Is Aquaphor Good For New Tattoos? - Everything You Should Know

Written by: Pete

There’s a reason Aquaphor is used by professional tattoo artists and trusted by tattoo fanatics. Since ointments can be used during the weeping stage of a new tattoo, Aquaphor is often trusted as both a hydrating and healing acceleration product. But is it always recommended after getting a new tattoo?

What Is Aquaphor?


Aquaphor is a healing ointment that creates a protective barrier over a wound, locking in moisture, while simultaneously promoting healing through its mineral oil and vitamin B5-packed ingredients.

Its ingredient list includes petrolatum (41%), mineral oil, ceresin, lanolin alcohol, panthenol, glycerin, and bisabolol, and it is said that it has a unique formula that still allows the flow of oxygen to get to the abrasion.

It is a widely accessible product that comes in a smooth, easy-to-apply consistency that allows users to ensure they are getting the moisturization they need without the worry of over-application. It even made our best tattoo ointments list because it is preservative and fragrance free, and known to facilitate healing while soothing inflammation.

When Should You Use Aquaphor on a Tattoo?

Aquaphor is one of those products you want early on in the healing stages but can put aside when your tattoo is less vulnerable. Aquaphor is intended to accelerate the healing of wounds and create a barrier that not only retains moisture when it needs it most, but also prevents bacteria from infiltrating the wound.

In addition, Aquaphor provides your new tattoo with vitamin B5, which, according to a medical study, “improves surgical wound healing with moisturizing and skin barrier enhancing potential.” 

Because this product is quite heavy, thick, and intense on its healing properties, it’s something you’ll want to use in the first three days but then switch out after your tattoo stops weeping.

How Long Should Aquaphor Be Used on a Tattoo?

Since Aquaphor is ideal for wound healing and since it contains thick product ingredients that lock in moisture, you’re going to want to stop using it after your tattoo stops weeping. Prolonging the use of Aquaphor could cause scabbing issues.

Too much hydration as well as the properties of petroleum could begin to cause tattoo bubbling or thick, wet scabbing. For more information on preventing irregular scabbing, check out Tattoo Scabbing - Your Complete How To Guide.

After the first three days, switch out to a lighter lotion or cream to moisturize your tattoo.

putting aquaphor on tattoo

What Are the Benefits of Using Aquaphor on a Tattoo?

Since Aquaphor is designed to accelerate healing, it has many benefits when being used on a new tattoo.

It Might Prevent a Bacterial Infection

The thick ingredients of Aquaphor create a barrier-like layer over your tattoo that is generally known to keep out dirt and grime, thus minimizing your risk of infection.

Prevents Crusting, Tattoo Damage, and Reduces Scabbing

Starting out your aftercare regimen on the right foot from day one will set you up on an easy healing experience for your new tattoo. As your tattoo drains itself in the first three days, it can become extremely dry in the process, and this can cause complications when the scab formation stage arrives. Aquaphor maintains moisture during this stage while simultaneously not stopping the necessary healing process.

Minimize scabbing or less complicated scab formation means you’re less likely to lose ink or cause scarring or distortion of your tattoo.

Helps With Itching

Itchiness of a new tattoo is inevitable, but Aquaphor has soothing properties that help make this stage more manageable. In fact, it provides instant relief upon application.

Suitable for Sensitive Skin

Dermatologist tested and listed as being hypo-allergenic and non-comedogenic, which means it doesn’t clog pores, Aquaphor is generally suitable for even the most sensitive of skin. Of course, this varies from person to person and you should always patch test a product prior to using it on a new tattoo.

Decreases Healing Time

Aquaphor is often used by professionals because of how beneficial it is for reducing the healing time of a new tattoo. The owner of Three Kings Tattoos, Matt Marcus, says, “Aquaphor absorbs the skin’s natural wound exudates, keeping the wound moist to promote healing.” 

Affordable and Accessible

Aquaphor is widely available and can be found in almost any place where lotions are sold. In addition, it’s relatively inexpensive and can be ordered online for convenience purposes.

What Are the Disadvantages of Using Aquaphor on a Tattoo

There are some negatives to this product that are important to note.

Potential Sensitivity

Although this product is listed as hypo-allergenic, it does contain lanolin which is made from the oils secreted in sheep’s wool. People with wool allergies should never use products with lanolin.

Skin Breakouts

Despite being listed as non-comedogenic, Aquaphor does contain petroleum which is known to clog pores and cause breakouts. If you begin to notice bumps forming on or around your tattoo, stop using Aquaphor, as your skin likely does not support the petroleum. Mineral oil, which is derived from petroleum and is a primary ingredient in Aquaphor, can also clog pores.

For more information on petroleum jelly and new tattoos, check out our article, Can I Put Vaseline On My New Tattoo? Is Petroleum Jelly Safe For Tattoo Aftercare?


Aquaphor sits on the skin and along with the ingredient petroleum, this can actually cause extensive moisture buildup that leads to scabbing complications.

Reversed Experiences

Some people have actually found that Aquaphor extended their healing process rather than accelerating the healing time. During the weeping stage, your tattoo needs oxygen to allow your body to push out any excess blood, plasma, or ink from your wound. People who have applied Aquaphor have sometimes found that the product complicates this process.

This could be due to putting too much of the product on the new tattoo, or simply because your body rejects the product as a healing agent. Regardless, with these complications, it could trap pathogens in your tattoo which may lead to infection.

How to Use Aquaphor on a Tattoo

Prior to using Aquaphor on a new tattoo, you should perform a 48 hour patch test of the product to ensure there are no sensitivities or reactions to it. Do this on the inside of your elbow and monitor the area.

If all is good to go, here’s how to use Aquaphor on your fresh ink.

  1. Remove the Bandage/Wrap
    This can be removed four to six hours after your artist wraps your tattoo. Make sure your hands are cleaned while doing so.
  2. Clean Your Tattoo
    Using an antibacterial soap and clean hands, thoroughly (but gently) scrub your tattoo. At this stage, it may sting, feel sensitive, and feel “gooey”. Despite this discomfort, you need to be sure to remove any product on your tattoo, or plasma, ink, and blood from your wound.
  3. Pat Your Tattoo Dry
    Using a paper towel or a fresh, unused towel, pat your tattoo dry. Never rub your new tattoo dry. In addition, you need to make sure your tattoo is completely dry prior to moving onto the next step.
  4. Apply a Thin Layer of Aquaphor
    If your product does not come in a tube, use something like a popsicle stick or a spoon and remove some product from the container. Using a tool prevents contamination. You only need a dime-sized amount, and maybe less depending on the size of your tattoo. Apply a very thin layer over your tattooed region.
  5. Remove Any Excess
    If you have applied too much product or there is a region that doesn’t quickly absorb the Aquaphor, use a paper towel to dab off any excess.

Our Final Thoughts

Some people swear by Aquaphor while some others truly don’t see the benefit of the product. Knowing whether it’s the right product for you and your healing journey is a matter of trial and error. But you should always perform a patch test prior to using Aquaphor, and you should stop using the product entirely if you see redness, rash, pimples, or irritation.

If you’re ever unsure, ask your artist what they think about Aquaphor; they may have other recommendations for your needs.

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