The Best Cream For Tattoos; Soothe And Moisturize!

Why Use The Best Tattoo Care Creams? 

Next to cleaning, applying creams and salves are the most important thing you will do in your tattoo aftercare.  Letting a new tattoo dry out can be painful and unpleasant, going as far as potentially ruining the art.  On the other hand, over-using poor quality tattoo care cream can result in suffocating the tattoo, creating a breeding ground for bacteria, and retarding the healing process.  We'll highlight the best picks in tattoo care cream, and how to best use them.  

Ointment vs Cream vs Lotion?

What are the differences? These products may all seem like they are similar, but knowing which type of moisturizer to use when can actually have a big impact on how well your tattoo heals. Let's break it down for you:

  • ​An ointment is about 80% oil and 20% water. For tattoos, ointment is usually recommended for the first 2-3 days of healing, as it has a higher percentage of oil in the formula. This makes the ointment more water-resistant, and it will be thicker and stickier than the other products.​
  • A cream is in between an ointment and a lotion. Topical cream is closer to 50% oil 50% water. Creams are normally best if you’re dealing with drier skin, as they are typically a thicker consistency. Salves will often fall under the cream category as well.
  • A lotion is considered anything with an oil-to-water percentage lower than 60/40. Most lotions are lighter, milder products intended for daily hydration, rather than intensive damage or dryness repair.

When To Use Tattoo Cream instead of Ointment 

Ointments are usually the go-to recommendation for tattoo aftercare, however some top-of-the-line tattoo creams can even be used in place of common ointments such as Aquaphor, for use during the first few days of healing and beyond.  Another benefit of the creams listed below is that you can actually start using them daily, long before getting a tattoo, to prepare the skin in advance to make it supple and clear for the tattoo ink.

Typically, you will need to use tattoo ointment or healing cream for at least the first 3-5 days, but it should be applied until scabbing is gone.  Afterward, you may switch to using lotion, but sticking with tattoo care cream may often be the preferred choice especially if you have dry skin.

best tattoo cream

The Best Tattoo Aftercare Creams:

Many people enjoy using cream for tattoo aftercare more than lotion for several reasons.  Not only do these richer salves moisturize your skin, they also encourage healing of damaged skin.  When applied, these tattoo creams are absorbed directly into the skin providing maximum protection of both your skin and tattoos.  Since taking care of your tattoo is a lifelong commitment, it's a good idea to keep cream or salve on hand at all times.

We want nothing but the best for our new tattoos! So just for you, Ink Vivo has has created a list here with the pros and cons (but mostly pros) of five of the best rated tattoo aftercare creams that will help keep our ink vibrant and healthy.

1. H2Ocean Ocean Care Skin Moisturizing Cream

H2Ocean is one of the most respected and trusted tattoo care brands in the market today, and this product preserves that great reputation. Having all the features a good tattoo moisturizing cream should have (fragrance-free, water-based, and moisturizing properties), this is hands down the best cream for tattoo care.


  • ​Created by a company enthusiastic about tattoos
  • Fragrance-free
  • Water-based, no petroleum, decreasing risk of irritation
  • Moisturizes by revitalizing, nourishing, and protecting your tattoo 


  • ​May cause rash or irritation for extremely sensitive skin

This top-rated cream beats generic lotion by including several trace minerals to provide strong moisturizing power, and can be used lifelong to help your tattoo maintain a healthy and vibrant look. H2Ocean is a highly recommended brand and product for those of you looking for a good, all-around tattoo care cream.

Another one of the most popular tattoo aftercare moisturizers, Tattoo Goo has been trusted by many for protecting their tattoo and healing their skin quickly. Tattoo Goo prides itself on being all natural, greatly reducing the risk of irritation. (Considered more of a salve, it still falls under the cream category due to its consistency and application).


  • Created by tattoo professionals
  • All-natural ingredients improve and speed up healing time
  • Absorbs well into skin, does not suffocate new tattoos
  • Does not contain petroleum or other irritating ingredients


  • Sensitive skin may experience irritation
  • Not fragrance-free, however the aromas are from natural ingredients

Not only does Tattoo Goo help heal and protect your fresh ink, it also enhances the colors of both new and old tattoos.  This is a great feature, further cementing itself on this list.  As one of the most natural and light-weight salves you can find, you can't go wrong with Tattoo Goo.

3. Hustle Butter Deluxe

The only product here that is not technically a cream or salve, Hustle Butter Deluxe puts a different spin on tattoo aftercare ointment.  Not only does it heal and moisturize tattoos during the aftercare process, it can also be used prior to receiving your ink. Hustle Butter prepares your skin for the tattoo, making life easier on both you and your artist.


  • Created by tattoo artists and enthusiasts
  • Natural ingredients like coconut oil reduce risk of irritation and infection
  • Can be used prior to the inking process
  • Does not include petroleum or other irritating ingredients


  • Thicker consistency may be trickier to spread
  • Has a fragrance, however only resulting from natural aromas

This is a top-of-the-line type of tattoo aftercare product. The option to use it before the inking process can prepare the skin and significantly reduce the pain, making aftercare easier.  Hustle Butter is available in 1oz or 5oz sizes, definitely worth getting the bigger size, you will love this stuff.

From a small family business, Ora’s Tattoo Salve certainly lives up to its namesake. A truly amazing salve, it is all natural, healing tattoos quicker than many other ointments and is able to be used for much more than your tattoos. Infused with herbs, grape seed and tea tree oils, it does not contain any chemical preservatives or fragrances.


  • Made by a small family business that prides itself on quality and ethics
  • All-natural ingredients and organic ingredients
  • Free of petroleum or any harmful ingredients


  • Has a slight fragrance, albeit from natural essential oils (not really a con) 

Not only does Ora’s salve prevent your tattoo from drying out, it is also crafted and designed to naturally prevent infection, making it an all-around super ointment.  I highly recommend this Herbal Tattoo Salve to anyone in need of protecting their tattoo and a salve that will protect their skin for many years to come.

The last, but certainly not the least on this list, is Motherlove’s Herbal Salve. A handcrafted and USDA certified organic salve, Motherlove provides an effective, wonderful and original salve. (For a full list of ingredients, view on Amazon)


  • USDA certified organic all natural ingredients
  • Comfortable consistency that is effectively absorbed into the skin
  • No petroleum or other synthetic ingredients that cause irritation
  • Handcrafted in small batches, Made in the USA


  • May cause a slight reaction in those with very sensitive skin

Motherlove’s Herbal Salve prides itself in something that all new tattoo bearers can cheer for; it aids the ink to fully penetrate the skin, preventing fading.  As an effective and trusted product for over 20 years, Motherlove is a highly recommended brand.

These products listed above are really great choices for tattoo care.  Keep in mind that your body is unique and not all bodies heal the same, so what works great for one person may work differently for another.  In my opinion however, you can't go wrong with any one of these top 5 choices.  Remember that these creams and salves can be used for life, generally for tattoo application, but also for other skin moisturizing and healing purposes.  Most importantly, make sure you choose what is best for your skin, and consult your tattoo artist if you have any concerns.

Product images sourced from Amazon.


Leave a Comment: