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Best Ointments, Salves, and Lotions for Tattoo Healing & Aftercare

Best Ointments, Salves, and Lotions for Tattoo Healing & Aftercare

This Article May Contain Affiliate Links
Updated: April 10, 2020
By Derek Martin


“What’s the best way to heal a new tattoo?”

It’s probably the most commonly asked question in the world of tattoos.

And although it’s a really good question, the answer to the question can vary so wildly that it’s become impossible to determine who’s advice you should really follow.

The problem with tattoo aftercare advice is that everybody’s skin is different; what works well for one person might work poorly for someone else.

But if there’s one bit of advice that’s universally accepted by tattoo professionals, it’s that a new tattoo should be kept clean, hydrated, and well protected.

A man getting a tattoo of an insect.

A new tattoo can take between 4-6 weeks to fully heal and during that time it should be treated like an open wound, because – well, it is.

And just like any wound on the body, a fresh tattoo is highly susceptible to bacteria and infection – both of which can have a negative impact on the appearance of your new ink when it eventually does heal. Which is of course, no bueno.

It’s also important to keep new tattoos hydrated and moisturized during the healing process. Keeping a fresh tattoo moist helps reduce scabbing, itch, scarring, and even helps speed up the healing process.

That’s why using a tattoo ointment like a salve, lotion, or balm is so important. They not only keep a new tattoo hydrated, they also help keep it protected.

A woman in a bikini with mandala tattoos on her arm.

Below is my hand selected list of the best ointments, salves, lotions, and balms for tattoo healing and aftercare. All of these products are tried and tested, and do an excellent job of protecting and moisturizing new tattoos.

So if you’re looking to give your tattoo some serious VIP treatment, read on for my list of best ointments for tattoos.

The Lineup:

Best Ointments, Salves, and Lotions for Tattoos Reviewed


Hustle Butter Deluxe – Tattoo Ointment

Top pick award for best ointments, salves, and lotions for tattoos
Jar of Hustle Butter Deluxe tattoo ointment

If you’re in search of the best tattoo aftercare ointment, I highly recommend you check out Hustle Butter Deluxe. This hydrating, do-it-all tattoo ointment is designed for every stage of the tattoo process. That means it can be applied before, during, and after getting tattooed to make skin more soft and supple, and even help speed up the healing process. Formulated using only safe, all-natural (vegan, organic, cruelty free…blah..blah) ingredients, Hustle Butter Deluxe is simply one of the absolute best (and highest rated – over 4,000 reviews on Amazon) tattoo aftercare ointments available on the market. Highly recommended.

What I like about Hustle Butter Deluxe:

• All-natural ingredients

When it comes to products that I put on my skin I prefer to avoid synthetic chemicals and ingredients whenever possible. Especially if the product is going on my brand new tattoo. One of the great things about Hustle Butter Deluxe is that it contains only safe, all-natural ingredients that are designed to nourish, moisturize, hydrate, soothe, and heal. What’s inside:

  • Shea butter – Moisturizes, reduces inflammation, and helps relieve itch.
  • Mango butter – Helps moisturize and promote healing.
  • Aloe – Reduces redness, inflammation, and swelling. It also soothes the skin and helps moisturize.
  • Coconut oil – Moisturizes, reduces inflammation, promotes healing, and also contains antimicrobial properties that protect the skin.
  • Sunflower oil – Rich in nutrients and antioxidants. It also helps reduce redness, inflammation, irritation, and swelling,
  • Rice bran oil – Rich in vitamins E, B, and omega fatty acids that help nourish and hydrate the skin.
  • Rosemary oil – Contains antibacterial and antiseptic properties that help protect the skin from harmful bacteria.
  • Green tea – Helps moisturize and hydrate the skin, and helps reduce redness and irritation.
  • Vitamin E – An antioxidant that helps protect the skin and helps reduce UV damage from the sun.
  • Mint oil – Cools and soothes the skin helping to reduce redness, pain, irritation, swelling, and discomfort.
  • Papaya & coconut essence – All-natural scent

• Smooth and easy to apply

A healing tattoo can be painful to touch, the last thing you want to do is apply an ointment that’s sticky or difficult to spread. One of the great things about Hustle Butter is that it has a very smooth, non-sticky texture and consistency. It spreads very easily and evenly, and greatly reduces the uncomfortable feeling of applying ointment to a fresh tattoo.

