So, you just got a new tattoo, and you just can’t wait to show it off? Well, it might take you some time to do that, because now you have to take care of your tattoo and let it heal properly. The aftercare routine can be a bit complicated, especially if you’ve never dealt with it before.
However, your tattooist should provide you with the necessary information and advice, as well as recommendations on which products you should use during the healing process.
But, what if you’re recommended to put Vaseline on a new tattoo? Can you do that?
In the following paragraphs, we’ll take a close look at Vaseline as a product and the effects it has on tattooed skin. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
What Is Vaseline?
Vaseline is a product made from 100% petroleum jelly. The product is commonly used as a moisturizer for dry, sensitive, or damaged skin. Petroleum jelly has been widely used since 1872 for irritated skin, and it has been deemed a revolutionary product, which has later been branded as Vaseline.
Vaseline, or petroleum jelly, is a mixture of waxes and mineral oil that are semi-solid and can be melted. Petroleum jelly has been discovered when a man known as Robert Chesebrough notices oil workers using oil jelly to heal their work-related wounds and burns. Chesebrough discovered that this jelly is effective in skin protection and the creation of a water-protective barrier for the skin.
Because of its properties, many refer to Vaseline as ‘wonder jelly’, and even recommend it being used for tattoo aftercare and tattoo healing. Now, since Vaseline is extremely affordable and accessible, many use it for such purposes and generally have it as a household staple.
Why Is Vaseline Used?
Generally, Vaseline or 100% petroleum jelly products are used because;
- They’re believed to heal skin irritation, cuts, and burns – studies have shown that Vaseline and petroleum-based products can be useful for post-surgical skin healing, prevention of skin infections, and atopic dermatitis maintenance therapy. However, such use is only limited to surface skin damage and a controlled environment, where the application is done by a medical professional.
- They’re believed to moisturize the face and remove makeup – petroleum jelly has shown effective in makeup removal and face moisturizing. Oil is generally an effective makeup removal, and Vaseline has shown safe for eye makeup removal as well. Vaseline is also recommended to be used during the colder month for skin moisturizing and prevention of skin drying out.
- They’re believed to be effective lubrication – Vaseline can be effective in providing lubrication for a stuck object. Many use petroleum jelly to remove a ring stuck on a finger, for example. It can be also useful around the house, for hinges, squeaky doors, etc.
We do have to emphasize that these uses of Vaseline, apart from the post-surgical skin repair, are not scientifically proven or studied. The effects are generally anecdotal and can be adverse in some cases. So, before you decide to use Vaseline on your face or skin, especially if it’s irritating and damaged, make sure to talk to a medical professional.
Is Vaseline Safe?
Vaseline is generally considered safe for external use. In case of internal use, it can have adverse and toxic effects. Some of the side-effects of Vaseline use include;
- Allergies, serious eye irritation, and skin reaction
- Pore clogging, acne, and breakout developing
- Infection in case Vaseline is used for intercourse lubrication, especially vaginally
In the following paragraphs, we’ll also discuss the danger of Vaseline use in the case of tattoo aftercare.
So, Can You put Vaseline on a New Tattoo?
As we’ve seen, petroleum jelly or Vaseline seems great in cases of skin healing, dry skin, prevention of skin damage. But, is it safe to put it onto freshly tattooed skin?
Here’s why you should NOT put Vaseline on a new tattoo, despite its ‘healing’ properties;
Vaseline Doesn’t Allow Skin to Breathe
Studies have shown that 100% petroleum jelly can the ability to completely clog skin pores because of its occlusive agents. Even the thinnest layer of Vaseline can prevent the skin from breathing, which in turn can result in acne, breakout, and prolonged wound healing.
Because of this, it is not recommended to use Vaseline on a tattoed skin. Such skin is an open wound that requires air to dry out and form new skin layers. Oxygen is essential for wound healing, and by placing Vaseline onto the tattoo, you’re not only preventing it from healing but also depriving it of oxygen and therefore prolonging the aftercare process.
Vaseline Can Mess Up The Ink
What does it mean to have a new tattoo? Well, it means that your skin is damaged, irritated and that the tattoo hasn’t settled yet in your skin. This, furthermore, indicated the fact that the ink is susceptible to damage as well because the skin hasn’t healed just yet.
In the first few days after the tattoo, your skin will be tender and act as a fresh wound. So, imagine putting Vaseline onto a fresh wound and ink that hasn’t settled. Of course, the Vaseline will interact with the ink and possibly draw it out of the dermis.
And, no one wants this to happen.
So, what we recommend is you keep your hands away from the tattoo for the first 24 to 48 hours. During this time, your tattoo will ooze plasma, blood, and excess ink. Once you remove the plastic cover of the tattoo, it will start to dry out, and of course, start to heal. And, you’ll see you don’t even need Vaseline.
