Should you watch your alcohol consumption when you’re getting a tattoo? Today, we’ll explore if it’s okay to calm yourself with a drink or two before your tattoo or to celebrate your badass new tattoo with a few alcoholic beverages.
You’ll learn how alcohol affects your blood and how it can impact the healing process of your tattoo. Finally, we’ll teach you when it’s safe to drink again and how to care for your fresh new tattoo properly.
Can You Drink Before Getting a Tattoo?
When preparing to get a new tattoo, your nerves will certainly set in, especially if it’s your first tattoo. While you might be tempted to have a drink to calm your nerves, you should avoid alcohol the day before your tattoo appointment for at least 24 hours.
How Does Alcohol Affect Your Blood?
When you drink, alcohol thins your blood like other blood-thinning medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen. While it’s not likely to thin your blood so much that you lose a ton of blood during a tattoo session, there are issues that you can encounter when your blood clotting takes longer.
First, more of your blood can mix with the tattoo ink when your blood is thinner. Like mixing paint with water, the blood can dilute the ink and make your tattoo look faded.
You want to come out of your tattoo session with the best, darkest ink, and drinking can mean you need a touch-up stat. Even if you don’t notice during the session, your tattoo can look patchy as it heals.
Also, drinking before getting a tattoo can make it harder for your artist to complete their work. When you get a tattoo, more blood will pool out of the puncture holes. This can make it really difficult for your artist to tattoo your design accurately.
Even if they can complete the tattoo, it can take longer and look less accurate than expected. Save you and your tattoo artist the headache, and skip the sip before your sesh.
Alcohol, Tattoos, and Good Judgment
The effects of alcohol impair your judgment, so hitting up happy hour and then deciding to get a spur-of-the-moment tattoo is a bad idea. You’ll want your mind to be super clear before choosing your tattoo's location, size, and design. You wouldn’t want to walk out of a tattoo shop with a tattoo you regret.
Remember: tattoos are permanent. While we’re all about adorning your body in the art you love, make sure you’re in the right headspace before getting a tattoo. Trust us: your tattoo can wait until you’re sober.
What To Do Instead of Drinking To Calm Your Nerves
Instead of reaching for the bottle before your session to calm your nerves, turn to the HUSH line of prep products. If you’re nervous about the pain you’ll endure when getting a tattoo, you can use one of our numbing products to prep your skin and let the pain melt away.
Our products use lidocaine, which is a super powerful numbing agent. We never add epinephrine to our products since it can raise your heart rate and make you feel even more nervous than you were before.
With HUSH, there’s no reason to worry. You’re in good hands with your tattoo artist and our numbing cream and gel — no brewskis necessary.
You can use our Numbing Cream if you’ve got sensitive skin or are tattooing on a particularly sensitive part of the body, like the face or neck. Otherwise, you can opt for our Numbing Gel. Both of these products have the same level of numbing power for wherever your tattoo may be
Can You Drink During a Tattoo Session?
No reputable tattoo artist or studio will let you get inked when you’re under the influence of alcohol. The tattoo experience needs to be well thought out since you’re making permanent decisions. You’ll have to sign a liability waiver, and you legally can’t sign your consent away if you’re not of sound mind.
During the tattooing process, you need to approve your design, the location of your stencil, and the size of your tattoo area. If you’re under the influence during this important part of your session, you can get a tattoo you don’t like in a place you don’t like.
Coming out of a tattoo shop with a piece you hate can damage the tattoo artist’s reputation because of your lack of judgment. Sorry if that sounds harsh.
Even if you are worried about calming your nerves, don’t try to sneak in alcohol to get a sip in. Communicate with your tattoo artist about your nerves, and you can work together. You can dab on numbing cream, and your tattoo artist will let you take as many breaks as you need.
Can You Drink After Getting a Tattoo?
While you might be tempted to celebrate your fresh ink with a drink or two, don’t. You have just created a big open wound on your body that needs to heal, and drinking can interrupt that healing process.
Forming scabs is a big part of the tattoo healing process, and thinning your blood with alcohol can make it difficult for your body to form scabs quickly. Your tattoo can be a little oozy for the first couple of days as it heals.
A glass of wine won’t necessarily ruin your fresh ink with excessive bleeding, but we advise waiting a couple of days to have a drink to celebrate your freshly tattooed skin. Lengthening your healing time can make your tattoo more prone to infection since the scabs can’t protect it as quickly.
Additionally, you want to ensure your tattoo is nice and protected during the first couple of days of healing. Dancing on top of the bar right after getting some fresh ink is not a good idea. There’s nothing worse than disturbing the tattooed skin with a bad fall or creating an infection by rubbing up against strangers all night.
Instead, take it easy for the first couple of days. Follow your artist’s aftercare instructions and stay sober for the first couple of days. If you love to party on the weekends, consider getting your tattoo on a Sunday afternoon or evening and take the work week to rest up.
What Should I Avoid Before a Tattoo?
Now you know that you should avoid drinking before getting a tattoo. But are there other substances you should avoid before your ink session? Like how tattoos thin your blood, other blood thinner medications like ibuprofen and aspirin can have similar effects.
While these over-the-counter drugs won’t impair your judgment like alcohol, they can make it more difficult for your tattoo artist to complete your art and for you to heal property. Like alcohol, it’s best to avoid blood thinning pills for one or two days before your session.
Similarly, don’t go crazy on the caffeine right before a session. While an iced latte isn’t going to thin your blood as much as alcohol or anti-inflammatory drugs, it can thin your blood slightly and make you feel jittery.
Additionally, you’ll want to limit your sun exposure before your tattoo. Even if you’re super careful, there’s always a risk of a sunburn which will hurt a ton while you’re getting inked and afterward.
The sun dries your skin out and makes it tender to the touch. Damaged skin takes longer to heal, and can make you more prone to infection, so don’t head straight from the beach to the tattoo shop.
What Should You Do After Getting a Tattoo?
Make sure you follow your tattoo aftercare instructions to a tee to ensure your healing process is smooth sailing. Use a rich moisturizer or lotion to ensure your skin stays hydrated, and keep it clean with a soothing soap.
While we enjoy an alcoholic drink just like everyone else, there are some serious side effects you should know about before entering the tattoo parlor. When getting inked, skip the beer goggles and go in stone-cold sober.
Check out our blog for information about all things tattoo.
What To Expect When You Get a Tattoo | Cleveland Clinic
Tattoos, piercings, and alcohol consumption | NCBI
Substance use and Tattoo: An Observational Study - PMC | NCBI
Tattoos: Leaving their mark | Harvard Health
6 Surprising Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health — Not Just Your Liver | Cleveland Clinic