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Best cream for tattoos 2023: Heal and maintain your new ink

The best tattoo creams to help the healing process and keep your tattoos looking vibrant

A tattoo can be a beautiful piece of artwork, but without proper maintenance, colours can often fade or bleed and lines can smudge. No one wants to invest the time and money (and pain!) of getting a tattoo for it to end up looking mediocre a few years or even months down the line. Whether you’re getting a full sleeve or a small piece, any professional tattoo artist will tell you that proper maintenance is important to make sure your skin heals properly. 

One of the best ways to protect your new ink is by using the best tattoo cream. A good quality, moisturising cream can hydrate your skin, reduce irritation and itching, and prevent skin peeling. With something as delicate as a fresh tattoo, however, you can’t just use any old cream to moisturise your skin. The wrong ingredients can not only prevent healing, but also end up harming your tattoos’ final effect.

Your tattoo artist will be able to best advise you on the best kind of tattoo cream for your skin type, but our roundup below has several options to choose from. Read on to find the best product to heal your skin after getting fresh ink and to properly preserve your tattoos in the long run.

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Best tattoo creams: At a glance

  • Best overall tattoo cream: Tattoo Goo | Buy now 
  • Best vegan tattoo cream: Hustle Butter Deluxe | Buy now 
  • Best healing tattoo cream: CeraVe Healing Ointment | Buy now 
  • Best tattoo cream for sensitive skin: TattooMed After Tattoo | Buy now 
  • Best drugstore tattoo cream: Aveeno Daily Moisturising Body Lotion | Buy now 
  • Best tattoo cream for immediate after care: Stories & Ink Tattoo Care | Buy now

How to choose the best tattoo cream for you

Choosing the right tattoo cream depends on the age of your tattoo. Fresh ink needs more maintenance than an older, healed tattoo. That said, there are some things that work well for both fresh and healed tattoos.

What features should I look out for?

A new tattoo is essentially a fresh wound on your skin, so you have to treat it delicately. As it heals, the skin will likely be sore and swollen, while releasing a mix of blood and ink. Moisturiser helps to prevent scabbing, which can affect your tattoo.

While a fully healed tattoo allows you to be a bit more lenient, some creams are particularly beneficial. Examples of features to look out for include:

Non-comedogenic: It’s important that tattooed skin is able to breathe, so you’ll want to choose a cream that won’t prevent this. A non-comedogenic cream stops your pores from becoming clogged, which helps to keep your skin moisturised without hindering the healing process. Your skin can repair itself without your ink being affected.

SPF: Just like any exposed skin, your tattoos need protection from the sun. A cream with SPF protection prevents sunburn and helps to keep your tattoo from fading. Keep in mind that fresh, unhealed tattoos should not be exposed to the sun at all. Keep fresh ink covered with clothes.

Unscented: Creams with additives such as scents can not only irritate your skin, but can sometimes cause scarring and tattoo fading. Look for creams that are scent-free to help protect your tattoo.

What are some other ways to care for my tattoo?

Using moisturiser is not the only way to care for a new tattoo. There are other steps you can take: 

Cover it: Keeping the tattoo covered with cling film for the first for several hours. This prevents dirt and bacteria from getting into the tattoo. 

Keep it clean: Clean your tattoo twice a day. Use a gentle antibacterial soap that’s fragrance free with warm water and pat dry. Don’t submerge it and don’t rub the skin dry.

Don’t pick: Throughout the healing process, your skin will flake, scab and itch, but scratching, picking scabs or peeling flaking skin can cause colour loss and breaks in delicate tattoo lines. As hard as it might be, let the skin flake off naturally. 

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The best tattoo creams you can buy in 2023

1. Tattoo Goo: The best overall tattoo cream

Price: £5 | Buy now from Amazon

Tattoo Goo is one of the top recommended tattoo creams available. It accelerates the healing process and helps calm itchiness. This cream is absorbed into the skin quickly and is non-greasy for a comfortable experience. 

It combats dryness as well as bacteria, to keep your tattoo hydrated and healthy. Even better, it can help to enhance the colour of both new and old tattoos. Tattoo Goo doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients either: there’s no fragrance or dye to irritate the skin, and no petroleum or lanolin to clog pores. 

The formula is natural, consisting primarily of olive oil, and includes hydrating ingredients such as glycerine and vitamin E. Overall this cream is perfect for both new tattoos and older, healed tattoos. It will keep them well hydrated and looking fresh.

Key specs – Volume: 60ml; Key ingredient: Olive oil; Main features: Free from petroleum, lanolin, fragrances and dyes

2. Hustle Butter Deluxe: The best vegan tattoo cream

Price: £20 | Buy now from Your Beauty Shop

For those looking for an all-natural tattoo cream, Hustle Butter Deluxe has got you covered. This cream helps prepare the skin before a tattoo, as well as speed up the healing process and help revitalise older tattoos. The cream’s formula is certified as being both vegan and cruelty-free. 

