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Can You Put Vaseline on Your Tattoo? Complete Guide

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Vaseline is a petroleum jelly based product typically meant for treating seasonal dry skin problems. Nevertheless, lots of people wonder: Can I put vaseline on my tattoo? This curiosity arises because of the common misconception that Vaseline is used for treating and healing wounds. The answer to the earlier question, thus, is a straightforward “NO.”

Vaseline or any other petroleum jelly product is quite thick and non-porous. Its application traps moisture into the skin. Applying Vaseline on tattoos that have just been inked, creates the undesirable condition of developing an airlock around the skin. As a result, you’re not only disallowing much-needed oxygen from entering the tattoo wound, there’s also counterproductivity in the tattoo healing process.

Air over the wound is essential for aiding the healing process. Yet, that is exactly what petroleum jelly blocks. Due to such anti-tattoo-healing elements, applying Vaseline on tattoos that are fresh may lead to infections. Subsequently, the infections would have to be treated immediately with antibiotics as per the specific advice by your dermatologist. Common symptoms of an infected area include swelling, redness, scar tissue formation, and pus.

If Vaseline isn’t a recommended option for tattoos, then what is? Fortunately, there are some incredible products that aid the tattoo healing process by allowing enough air to enter the wound and protecting the area from potential infections.

Why is Vaseline on Tattoos not a Good Idea?

Here’s a summary of why you shouldn’t put Vaseline on new tattoos:

  • Applying something thick on your tattoo, like Vaseline (petroleum jelly), creates excessive, trapped moisture and an airlock over the application area. This creates the perfect conditions for bacteria and germs to grow over the region. It also gives rise to infections needing immediate treatment. 
  • Excessive or prolonged use of Vaseline on tattoos can also ruin the tattoo ink. How this happens is, the ink gets drawn out of the lower layers of your skin before it has settled. As a consequence, the tattoo ends up looking faded and patchy.
  • If the tattoo artist has a pair of rubber(nitrile) or latex gloves on during the procedure and then applies Vaseline on your skin, there’s a great chance microscopic levels of bacteria or other pathogens may get transferred and cause infection. It takes about 20 minutes for petroleum jelly to break down nitrile, latex, and other such materials. In general, as good hygiene and safety practices, artists should change gloves at more frequent intervals.

Can I Ever Put Vaseline On My New Tattoo?

AApplying vaseline on tatoo

The only time use of Vaseline makes considerable sense during the healing period is when you plan on taking a long duration shower. Generally, it is not necessary to put Vaseline on tattoos that are new if your shower time is within 10 minutes. If the shower time is going to exceed that timeframe, you should apply a thin layer of Vaseline first. Vaseline’s non-porous nature helps prevent the water from entering the wound. In any case, you should ensure water isn’t blasted directly onto the tattoo wound.

Other than guarding your tattoo wound during long showers, you may put Vaseline on a new tattoo only once it has completely healed.

The Rules For Showering With A Brand New Tattoo:

  • It is recommended that you resume proper showering only once your tattoo has completely scabbed and fully peeled. This means you may wet your tattoo area during showering 2 to 3 weeks after getting inked. That’s how long it takes for the healing process to complete.
  • Bathing or swimming with a new tattoo can lead to fading and infections.
  • If you must occasionally shower during the healing process, you can do so by applying a very thin layer of Vaseline on your tattoo. Even then, you would have to ensure the water is not blasted directly onto the tattoo and that the Vaseline is removed after the shower.
  • To remove the Vaseline after your shower, gently clean out the applied layer using lukewarm water and unscented antibacterial soap. Following that, the tattoo wound should be pat dried using a fresh piece of paper towel. Finally, one of the best moisturizing lotions (highly breathable) should be applied to ensure the tattooed area is kept adequately hydrated and oxygenated.

Can I Put Vaseline On My Tattoo If My Skin Gets Too Dry?

It’s never a good idea to put Vaseline on a new, healing tattoo, period! That said, it’s a daunting situation when during the healing process your skin begins to feel too dry, itchy, and scaly and you need to know what to apply over it.

Depending on your tolerance threshold, that could be a time of incredible discomfort. Naturally, you’ll feel the urge to do something about it. At that immediate timing, you may be tempted to apply a layer of Vaseline to prevent further itching. In that case, you can at most apply a very thin layer of Vaseline “around” the tattooed area. Bear in mind, and this is important, the emphasis is on “around” rather than “directly onto” the tattoo.

Can I Put Vaseline On My Tattoo Once It’s Completely Healed?

The short, and only answer, is “Yes!” When a tattoo is fully healed, a petroleum-based product like Vaseline won’t ruin the ink, since the tattoo is no longer an open wound. It takes a new tattoo one to two months to be completely healed. The total healing time depends on aspects like the size, placement, and type of tattoo, as well as the experience of the artist. Finally, the healing time and smoothness also depend on the tattoo aftercare regime executed. 

If Not Vaseline, Then What?

Before moving on with this next section, you should be advised that nothing should be applied to a new tattoo for the first 24 to 48 hours. At that nascent stage, the wound is vulnerable to irritation and infection. For that initial period, let the tattoo begin healing on its own. Subsequently, you can begin applying tattoo moisturizers and other suitable aftercare products.

Time and again we’ve heard tattoo aftercare is critical. We’ve already established that Vaseline is out of the picture. Yet, it is important that your skin remains healthy and vibrant using suitable alternatives. For this, you need to invest in an incredible moisturizing lotion, cream, butter, or ointment that speeds up the healing time.

Here are the attributes of the best moisturizers for tattoos:

  • Fragrance-free
  • No harsh ingredients
  • Made of quality ingredients
  • Devoid of colorants
  • Helpful in the tattoo healing process
  • Effective moisturizers for adequate hydration
  • Highly breathable

The best aftercare products aim to accelerate and optimize healing. A recommended aftercare cream, lotion, or ointment,  keeps your tattoo well-hydrated, soothing, and free from itching, dryness, scabbing, and irritation.

It is important to use lotions that are fragrance-free and without harsh ingredients. This way you won’t end up experiencing any adverse skin effects. A completely organic aftercare regime isn’t a bad idea either. This means you could use coconut oil or cocoa butter among the choices.

Moreover, these days there are some incredible aftercare products to choose from. These products are specifically created for new tattoos.

Highly ranked among these is the Mad Rabbit Tattoo Balm & Aftercare Cream. Avid ‘Shark Tank’ fans would know this product for having taken off after being pitched to the judges on that famous TV series. Mad Rabbit is an all-natural product compatible with sensitive skin and all skin tones and ink colors.

Whether it’s Mad Rabbit or any of the other recommended aftercare products, one thing consistent among these products is they keep the tattoo moisturized, less irritated, and free of discomfort, whilst speeding up the healing process.

Conclusion

Using Vaseline on a new tattoo is more counterproductive than most think. Petroleum jelly-based products clog up the pores, prevent proper healing, and damage the ink before it’s even settled. Anybody who suggests you may use Vaseline on your new tattoo is not a seasoned or experienced tattoo artist or enthusiast. Now that you know the truth and some tips on choosing incredible alternative products, you can get a new tattoo more confidently.

About Author

Jonathan Corby "Jonny" is a guy who is passionate about Tattooing and successfully running a Tattoo Studio in NY. Through my journey as a Tattoo Artist I have made unforgettable memories. This irrational poetry and sense of freedom of art on skin has given a blissfull experience to my life. Each Tattoo has a story behind it; Lets share one!