• Reduces healing time

Getting a new tattoo is exciting, but it definitely sucks having to wait through the ugly healing process before proudly displaying your new ink. One of the things that I like most about Hustle Butter is it’s ability to speed up the healing process. Thanks to a slew of moisturizing and anti-inflammatory ingredients, Hustle Butter noticeably reduces healing time – allowing you to display your new tattoo sooner rather then later.

• A little goes a long way

No need to overdue it with this cream. Just a small dab of this stuff spreads very easily and is capable of covering a lot of ground. I suggest starting small and adding more if needed. You’ll be surprised how little you actually need.

• Smells good

Hustle Butter Deluxe contains no synthetic fragrances or additives, instead they use all-natural extracts from papaya and coconut to give this ointment a very light, fresh, tropical fragrance that smells really good on the skin. It’s not too strong or overbearing and in my opinion plays really well for both men and women.

What I don’t like:

It can leave a greasy feeling on the skin if you overdue it with the application. Try to remember less is more with this one.


Ora’s Amazing Herbal – Tattoo Salve

Jar of Ora's Amazing Herbal - Tattoo Salve

Heal that new tattoo the all-natural way with Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve. As you can probably guess from the incredibly long name, this all-natural salve uses the power of herbs to soothe, moisturize, and heal new tattoos. Herbs are a safe, effective, natural alternative to synthetic medicines and have been used for centuries to treat minor cuts, scrapes, burns, and irritation. Ora’s is packed with natural and organic herbs that are specifically chosen for their ability to heal, reduce inflammation, and even eliminate itch. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a great all-natural and organic tattoo salve.

What I like about Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve:

• All-natural ingredients

When a new tattoo is healing it’s important to use an ointment that won’t irritate the skin or interfere with the healing process. Ora’s Tattoo Salve is formulated with safe, all-natural ingredients that are designed to promote healing, while soothing pain, inflammation, and itch. What’s inside:

  • Grapeseed oil – Moisturizes, reduces inflammation, promotes healing, and is also antimicrobial.
  • Calendula – Contains anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties that make it effective at promoting healing.
  • Comfrey – Helps moisturize and protect the skin, promote healing, and helps reduce redness and irritation.
  • Plantain – Helps soothe the skin and also contains antibacterial properties that help fight off infection.
  • St. John’s wort – A common natural remedy for treating minor wounds, cuts, and burns due to it’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
  • Rosemary oil – Contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It’s also been known to reduce pain, irritation, and discomfort.
  • Thuja – Derived from evergreen trees, this oil contains antibacterial properties that help fight of germs and infection.
  • Burdock root – Contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also full of antioxidants that help protect the skin.
  • Thyme – Full of vitamins C and A, and also contains anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Coconut oil – Helps moisturize and hydrate skin, promote healing, and helps protect the skin from bacteria.
  • Beeswax – Contains anti-inflammatory properties that promote wound healing, and it’s also high in vitamin A which is known for it’s skin healing and moisturizing properties.
  • Vitamin E – An antioxidant that helps protect the skin, and also contains moisturizing and healing properties.
  • Tea tree – Helps soothe the skin by reducing redness, swelling, irritation, and inflammation.

• A little goes a long way

No need to overdue it with this one. Ora’s Tattoo Salve is very smooth and slick (similar to vaseline), and is very easy to spread on the skin. Just a small amount covers a lot of ground, so I recommend starting small and adding more if needed. You likely won’t.

• Smells really good

It’s important to avoid aftercare ointments that contain synthetic scents or fragrances – especially if you intend to put it on a healing tattoo. That being said, there is nothing wrong with using an ointment that has an all-natural scent like Ora’s Tattoo Salve. Thanks to it’s many herbs and essential oils, this salve has a very fresh, clean, herbal (go figure) fragrance that smells pleasant on the skin.

What I don’t like:

It’s kind of pricey, but it does come in a decent sized jar and a little bit goes a long way. It’s a good value in my opinion.


INK-EEZE – Purple Glide Tattoo Ointment

Jar of INK-EEZE Purple Glide tattoo ointment

When it comes to tattoo healing and aftercare, INK-EEZE has established themselves as one of the most respected brands on the market. Their products are not only incredibly well reviewed by consumers, but they are often used and heavily endorsed by many well known tattoo artists. INK-EEZE Purple Glide is designed to be used during and after the tattoo process to help moisturize and hydrate the skin and promote healing. And like all of INK-EEZE’s products, Purple Glide is formulated using a bunch of unique, all-natural ingredients that soothe, protect, and speed up the healing process. It’s also petroleum free and made in the USA. I highly recommended it.

