These 8 (Mostly Vegan) Natural Tattoo Aftercare Products Will Make You Forget About Aquaphor

Getting a tattoo is a super exciting time.

I remember when I first started getting tattoos. The artists simply gave me little packs of A&D ointment and told me to follow up with Aquaphor. No mention was made of natural tattoo aftercare.

By the time I started getting tattoos, I already knew that products such as these contained toxic ingredients. However, for the record, Aquaphor and its maker Eucerin do not test on animals, which is surprising but apparently true.

What I did find when searching for alternative products is that there’s definitely a market for natural tattoo aftercare products that cater to both vegan and non-vegan audiences. You have options besides using nasty, petroleum-based, animal-tested products to heal your beautiful new ink!

First—What’s Wrong with Aquaphor?

Let’s talk for a second about why you might want to avoid ingredients in brands that some tattoo artists recommend and instead go for natural tattoo aftercare products.

The main active ingredient in Aquaphor is Petrolatum. In case you didn’t know, Petrolatum is just another word for petroleum jelly, so don’t be fooled. Why should you be concerned?

Petrolatum contains possible carcinogens which can lead to cancer development, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Needless to say, this likely isn’t the best product to put on your open wound, especially when there are other natural tattoo aftercare products available.

In addition, some tattoo artists argue that using petroleum-based products can inhibit healing of the tattoo and even testify that they believe tattoos heal faster when using natural tattoo aftercare products.

8 Natural Tattoo Aftercare Products

Let’s forget about those other crappy products and talk about some authentic, natural balms that you can use so your new tattoo heals beautifully!

All the natural tattoo aftercare products listed here do not test on animals and do not contain synthetic ingredients or fragrance, which can be very toxic to our wellbeing.

1. Ohana Organics Tattoo Butter (Vegan)

So I’ve personally used this natural tattoo aftercare product for my last two tattoos and have really enjoyed (you can see my last two pieces on Instagram here and here).

This tattoo butter is vegan and uses very simple ingredients including shea butter and olive oil.

If you’ve never used shea butter before, it does have a greasy feel to it and so that’s my only problem with this product. I definitely have to be careful with what I touch when I have this on.

Ohana Organics offers half an ounce of their tattoo butter in an adorable tin for $4.99 with larger sizes available. Shop here.

2. Wild Rose Herbs Ink Spray (Vegan)

I’m actually really excited to try Wild Rose Herbs’ natural tattoo aftercare products. I just bought some of their stuff for my sister-in-law for Christmas and they seem to be high-quality products.

What I love about this ink spray is that it uses peppermint to help with the sometimes severe itching that happens while a tattoo is healing. It also has some other really cool ingredients including witch hazel and German chamomile.

This spray is also vegan!

Wild Rose Herbs sells 1 ounce of their ink spray for $9.95. Shop here.

3. Wild Rose Herbs Tattoo Balm (Both Vegan and Non-Vegan Formulas)

So Wild Rose Herbs carries both vegan and non-vegan formulas for their natural tattoo aftercare balm with the difference being the inclusion of beeswax in the non-vegan formula.

These tattoo balms also use peppermint to help with itch and lavender which tends to be gentle and soothing for healing skin.

Wild Rose Herbs sells both their vegan and non-vegan tattoo balm formulas starting at $10.49 for .85 ounces with larger sizes available. Shop here for vegan and here for the beeswax formula.

4. Brooklyn Grooming Tattoo Balm (Not Vegan)

Ok so I have again not tried Brooklyn Grooming’s natural tattoo aftercare balm; however, it contains pure organic ingredients and is not tested on animals.

With ingredients such as hemp seed oil, shea butter, and vitamin E, it’s hard to go wrong with this tattoo balm. Remember that this formula isn’t vegan friendly due to the fact that it contains beeswax.

Brooklyn Grooming sells their tattoo balm in 2-ounce sizes for $22. Shop here.

5. EiR NYC Tattoo Balm (Vegan)

If you’re looking for a vegan version of Brooklyn Grooming’s tattoo balm, check out EiR NYC’s tattoo balm. I haven’t tried this one but I love the simple, organic ingredients in this natural tattoo aftercare product, including dried rose petals and rosemary!

