Home Skincare Is CeraVe Good For Tattoos?

Is CeraVe Good For Tattoos?

by Gabbi

For those who have been in the skincare game for a while, you’re probably familiar with the brand CeraVe. It’s revered by estheticians and dermatologists for its ceramide-rich formula (which is the cause of its namesake), and is known to be a great pick for those who have sensitive skin, or damaged moisture barriers. 

In spite of its rockstar reputation, there is the question of whether or not CeraVe brand lotions would be a good choice for those with body art. Keeping new tattoos moisturized helps out the healing process, and those rocking fresh ink want to know if CeraVe is a trustworthy brand that they can introduce to their tattoo healing process.

So, is CeraVe good for tattoos? CeraVe can be used on tattoos and can offer relief from the common pains that come with healing body art. However, it’s important to know when in the healing process a lotion like CeraVe can be most effective, and what makes this lotion an appropriate choice in the first place. 

We have a ton of respect for those who want to ensure the health and cleanliness of their tattoos, so read on for an in-depth look at what you’ll need to succeed!

Why It’s Important To Moisturize Tattoos

The process of getting a tattoo done is undoubtedly painful, but you shouldn’t place all of your worries on the times you’re in the chair! Really, there should be diligence placed on the aftercare process, as the healing journey is the time where the most possible problems can arise.

To ensure that your new body art heals in the best way, it’s vital that you heed your tattoo artist’s warnings and guidelines regarding caring for your latest body art. 

For tattoo novices, the biggest thing you should keep in mind regarding healing is that your tattoo is going to itch like crazy, and it’s going to flake like crazy too. These symptoms come with the first stages of healing and can be remedied by (you guessed it) moisturizing.

Touching your tattoo during this initial healing stage can be detrimental to the healing process and can leave you with a wonky-looking tattoo or even infection, so it’s paramount that you keep the itchiness and flakiness at bay for your own sake. 

Even if you believe that you can withstand the itchiness of your tattoo, keeping it moisturized can also prevent your tender skin from over-drying. Over-drying can make your tattoo scab and scar, which will alter the look of it in its healed state. 

For more info on tattoo aftercare, take a look at this video from board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dray on YouTube!

Features Of Good Lotions For Tattoos

The biggest focus that you should have in mind when picking a lotion for your fresh tattoo is healing. Your tattoo is more than just body art, right after your session in the chair is done, you can think of it as an open wound.

That mindset can eliminate a number of lotion options from your list. You wouldn’t place anything overly-scented, unnatural, or drying on your tattoo. It wouldn’t hurt to go for a super gentle formula, one that’s suitable for sensitive skin would be best, since these are least likely to irritate your compromised tattoo. 

Regardless of the size of the tattoo you got, it’s important to note that the only reason the ink was able to penetrate your skin is because of the needles used during the tattoo process. With the use of those needles comes damage to your skin’s moisture barrier, also known as the first line of defense your skin has against infection and bacteria.

You can rebuild this barrier through the use of meticulously formulated products that help aid in the healing of your skin. Lotions and salves rich in vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial additives can help restore your skin’s health and defense, thus speeding up your skin’s reparations. 

Benefits Of CeraVe

If there’s anything you can count on CeraVe lotions doing, its being a great choice for those with compromised moisture barriers.

One of the biggest benefits of CeraVe, and also what sets it apart from so many other brands of lotions (see Vanicream, Eucerin, and Aquaphor), is its ceramide rich formula.

These ceramides were formulated with MultiVescular Emulsion Technology, also known as MVE, was the big break that CeraVe needed to hold water amongst the rest of the skincare brands on the market.

Think of MVE as similar to time release technology. Upon initial application, your skin is shrouded with the ceramide rich formula, and as time goes by, these layers of ceramides slowly dissolve and enrich your skin just as well as it did upon your first time putting it on your skin. 

The time release, paired with the incredibly healing formula, will keep your skin hydrated all day, replenishing it of any lost ceramides, preventing moisture loss to keep skin bouncy and flake-free, and restoring your skin barrier as a whole. 


Ceramides are naturally found in the skin, and can be thought of as the lipids (or fatty acids) that make up 50% of your skin to begin with. There are 9 different ceramides that your skin makes, all of them vital to the overall wellbeing of your epidermis.

Ceramides keep your skin cells tight and bound together (making them a strong against any environmental aggressors or bacteria looking to seep through), strengthen your individual cells, and softening the skin.

Regardless of whether your skin is oily, dry, combination, or sensitive, you can find relief and healing of issues (minor or major) through the healthy addition of ceramides in your skincare routine. 

CeraVe And Tatttoos

As previously mentioned, healing tattoos have trouble holding water and are more susceptible to infection. In the same way using CeraVe on your face can help prevent moisture loss and bacterial penetration, it can also shield your tattoo from harm as well!

It’s amongst some of the more deeply hydrating brands you can choose from when it comes to your skin, making it an ideal fighter against flakiness and itching. It’s so good, in fact, that you can use CeraVe products throughout your entire healing process to speed up the journey tenfold. 

Washing Your Tattoo With CeraVe

The general consensus is that within the first 24 hours of you getting your art done, your tattoo needs to be washed with a gentle soap to clean off any germs. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding how soon the first wash should be, so make sure to communicate your concerns with your tattoo artist for the best advice. 

Depending on the general location of your tattoo, your art may be more likely to come in contact with contaminants than other areas of your skin, so you may find yourself needing to wash the tattoo on your underarms faster than one on your thigh. 