Vaseline Can Prolong Healing and Cause Infections
As we mentioned, placing Vaseline onto a new tattoo can clog it and prevent the skin from breaking. Now, this can be a dangerous game to play for many reasons;
- Vaseline blocks the oxygen from entering the tattooed skin
- Lack of oxygen means the skin is not healing properly or at all
- A prolonged healing process can attract bacteria and germs into the skin
- The germs and bacteria can become trapped in the skin and cause a serious infection
- The infection can completely mess up the tattoo and require immediate medical attention
As we can see, the process of putting on Vaseline to getting the tattoo infected is pretty quick and simple. So, you should avoid putting Vaseline on a new tattoo at all costs. This also applies to other petroleum-based products, even if they’re intended for tattoo aftercare use. When you’re buying lotions and creams for your tattoo, always make sure to read the ingredient list and check whether they contain petroleum jelly.
When Can You Use Vaseline on a Tattoo?
There are some instances where it is acceptable to use Vasile on a tattoo. Here are some cases where Vaseline use is safe;
During the Shower
When dealing with a brand new tattoo, you can’t just simply expose it to water. Moisture can prevent skin drying and prolong the healing process. So, we should avoid that. But, how will you shower as your tattoo is healing?
The answer is; you will use Vaseline to protect the tattoo.
To avoid the tattoo getting all messed up, you can do the following;
- Apply the thinnest layer of Vaseline across the tattooed area before taking the shower
- Avoid showering the tattoed are directly
- Once you’re done with the shower, remove the Vaseline from the tattooed area carefully; you can use a wet wipe or wash the area with some lukewarm water and anti-bacterial soap
- Make sure to tap dry the tattooed are using a paper towel
- Let everything continue drying on its own
- Re-wrap the tattoo with tin foil if necessary
During the Healing Process (If the Skin Gets Too Dry)
Commonly, during the tattoo healing process, the skin can get pretty dry, scaly, and itchy. To avoid the discomfort and resist the temptation of scratching the tattoo, we recommend you apply a thin layer of Vaseline around the tattooed area. Do not apply the Vaseline onto the tattoo directly!
Once The Tattoo Is Completely Healed
It is perfectly fine to use Vaseline and petroleum-based products on a fully healed tattoo. The Vaseline won’t mess up the ink or the skin since the tattoo is no longer an ‘open wound’. Your tattoo should be fully healed in a month or two, depending on the size, location, and execution of the tattoo. Another important factor in the duration of the healing process is the aftercare routine; so, the better you take care of your tattoo, the faster it will heal.
The prevent acne and breakout, we still recommend you only use thin Vaseline layers on the tattoed skin or elsewhere.
Which Products Should You Use?
First of all, we have to mention the following;
You should not apply anything onto a new tattoo for the first 24 to 48 hours. Your tattoo needs to start healing on its own first before you can apply moisturizers and similar products!
Now, if you’re looking for products as an alternative to Vaseline, we have a few effective and high-quality recommendations;
- Bepanthen Diaper Care Ointment – even though it is intended for baby skincare, this ointment is one of the best on the market for tattoo aftercare. The Bepanthen ointment is even recommended by experts in the tattoo community. It has a gentle formulation that promotes the skin’s natural healing properties. Make sure to use this ointment twice a day, after you wash the tattoo, to restore hydration and moisture.
- LaRoche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 – this is a soothing, multi-purpose balm used for dry skin irritations. The balm provides an incredibly soothing effect, which minimizes the itching sensation and promotes natural skin healing. The balm should be applied twice daily on a healing tattoo after it’s been washed and dried thoroughly. The balm is suitable for sensitive, dry, irritated, and itchy skin.
- Sebamed Extreme Dry Skin Repair Lotion – this lotion has a high Urea concentration, which means it repairs skin immediately. It also relieves itching, scaling, and skin tightness completely. The lotion is known and loved for its water retention effects, which ensures the skin stays moisturized and hydrated. During the tattoo healing process, you will want to have such a lotion by your side. It will minimize dryness, flaking, and itching almost instantly.
As you could see, by using Vaseline on a new tattoo, you can do more harm than good. Even if your tattoo artist suggests you use Vaseline to moisturize the tattoo, do not listen to them. Vaseline will clog your pores, prevent tattoo healing, and might even mess up the ink itself. That would be unfortunate, considering the pain you just went through to get the tattoo. Not to mention the money you’ve spent as well.
Just because something is popular, doesn’t mean it’s good. This especially applies to Vaseline. So, stay away from it and focus on using lighter, less-greasy, and petroleum-free product alternatives.