Tattoo aftercare begins the moment you step out of the artist’s chair and an essential part of this process includes properly washing your new ink. A thorough soap scrub ensures you are ridding your tattoo of excess blood, ink, and plasma, and are keeping it free of bacteria as it heals.
But not all soaps are made equally, and the soap you use on your new tattoo makes a big difference. In fact, some have additional ingredients, toxins, and specific fragrances that can do more damage than good.
If you’re wondering what soaps we think are best for your fresh ink, don’t worry - we’ve got you covered! In this guide, we’ve narrowed down the top 6 soaps that will have you showing off your new, fully-healed art in no time.
Quick glance at the best soaps for tattoos:
Table of Contents (clickable)
This soap is unique from the others in our list because it’s the same soap that’s used by doctors and surgeons in hospitals. It’s been trusted for 40 years by hospitals and care centers as a trusted combatant in protecting against germs and reducing the risk of infection.
Hibiclens is antiseptic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial and it’s active ingredient can kill bacteria, germs, and fungi on contact. It continues to work even after you’ve washed and rinsed your new tattoo. It advertises itself as being, “Strong enough for hospital use, gentle for everyday use,” creating a bonded shield on the wound so your tattoo stays protected.
It tops our charts because it has every bacteria-fighting property you could need in a tattoo aftercare soap, backs every one of their claims with well-researched academic reports, and won’t break your bank, either. This soap is safe, dermatologist and pharmacist recommended and will provide your tattoo with the protection it requires during its most vulnerable period.
Ingredients: Active Ingredients: Chlorhexidine Gluconate Solution 4. 0% W/V. Inactive Ingredients: Fragrance; Isopropyl Alcohol 4% W/V; Purified Water; Red 40; And Other Ingredients In A Nonalkaline Base.
Yep, you read that right: Tattoo Goo is not only antibacterial but also antimicrobial. Tattoo Goo kills the bacteria and viruses that are hidden in your skin making sure your tattoo is as clean as clean can be, all the while being extremely gentle on your skin.
Tattoo Goo advertises that “The key ingredient is PCMX-L a combination of chloroxylenol (PCMX) and sodium lauryl sarcosinate (Lauricidin). Lauricidin is derived from palm seed extract with a unique and proprietary process which provides a molecular structure capable of cleaning the skin at a deeper level. PCMX is a well-documented antimicrobial and antibacterial ingredient. By combining these two ingredients you get a fast-acting, broad-spectrum kill without damaging the skin. ”
They’ve worked together with dermatologists to formulate this soap that is specifically aimed for tattoo and piercing aftercare, so there’s a good reason it’s a top pick for us.
Ingredients: Active Ingredients - Chloroxylenol (PCMX) . 1%. Inactive Ingredients - Water (Aqua), Sodium PEG-7 Olive Oil Carboxylate, Propanediol, Olive Oil PEG-7 Esters, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Polyquaternium-10, Cocamide MEA, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Diazolidinyl Urea, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Fragrance, Citric Acid
This soap can really do it all - and that includes giving your new tattoo the aftercare attention it deserves. Dr. Bronner’s soaps are not only made with organic ingredients but are also vegan and cruelty-free. They advertise as being free of synthetic preservatives, detergents, and foaming agents; in case you didn’t know, foaming agents are a sign of additives in your soap and not a visual factor on how well the soap is working.
While many soaps are advertised as “scent-free”, this soap is truly fragrance-free. Once you have a look at the short and impressive natural ingredient list, it will be hard to resist choosing this option for all your tattoo needs. That’s why it topped the charts for us - it’s safe for you, it’s safe for your tattoo, it’s safe for the planet.
Ingredients: Water, Saponified Organic Coconut & Organic Olive Oils (w/ Retained Glycerin), Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Vitamin E.
H2Ocean’s Blue Green Foam Soap is a go-to for many tattoo fans and artists themselves. You’ll often see this stocked on tattoo shop shelves because of its simplified and moisturizing ingredients list, and its antibacterial properties. This does make the product a bit more difficult to find in your everyday stores, but it’s worth the search.
One of the primary ingredients in this soap is the juice from aloe vera leaves, and aloe is known to have, “potent antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. ” This makes the soap a soothing and nourishing option for your aftercare needs.
Users swear by this product, saying, “I've used a few different soaps over the years but this one always does right by me and my artwork. This is, by far, the finest tattoo soap on the planet. Yes, it is more expensive. . . but what is a perfectly healed tattoo in a fraction of the time worth to you? ”
Ingredients: Benzalkonium Chloride, Purified Water, Poloamer 188, Aloe barbadensis Leaf Juice, Disodium EDTA, Salt.
Cetaphil is a well-known brand in the skincare industry. We especially love that it’s so easily accessible and can be found without difficulty when you’re frantically searching for the perfect soap for your tattoo aftercare.
