TATTOOS can be a window into the lives of the person who boasts them decorating their body – but without tattoo aftercare, a tattoo's longevity is in jeopardy.
Without a routine in place to help care for your tattoo in the days after you get it done, you could risk contracting skin infections or losing both the vibrancy of colour of your brand new tattoo.
With a recent study suggesting that a fifth of all British adults have been inked, it's clear that the UK has a penchant for tats of all styles, shapes and sizes.
But whether a cover-up, classic black tribal design, pop art-style portrait or fantastical colourful beasts, all designs need to be treated with the best tattoo aftercare regime.
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Whether it's SPF for protection from harmful UV-rays, or moisturising to prevent cracked, dry skin in winter – here at Sun Selects, we have got you covered.
Read on to discover our picks for the best tattoo aftercare to make sure that your tattoo isn't something you end up regretting…
Tattoo Goo Tattoo and Skincare Lotion
- Tattoo Goo Tattoo and Skincare Lotion, 60ml, £5.46 from Amazon – buy here
Renowned in the tattoo world for its affordable tattoo aftercare range, Tattoo Goo are here to help with its budget-friendly tattoo lotion.
The non-greasy lotion helps deeply hydrate and enhance the colour of both old and new tattoos, giving your fresh ink long-lasting protection and moisture.
It fights dryness and protects against bacteria, containing all the most sought-after healing ingredients to ward off infection or discolouration.
It's petroleum, dye and fragrance-free; and made with 95% olive oil, meaning your skin will thank you for this all-natural product.
The well-rated product has thousands of positive ratings on Amazon, helping you rest easy in the knowledge that this product is high quality, and well-loved by fellow tattoo fiends.
Apply instead of moisturiser (after cleansing) regularly to relieve itching and keep your tattoo in tip-top shape.
BALM TATTOO Tattoo Cleansing Gel
- BALM TATTOO Tattoo Cleansing Gel, 100ml, £6 from Amazon – buy here
Say no to ordinary soaps that can harm the longevity or vibrancy of your tattoo and halt the healing process, and opt for this tattoo cleansing gel from BALM TATTOO.
The vegan-friendly formula is gel-like in consistency, and soap-free – helping to guard the protective layer of skin over your tattoo, naturally produced by your body throughout its healing process.
The gel claims to make all ink residues or lymphatic fluids disappear from the tattooed area, thanks to its non-irritating, moisturising qualities – and will provide gentle relief for sore and freshly tattooed skin.
It promotes both growth and healing of the skin damaged by your ink and can be gently massaged after washing your tattoo with warm water and antimicrobial soap.
Hemp Heal-Ink Tattoo Aftercare Ointment
- Hemp Heal-Ink Tattoo Aftercare Ointment, 50ml, £10.99 from Amazon – buy here
Known for its natural health benefits, this aftercare ointment boasts the product hemp – renowned and much-loved in the skincare world.
This ointment is suitable for every stage of the tattooing process – before, during and after. It can prepare the skin prior to being inked, offer 'superior glide' during tattooing and helps to both heal and moisturise for years to come.
The natural formula boasts healing properties from its beeswax, olive oil and aloe vera-clad formula too, helping to keep tattoo colours and sharp lines both healthy and bright.
This handy and affordable hemp product will also help stave off, and offer relief from, itching, too.
Tattoo Goo Tattoo Balm
- Tattoo Goo Tattoo Balm, 21g, £5.68 from Amazon – buy here
Looking for protection and relief from itchy tatts on the go? Look no further than Tattoo Goo's handy mini salve.
This pocket-friendly tattoo balm is ideal for promoting healthy aftercare of your fresh ink, helping to encourage healing fast.
It allows the skin to breathe thanks to its petroleum-free formula, helping keep pores unclogged.
The all-natural formula is also cruelty-free and PETA-approved, and each study on its products confirmed no allergic reactions or annoying irritation on the skin – ensuring that your tatt gets treated with nothing but the best.
Viking Ink Gentle Neutral Soap
- Viking Ink Gentle Neutral Soap, 500ml, £11.63 from Amazon – buy here
Available in a variety of bathroom-brightening colours, this gentle antimicrobial soap has over a thousand positive reviews on Amazon.
The budget-friendly tattoo cleansing product can be applied directly to the skin in the shower to help cleanse your fresh tatt.
