoo Balm:
• It’s a multipurpose tattoo ointment
Brightening tattoos isn’t the only thing this balm is great at. It can also be applied to a new tattoo to help protect, moisturize, and promote healing. It also contains natural ingredients that actually reduce pain, swelling, and discomfort — common symptoms of a healing tattoo.
• All-natural ingredients
If you’re anything like me, you prefer to avoid putting synthetic chemicals and ingredients on your skin whenever possible. One of the things I really like about Dr. Pickles Tattoo Balm is that it’s made with a short list of safe, all-natural ingredients that are beneficial for the skin. Here’s a closer look at some of the key ingredients:
- Panthenol – Also known as pro-vitamin B5, panthenol is a skin protectant with anti-inflammatory properties. It keeps skin moisturized and hydrated, and even helps improve elasticity.
- Paw-paw extract – Extracted from the fruit of the paw-paw tree, it helps moisturize and hydrate the skin and is full of vitamin A. It also helps rejuvenate skin by removing dead skin cells — great for brightening tattoos.
- Fermented papaya – Full of antioxidants and vitamins that help protect the skin from the damaging effects of free radicals.
- Allantoin – Extracted from the root on the comfrey plant, allantoin acts as an emollient that helps moisturize the skin. It also soothes and protects the skin and even promotes healing.
- Beeswax – Helps keep skin moisturized and hydrated by forming a protective barrier on the skin that locks in moisture.
- Coconut oil – Full of essential fatty acids that nourish and hydrate the skin. It also offers some low level SPF protection from UV rays.
- Sweet almond oil – Keeps skin soft and hydrated, and even offers some SPF protection from the damaging and fading effects of UV rays.
• It’s non-greasy
Nobody wants to moisturize and brighten their tattoo with a product that leaves the skin feeling greasy or oily. Thankfully Dr. Pickles Tattoo Balm does neither. It applies very smoothly and evenly, and doesn’t leave any unpleasant residue on the skin when it dries.
Urban Nomads – Tattoo Oil
Don’t let your tattoos fade into obscurity. Instead bring some life back into your ink with Urban Nomads Tattoo Oil. This all-natural oil is intended to help renew tattoos by moisturizing deep into the skin — helping tattoos appear more rich and vibrant. Urban Nomads Tattoo Oil is hand made in Barcelona, Spain and is full of premium essential oils that nourish and hydrate the skin and even help protect tattoos from fading. Here’s what’s inside: argan oil, sweet almond oil, sunflower oil, and bergamot orange oil. When it comes to performance and quality, Urban Nomads is simply one of the best tattoo brightening oils on the market. Highly recommended.
What I like about Urban Nomads Tattoo Oil:
• Moisturizing ingredients
Tattoo brighteners work by delivering moisture deep into the skin, and by eliminating dead skin cells that can cause tattoos to appear dull and faded. That’s why Urban Nomads is formulated with ingredients that are able to penetrate deep — delivering moisture and hydration right where it’s needed most. Here’s a closer look at some of it’s key ingredients:
- Argan oil – Produced from the kernels of the Moroccan argan tree, this oil moisturizes the skin, improves wound healing, and even protects skin and tattoos from sun damage.
- Sweet almond oil – Helps the skin retain moisture, and is full of vitamin E that helps protect the skin from the damaging effects of UV rays.
- Sunflower oil – Rich in vitamins A and E, that help moisturize the skin, promote healing, and protect.
- Bergamot oil – Contains antibacterial and antibiotic properties that protect the skin from infection. It also has an awesome, citrusy scent.
• Awesome scent
Aside from this oils awesome tattoo brightening performance, my favorite thing about it has to be the awesome orange bergamot scent. It smells very fresh, clean, and citrusy. It’s definitely a unique fragrance when it comes to tattoo-care related products.
• A little goes a long way
While this tattoo oil is kind of pricey, it’s worth noting that a little bit of it goes a very long way. Mileage will vary depending on the size of your tattoo, but I find that most medium to large sized tattoos only require a few drops to achieve full coverage.
• It’s not greasy or oily
Just because it’s a tattoo oil doesn’t mean it leaves the skin feeling oily. Urban Nomads Tattoo Oil is formulated with non-comedogenic oils (won’t clog pores) that are easily and evenly absorbed into the skin. This ensures that there is no greasy or oily feeling residue left on the skin when it dries.