The antibacterial edition of Cetaphil soap is not only great for combating impurities, but it’s also excellent for sensitive skin due to its non-comedogenic properties. This means that the soap will not clog your pores. It removes surface bacteria, will help you effectively combat the weeping stages of your tattoo, and won’t strip your skin in the process.
Ingredients: Triclosan 0. 3%, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Tallowate, Water, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Dodecylbenzene Sulfonate, Sodium Cocoate, PEG-20, Sodium Chloride, Masking Fragrance, Sodium Isethionate, Petrolatum, Sodium Isostearoyl Lactylate, Sucrose Cocoate, Titanium Dioxide, Pentasodium Pentetate, Tetrasodium Etidronate. May also contain Sodium Palm Kernelate.
If you’ve been following along with our blog, we’ve already sung the praises of choosing Aveeno as your moisturizing option for tattoo aftercare. Like its counterpart, Aveeno Skin Relief Fragrance-Free Body Wash contains soothing oat which is gentle on sensitive skin and helps relieve inflammation.
Aveeno is a dermatologist-recommended brand because of its key ingredients which clean impurities from the skin while also locking in moisture. Not only is it a safe bet for those with allergies, but it’s also easily accessible from most pharmacies, grocery stores, and online shops, making it easy to obtain at a reasonable price.
Ingredients: water, glycerin, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium hydrolyzed potato starch dodecenylsuccinate, Avena sativa (oat) kernel flour, citric acid, sodium benzoate, guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, tetrasodium glutamate diacetate, glycol distearate, dipropylene glycol, polyquaternium-10, laureth-4, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, PEG-20 almond glycerides, sodium hydroxide, coriandrum sativum (coriander) fruit oil, Avena sativa (oat) kernel oil, elettaria cardamomum seed oil, commiphora myrrha oil, Avena sativa (oat) kernel extract
When choosing a soap for your new tattoo, you want to be aware of any possible factors that may affect the healing of your ink. It’s for that reason that we considered very carefully which products made our list and excluded many soaps that other websites might have included.
It’s easy to understand why Hibiclens topped the charts for us; it’s not only a trusted moisturizing soap used by dermatologists, but hospitals around the United States turn to it as well. Considering the many times that doctors and nurses wash their hands in a day, they obviously want something that gets deep down into clearing away dirt and bacteria, binds and protects them until their next wash, and ensures that their skin isn’t drying out. Hibiclens does all that, and if that’s the kind of power it offers someone in healthcare, it’s the kind of power you want sitting on your bathroom counter.
With a reasonable price, a large container guaranteeing many uses over its lifetime, and antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antibacterial claims backed by scientific reports and academic papers, Hibiclens is our go-to soap for your tattoo aftercare.
Of course what you decide to choose is up to you and your personal needs and preference, but here are a few things we consider when it comes to choosing an antibacterial soap for our tattoos.
One of the biggest issues we have with many of the tattoo websites and their list of recommended soap is that they don’t seem to regard the importance of having fragrance-free products used on new tattoos.
Fragrances are not natural; they are a composition of many chemicals that make up the smell. This doesn’t do any good to a healing tattoo. Any soaps that advertise natural scents are generally using essential oils but the problem with essential oils is that skin, and especially open wounds, can have severe reactions to them.
It’s for this reason we kept soaps like Dove and Dial off our list. It’s why we also avoid soaps with “natural fragrances” on our list. While Citaphil does have a masking fragrance additive, masking fragrance does not penetrate and stay on the skin as other fragrances do.
This soap is technically going to be used on an open wound, so making sure that the ingredients list has been checked by dermatologists and deemed as safe or recommended is essential to our review process.
On that note, ensuring that the product contains ingredients that make it an active agent against germs, bacteria, or microbes definitely amplifies the efficiency and reliability of a soap being used on a healing tattoo. Antiseptic, antimicrobial, or antibacterial soaps definitely get top marks from us.
Tattoos are expensive, and the last thing you want to do is wrack up a larger bill on your aftercare products. It’s for that reason that we look for soaps that won’t cost you an arm and a leg and which can be found outside of your local tattoo shop, as well. Proper aftercare should be accessible and not an afterthought.
Tattoos require moisturization during the first two to three weeks in order to prevent or combat flaking, excessive scarring, and to prepare a protective but breathable barrier on the new tattoo. We looked for soaps that not only emphasized their moisturizing properties but had the reviews or reports to back up their statements, too. The last thing you want on your fresh ink is a product that strips all moisture from your epidermis.
We always recommend that any soap you are considering using for your new tattoo, whether on our list or not, is tested prior to usage. A 48-hour patch test can be done on the inside of your elbow to make sure that you will not have any allergic reactions to the product. Everyone’s skin responds to products and ingredients differently, so what’s good for us may not be good for you.
It’s also recommended that prior to using any product, you run it by your tattoo artist first. They understand and have worked with your skin and have extensive experience under their belt, so they know what’s best for your specific needs and conditions.