Hydrating formulas are best for fresh ink, since they’ll keep the skin supple and free from the initial moisture loss that comes post-tattoo. Gentle formulas are best, but stay away from anything too sudsy, as those formulations can actually strip the skin of even more moisture. 

Our Recommendation: CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash

Why?: It’s paraben, sulfate, soap, and fragrance-free. It’s also been tested by dermatologists for being safe for those with allergies and sensitive skin.

There are three essential ceramides found in the formula that help rebuild your skin, and it’s also rich in Hyaluronic Acid, which helps your skin retain all the moisture it needs to restore any damage done with the tattoo needle.

How?: The first wash is the most important wash of the healing process, so it’s important to do it right!

The first thing that you need to do is ensure that your hands are squeaky clean. That means taking a full minute to soap up with hot water (the type of soap hands isn’t as important as the soap you’re using on your tattoo, just make sure it’s antibacterial). Focus on areas that would likely harbor the most bacteria, and will come in contact with your tattoo- the fingers and under the nails.

Carefully peel off any coverings your tattoo artist may have put on your ink, and get the area moist with a clean, damp washcloth. Don’t expose your tattoo directly underneath the showerhead or tap, and don’t rub the washcloth on your skin. We just want to get your tattoo damp. 

Rub the CeraVe cleanser onto your tattoo thoroughly, but gently. The goal isn’t to get rid of all the dried ink, blood, and plasma but just to clean the skin as thoroughly as you can. If there are areas you can’t get clean by being gentle, leave them be. Don’t use pressure- just massage the soap into your art with small circles.

Rinse with a washcloth or cupped water. Do not rub the washcloth onto your skin. You can let the area air dry, which is recommended, or pat it dry with clean, cotton tee or paper towel. 

Using A CeraVe Salve On Your Tattoo

Over the next 3-4 days of having your tattoo, you’re going to want to wash your body art 2-3 times per day using the same routine. Diligence is key, so make sure you can dedicate ample time throughout your day to keep your tattoo clean. 

During the first couple of days of washing, your tattoo is going to need something a little thicker to shroud the skin and keep it away from contaminants. Something lightweight isn’t going to cut it, so you can keep your lotions on the back-burner for the time being.

Our Recommendation: CeraVe Healing Ointment

Why?: This ointment is amongst one of the thicker formulations that CeraVe offers, and still restores the skin’s natural moisture barrier, protecting it from damage and offering ceramides to speed up the healing process.

It helps retain hydration, keeps flakes and chapped skin at bay, and is approved by the National Eczema Association as being suitable for sensitive skin. 

How?: Once your tattoo is mostly dry from being cleansed, apply the smallest amount of ointment possible to just cover the surface area of your body art. Rub the ointment in so that your tattoo doesn’t look greasy or wet, and so it penetrates deep into the skin to retain as much hydration as possible. 

Use the least amount of ointment possible. Clogging the pores or using to heavy of an application can damage your tattoo and slow the healing process.

Using A CeraVe Lotion On Your Tattoo

You’re not going to use ointment throughout the duration of your healing routine. The switch to something a little more lightweight will come around a week to two weeks after, typically when the itchiness and flakiness has subsided a bit.

If you’re not sure of when to make the switch, you can always call your tattoo artist and heed their advice. Larger tattoos may need a bit longer with an ointment before making the switch to lotion, while smaller tattoos may be ready for a lotion in just a couple of days’ time.

Our Recommendation: CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion For Dry Skin

Why: Though super lightweight, this lotion doesn’t fall short of hydration!

Thanks to the time release technology, you can apply this lotion once on your tattoo, and keep it hydrated throughout the day without needing to use too much product.

It’s super long lasting, nourishing, and is non-comedogenic so it doesn’t sit heavy on the skin!

How?: While CeraVe lotions are known to keep your skin hydrated for up to 24 hours after initial application, it is true that your tattooed skin may absorb the product at a faster rate than your uncompromised skin. Due to that, you may need to reapply your lotion up to 3-6 times a day to keep your skin hydrated.

You do not, however, need to wash your tattoo in between every single washes. You do need to wash your hands though, as you don’t want to trap bacteria directly on top of your tattoo site.

Simply pump the lotion into your hands and rub it into your skin. You don’t need to worry about it being fully absorbed, because at this point, your skin is already starting to gain back its natural resilience. Just ensure that the entire surface area of your tattoo feels soft. 

The process of applying lotion onto your body art isn’t so much of an option for the first 3 or 4 weeks of the healing journey, but once your tattoo has mainly healed up, you won’t need to continue with a daily application (though most people with tattoos do).

Moisturizing your tattoo helps maintain its vibrancy and keeps it looking bright. Once the first month has gone by, you can switch to fragranced lotions and creams without issue (and don’t forget SPF)!

Final Thoughts

There are a number of different skincare brands out there that are trusted for their incredible benefits for your face and body, but when it comes to freshly tattooed skin, it’s okay to be a little more picky!

CeraVe products are fantastic at hydrating the skin, keeping flaking and itching at bay. Regular, mindful use of their products throughout the duration of your healing process will keep your tattoo healing well and without issue. The main products you can benefit from introducing to your routine are their cleanser, ointment, and lotion.

For the first month, you should wash your tattoo every single day, use ointment for the first week or so, and then make the final switch to CeraVe lotion while your ink finishes healing up.

Moisturizing is key to a healthy tattoo, and CeraVe ensures hydration and more, making it a top pick and safe choice for you if you have a tiny tat or a full blown sleeve!

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