This balm also includes coconut oil and shea butter and is sold in half-an-ounce containers for $10. Shop here.

6. After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer (Vegan)

So I actually have tried this tattoo moisturizer from After Inked. It’s vegan, which is great, but I’m not too crazy about the formula.

The ingredients aren’t super pure (it contains preservatives), but one big pro to this natural tattoo aftercare product is that it’s not greasy, so it acts as more of a lotion than a balm.

It’s weird though because this is precisely what I didn’t like about it; it didn’t really feel like it was “protecting” my tattoo. However, if you’re looking for a non-greasy tattoo aftercare lotion, this could be your pick!

After Inked sells their tattoo moisturizer in 3-ounce sizes for $20. Shop here.

7. Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve (Not Vegan)

I have not tried this natural tattoo aftercare product but it’s another great pick. It contains a lot of fun herbs including calendula (I LOVE calendula for healing skin and also dry skin among its other benefits), comfrey, thyme, and St. John’s Wort.

Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve contains beeswax so it’s not vegan. You can find sizes starting at 1 ounce for $11.88 here.

8. Susie Q Skin Ink Salve (Not Vegan)

This one made the list even though one of their ingredients is “natural fig fragrance”. I would absolutely question the company about this ingredient before buying to find out if it is actually natural and not synthetic. (The site does say their products don’t contain any synthetic fragrances but I would double check just to be sure.)

I’m putting this natural tattoo aftercare product on here because their other ingredients are pure and they contain other products that could be good as well including tattoo wash. They also have this cool page on their website speaking out against animal testing.

Ingredients in Susie Q Skin’s Ink Salve include hemp seed oil, lemongrass, rose, arnica, and turmeric. You can find 1-ounce sizes and up starting at $19.95 here.

What Are You Waiting for?

When it comes to natural tattoo aftercare products, you absolutely have the power to choose products that aren’t toxic to your body and don’t suffocate your skin.

Your tattoo was something you dreamed of, it’s now a part of you forever, and you want it to heal perfectly. Isn’t your new ink worth investing in some aftercare balms that are good for you as well as the planet?

What do you use to heal your tattoos? I’d love to hear if you know of any more natural products (or home ingredients) that you feel make the cut for superior tattoo aftercare!

Also–if you’ve got fresh ink–check out my post about the five stages of grief and your new tattoo!

The 5 Stages of Grief and Your New Tattoo

So I just got my first “real” tattoo.

All of my other 8 tattoos have been script/roman numerals. I’m a writer, ok? I really like words. (There seems to be some type of stigma associated with getting font tattooed on your body in tattoo culture.)

One of my other tattoos.

Anyway! So for my 9th tattoo, I finally got some real art done by a fantastic artist based out of Virginia. It was my first big piece of work and I’m a little surprised by how I coped with it.

The tattoo this article is about (one of my biggest pieces!).

Getting a tattoo is a weird process—after the fact, I might add. It’s saying goodbye to the skin on that part of your body forever. You’ll never see it again. You now have to see—insert whatever it is you got tattooed on your body—every day.

What I went through was a little like the five stages of grief with my new tattoo.

Denial: It’s Not Really There!

If you’ve gotten a tattoo before, you have experienced this.

Immediately after you get your tattoo, you love it. You show everyone. It’s fresh. It looks amazing!

You wake up the next morning and you’re like, “WHAT. IS. THAT.”

It’s not that you didn’t remember that you got it done. It’s just that… well, it’s a part of you now. Like really a part of you. For the first couple hours after I got my tattoo, I was like, “Whoa. What is that thing?” By the next morning, I remembered that it was there.

But while it was healing, it didn’t seem like it was a part of my body. It almost looked like a shiny new sticker that I could just peel right off. Despite the fact that while I was washing it and could feel the lines inked into my skin, I thought, “It’s not really there! Nothing’s different!”

Anger: Why Did I Get That?

Not everyone has welcome reactions to your new ink.

Mom: “IT’S HUGE! How much did that cost? What?? Why?!!!”

Bestie: “DUDE IT’S FUCKING AMAZING YOU’RE AMAZING I LOVE IT AHHH!!!!!!!!!”

