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Why you shouldn't put Vaseline on a new tattoo

Words by Adam Jolley
Why you shouldn't put Vaseline on a new tattoo

We all know taking care of a new tattoo is crucial to ensure it heals properly and retains its vibrant colours and sharp lines, right? But amid the myriad of advice on tattoo aftercare, a common question that arises is whether you can put Vaseline on a new tattoo? Before you go slapping Vas on your tats, pop the tub back on the shelf and join us on a deep dive into this slippery subject.

Vaseline, a petroleum-based jelly, has been a household staple for decades. And look, we're not here to knock it! From helping heal dry skin to protecting lips from harsh, winter weather, it's got a tonne of practical uses. And it's precisely this utility, in particular its moisturising properties, that have led some to consider it for tattoo aftercare too.

vintage vaseline advert1982 Vaseline advert

But while Vaseline can provide some level of hydration to your skin, it's not the ideal choice for healing a new tattoo. Here's a couple of reasons why it's not so good for freshly inked skin:

Clogs pores: Vaseline is thick and occlusive, meaning it forms a barrier on the skin. While this might seem like a good thing for trapping moisture, it can have negative consequences for your tattoo. Tattoos need to breathe during the healing process, and Vaseline can clog pores, potentially leading to infection and delayed healing.

Risk of allergic reaction: Some people may be sensitive or allergic to petroleum-based products like Vaseline. Applying it to a new tattoo could result in skin irritation, redness, and itching.

Lack of tattoo-specific benefits: Vaseline doesn't contain the essential ingredients necessary for optimal tattoo healing, such as anti-bacterial agents or skin-soothing compounds.

Stories & Ink Aftercare Cream is specifically formulated to heal and calm freshly inked tattoos with 100% natural, hypoallergenic care.


Ellie Cryer, a resident artist at Storties & Ink studio in Falmouth, agrees that Vaseline is not the ideal choice for tattoo aftercare.

''My understanding is that it's not the best, since it doesn't let skin breathe very well and is quite water resistant," she says. "I'd usually recommend a more simple, natural moisturiser or specific aftercare cream, and just use a small amount fully rubbed into the skin, so that it can still breathe.''

This brings us on nicely to the next section; so what should you use instead? 

The pros of tattoo-specific aftercare

Tattoo-specific aftercare products are formulated to address the unique needs of healing tattoos. Here's why they're a better choice than Vaseline:

Hydration with breathability: Tattoo aftercare products are designed to keep your skin hydrated while allowing it to breathe. This balance is crucial for tattoo healing as it promotes cell regeneration without trapping harmful bacteria.

Antibacterial properties: Many tattoo-specific products contain antibacterial ingredients like benzalkonium chloride or tea tree oil. These help prevent infections, a risk during the initial stages of tattoo healing.

Reduced risk of allergic reactions: Tattoo aftercare products are carefully crafted to minimise the risk of allergic reactions. They are free from common irritants, making them suitable for most skin types.

Preservation of tattoo quality: Tattoo-specific products are optimised to help your tattoo maintain its vibrancy and clarity. They won't blur or compromise the ink, ensuring that your tattoo looks its best when fully healed.

Promotion of healing: Tattoo aftercare products often contain ingredients like vitamin E or aloe vera, which have soothing properties and aid in the healing process.

Professional recommendations: Tattoo artists usually recommend specific aftercare products based on their experience and knowledge. These products are trusted in the industry for their effectiveness.

So, there you have it. We hope we've given you something to think about. In the quest for the perfect tattoo aftercare regime, it's essential to consider the long-term health and appearance of your tattoo. While Vaseline may seem like a convenient option, its downsides make it a less-than-ideal choice. Tattoo-specific aftercare products are designed to provide the optimal conditions for healing, reduce the risk of complications, and preserve the beauty of your ink. So, the next time you ponder whether to reach for the Vaseline, remember that there are better options tailored to your tattoo's specific needs. Your ink deserves the best care possible, and specialised tattoo aftercare products deliver just that.