This post was originally about putting coconut oil on a new tattoo. I wanted to take a natural route in caring for my new tattoo which didn’t involve petrochemicals or other nasty ingredients. Skin absorbs everything, right?
This was only my third tattoo and so I didn’t know much about the artistry of tattooing. I didn’t know the artist needs to adjust their pressure based on the individual’s skin, didn’t know that the artist could cause damage that wouldn’t show up immediately and didn’t know that my artist trying to cram 4 clients into one afternoon was a really, really bad idea.
Thankfully many tattoo artists have read this article and let me know that my tattoo damage was caused by my artist, and not the coconut oil which I used post tattoo.
Here was my story:
My mom and my two sisters and I all went to get the same tattoo, a symbol for mother and daughters. We picked out a really cool Celtic symbol which is four hearts intertwined. It was perfect for us four.
This was my third tattoo. I don’t remember anything about what I did to care for the prior two. I am pretty sure the artist just slapped saran wrap over them and told me to use plain soap and gave me some ointment. This time, however, the artist said use plain soap and a water based lotion. He also mentioned not to use a petroleum based product because it can get stuck in your skin. That really freaked me out. But I felt confident. I knew I could just consult good ole’ Dr. Internet and see what people have done to naturally care for their tattoo.
My first thought was coconut oil. Coconut oil is the best natural moisturizer, right? (I used to think so, until I read this post from the website Edible Facial.) I made sure to check out a few tattoo forums and see what people said. I read everything positive from several people who said they used coconut oil with no problem. I seemed to remember hearing something my tattoo’d sister had said about coconut oil being bad for tattoos, but after reading the internet I dismissed my memories as me being mistaken. How could the internet give me bad advice? I mean, these are tattoo forum posters. These are people who know from experience.
Well, here is my before picture, right when the tattoo was finished.
On the second day, I decided to apply coconut oil instead of lotion. I did not want any weird lotion ingredients settling in my skin. What happened next was very upsetting. Here is my picture at day 4:
After using coconut oil on the second day, I experienced a lot of ink bleeding out in the bottom portion. I was hoping it would fade or wash away, but here is my 2.5 week post tattoo picture:
I only used coconut oil for one day (the second day post tattoo) and this is what I experienced. Naturally, I assumed that it was the coconut oil which caused my ink to bleed. Later on, a few tattoo artists commented below letting me know that they recommend coconut oil for all of their clients. A lot of people have used coconut oil with success and no damage to their tattoo. Apparently my tattoo damage was caused by the artist going too deep, which causes the ink to bleed out a few days after getting the tattoo. This is called a blowout.
The story above is my experience. Of the four of us who received tattoos from the same artist that day, I am the only one who did not follow his post care instructions and opted to use coconut oil instead. I am also coincidentally the only one with a blow out. I know he was rushing a little, but I went third out of the four of us and again, no one else experienced any damage.
The moral of this story is: Make sure your tattoo artist is a.) not an idiot, b.) not over booked and c.) has a LOT of experience.
I personally will not feel comfortable using straight coconut oil on my next tattoo, however I will not say that this damage will happen if you use it on yourself. I would like to try this Tattoo Balm which incorporates Calendula, Vitamin E oil, Beeswax and Shea Butter with coconut oil, which would be less greasy and more nourishing than just plain coconut oil.
Check out the comments below to read the comments left by experienced tattoo artists.