Fiancé: “Wow it looks sexy, you’re sexy, I love you.” *kiss*

Grandma: *insert slapping motion here* (Yes, she literally slapped my tattoo three days after I got it. I have not yet forgiven her.)

Regardless of people’s reactions (or on account of people’s reactions, whatever), you start to feel mad. Why did I get that? You think. You also see your credit card statement of how much it cost and, let’s face it, wake up the next morning feeling like shit because that part of your body is swollen and sore and red and you can’t wear clothes that cover it and you feel like you just hate everything.

Bargaining: If Only I Could Change This…

I saw a great YouTube video about tattoo regret and it really resonated with me, not necessarily because I have any tattoos I regret per se, but because she makes a great point.

You will always wonder:

  • What if I got it smaller/bigger?
  • What if I got it in color/black and grey?
  • What if I went to a different artist/shop?
  • What if I just had them change this little part of it?
  • What if I had gotten something different?
  • What if I didn’t get anything at all???

You bargain. You wonder what could have been changed. You think about changing it in the future. In my experience, the only reason I have wondered these things is because I am still grappling with my new tattoo.

I’m still processing it.

I don’t know what to think about it.

And, it’s not perfect.

Because nothing is ever perfect no matter how much we want it to be. Does my tattoo show imperfection? Of course. But, like me, it’s still beautiful.

Depression: I’ll Never Have Naked Skin Again

At some point, you start to feel depressed that you have this tattoo. You spent a bunch of money, spent hours in pain, and are now spending weeks taking care of it, resentfully avoiding the bathtub and wondering when you’ll ever feel normal again.

Me getting my tattoo done. That’s my leg ahhh.

I was freezing during this appointment! Next time remember to bring a sweater or a blanket, girl.

And then you realize that you’ll never BE normal again. Because you have this tattoo and you don’t know how to handle it. You know you’ll never see the skin on the other side of that tattoo again. What are you going to do??

You’re going to deal with it and you’re going to be just fine. Your skin is ruined, yes. But now you have this beautiful, imperfect tattoo as part of you, another mark of your journey here that you’ll hopefully grow to love and accept.

Acceptance: I Actually Like It!

Finally, once your tattoo heals a little more and it stops looking like a giant sticker, once your mom has stopped commenting on it and you can stop sleeping in weird positions to avoid rubbing it, you begin to accept and love your tattoo.

It’ll take at least a week or two, but you’ll realize that this tattoo is what you wanted and that it looks beautiful. It’s not perfect, but it’s you.

Side note: if you really hate your new tattoo or it has a major flaw you just can’t get over, you might not ever get to this stage, and instead you can seek out a tattoo artist who is experienced with cover-ups and get it taken care of. Laser removal is also an option, but I’ve heard it’s more costly and painful!

Do You Love Your Tattoo Yet?

It’s taken me a little while, but I love my new tattoo.

I’m grateful to the artist and his patience with my first big piece (thank you @tokatattoos), I’m grateful to have a beautifully designed tattoo, and I’m grateful it didn’t get infected while it was healing.

I’m also grateful that my rabbits didn’t scratch it, although Fiver did bite my leg ridiculously close to it, adorable little bastard. He’s literally never bitten me before and he chooses to bite my leg the day after I get a giant tattoo. I think it’s because the tattoo butter I used had lavender in it? Rabbits love herbs!

Don’t let this evil little thing fool you. I love him, though.

Give your tattoo some time, show it some love, and let your body heal. You’ll like your tattoo soon!

What I Wish I Knew about Oral Piercings Before I Got Them

I have some experience with oral piercings.

I got my tongue pierced ten days before my nineteenth birthday with a tall, biracial man I was deeply in love with. I just didn’t know it at the time.

Of course, it hurt. To my surprise, it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. I held his hand as the needle went through, and when the barbell was securely fastened inside, the sharp pains that came whenever I moved my tongue were unexpected.

We went back to his house late that night and ate peanut butter on bread. I couldn’t believe the pain! Then again why would anyone in their right mind try to eat peanut butter hours after they got their tongue pierced?

Did I mention he was a whimsical, childish, ADHD-afflicted unicorn? Or something like that.

I had my tongue pierced for about five years before taking it out due to a dental problem. You’ll hear about that in a minute.

