Tattoo creams and treatments have been around almost as long as tattoos themselves. Yet there isn’t a global consensus on which product is the “best.” One such product that has seen some debate is O’Keeffe’s line of creams. If you find yourself asking the question, “Can I use O’Keeffe’s on my tattoo?” but can’t find a clear answer, you’re not alone. Nor are you asking the wrong question. It just so happens that the answer isn’t all that straightforward.

So go on ahead and pack a bowl. After all, nothing goes better with a debate than fresh flower.

Photo: Unsplash

The Science Behind O’Keeffe’s Hand Creams

Gorilla Glue
“Incredibly Strong” (Source: Flickr)

O’Keeffe’s is one of many brands owned by the Gorilla Glue Company. The parent company is most widely known for its epoxy glue which is some of the strongest out there. Tessica Brown could, unfortunately, attest to that. This strength makes it a favorite across audiences. From people who use it for little fixes at home to tradespeople who keep a tube handy at all times.

The brand is beloved even beyond the products it offers. It even has a marijuana strain named after it. “Gorilla Glue” is a potent strain that is designed to leave you feeling “glued” to your couch. Despite this association, however, Gorilla Glue and its many brands maintain an image of safe and family-friendly products. In other words, they probably won’t be endorsing the strain anytime soon.

Gorilla Glue Ganja
Triple G, triple threat (Source: Flickr)

O’Keeffe’s products are specifically formulated to encourage skin health. They are largely popular for people with sensitive skin, even more so in the case of people dealing with ailments like eczema.

O’Keeffe’s products use ingredients that form a protective barrier on the skin. This barrier acts like an emollient. It prevents water loss on one hand and draws moisture into the skin on the other. As such, it also promotes healing. O’Keeffe’s hand creams are a popular choice to help repair dry and cracked hands, working like a salve. Thus, they are also popular among people who work with their hands, such as carpenters, masons, and painters, among others.

O’Keeffe’s Skin Repair on Tattoos

O'Keeffe's Working Hands cream
Does Working Hands really work on hands? (Source: Flickr)

Petrolatum, lanolin, natural waxes, and oils are some of the primary ingredients in O’Keeffe’s creams. These are known to be beneficial for the skin. And they paint a clearer picture of why these creams work well on the skin. Due to its healing and soothing nature and its ability to encourage healthy and supple skin, it’s easy to see why O’Keeffe’s products are also used on tattoos.

But looks can be deceiving. And while these creams are great for skin, they may not work quite the same on ink.

Can You Use O’Keeffe’s Working Hands on Tattoos?

O'Keeffe's Working Hands
O’Keeffe’s Working Hands (Source: Flickr)

Unfortunately, the same ingredients that make O’Keeffe’s popular in skincare are known to cause irritation to some skin types. These ingredients are thought by some to be too thick and heavy, making them unsuitable for tattoos as well.

Glow in the dark Monster Bong


Petroleum jelly has long been acknowledged for its benefits to the skin. But it is also thought to be a bad choice for tattoos. This is because it traps moisture and by extension, bacteria when it forms its barrier. Furthermore, petroleum-based products limit airflow which is essential for healing. As such, they could potentially clog pores or trap moisture and dirt within the barrier they create. This could potentially cause infections and even scarring.

So, while these products are often dermatologist-approved, they are not for everyone. And when it comes to tattoos, trapped moisture and dirt are far from ideal.

Is O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Safe for Tattoos?

What could potentially go wrong if you use a product on your tattoo that isn’t right for you?

Tattoo process
What lies beneath (Flickr)

Tattoos involve the act of piercing your epidermis. Ink is then deposited beneath the top layer of your skin, in the dermis. After a tattoo is completed, a healing period follows. During this time, your skin heals back over while ridding itself of excess ink, dry blood, pus, and more.

Tattoo aftercare is an extremely important step in getting the tattoo of your dreams. A well-cared-for tattoo will maintain its lines and vibrance for a long time. Fading won’t happen too quickly, and the tattoo will age along with your skin naturally.

Aged tattoos
Wise and free (Source: Flickr)

Regular cleansing is recommended during the initial days of healing. And after each round of cleansing, a moisturizer must be applied to protect the skin and promote healing. Recommended moisturizers are often fragrance-free and alcohol-free.

In situations where the client has extremely sensitive skin, products used for babies or anyone with eczema-prone skin might be recommended instead. And in some cases, an artist might opt to apply antibiotic ointments on the tattoo before covering it up with a wrap. The wrap generally comes off within the first few days, but sometimes it is recommended to replace the wrap a few times as the tattoo heals.

Working Hands on Tattoos: An ongoing debate

Tattoo aftercare Saniderm
Wrap it up (Source: Flickr)

In simple terms, a tattoo during its healing phase is an open wound. It must be kept clean and dry. As such, a product that promotes dampness, grime, and bacteria is the last thing you want to put on a healing tattoo. At the same time, a product that encourages healing and keeps your skin from drying out too much seems ideal.

And therein lies the debate around the question, “Can I Use O’Keeffe’s on My Tattoo?”

O’Keeffe’s and Tattoos: A contentious match

Tattoo aftercare Saniderm
To ‘Keeffe or not to ‘Keeffe? (Source: Flickr)

So the question remains: O’Keeffe’s on tattoos – yay or nay? Can you safely use O’Keeffe’s on your tattoo or not? Put simply: it depends.

For some people, the brand offers a range of healing creams that are perfect for their needs. They soothe irritation and itching and promote healing. For others, it could potentially damage your healing tattoo. Worse, it could cause an infection, scarring, premature fading, and possibly even a blowout.

And in some cases, the timing of when along your healing journey you use it matters. The products could provide relief to an older tattoo that is drying out. Or, they could just be part of your regular skincare, particularly if you’re prone to dry skin.

Tropikana tattoo oil
Keep it fresh (Source: Flickr)

This is why the question of “can I use O’Keeffe’s on my tattoo?” seems to garner such a mixed response. Ultimately, though, you can choose to use it based on your own understanding of your skin as well as your tattoo artist’s advice. And if you’re unsure, you can always ask your artist or a dermatologist for a list of recommended products. And to be on the safer side, always patch test a new product before you use it on your whole tattoo. It’s much easier to fix a small mess than redo an entire piece, after all.

Alternatives to O’Keeffe’s Working Hands for Tattoos

One of the most popular products used on new tattoos is Tattoo Wax. As the name suggests, the substance is a thick waxy balm. It creates a barrier on the skin, much like O’Keeffe’s.

But where it differs is that it is also anti-bacterial most of the time. Additionally, the film it creates is breathable. This means it does not trap moisture. And while it keeps the skin supple it also encourages some evaporation so the tattoo underneath does not stay damp.

So if you’re still asking yourself, “can I use O’Keeffe’s on my tattoo?” and coming up with no clear answer, know that there are alternatives out there. Ones that are both dermatologist and tattoo artist approved. This makes them a safe choice. And when in doubt, it’s best to go with products that are less likely to ruin your fresh ink.

Do you have more burning questions around cannabis?

Email us at [email protected] with your questions/topic suggestions and we will get back to you! 

close

Get our newest articles every Friday and 25% off in our online headshop

Related Posts