Ella’s Botanicals – Healing Skin Salve

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

This little pot of Healing Skin Salve by Ella’s Botanicals is currently saving my life. When I last wrote I was suffering from a bandage-related allergy but the actual tattoo wasn’t too bad — a little itching here and there but nothing unbearable. Well, shortly thereafter things took a turn with the allergy calming considerably and the tattoo… the tattoo went rogue bringing pain and itching to my arm that was really uncalled for. How rude! Oh the itching! As a lifelong allergy sufferer who has experienced several bouts of full-body hives, I had no idea a patch of skin could itch like that!

Of course, I am speaking in the past-tense here with a lot of trepidation because only a few hours have passed since my last bad attack of The Worst itching Known to Humanity. It could come back at any minute but until then I am enjoying the most marvelous sweet, sweet relief.

You see, when I got my tattoo I was given a rundown on tattoo aftercare including a card in case I forgot anything. The instructions were to keep the tattoo as dry as possible and wait until this Thursday (tomorrow) before applying a water-based moisturizer. I followed those instructions to the letter at first. But by yesterday morning I was in so much pain, and the tattoo so dry and awful looking, I knew I couldn’t wait any longer. Some of the information I read online said that keeping a new tattoo too dry can be as damaging as getting it wet. In the comments, Amber suggested applying a Burt’s Bee’s product called ResQ Salve that contains lots of healing herbs like comfrey and calendula but which is oil-based rather than water-based. I high tailed it to the health food store anyways to see what they had. They didn’t have that product but they had a ton of salves. I looked at the water-based moisturizers but couldn’t find anything containing the kind of healing and soothing ingredients I was looking for so I decided to break with the original instructions further by going with the oil-based skin salve that looked the best.

I believe in following expert advice and rules when they make sense but I also have a healthy relationship with dissent and know when to trust my intuition and try things my way. I’m not a tattoo expert. This is my first one! But I know my body, I know when things have gone awry with it, and I have a lifetime of experience in which ingredients and products work best for me. Since yesterday afternoon I have applied the salve several times and have noticed a huge difference in the quality of my skin, which has gone from painfully cracked and dry to smooth and on the mend. I woke up at 6am this morning in agonizing itch but I think that was because my arm got too hot underneath the covers. Since then it has calmed down considerably and I am enjoying the first real relief in days.

Obviously I think the Ella’s product is good. It’s working. It smells great with a lavender/rose scent that is light, not overwhelming. I’ve had a lot of experience with salves and even make my own from time-to-time (my personal recipe is in the You Grow Girl book) and the Ella’s has the best texture of any product I have made myself or purchased. Getting a mix that melts easily when you touch it without being too greasy and wet in the jar is not easy. The Ella’s is just right making it safe and easy to apply to my pretty, but giant scab.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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16 thoughts on “Ella’s Botanicals – Healing Skin Salve

  1. Gayla, I can never forgive you for that Full House reference.
    (PS–I’m glad you went with the little guy over ugly giant Clorox’s Burt’s Bees products–still outraged by that buy out)

  2. Renee: I have a long and sordid relationship to that show. Ha!

    I have never liked the BB’s products that I have tried and will always choose something from a small or local company first, in part because they’re just better quality hands-down. However, I do know that I am living in a big city and have lots of options available to me locally… If I were living somewhere small their products might be the only option available.

    Anyways, I considered it because it was recommended and I was a bit concerned about trying something that I was told not to use… In the end I’m glad they didn’t have it and I went with my gut because this stuff is great… and I should add the price was very affordable.

  3. Oh man, I am super squeamish so am not looking at any of the photos you might have posted of your itchy skin. No piercings or tattoos for this girl! I had no idea Burt’s Bees was now owned by Clorox. Ew! I used to buy their lip balm in a tin because I just liked that minty waxy smell, but more recent products I’ve tried have been awful. I’m trying to buy locally made body-care stuff here in Seattle – Ballard Organics and Uncle Harry’s Natural Products.

  4. FYI – every tattoo site I’ve seen says to keep Bacitracin on it for the first few days…not only to keep it moist but also to keep it from getting infected. (those were the instructions when I got mine as well – 3 days of Bacitracin followed by 3 or 4 days of unscented moisturizer)

    Your tattoo is gorgeous, btw!

