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Can You Put Vaseline on a Tattoo? Things to Know

Tattoo aftercare is a critical step in ensuring the vibrancy, health, and longevity of your new ink. 

Immediately after getting tattooed, the skin’s barrier is compromised, so choosing aftercare products essential for healing. 

Among the plethora of options, Vaseline has been a commonly recommended product due to its protective barrier properties. 

But it’s not recommended to use Vaseline on the new tattoo because it can cause different damages due to a lot of reasons which we will discuss in this article. 

So let’s check whether it’s a good practice to use Vaseline as a tattoo aftercare or not.

The Risks of Using Vaseline on Fresh Tattoos

Despite its popularity in skin care routines, Vaseline, a petroleum jelly product, paradoxically may not always be your skin’s best friend, especially when it comes to healing.

The thick, occlusive nature of Vaseline creates a barrier on the skin that, while effective at locking in moisture, concurrently blocks the flow of air to and from the wound.

This lack of breathability can inhibit the body’s natural healing processes. You see, for a wound to heal optimally, a certain amount of air circulation is necessary to allow skin cells to repair and regenerate.

Furthermore, this barrier can trap not just moisture, but also bacteria and other microorganisms against the skin, potentially leading to infections.

It’s a bit like creating a greenhouse effect right on your wound; while it might seem protective, it fosters an environment where bacteria can thrive, potentially hindering the healing rather than helping it.

However, its application on new tattoos could potentially do more harm than good. 


The dense consistency of Vaseline can actually trap dirt and bacteria on the skin’s surface, increasing the risk of infection.

Proper Timing for Vaseline Application

Vaseline can serve as a protective barrier for minor cuts and scrapes after they have started to heal.

Its occlusive properties lock in moisture, speeding up the skin’s healing process without interfering with the body’s natural healing mechanisms.

However, it’s essential to apply Vaseline only to clean, slightly healed wounds to minimize the risk of infection.

For best results, a thin layer should be applied to the affected area, ensuring that the skin is not overly saturated, which can lead to other skin issues.

By judiciously using Vaseline in this manner, individuals can aid their skin’s recovery process, protecting minor injuries from environmental irritants and locking in moisture to promote healing.

While it is typically advised to avoid the application of petroleum-based products on new tattoos, an exception can be made for using Vaseline as a protective barrier during showers.

This exception hinges on the principle of preventing direct water exposure, which can compromise the tattoo’s healing process.

When applying, a thin layer is sufficient to create a water-repellent shield, thereby safeguarding the tattoo from the potential harm caused by water saturation.

However, it is crucial to understand that the effectiveness of this method relies heavily on the complete and careful removal of Vaseline post-shower.

This is because Vaseline can clog pores and trap bacteria, leading to unwanted skin reactions or infections that can mar the appearance of the new tattoo.

Alternative Products for Tattoo Aftercare

For optimal healing of new tattoos, selecting the right aftercare products is crucial.

A high-quality, fragrance-free, and alcohol-free moisturizer is essential to keep the tattooed skin hydrated without causing irritation or allergic reactions.

Look for products containing natural moisturizing agents like cocoa butter, shea butter, or coconut oil, which nourish the skin deeply without clogging pores.

Furthermore, healing ointments that are specially formulated for tattoo care, such as those containing panthenol or essential vitamins like Vitamin E, can accelerate the skin’s healing process.

Brands like Aquaphor Healing Ointment After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer and Aftercare Lotion are widely recommended by professional tattoo artists for their effectiveness in facilitating a smooth healing process while ensuring the tattoo’s vibrancy and longevity.

Comparison of Vaseline and Aquaphor

When comparing popular skin care products like Aquaphor and Vaseline for tattoo aftercare, one must consider their composition and how it affect healing.

Vaseline, or petroleum jelly, is a thick, protective ointment that creates a barrier over the skin, locking in moisture.

It’s primarily made of petrolatum, which is effective in protecting minor cuts and burns but can be too occlusive for fresh tattoos, potentially trapping heat and bacteria.

Aquaphor, on the other hand, is a semi-occlusive ointment. It’s a more complex formulation that includes petrolatum, glycerin, and lanolin.

This combination allows the skin to breathe more than when covered with Vaseline. The presence of glycerin in Aquaphor attracts water to the skin, promoting a moist healing environment without completely sealing off the air.

This feature makes it particularly suitable for tattoo care, encouraging faster healing by maintaining the tattoo’s moisture level without suffocating the skin.

Expert Advice on Tattoo Aftercare

Both dermatologists and tattoo artists agree on the pivotal role of personalized aftercare in ensuring the longevity and vibrancy of tattoos.

They emphasize that aftercare should be customized based on an individual’s skin type and the specifics of the tattoo, such as size, location, and color complexity.

For example, sensitive or dry skin may require different aftercare products than oily skin, which can affect healing times and outcomes.

Moisturizing is universally recommended, but the type of moisturizer may vary; fragrance-free and hypoallergenic options are often preferred to minimize irritation.

Furthermore, both professionals stress the importance of avoiding sun exposure to newly tattooed areas to prevent fading and maintain the integrity of the design.

Regular, gentle cleansing with lukewarm water and mild soap is also crucial to prevent infection and promote optimal healing.

Tips to Keep the Tattoo Clean, Dry, and Protected

To keep your tattoo clean, it’s recommended to gently wash the area with a bar of mild, fragrance-free soap and lukewarm water at least twice a day.

Pat the area dry with a clean, soft towel – do not rub it. To ensure it stays dry, avoid soaking the tattoo in water, such as in baths, pools, or the ocean, for at least 2-3 weeks.

When it comes to sun protection, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to the tattooed area after it has fully healed.