Does Aquaphor Cause Pimples on New Tattoos?

When you get a new tattoo, aftercare is the most important part of the process. You’ll need to ensure that you care for your new art the right way, never letting it dry out. To do this, you’re going to need to choose an excellent hydrating product. Many artists recommend the use of Aquaphor for their customers’ new ink.

Aquaphor is a blend of petroleum jelly, lanolin, mineral oil, and glycerin, making it an occlusive. Because of this, when it is used heavily, it has the potential to cause pimples on your tattoo. You can prevent this from happening by only using a very light layer with each application.

If you have acne-prone or oily skin, you may be interested in alternatives to Aquaphor. There are plenty of options and we will discuss several of them. We’ll also cover what to do if your tattoo does start to break out with pimples following the use of Aquaphor.

What Is Aquaphor?

Aquaphor is intended as a daily treatment for skin irritations. It’s a member of the Eucerin skincare line that many dermatologists favor. The ointment is safe for babies, children, and adults, considering its intention for sensitive skin. It is an over-the-counter remedy with no prescription needed.

This ointment is made mostly of petroleum jelly, mineral oil, lanolin, and glycerin. Petroleum jelly is made of a combination of waxes and mineral oils. Lanolin, on the other hand, is a greasy emollient that is derived from sheep’s wool. Glycerin is a gentle hydrator that is used to pull the moisture out of the air and into your skin.

Essentially Aquaphor prevents water from evaporating from your skin, which, in turn, helps to improve your skin barrier, keeping it healthy. Having your skin barrier healthy and hydrated can mean fewer breakouts, decreased redness and irritation, and even fewer fine lines and wrinkles.

It is an occlusive, which means it functions like a skincare blanket, keeping all the good ingredients from your serums, moisturizers, and toners close to your skin. Occlusives don’t moisturize at all by themselves. You’ll unlock this fantastic power by layering this treatment over your current moisturizer.


Aquaphor will regulate skin dryness through the encouragement of the healing process. Additionally, it will nurse the skin back to health. Healing time will be decreased, and moisture will be locked into place, unable to evaporate from the skin’s surface.

It can help with the repair of skin that has been damaged by the weather (like sunburns and cold weather chapping), cosmetic procedures, and radiation treatments.


This healing ointment can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, and diabetic-induced skin irritations.  You can use it to help heal and soothe minor burns as well as dry, chapped, peeling, and chafed skin, even using it on your lips. It works best when applied to the affected area once it’s been cleaned and patted dry.  Because Aquaphor contains no irritants, you can use as much as you want to.

Aquaphor vs Vaseline

Because of its ingredients and consistency, Aquaphor is most mistaken for Vaseline. However, Vaseline is made 100% of petroleum jelly while Aquaphor is roughly 41% petroleum jelly combined with the above-mentioned ingredients.

They’re both occlusive moisturizers as well as skin protectants. They can lock moisture into your skin, help heal wounds, and function as makeup removers. While Vaseline works best over humectant moisturizers, Aquaphor contains a humectant in glycerin.

In the first few days following a tattoo, Aquaphor is recommended as part of the healing process for its anti-inflammatory properties while Vaseline is not recommended because it tends to block the area from receiving any airflow which is required for healing.

Can It Cause Your Skin to Break Out in Pimples?

Aquaphor doesn’t have any ingredients that are truly responsible for causing breakouts; however, it is very occlusive. This can result in breakouts for those with acne-prone or oily skin.

This is especially the case during humid and hot weather. Aquaphor will cause the sweat and oil to be unable to escape your pores, potentially causing an acne-like sweat rash that appears like itchy red bumps.

When it comes to tattoos, if you apply Aquaphor heavily and regularly, you may observe pimples and zits. To prevent this from happening, you’ll want to ensure that you only apply the lightest of layers to your healing tattoo.

What Should You Do if You Begin to See Pimples?

If you begin to see pimples following the use of Aquaphor on your new tattoo, you’ll want to stop using it or ensure you use much less of it than what you were using. Begin by thoroughly but gently washing the area to remove all remaining Aquaphor from your skin.

If you still plan on using the product, ensure that you only apply a very thin layer. You just want enough to coat your tattoo. Do not slather the area with Aquaphor because this is what causes the breakouts.

The better solution is to take a break from the product while the pimples clear up. You’ll need to replace the Aquaphor with an alternative product to keep your tattoo moisturized in the meantime. Once the breakout has fully cleared up, you can go back to using the Aquaphor, but you will need to ensure that this time you use it very lightly to prevent another breakout.

Another option is to simply discontinue the use of Aquaphor permanently. All you will have to do is transition to another product that you will use to moisturize your tattoo regularly.

What Are Some Alternatives to Aquaphor for a New Tattoo?

Many tattoo artists do not recommend Aquaphor for a new tattoo, instead suggesting a variety of other options from unscented lotions to tattoo balms. You’ll need to use one of these products following your initial aftercare and in combination with routine cleanings with a gentle cleanser.

Unscented Lotions

Investing in the proper lotion when you get a new tattoo can be key to making sure it heals the right way. However, you have to be diligent about using it. After the initial healing period of three to five days, you’ll want to use your lotion for two weeks to a month. You’ll want to keep it moisturized, especially if you got a color tattoo.

When you choose the lotion, you’ll want to consider the ingredients. You want something that is going to aid in the healing considering you just had your skin punctured over and over again. Look for vitamins and antioxidants while avoiding anything with a fragrance.

One great option is Aveeno. Not only is it fragrance-free, but it offers extreme moisturization. It’s formulated with many soothing ingredients, including oat flour, oat oil and extract, natural shea butter, and dimethicone skin protectant. It can provide hydration for up to 24 hours, but you’ll be applying more frequently than that to ensure your tattoo is always moisturized. It’s ideal for sensitive skin, which is excellent for your healing tattoo.

Cetaphil is another fragrance-free lotion option for healing tattoos. It is normally indicated for skin that is not fully hydrated, requiring moisture to be locked in through the use of the lotion. When it comes to your tattoo, Cetaphil will coat it with moisture-rich coverage to keep it hydrated and smooth. Its non-comedogenic formula is ideal for sensitive skin, preventing irritation.

Tattoo Balm

Another alternative to Aquaphor is a tattoo balm. You’ll want to find one that is regenerative, anti-bacterial, and protective. You’ll also need it to soothe itchy skin. When you’re applying it, you’ll want to ensure that you only apply enough to make a thin, even layer.

Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve offers tattoo aftercare and itch relief with an infusion of six organic herbs. It offers deep moisturization and will even hydrate your old tattoos for an enhanced appearance. It is completely different from Aquaphor, containing no lanolin, petroleum, or mineral oil. However, it does contain essential oils that will greatly benefit your healing tattoo.

Final Thoughts

Aquaphor is a very effective ointment for healing a new tattoo when it is used properly. Because of its occlusive nature, it keeps moisture locked into your skin, providing faster healing times.

However, if you use it too heavily, you have the potential to trigger a pimple outbreak on your new tattoo. If this happens, you’ll need to either lighten the amount of Aquaphor you are using or completely stop using it if it doesn’t clear up.

If you’re concerned about potential pimples or you are sensitive to any of the ingredients in Aquaphor, there are many alternatives. You can choose a vitamin-rich lotion that is fragrance-free, or you can even try a tattoo balm that is designed specifically for your healing tattoo. You will need to ensure that you keep your tattoo hydrated regardless of which product you choose.