It's pre-diluted, so it's ready to go and can be used with fresh warm water – ultimately helping to rid your ink of any bacteria, and reduce both redness and irritation.
Dr Organic Aloe Vera Gel
- Dr Organic Aloe Vera Gel, 200ml, £5.99 from Holland & Barrett – buy here
Suitable for vegans, this totally pure and organic aloe vera gel from Dr Organic – available from Holland & Barrett – helps to soothe, moisturise and restore tattooed skin.
Ideal for sun-exposed skin, too, this high-strength, all-natural gel, helps leave skin feeling healthy and soft – aiding in cell restoration and swift healing.
The paraben- and animal cruelty-free formula is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, making it ideal for treating and tending to fresh tatts, prone to irritable itchiness.
Garnier Ambre Solaire Hydra 24 Hour Protect Hydrating SPF50 Spray
- Garnier Ambre Solaire Hydra 24 Hour Protect Hydrating SPF50 Spray, 300ml, £9.59 from LOOKFANTASTIC – buy here
Without regularly slapping sunscreen on your new (or old!) tatt, there's no doubt that the sun will play a big part in helping it to fade prematurely.
UV rays can destroy tattoo ink, making it gradually fade away – and ultimately a very expensive accident. This means you should apply at least a mineral-laden, SPF 30 pretty much every day – like this one from Garnier.
This handy spray sunscreen from household name Garnier Ambre Solaire both hydrates and protects skin from harmful, ageing UV rays for up to 24 hours.
It's fast-absorbing and can be sprayed, then gently massaged directly onto tattooed skin – helping form a protective barrier from the sunshine, meaning your colourful tatt will thank you in 40 years' time.
At under a tenner, it's budget-friendly and claims to be both sweat- and water-resistant, as well as anti-greasy.
Plus, it comes in a 100% percent recycled plastic bottle, meaning both your skin and the planet will thank you.
Tattoo Goo Aftercare Kit
- Tattoo Goo Aftercare Kit, 3 piece set, £12.99 from Superdrug – buy here
Feeling lazy? On a budget? Or looking for a gift for the tattoo lover in your life? Look no further than this great value-for-money tattoo aftercare kit from skincare giants Tattoo Goo.
This three-piece kit includes antimicrobial soap, balm, and lotion, ideal for protecting your tattoo's colour and vibrancy, as well as encouraging a healthy, protective aftercare routine.
The well-rated set (it has thousands of great reviews!) is vegan and cruelty-free – as well as totally free from pore-clogging petroleum-and lanolin.
It's that easy, it might as well be considered cheating – and it's on sale for under £15 on Superdrug.
The Body Shop Shea Body Butter
- Shea Body Butter, 200ml, £18 from The Body Shop – buy here
Essentially a fatty acid chock full of super helpful and healing vitamins and minerals, shea butter is a key player when it comes to post-tattooed skin repair.
This giant tub from The Body Shop is an all-vegan formula and will offer both great antioxidant and moisturising properties to your tattoo (while allowing the skin to breathe) – at all stages of its lifespan.
The 200ml tub, pricing in at under £20, is made with 97% all-natural ingredients, claiming to nourish skin for up to 96 hours (!!) – and is said to leave skin glowing throughout the day.
It's dermatologically-tested, as well as non-sticky and non-greasy. Plus, it smells great and will look so cute in its 100% recyclable (and recycled) plastic-aluminium-combo tub.
The Body Shop Shea Hand Cream
- Shea Hand Cream, 30ml, £5.50 from The Body Shop – buy here
Calling all those with inks on their hands! Don't forget to lather up and protect the tatts on your digits – as they're exposed to the sun just as much as (if not more than) the rest of your body.
Shea butter, a fatty acid with a luscious combination of essential vitamins and minerals for skin hydration and restoration, helps protect and heal tattooed skin – aiding in its longevity.
This handy hand cream from The Body Shop is around a fiver, and ideal for applying moisture on the go – your tatts will thank you (plus, it smells great!).
Stories & Ink Aftercare Cream
- Aftercare Cream, 60ml, £15 from Stories & Ink – buy here
This trendy-looking minimalist tube could be the cream of your post-tattooed dreams.
Courtesy of Stories & Ink, this handbag-friendly tube of aftercare cream soothes, calms and repairs post-inked damaged skin – helping encourage the healing process and deeply moisturise aggravated skin.
The vegan formula is 100% natural, as well as gluten, paraben, fragrance and cruelty-free – as well as totally hypoallergenic.