It uses ingredients such as shea, aloe and mango butters, as well as green tea, coconut, vitamin E complex and natural oils. It’s non-comedogenic and contains no petroleum or paraben products. This cream has a mild antibiotic effect as well, thanks to the addition of mint arvensis oil, to prevent infection and encourage proper healing. 

It also has counterirritant and analgesic factors to handle itching and swelling. Hustle Butter Deluxe is perfect for every step of the tattoo process. Whether it’s to prepare the skin for ink, keep it healthy as it heals or to prevent tattoo fading, this cream can help you out.

Key specs – Volume: 150ml; Key ingredients: Shea, mango and coconut butters; Main feature: Vegan

Buy now from Your Beauty Shop

3. CeraVe Healing Ointment: The best healing tattoo cream

Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon

An occlusive cream is one of the best ways to keep your tattoo properly hydrated. Occlusives trap moisture in the skin and prevent it from evaporating. CeraVe Healing Ointment contains petrolatum as its active ingredient, which works to keep hydration in the skin. The cream also has three essential ceramides, which can help with the skin’s healing process. 

The formula is non-comedogenic, non-greasy and absorbs quickly into the skin. It’s also designed to help dry skin, which is helpful for new tattoos – particularly during the flaking process. It will help hydrate and soothe, reducing the urge to scratch or pick at the flaking skin. 

The bottom line is that this cream is free of  irritating ingredients such as lanolin, dyes or preservatives, and it’s specifically designed to maximise your skin’s hydration. While it doesn’t market itself as a tattoo cream, it’s perfect for protecting your skin.

Key specs – Volume: 5oz (approx 142ml); Key ingredient: Petrolatum; Main feature: Developed by dermatologists

4. TattooMed After Tattoo: The best tattoo cream for sensitive skin

Price: £9 | Buy now from Amazon

TattooMed After Tattoo is designed to care for sensitive skin that has been freshly tattooed. This non-greasy cream soaks into the skin, helping it to repair faster, and it does this by supporting cell formation around the tattoo. It also has soothing, anti-itch properties to keep irritation to a minimum.

This cream is formulated for intensive care and is dermatologically approved. It’s 100% vegan and cruelty free, as well as being scent- and paraben-free so it won’t irritate sensitive (or freshly tattooed) skin. The formula has a higher-than-average concentration of both panthenol and vitamin E: this helps speed up wound repair, which, in turn, will reduce inflammation and protect the tattoo’s colour.

TattooMed After Tattoo provides high levels of hydration, which ultimately helps sensitive skin handle the itching, flaking and overall healing process of a brand new tattoo.

Key specs – Volume: 100ml; Key ingredients: Panthenol, vitamin E; Main feature: Vegan, can reduce crust formation

5. Aveeno Daily Moisturising Body Lotion: The best supermarket tattoo cream

Price: £8 | Buy now from Boots

If you want a simple tattoo cream that’s readily available from your local supermarket or pharmacy, look no further than Aveeno’s Daily Moisturising Body Lotion. Designed to provide long-lasting hydration to your skin, it absorbs quickly and keeps moisture in your skin for as long as 24 hours. It does this by preserving your skin’s microbiome, which helps fight infection, handle inflammation and heal wounds.

The cream’s active ingredient is prebiotic colloidal oatmeal. This natural ingredient is gentle, so it’s suitable for sensitive skin types, and it promotes the growth of good bacteria to help replenish dry or itchy skin.

The formula is both fragrance- and paraben-free, so there’s little chance of skin irritation as your tattoo heals. Aveeno Daily Moisturising Body Lotion is an affordable option for tattoo care, and is suitable for both new and old tattoos.

Key specs – Volume: 300ml; Key ingredients: Prebiotic colloidal oatmeal; Main feature: Long-lasting moisture

Buy now from Boots

6. Stories & Ink Tattoo Care: The best tattoo cream for immediate after care

Price: £17 | Buy now from Amazon

Suitable for all skin types, Stories & Ink Tattoo Care is perfect for treating your brand new tattoo. The formula uses a botanical blend to provide all-natural care for your ink, with vitamin E to moisturise and help stop skin cell damage, and bisabolol (a chamomile extract) to help relieve dry skin and increase the skin’s elasticity. 

Panthenol provides deep hydration and keeps moisture locked in. This cream is 100% natural and vegan, as well as fragrance-free, paraben-free, gluten-free and hypoallergenic. It was developed by pharmacists to aid in tattoo healing, and the non-greasy formula allows your skin to breathe as it heals.

It’s designed to help prevent your tattoo from fading, and can help increase vibrancy when left overnight. It also reduces inflammation while working to renew skin that was damaged by the tattooing process. That said, it’s recommended that you only use this product during your tattoo’s healing phase, before moving to a different moisturiser.  

Key specs – Volume: 60ml; Key ingredients: Vitamin E, bisabolol, panthenol; Main feature: Designed for fresh tattoos

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