Taking good care of a fresh tattoo is necessary to prevent the skin from peeling or becoming infected and ruining the design. There are many people who recommend using Vaseline for fresh tattoos. But, is Vaseline good for tattoos?
While petroleum-based products such as Vaseline are things that many people would generally associate with. Especially being good at protecting and healing wounds, they can actually be counterproductive when used on a new tattoo.
However, petroleum jelly is very thick and non-porous, meaning that when applied to a tattoo, it will create an airlock around the skin. This prevents precious oxygen from reaching the wound.
Without generous amounts of fresh air due to the thick jelly, the tattoo will generally take much longer to heal.
What is Vaseline?
Vaseline is an ointment that probably sits in most household medicine cabinets. In fact, you probably even have a jar or two at home right now.
It’s extremely useful – you can use it on chapped lips, minor scrapes and burns and makeup removal. It can also use on diaper rash, polishing leather, preventing swimmer’s ears, and so much more.
Because of all that it can do, Vaseline is also known as a ‘wonder jelly.’ Now, if you didn’t already have it at home, you’d probably think this is an expensive product.
A Background on How Tattoos Work
Before understanding why Vaseline is a go-to for a lot of tattoo artists today, it’s beyond important to understand just how exactly tattoos work. Aside that, also what happens during the process of ink to skin.
One might be surprised to learn just how many people get tattoos without knowing how that special tat stays there for decades to come.
As much as tattoos have been stereotyped over the years because of biker gangs, and Hollywood villains, the process of tattooing is actually quite scientific. There are two layers of skin involve, the top layer being the epidermis, and the second layer being the dermis.
The needle, after being sterilize by the tattoo artist then goes beyond the epidermis and punctures the dermis. They insert the ink for the remainder of your lifespan.
The reason as to why the pigments stay there forever is simple, white blood cells can’t get rid of them because the pigments are too big.
Once the ink is safely in place, the epidermis is much like skin that’s been bruise and scare, which requires a week or two to heal. This is where Vaseline comes into play.
Why Apply Vaseline?
Once the tattoo is finished, there’s usually a bit of blood and a whole lot of scar tissue, and where there’s damage flesh, there’s flesh that needs a lot of hydration to heal. Scars are dry and crusty entities but share the same quality as flowers in that you need to water them.
Vaseline has this healing element.
Vaseline is purified with something called petroleum jelly which comes with it a sealing barrier of sorts. So instead of just using water which dries up after a common breeze, Vaseline slathers on the moisture but locks it in, acting almost as a liquid bandage for the tattoo.
Once the tattoo has healed, that’s when you switch to using lotion instead of Vaseline, as it keeps the skin moist without the healing effects.
To better understand just why some use Vaseline in the healing process of tattoos, one must think outside the box of just tattooing.
If you look at tattoos like a wound or an abrasion which they are, how does one heal something like that? Usually alcohol and maybe some A&D ointment.
But with tattoos you don’t want to treat them exactly like a wound. You want them to heal without damaging the artwork or tearing out the ink. Water is too weak, while alcohol is too strong.
Therefore, Vaseline is often the chosen middleman for most tattoo artists. A&D ointment can also be used.
For this reason, Vaseline has been a go-to and first instinct for not only the artists but seasoned tattoo lovers alike.
In the modern era of tattooing, there’s a space of people who believe that using Vaseline is in fact an old school method of healing.
Like chicken soup serving as a vaccine, proponents of this argument back up their claims by pointing out that Vaseline is good while the tattooing is taking place.
This because using another product may need multiple applications, but Vaseline lasts longer saving both the tattoo artist time and the client money.
But once that tattooing is over, the anti-Vaseline crowd says that it’s time to say thank you and part ways with the product for the remainder of the healing process.
Why? Well, it’s almost hard to believe that Vaseline is so good at sealing in moisture and creating that barrier between wound and fresh air. Vaseline may actually be preventing oxygen from getting to the tattoo.
This barrier of protection created by Vaseline could potentially trap harmful bacteria in the tattoo area. However, this is the last thing anyone wants after coming home with some fresh ink.
One may not possibly run the risk of infection with the tattoo. They could also do something else to make the entire ordeal worthless and that’s potentially fading the tattoo.
This is the main drawback for using Vaseline during the tattoo healing process. Now, tattoo artists use it sparingly during tattooing because once the artwork is done, they simply wipe it away.
Vaseline isn’t the best choice for tattoo aftercare. Petroleum jelly traps moisture and bacteria, which can lead to infections and scarring if your tattoo doesn’t get enough air while it’s healing. You may be able to use Vaseline on old tattoos if your skin is dry.
Always talk to your tattoo artist with any concerns you may have. If you suspect that your tattoo is infected, you may need to see a doctor for treatment.
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