I've Had Tattoos Since I Was 17—See the Surprising Aftercare Products I Swear By

I’ve been getting tattoos since I was 17. (Don’t tell my mama.) Those early years were filled with a lot of questionable, ahem, choices for my inked skin. Sure, I may have a silly robot on my wrist that an ex-boyfriend drew and a leopard-print star that I got as a twin tat with another ex-boyfriend, but I regret nothing, especially when technologically advanced laser removal now exists. I’ve also learned a lot when it comes to tattoo aftercare and have made some pretty interesting discoveries.

In the early days of my teenage tattoos, A+D Original Diaper Rash Ointment ($4)—yes, really—was recommended to me to use post-inking. This makes sense, as it forms a protective barrier on the skin and contains healing ingredients like vitamins A and D. It also seemed like a better choice than other old-school suggestions, like Neosporin and Vaseline, which some believe can make the tattoo fade. After the next couple of tattoos, I began getting recommended Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($13), which is still a standard recommendation from tattoo artists to this day. However, it does contain petrolatum and mineral oil, which, again, is believed by some to pull out the ink. (It also contains lanolin, which is made from sheep’s wool, so it’s not vegan for anyone who avoids animal products.)

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