Tried & True Tattoo Aftercare

The original and still the best.

Free U.S. Shipping Over $30

Fast, free delivery to your door.

Gentle On Skin & Soul

Certified Vegan & Cruelty-Free

chevron_left chevron_right

The Debate on Petroleum on Tattoos: Navigating Through Process and Aftercare

Written by: SecondSkinTAC



Time to read 5 min

In this article we explore a hotly debated subject: the use of petroleum-based products in tattooing. Delve into the science behind using traditional petroleum-based products like Vaseline for tattooing and aftercare. And learn about potentially more effective alternatives for enhancing the entire tattooing experience.

In the intricate world of tattoo artistry, each stage, from the tattoo process to healing, plays a crucial role in ensuring the vibrancy and longevity of a tattoo. A longstanding debate in this realm revolves around the use of petroleum-based products. While we believe these products can have their place in the tattooing process, emerging studies suggest that their role is questionable, especially when potentially superior alternatives exist. In our experience, we’ve come to believe that moving away from petroleum-based products is a wise choice. There are a lot of mixed opinions on this subject, and we’re going to elaborate on why we feel the way we do.

Petroleum in the Tattoo Process

Traditionally, petroleum-based products like Vaseline, A&D Ointment and Aquaphor have been staples in the tattoo industry. During the tattooing process, they serve various purposes:

1. Skin Preparation: They provide a slick surface, making it easier for the tattoo needle to glide over the skin.
2. Blood & Ink Management: They help manage excess ink and blood, keeping the area clear for the artist to see their work.

While these benefits are notable, it's important to understand that the tattoo process differs significantly from aftercare. The skin's needs while being tattooed are not the same as when it's healing.

The Drawbacks of Petroleum on Tattoos

It's crucial to examine the composition of all products put on an open wound on the skin, as it’s likely that whatever you’re putting on a fresh tattoo is going to be absorbed into the body. This is problematic with many ingredients and chemicals, but particularly with petroleum on tattoos. The concerns with petroleum-based products, especially in a process that involves skin penetration, include:

1. Toxicity: Petroleum jelly is contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which have raised a lot of concern due to their carcinogenic effects.
2. Healing Hindrance: Vaseline creates an overly occlusive layer on the skin, hindering the necessary breathability for optimal healing. It traps excess moisture under the skin, which can lead to scabbing, saturation loss, and pimples.
3. Skin Reactions: Many individuals develop reactions to petroleum-based products, due primarily to either allergies or the harsh nature of petroleum, leading to skin irritation or exacerbating existing skin conditions

The Shift in Aftercare: Moving Away from Petroleum on Tattoos

The Healing Phase

Post-tattoo care enters the realm of wound healing, where the skin's needs are entirely different. This is really where petroleum-based products like Aquaphor and A&D Ointment lose any appeal they may have had in the tattoo process.

Emerging Research on Petroleum and Wound Healing

New research indicates that petroleum-based products may not be as great an option for wound healing as once thought. Some research has indicated that these products create too thick of a barrier on the skin. This barrier then traps heat and potentially bacteria, hindering the skin's ability to breathe and recover efficiently.

Moreover, such an environment can disrupt the delicate balance needed for the wound healing process, potentially leading to exacerbated inflammation and delayed recovery.

Beyond the immediate risks of infection and irritation, the long-term implications of using petroleum on tattoos have also raised significant health concerns, particularly regarding its carcinogenic properties. 

Petroleum products have been shown to be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a group of chemicals that occur naturally in coal, crude oil, and gasoline - which have been classified as carcinogenic to humans. 

While the amount of PAHs in petroleum-based products is typically low, their application on open wounds poses a risk as these compounds can be more easily absorbed into the bloodstream. This absorption can lead to an accumulation of toxic substances in the body, raising concerns about long-term health risks, including cancer. These potential hazards underscore the importance of choosing safer, non-petroleum-based alternatives for tattoo aftercare and wound treatment, to ensure both immediate and long-term skin health.

Our Recommended Alternative

SecondSkin and many others began to recognize the limitations and drawbacks of petroleum-based products in tattooing many years ago. So we got to work formulating something that could do everything petroleum-based products could, and then some. After many iterations, we finally launched our first tattoo cream, designed for use both during the tattoo as glide and after the tattoo as wound care.

Why It Works

SecondSkin's Tattoo Creams are a revolutionary product in the world of tattoo care, meticulously crafted to cater to every aspect of the tattoo healing process. 

  • This cream boasts an exceptionally smooth consistency, ensuring easy application without the mess. 
  • Certified organic AND vegan, making it suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. It's a conscientious choice for any tattoo enthusiast. 
  • Its formula is free from greasy or oily residues, allowing for quick absorption into the skin without leaving behind any unwanted sheen. 
  • Our commitment to skin health is further evident as it contains no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, added fragrances, or dyes, making it a pure, skin-friendly option.
  • Rich in naturally antimicrobial properties, this cream not only keeps the tattooed area clean but also actively reduces swelling, redness, and the amount of bleeding and weeping from the tattooed skin. 
  • Its efficiency in helping ink pool efficiently makes it great for use as a glide. 
  • Stencil-friendly, ensuring that your artist's intricate designs stay intact throughout the tattooing process. 
  • Unlike other more waxy natural alternatives, it doesn't clog needles, facilitating a smoother application for tattoo artists.

Locally Handcrafted in Small Batches

The efficacy of our cream lies in 2 areas: our cream is handmade here in Salt Lake City, Utah + its organic ingredients.

  • Shea Butter and Coconut Oil provide deep moisturization
  • Sibu Sea Buckthorn Oil aids in skin recovery
  • Calendula and Comfrey Oils soothe the skin
  • Castor Oil adds to its antimicrobial prowess
  • The Full-Spectrum version includes 200mg of full-spectrum isolate, adding an extra layer of anti-inflammatory and calming effects, making the tattooing and healing process as comfortable as possible.

    We designed our tattoo creams to be more than just an aftercare product; it's a comprehensive solution for ensuring your tattoo heals beautifully and remains vibrant for years to come.

Artist and Client Satisfaction

- Versatility in Use: It’s adaptable for various tattooing techniques and styles, offering versatility without compromising on quality.
- Enhances Client Comfort: By soothing the skin in real-time, it contributes to a more comfortable experience for the client.

Incorporating SecondSkin's Cream into the Tattooing Process

Adopting SecondSkin's Tattoo Cream into the tattooing routine is straightforward:

1. Preparation: Just like with any glide, apply a thin layer to the area being tattooed.
2. During Tattooing: Reapply as needed. Its smooth texture means a little goes a long way.
3. Post-Tattooing: The transition to aftercare is seamless, as the skin is already being treated with a product designed for healing.

In Conclusion

While petroleum-based products debatably have their place in the tattooing process, their track record in aftercare and skin health is poor. With products that are specifically formulated to aid in the healing process with organic, skin-friendly ingredients, we believe making the switch away from using petroleum on tattoos is worthwhile. It’s not just about healing a wound; it’s about nurturing your skin and preserving the art you’ve chosen to carry. And by choosing the right aftercare products, you are investing in the longevity and beauty of your tattoo.