What I like about INK-EEZE Purple Glide:

• Natural ingredients and plant extracts

One of the things that makes INK EEZE Purple Glide so great is that it contains unique, all-natural ingredients and plant extracts that you won’t find in other tattoo ointments. Here’s a closer look at what’s inside:

  • Safflower oil – Contains hydrating properties that prevent dryness and flaking. It’s also known to reduce pain, inflammation, and it is also an antioxidant.
  • Beeswax – Contains anti-inflammatory properties that help promote wound healing. It also protects the skin by forming a protective barrier to help keep out germs and bacteria.
  • Tamanu oil – Derived from the tamanu nut tree. It contains moisturizing properties that helps skin feel softer and smoother. It’s also known to reduce redness, scars, irritation, itchiness, dryness, and peeling — perfect for a healing tattoo
  • Lavender oil – Contains anti-inflammatory properties that soothe redness, irritation, swelling, and discomfort. It also helps balance the skin’s moisture barrier which promotes softer skin and relieves itch.

• Silky smooth

It’s never fun applying aftercare ointment to a sore, swollen tattoo. Thankfully Purple Glide makes the application process about as easy as it can get. Just like it’s name suggests, Purple Glide is very soft and smooth, and glides effortlessly over the skin — eliminating pain and discomfort from the application process.

• During and after

Purple Glide isn’t just an excellent aftercare tattoo ointment — it’s also great for use during the tattoo process as well. Endorsed and used by many well known tattoo artists, Purple Glide offers excellent slickness and glide, and doesn’t clog needles. And due to it’s many soothing and anti-inflammatory ingredients, it also helps reduce redness and swelling.

• The jar lasts

While most of INK-EEZE’s products are known to be kind of expensive, I personally feel that Purple Glide is priced really well. That’s because a jar of this stuff has some serious longevity to it. The jar is generously sized (6 ounces), and a little bit of the ointment goes a long way. Thanks to it’s silky smooth consistency, Purple Glide covers a lot of ground without having to use much of it. It’s definitely a worthwhile buy — especially if you plan on making tattoos a habit.

What I don’t like:

It’s easy to over apply this stuff. My advice is to use less than you think you need. Over application will result in a greasy feeling on the skin.


Viking Revolution – Tattoo Balm

Tin of Viking Revolution Tattoo Balm

If you’re looking for an excellent aftercare ointment but don’t want to spend a ton of money, I highly recommend you check out Viking Revolution’s Tattoo Balm. Viking Revolution is known for their long line of men’s grooming products, including: beard care, skincare, haircare, and accessories. Over the years I’ve become quite familiar with Viking Revolution products and I’m always really impressed with their premium quality and affordability. Formulated using all-natural ingredients, their Tattoo Balm is designed to safely nourish and hydrate the skin and promote healing.

What I like about Viking Revolution Tattoo Balm:

• All-natural ingredients

What’s not to like about a tattoo balm made with all-natural ingredients? Especially when you consider the fact you’re going to be putting it on an open wound. Here’s what’s inside:

Shea butter, Hemp-seed oil, Grapeseed oil, Rosemary oil, Beeswax, Jojoba oil, Apricot oil, Peppermint oil, Lavender oil

• Very easy to apply

A healing tattoo can be quite painful to touch. Which is why applying an aftercare ointment can often times be an unpleasant experience. One of the things that I really like about Viking Revolution Tattoo Balm is how slick, soft, and smooth it is to apply. This greatly reduces the uncomfortable feeling of applying ointment to a brand new tattoo.

• Smells good

Any decent tattoo artist will tell you to avoid putting products with synthetic fragrances on a healing tattoo. Thankfully the great smell of this Viking Revolution Tattoo Balm is derived from all-natural ingredients. While it’s not the most overpowering scent, it does have a subtle coconut fragrance that smells great on the skin, and is well suited for both men and women.

What I don’t like:

Nothing. Great tattoo balm at a fair price.


Tattoo Goo – Aftercare Salve

Tin of Tattoo Goo Aftercare Salve

Unless you’re a newcomer to the world of tattoos, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Tattoo Goo before. This stuff has seemingly been around forever (early 90’s?), and continues to be one of the best selling (and well reviewed) tattoo aftercare ointments on the market. It’s specifically formulated to be used on new tattoos to help soothe pain, irritation, redness, itchiness and even help promote healing. Aside from it’s proven tattoo benefits, the other reason why this ointment is so well liked is because it’s very inexpensive. Costing just a fraction of the price of most other aftercare ointments, Tattoo Goo is certainly worth a try if you’re in need of a great tattoo ointment but you’re on a tight budget.