About a month before my twenty-third birthday, I went to Ocean City with a friend of mine. She wanted to get her tongue pierced but was really scared. Long story short, we had a little bit too much to drink with her sister. Then we went on the boardwalk to get piercings.

I’d always wanted my lip pierced but never gotten it done. That fall would be my senior year of college at Penn State and I knew I’d have to get a “real job” after that (we see how that turned out, right?) and probably wouldn’t be able to get my lip pierced. It was now or never!

So I forgot about my internship in Baltimore for all of twenty minutes while I got a needle shoved through my lip. I was surprised how much that one hurt.

I still have my lip pierced.

So what do I wish I knew about oral piercings before I got them? What I know now about oral piercings may surprise you.

Oral Piercings Will Cause Problems with Your Teeth

Okay, yeah, I definitely heard this one but didn’t believe it. These were the notions about oral piercings of adults who didn’t want me to be the badass that I really was.

I took my tongue ring out because, after years of having it, my tooth sensitivity was getting worse. I later realized that the barbell had been rubbing along the inner edge of my bottom teeth, slowly wearing the enamel away and creating some not-so-fun tooth sensitivity.

Although things were pretty safe with my tongue ring in, I also occasionally knocked it against my teeth (this happened maybe about five times in all the years I had it in). I’m honestly not sure if I chipped any of my teeth but it’s definitely possible.

In regards to my lip piercing, it slowly rubbed on my lower right canine. I now have gum recession on that tooth. You can’t see it from the outside but there’s a significant amount of gum tissue missing compared to the other side.

When I noticed this, I freaked out a little and took my lip ring out after having it for over four years. So yeah—oral piercings can and will cause gum recession and tooth sensitivity, both signs of gum disease!

The Hole Will Not Go Away

When I took my lip ring out, the hole didn’t heal up. I had that sucker out for about eight months and the hole was still there, very visible from the outside of my face.

I assumed that the hole would heal up given time. But then I started Googling.

Turns out, when they pierce your lip, they core away a tiny piece of your skin that—you guessed it—won’t grow back. So while there’s not an actual “hole” there per se, it looks just like a hole and it’s definitely noticeable.

Hmm… did not think about that one before I got my lip pierced.

So then I found myself months before my wedding with a hole in my lip that I found out could only be corrected with plastic surgery, which would ultimately leave scars. Either way, I was stuck with this oral piercing whether or not the stud was in.

The only logical thing to do was to buy a pack of piercing needles on Amazon and re-pierce that thing. (Side note: I do not recommend doing this although my experience went fine.)

So now my lip stud is back in and I’ll probably be stuck with it forever unless I want a hole in my face. Fortunately, the hole from your tongue ring will heal up rather quickly, but there will always be a scar there too. Oral piercings cause scars and sometimes permanent holes!

Professional People Cared Far Less about Oral Piercings Than I Thought

Unless you’re going into the military, it’s unlikely that what kind of job you get will determine whether or not you can have an oral piercing.

My super cool neighbor saw my tongue ring not long after I got it and said, “You’ll want to take that out when you go for a job interview.”

I got hired at my internship in Baltimore, my amazing job at a homeless shelter in DC, and yes, I made my own freelance writing job all with piercings in my face.

Of course, if you’re going for a high-level job, you might want to think about that before getting oral piercings. For me, I love piercings and couldn’t imagine being at a job that wouldn’t let me have them. Back when I was in college I didn’t know that. I thought I’d have to sacrifice my soul to be anything worthwhile to the world.

So the bottom line is: if you want that oral piercing, get it. No one who actually cares about you will judge you. 

I adored my oral piercings. Although I’m unlikely to get my tongue pierced again, I’ll probably have this lip stud in for a long time. I loved my oral piercings much more than I thought I would. I’m sad that they caused problems with my teeth and wish that I took that consideration a little more seriously before I went under the needle. I also wish I knew that when I committed to the lip piercing, that I’d be committing to it for life. Like a tattoo!

But don’t get me started on those 🙂

What to Consider When Getting a Tattoo

What to consider when getting a tattoo is a personal question and not one to be taken lightly.

As someone with six tattoos, I speak from experience. While I may not be a full-body girl, I know a thing or two about advising someone whether or not they should get a tattoo and what to consider when getting a tattoo.

