Here are my opinions on the pros and cons of vaseline vs. lotion:
Petroleum Pros A thin application of a petroleum based product such as Vaseline helps to keep a moist layer on a fresh tattoo. When this slimy layer is washed off for the first time, it takes the plasma with it and leaves a nice, supple closed layer of skin. Petroleum based products keep skin moist and pliable for a long time.
Petroleum Cons: Petroleum based products clog pores. Petroleum also collects dirt and germs. It doesn’t allow the skin to “breathe”. It also prevents normal sweating (through it) which often leads to a ring of “pimples” around the tattoo. I don’t prefer petroleum products after the first wash for these reasons.
Lotion Pros: Lotion keeps the skin moist and flexible. Lotion is more completely absorbed; allowing tattooed skin to breathe and sweat normally. Lotion prevents cracking. Lotion is excellent to rub into the tissue paper – like first regenerated skin layers that form over the tattoo.
Lotion Cons: Lotions can cause an allergic reaction. You should test a small, non tattooed area to check. Lotion can irritate the tattoo. Discontinue use of that lotion if it does.