After Inked – Tattoo Lotion
Give your new or old tattoos a serious boost in color and vibrancy with After Inked Tattoo Lotion. After Inked Lotion is intended to keep tattoos nourished and hydrated while it noticeably improves tattoo brightness and depth of color. It’s also formulated with a bunch of all-natural ingredients that are beneficial for the skin, and promote healing in new tattoos. Here’s some of it’s key ingredients: grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, shea butter, orange oil.
What I like about After Inked Tattoo Lotion:
One of the things that I hate about most tattoo lotions and balms is that they often leave the skin feeling greasy and oily after they “dry.” That’s not a problem with After Inked Tattoo Lotion. It has a lightweight, non-greasy consistency that is very easy to spread over large or small tattoos, and best of all it dries quickly without any unpleasant residue left behind on the skin. It simply leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth and tattoos looking rich and vibrant.
• Skin beneficial ingredients
After Inked Lotion does a great job of nourishing and hydrating the skin, white it conserves and enhances tattoos. That’s because it’s full of moisturizing ingredients that penetrate deep into the skin which helps tattoos appear more crisp and sharp. Here’s a closer look at After Inked’s key ingredients:
- Grapeseed oil – Contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It also helps moisturize and hydrate the skin and helps promote healing when used on new tattoos.
- Jojoba oil – An oil that is produced from the seeds of an American shrub (plant). It’s found to be highly moisturizing for the skin, and is also effective at reducing irritation and inflammation when applied to a healing tattoo.
- Shea butter – A highly moisturizing fat that’s extracted from the nut of the African shea tree. It’s full of essential fatty acids that smooth and soften the skin, and helps tattoos appear brighter and vibrant.
- Orange oil – Helps reduce pain, irritation, and inflammation when applied to a healing tattoo.
• A little goes a long way
One of the things that I really like about After Inked Lotion is that you don’t need to use much of this stuff to cover a lot of ground. Just a small dab is needed for most small to medium sized tattoos. I suggest starting small and adding more if needed. Less is more with this lotion.
Nat-A-Tat2 – Tattoo Balm
If you’re looking for a safe, organic, and all-natural way of conserving and enhancing your tattoos, you might want to consider this Tattoo Balm from Nat-A-Tat2. This balm is designed to moisturize and hydrate the skin while improving tattoo brightness, color, and vibrancy. All of Nat-A-Tat2’s products are formulated with all-natural, vegan, and USDA Certified organic ingredients, and this Tattoo Balm is no exception. Some of it’s key ingredients include: coconut oil, sunflower oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, castor oil, rosemary extract, and vitamin E.
What I like about Nat-A-Tat2 Tattoo Balm:
• All-natural and organic ingredients
One of the things that sets Nat-A-Tat2 apart from other tattoo companies is that they only use all-natural and organic ingredients in all of their products. Here’s a closer look at the ingredients found in Nat-A-Tat2 Tattoo Balm:
- Sunflower oil – Rich in vitamins A and E which act as antioxidants that help protect the skin. It also helps moisturize the skin and helps tattoos look richer and more vibrant.
- Coconut oil – Contains essential fatty acids that nourish and hydrate the skin.
- Cocoa butter – High in essential fatty acids that nourish and hydrate the skin. When applied to the skin it also forms a protective barrier that helps lock in moisture. It’s great for keeping tattoos looking bright and vibrant all day.
- Shea butter – Contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties. It’s also highly moisturizing, and even improves skin elasticity.
- Castor oil – Contains antioxidants that protect the skin. It’s also highly moisturizing and helps skin feel soft and supple.
- Rosemary extract – Contains anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties that help protect the skin
- Vitamin E – An antioxidant that protects the skin from the damaging effects of the sun. It also helps moisturize and hydrate the skin.
• Easy to use
One of the things that makes this tattoo balm so great is how simple and easy it is to use. Simply remove the top and rub the balm onto your tattoo the same way you would apply a stick of deodorant. It’s quick, easy, and completely mess free. It also doesn’t leave any greasy or oily residue behind when it dries — a big plus.
Thanks for checking out my list of best lotions and oils to keep tattoos bright. If you found this article helpful, check out my list of best tattoo aftercare products. As always, if you have any comments or questions feel free to drop me a line in the comment section below.