Thanks to its botanical blend, and the addition of Vitamin E, the skin will both feel and appear less inflamed, while soothing that irritable itchy post-tattooed skin.
It's affordable, priced at £15, but there's a discount for bulk buys.
Bepanthen Tattoo Intense Care Ointment
- Bepanthen Tattoo Intense Care Ointment, 50g, £6.50 from ChemistDirect – buy here
A staple in the tattoo aftercare world, this intense care ointment from Bepanthen – available at ChemistDirect – is a must-have for a healthy tattoo aftercare regime.
The dermatologically tested ointment is laden with Provitamin B5 to help support natural skin restoration and regeneration, helping to heal damaged, post-inked skin and relieve itching.
It helps to create a breathable layer, leaving skin super soft and hydrated – wherever the tatt's location. Plus, the tube is super handy to throw into a rucksack when on the go, too.
The Aftercare Company Tattoo Aftercare
- Tattoo Aftercare, 20g, £8.49 from The Aftercare Company – buy here
Soften, moisturise and maintain with this triple-action miniature tattoo balm from The Aftercare Company (well, it is in the name after all!).
The multiple award-winning product is cruelty-free and rich in Vitamins B and E – meaning healthy skin restoration and deep moisturising on the go.
This well-rated mini tub full of goodness can be chucked into any bag or pocket, like a lip salve, and means you're likely to look after your tatt no matter where you are, and at what time.
It's ideal for all skin types with its all-natural formula, and a great price, too.
What is the best tattoo aftercare?
When it comes to the best tattoo aftercare, we spoke to Hussain Abdeh, clinical director and superintendent pharmacist at Medicine Direct.
“When washing your tattoo, you should do so gently," Abdeh told us. "It is important to wash your hands with soap and water first, to remove any bacteria that may be on your hands and avoid infecting the new tattoo."
Abdeh told us that you should wash your tattoo first, adding to "do so gently with warm water and a soap that contains no perfume or harsh chemicals.
"Be sure to gently rinse all the soap from the tattoo before gently patting it dry with a soft, clean towel."
Abdeh recommends applying alcohol- and fragrance-free moisturiser afterwards – "you can keep your keep your skin free from wraps and coverings at this point", he said.
"You should keep washing the tattoo in this way for several days after it is completed. Ideally, wash it twice a day with gentle soap and then apply the moisturiser," he added.
Abdeh suggested that "it is important that you drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated" – adding that "if you are hydrated, your skin is also hydrated, which will help to keep the tattoo looking healthy".
Additionally, Dr Mark Hudson-Peacock, consultant dermatologist at stratumclinics.com recommends natural aloe vera gel, too, as well as elevating the tattoo at first.
"The treated area should be elevated above the heart when possible. This is especially important for tattoos on the lower leg, ankle and feet," they added."
Is shea butter good for tattoo aftercare?
Shea butter is a great shout when it comes to tattoo aftercare as it has high levels of Vitamin A that helps to heal wounds.
It can help create a natural skin barrier against dirt and bacteria while healing your wound and keeping your fresh ink moisturised – be sure to do this twice a day max, and avoid over-moisturising.
Shea butter can also act as a UV-protectant too, which is great on sunnier days in the first few weeks of healing, but we'd recommend opting for an SPF-laden product after your first few weeks.
Where to buy tattoo aftercare products?
There are multiple, well-reviewed products to choose from from a variety of well-known retail sites.
We found that Amazon had a wide range of products, at really affordable prices; as well as Holland & Barrett – and sites like the online pharmacy ChemistDirect.
What should I avoid putting on my tattoo?
Hussein Abdeh told us: "Starchy fabrics can damage your tattoo, so try to wear clothes that will be kind to the skin, such as SPF clothing.
"This will help to stop the tattoo from being faded by the sun," he added.
Avoid any tight or fitted clothing that will stick to your tattoo – and experts recommend avoiding swimming and direct sunlight for two weeks after getting your tattoo.
Avoid hot water and scented soap, too, as it can fade your ink – and if your tattoo scabs or develops hard layers? Don't stress, it's normal, but never pick, peel or scratch your tattoo – you could be prone to an infection or totally remove its colour.
"Limit physical activity on day one," Dr Hudson-Peacock also suggests. "Avoid exercising and any activity that results in perspiring. Avoid hot steamy showers and harsh soaps or cleansers."
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