What I like about Tattoo Goo:

• Tons of skin beneficial ingredients

Just because Tattoo Goo doesn’t cost a fortune doesn’t mean they skimped on quality ingredients. In fact they include quite in impressive array of all-natural ingredients that are soothing, moisturizing, and healing. What’s inside:

Olive oil, Beeswax, Cocoa butter, Sunflower oil, Wheat germ oil, Vitamin E, Lavender oil, Rosemary extract

• It’s not sticky or greasy

Contrary to the name of this salve, Tattoo Goo does not leave a sticky or greasy feeling on the skin like some aftercare ointments do. As long as you don’t overdue it on the application, it dries quite quickly and doesn’t transfer over to clothing.

• It doesn’t take much

Not only is this stuff very cheap, but the tin lasts a decent amount of time because you don’t need to use much per application. Tattoo Goo spreads quickly and easily, so only a small amount is needed to cover a lot of ground.

What I don’t like:

The tin is small (0.75 ounces). Also they use a synthetic dye (D&C green 6) to achieve the green color.


After Inked – Tattoo Lotion

Tube of After Inked Tattoo Lotion

If a lotion-type aftercare ointment is more your speed, I highly recommend you give After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer a try. This lightweight lotion is intended to keep new tattoos nourished, hydrated, protected, and it does a really awesome job keeping annoying tattoo itch at bay. It’s formulated right here in the USA using a ton of safe, all-natural ingredients, and it’s 100% vegan friendly.

What I like about After Inked Tattoo Lotion:

• Non-greasy and dries fast

One of the things that’s really annoying about most aftercare ointments is they tend to leave the skin feeling very greasy and oily. After Inked Tattoo Lotion is a bit different. It’s lightweight in texture and consistency, and doesn’t leave any nasty residue behind when it dries. This not only improves the feel of the lotion on the skin, but it’s nice not having to worry about the lotion transferring over to clothing or bedding.

• Skin beneficial ingredients

After Inked is not only great for healing tattoos, it’s also intended to be used for permanent makeup procedures and after laser tattoo removal. That’s because it’s full of skin moisturizing ingredients that soothe the skin, reduce inflammation, and promote healing. Here’s what’s inside:

  • Grapeseed oil – Known for it’s ability to promote healing, moisturize, and reduce the appearance of scars. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties and is also antimicrobial.
  • Jojoba oil – Produced from the seed of the simmondsia chinensis plant that is commonly found in Arizona and California. Jojoba oil contains anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce redness and swelling. It’s also highly moisturizing.
  • Shea butter – A fat that’s extracted from the nut of the African shea tree. It’s full of essential fatty acids that nourish, hydrate, and moisturize skin. It also reduces inflammation and helps alleviate itchy skin.
  • Orange oil – When used topically, orange oil helps reduce pain, redness, inflammation, and irritation.

• A little goes a long way

While I’m not crazy about the price of this tattoo lotion, I will admit that a little bit of this stuff does go a long way. The smooth, lightweight, and non-sticky texture allows this lotion to cover a lot of ground without having to use much product. So while the price is kind of high, the bottle does have a pretty impressive lifespan to it.

• Great for new or old tattoos

Since After Inked is so easy to apply and dries very quickly, it’s a great lotion to use on all tattoos – new or old. As we all know, tattoos tend to lose some of their vibrancy and sharpness over time. Applying After Inked Lotion on a daily basis brings back some of that lost vibrancy and helps make older tattoos pop.

What I don’t like:

It’s kind of pricey.


Aquaphor – Healing Ointment

Jar of Aquaphor Healing Ointment

When in doubt you can never go wrong with some good old fashion Aquaphor Healing Ointment. Sure, Aquaphor might not be the most exciting tattoo ointment, but this stuff is tried and tested, and is often the recommended aftercare ointment of choice by tattoo professionals. Aquaphor was developed all the way back in 1925 and was originally only available to doctors, pharmacists, and hospitals. It wasn’t until 1982 that it began selling directly to consumers and quickly became the go to healing ointment for minor cuts, scrapes, burns, and eventually tattoos.

What’s great about Aquaphor Healing Ointment?

• It promotes tattoo healing

It’s called healing ointment for a reason. Aquaphor is one of the most popular tattoo aftercare ointments because it protects and promotes healing. It works by creating a thin protective barrier on the skin that locks in moisture, but since it’s semi-occlusive, oxygen is still able to reach the tattoo which is necessary to promote healing.