  5. You know, it is possible to be allergic to the ink, although I guess most people don’t itch for years. Did you call the folks who inked you? I know they aren’t doctors, but they probably have more experience with these things than a doctor does anyway.

  6. Yay I’m so glad you’re feeling better. Once the itchy stage passes (this usually only lasts a few days for me) healing is a cinch from then on.

  7. Amy: I’m not sure yet if an allergy is coming into play… it doesn’t look like it but of course it’s always possible. I’m still scabbing so itching is normal…. But that VERY intense itching was dryness and not normal scab itching. If this were summer the humidity would be helping. But this winter has been so dry and we have electric heat. It just got crazy dry and cracky and irritable.

    Julie: Thanks! I’m not at all worried about infection. I’ve kept it clean… it doesn’t show any signs.

  8. I didn’t want to say anything when I read the first post … because I am no expert … but when my boyfriend got his tattoo a few months ago, they told him to apply a water-based, fragrance free lotion every few hours to aid the healing process. I thought it was strange that it was the polar opposite instruction that you received. Any tattoo regulars out there know what the consensus is? Does it depend on the type of ink?

  9. Glad to see things have improved. I was a little concerned when you mentioned you were told to keep your tattoo as dry as possible. No wonder you were itchy! The scabbing must have doubled from the lack of moisture.

    Every time I’ve had a tat done (I’ve got four), the artist has told me to keep it moist, but not wet, and not to let the shower spray hit the ink full on. I think the key is to apply a thin enough layer to keep the skin hydrated, but not glopped on so much that the ink is leached out. Yes, it happens…which is why they probably cautioned you to keep it dry in the first place. It would really stink to go through all that pain and then have to have it touched up because the healing process went awry!

    I’m glad you found a product that works. I used Neosporin pain reliever in the past…since a tiny bit goes a long way. :) I’ll have to keep Ella’s in mind for my next tat. I broke up with BB products when Clorox bought them out-ugh.

  10. When I got my tattoo I was given a small pot of salve to apply to it as part of the aftercare. I’m pretty sure it was oil-based and contained essential oils – it looked hand-made (and smelled lovely).

    Gayla, you’re right to listen to your body. You know yourself best and know what you need in order to heal. I hope the itchiness subsides.

  11. I have 3 tatoos and got different instructions for all three, keep it moist with polysporin, keep it dry, put a little moisturizer on it….do what you want, just don’t pick at your scabs or let them get slimy-wet, the ink will come off and you have to get it re-touched. You’ll be so happy with your tatty when it’s nice and smooth and lovely!!!

  12. I have three tattoos and only one did that itching thing, on my inner wrist and it was after the scabbing. I was always told to keep preparation H on my tattoos for three days. My itching wasn’t a rash but it felt like an allergy to the ink. Also have read that red ink is the one ink that people are most likely to be allergic to, not sure if that applies to you Gayla. At least it goes away after a while!

  13. If you’re not a vegan, 2 tablespoons of honey plus 2 teaspoons of milk (mix together) works really well for very dry skin. Just rub it on, wait for 15 – 30 minutes and gently dab or wipe off. This healed my dry, cracked and bleeding skin in 3 days and I only had to do it once a day.

  14. We have had our tats for 16 years now,have been to several different artist,with different equipment and ink.And both I and hubby are allergic to some of the dyes.You will know as many months to yrs down the road,the outline will raise up,burn and itch like crazy,goes down in a few days only to keep returning.I actually had several of mine removed with laser and am thrilled to be without those raised edge borders.I hope thats not your problem,but if it is you are not alone.

  15. Hey Gayla- It’s me-Ella of Ella’s Botanicals- so glad you like the salve and thanks so much for the plug-I appreicate it! People are lovin my salve for so many reasons and I use it for EVERYTHING myself, including tattoos so I know first hand it works!

  16. Hi Gayla. I love how you posted this on your site. I too am a huge fan of Ellas products. I have very sensitive, and complicated skin (it gets super dry, after washing my face using the brand name cleansers, some areas on my face gets really oily, and any harsh ingredients will cause my skin to break out or i get itchy red spots). With Ellas products, i haven’t experienced any of those problems. Other products (brand name cleanser, the body shop, kiehls products – i tried them all) are not worth the money. I use Ellas soaps to wash my face in the morning and before bed and i apply her awesome salve from face to toe. Amazing stuff. Thanks Ella!

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