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Rethinking Tattoo Aftercare

Alexis Krauss

I had the privilege of being tattooed by Katie Shocrylas a few months back. Not only do I love my tattoo but I LOVE her. She's one of the kindest, most down to earth people I've met and she really cares about her clients and their health. As a result she's done extensive research on the best ways to quickly, safely and effectively heal tattoos. Here at Beauty Lies Truth we aren't crazy about petroleum based lotions and neither is Katie. Turns out that unlike what most tattoo shops would have you believe you don't need to heal your tattoo with Lubriderm or Aquaphor. Some of my easiest and most beautiful heals have been the result of slathering my skin with plant based oils and other natural moisturizers. Lucky for us Katie has broken down how to best heal your freshly tattooed skin using only #TRUTHBEAUTY approved products. We'd love to hear how these products work for you so make sure you tag us in your posts! Xoxo Alexis

Katie doing her thing!

Katie doing her thing!

1. What are your favorite alternative healing balms?

When it comes to tattoo aftercare I try to keep things as simple and natural as possible. I’ve experimented with many different products since I started getting tattooed years ago, and although I’m lucky to have skin that tends to heal quickly and easily, I definitely notice that using natural products yields a much smoother healing process.

When choosing an aftercare product it is important to remember that everyone's skin is different; something that works well for one skin type may not be as effective for another. 

Freshly-tattooed skin needs to be able to breathe and heal the way it's naturally meant to, and any product applied to a new tattoo should simply contribute to the body’s own regeneration process. In general, conventional products tend to contain many chemically-derived ingredients that can clog pores and irritate the skin; I always look for organic, non-gmo, sustainable products that aren’t tested on animals and contain the fewest number of ingredients. Below are some of my favourites:

Anchor & Bliss Bare Bones oil moisturizer

Bare Bones.jpg

Ingredients: Grape seed oil, safflower oil, canola oil, apricot kernel oil, inca omega oil, vitamin E

Vegan and cruelty free, this one is made by a great little Australian skincare company. They also have two other oil moisturizers available (I’ve only tried the unscented version). My favourite all-around tattoo aftercare product. I love this stuff, not only for healing a tattoo, but as an everyday body moisturizer. Feels light on the skin (not too greasy at all) and moisturizes exceptionally well. A little goes a long way!

Escents Skin Repair Moisturizing Butter

escentsskinrepairbutter.jpg

Ingredients: Jojoba oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, cocoa butter, beeswax, shea butter, blend of 100% pure essential oils (with geranium, helichrysum & tea tree), vitamin E, carrot oil   

This is my go-to product for troublesome spots that sometimes develop when healing a tattoo (especially near joints/areas that move around a lot and tend to be trickier to heal). Really intensive moisturizer - a little bit greasy, so I use it very sparingly, but it really speeds up the healing process and helps reduce scarring on any scabby spots. Great for any stubborn areas that still have a “milky” appearance after a couple of weeks.

Organic Manuka Honey Skin Cream

Ingredients: Olive oil, beeswax, grapeseed oil, manuka honey, manuka oil extract, filtered water

Organic and cruelty free, this no-frills cream is super smooth and moisturizes really well. Available at Whole Foods in Canada (there are other products with similar ingredients on the market, I just happen to use this one).

Alaffia Shea Butter Blissful Baby Balm

Ingredients: Shea butter, virgin coconut oil, sweet almond oil, beeswax, calendula

Fair trade and formulated for sensitive skin, this balm does a great job of moisturizing and protecting a fresh tattoo. Slightly more of an intensive moisturizer, this one might work best on dry skin. A little greasy when first applied, but soaks in quickly.

Redemption Organic Tattoo Lubricant & Aftercare

Ingredients: Organic castor oil, organic sunflower oil, organic beeswax, organic cocoa butter, organic coconut oil, organic vegetable glycerin, organic arrowroot powder, organic calendula oil, organic arnica, organic chamomile extract, organic rosemary extract, mixed tocopherols

I use this while I tattoo, and it also doubles as a great aftercare product. Developed specifically for tattooing, the consistency is smooth and easy to apply. A little difficult to get in Canada though, and only available through tattoo supply companies, so you might need to ask your artist.

2. Have you found some all natural ingredients are more conducive to healing than others? For example, Shea Butter, coconut oil, honey, beeswax, certain plant based essential oils, etc.

Yes! Grape seed oil makes an excellent moisturizer for healing a fresh tattoo since it is light, gentle, and easily absorbed. It contains essential fatty acids that aid in skin repair, helps to balance the skin, and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Shea butter also moisturizes really well while allowing the skin to breathe. Calendula is used as an herbal remedy to heal wounds so it’s great for tricky heals, as it soothes the skin and helps reduce inflammation (it’s available in higher concentrations as a salve). I’m a big supporter of the antibacterial properties found in Manuka honey and tea tree oil for healing tattoos as well.

3. Have you noticed a difference in the healing process as a result of using natural moisturizers vs. conventional petrolatum/mineral oil based lotions?

My tattoos have healed considerably easier and quicker since switching from conventional moisturizers to natural products. Petrolatum/mineral oil based lotions and ointments smother the skin and introduce a variety of unnecessary and unhealthy chemicals to the body through what is essentially an open wound - this can lead to irritation of the fresh tattoo, which can cause scabbing and ink loss. This is not to say that conventional moisturizers don’t work - but based on research, science, and experience, I personally stand behind the natural healing route 100%.

4. Do you think tattoo artists will ever stop using Vaseline while tattooing?  Have you ever tried Waxelene?

Vaseline is such a traditional part of tattooing that I don’t think it will disappear from the industry any time soon. However, many artists have switched to natural alternatives, and I think the movement to do so is growing - not only for the health benefits for clients, but also for reasons pertaining to sustainability and ecological impact. 

I use a mixture of Waxelene and Redemption while tattooing - personally, I find these products to be more effective and easier to work with than Vaseline.

-Katie