So what to consider when getting a tattoo? There are several things to take into account here:

Black and White or Color?

What to consider when getting a tattoo starts with considering whether or not you’d like it to be in black and white or color.

Consider that color will fade over time (as will the black, but not as much) and you’ll need to try and coordinate it with everything you wear for the rest of your life. Unless you get it somewhere people won’t see.

I don’t have any color tattoos (yet); they’re all in black. It’s easy to coordinate and simple when thinking about what to consider when getting a tattoo.

Design Trends

This is a big one to be wary about when it comes to what to consider when getting a tattoo. What’s trendy today will not be trendy forever—and your tattoo is forever!

So just because you’re obsessed with roman numerals or that Florence + the Machine song doesn’t mean you can get tattoos of them.

What you love now will change in the future. Remember when stars were super popular? A tattoo should be timeless—not trendy!

Location on Your Body

This is one of the bigger questions about what to consider when getting a tattoo. Remember that you can’t move it once it’s there.

You can add to it or have it removed—but it’s pretty much stuck there.

Consider your job. Will your boss love your new forearm tattoo? Maybe you have a really casual place of work, and that’s awesome. But if you don’t, consider getting one on your back, torso, upper leg, or inner arm. Something you can easily hide should the occasion call for it.

Also, remember that certain locations hurt more than others—your back will be a killer! Places like arm and leg aren’t bad. Ankle kills. Ribcage kills. Keep that in mind when it comes to what to consider when getting a tattoo!

Your Design or the Artist’s?

If you want something crazy for a tattoo, you’ll need to decide whether or not you’d like to design it yourself or work with the tattoo artist to design it.

I’ve designed all my tattoos myself so that I can control exactly what goes on my body. However, tattoo artists are called artists for a reason. If your design is getting complicated, talk with them about it when thinking about what to consider when getting a tattoo.

They’re usually pretty cool people and will tell you what they think looks good and what doesn’t. Finding a tattoo artist that you really mesh with is awesome!

Which Shop?

So yeah, you need to go to a good place. This is probably the most important thing with getting your tattoo so you don’t get HIV. DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Call shops. Visit them. Talk to the artists. A shop should be clean, friendly, and get good reviews. Even better if you know someone who’s been there and gotten some great ink done. Can’t beat an in-person review!

Which Ink?

All inks are not created equal, so think about this when thinking about what to consider when getting a tattoo.

SOME TATTOO INKS ARE NOT VEGAN AS WELL AS TEST ON ANIMALS. Yes, it’s true.

Call the shop and ask which inks their artists use. Again, do your research. Personally, I don’t really want crushed up animal bones being inked into my skin. Nor do I want tattoo inks that have been tested on puppies.

Timeline

Spontaneous tattoos can be a lot of fun. However, I do encourage you to THINK about what you want, where you want it, etc. for several months at least before actually getting the tattoo.

Choose your design, the location, etc., then just think about it. Remember, this thing won’t go away. You’ll have to see it every single day and so will your significant other. Make sure it’s something that again, is timeless, not trendy, and that you love.

IT Hurts

Getting a tattoo hurts. A LOT. If you don’t handle pain well, this probably isn’t for you.

I’ve gotten tattoos unwillingly crying because they’ve hurt so much. So think about this when thinking about what to consider when getting a tattoo.

It’s not like a piercing where they shove the needle through your ear (or lip or face or whatever else) and it’s over. This needle KEEPS jabbing you. Sometimes for hours, depending on how big your tattoo is.

Size

This is also really important! If you’re unsure about what size you can get, your tattoo artist can help you choose the size that’s best for the location on your body, your size, your design, etc.

While there are some crook tattoo artists out there, remember that most artists are cool people and they’re not trying to get your money—they just want you to be happy with what they deliver. Nothing sucks like an unhappy customer.

The main thing to think about here is to not get it too big—I feel like you’d rather have a too-small tattoo than a too-big one. This is an important thing to think about when it comes to what to consider when getting a tattoo!

That’s about it for what to consider when getting a tattoo. Just remember that this thing is for life, so you should spend time thinking about it, and don’t get something trendy. Choose the best location and size for you, and it’s super important to get a clean and reputable shop/artist to do the work.

Get inked!