• It’s highly moisturizing

As new tattoos are healing it’s completely normal for skin to become cracked and dry. One of the things that makes Aquaphor so great is that it’s full of moisturizing ingredients that safely alleviate dry, uncomfortable skin. What’s inside:

  • Petroleum jelly – Commonly used in skincare products for it’s moisturizing properties. It’s also used for medical purposes due to it’s ability to promote healing and reduce scarring.
  • Mineral oil – Acts as an emollient that helps keep skin moisturized.
  • Glycerin – Derived from vegetables, glycerin is an emollient that helps keep the skin nourished and hydrated by locking in moisture.
  • Panthenol – Commonly used in skincare products as a moisturizing agent, and is also used in pharmaceuticals due to it’s ability to improve wound healing.
  • Bisabolol – Commonly found in German chamomile, bisabolol contains anti-inflammatory properties that soothe irritated skin and redness.

• It soothes itch

Another very annoying and uncomfortable symptom of a healing tattoo is itchiness. Aquaphor is very effective at relieving this unpleasant side effect by nourishing and hydrating the skin. It’s a great ointment to have on hand when that unbearable itch begins to set in.

• It’s cheap as hell and lasts forever

Another reason why I really like Aquaphor Healing Ointment is because it’s incredibly cheap considering how much comes in the jar. And since a little bit of this stuff goes a really long way, a jar will basically last you forever. Win-win.

What I don’t like:

Applying too much Aquaphor leaves the skin feeling greasy and slightly tacky. Try to remember that the skin can only absorb so much of this stuff. Applying more than needed results in the aquaphor just sitting on the surface of the skin.


Ink Scribd – Tattoo Balm

Jar of Ink Scribd Tattoo Balm

If you hate the annoying itchy feeling of a healing tattoo, this Tattoo Balm from Ink Scribd is definitely worth checking out. It’s designed to not only eliminate itch, but also moisturize the skin and even help speed up the tattoo healing process. Formulated right here in the good ol’ USA, Ink Scribd contains only safe, all-natural ingredients, and is completely free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and additives. It even has a pretty kick-ass scent to boot.

What I like about Ink Scribd Tattoo Balm:

Applies easily

One of the things that I really like about this tattoo balm is how easy it is to apply. It’s texture and consistency is influenced by temperature and therefore seems to melt when applied to the skin. This allows it to spread very easily and evenly without having to use much. This is not only great for reducing pain and discomfort during application, but it also helps prolong the life of the jar.

All-natural ingredients

I can’t think of anything worse for a tattoo than slathering some synthetic chemicals and additives on it while it’s trying to heal. Thankfully Ink Scribd is formulated using only safe, all-natural ingredients. Here’s a few of it’s key ingredients:

Almond oil, Mango butter, Shea butter, Aloe vera, Argan oil, Sunflower oil, Coconut oil, Hemp seed, Avocado oil, Grapeseed oil, Jojoba oil, Kukui nut, Chia seed, Carrot seed, Green tea, Olive oil

Relieves itch

Possibly the worst part of a healing tattoo is the unbearable itch. It’s made even worse by the fact that you’re really not supposed to scratch it. That’s where Ink Scribd comes in. This stuff is specifically designed to soothe the skin and eliminate dreaded tattoo itch. And it does it’s job very well. The company recommends applying 3-4 times per day, but I suggest applying a small amount whenever the itch becomes too much to handle. You’ll be glad you did.

It isn’t greasy or sticky

Skip the aftercare ointments that leave your skin feeling like a greasy, shiny mess. Ink Scribd is easily absorbed into the skin and doesn’t leave any greasy or sticky feeling left behind. It’s the perfect ointment to apply before bed since it doesn’t transfer to clothing or bedding.

Smells great

Synthetic fragrances are a big no-no when it comes to a healing tattoo. That’s why Ink Scribd contains only all-natural extracts that give this balm a very fresh, sweet, and slightly fruity fragrance that smells great on the skin. Don’t worry guys, it may contain the essence of fruit but it doesn’t smell feminine. It’s pretty gender neutral in my opinion.

What I don’t like:

For the price I think they should make the jar a little bigger. Or lower the price a bit.



Thanks for checking out my list of best ointments, salves, and lotions for tattoo healing and aftercare. If you found this article helpful be sure to check out my list of best antibacterial tattoo soaps. As always, if you have any comments or questions feel free to drop me a line in the comment section below.