So, summer is truly around the corner, and the preparations for your favorite summer outfits are going smoothly, but…there’s one thing that all of us, dear inked friends, tend to forget; we can’t really wax everything except the hair on our tattoos, right? Hair removal and tattoos have always been an interesting topic, and waxing over tattoos is definitely one of the most asked questions for tattoo care, especially with the summer holidays getting closer.
So, what should you do? Should you wax over a tattoo or not? Well, you may be surprised that the answer to this is a bit more nuanced than the question itself. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in and see how you can deal with hair removal on your tattoed skin.
Waxing Over Tattoos
First, Let’s Talk About the Science Behind Tattoos
We all know what waxing is, more or less. But, to understand the issues of waxing and tattoos, we need to understand how tattooing actually works. Now, the science behind tattoos and skin is very interesting.
There are three layers of our skin. The first layer is the top layer, also referred to as the outer, waterproof barrier which contains skin pigmentations; this layer is called the epidermis. The layer under the epidermis is the dermis, also known as the layer that contains sweat glands and hair follicles (where your hair grows from). And the third, final layer is called the hypodermis. Now here is where we have fat layers and lots of connective tissues to keep us warm when it’s cold or to cool us when it’s warm.
Now, when your tattoo artist is inking your skin, the needle penetrates the skin only into the dermis layer. The needle creates a vacuum where it transfers the ink and continues to do so until the tattoo is done. By placing the ink into the second skin layer, the tattoo artist makes sure the ink actually stays in the skin and doesn’t just bleed out.
Waxing, on the other hand, is performed on the epidermis of the skin, or the top skin layer. As such, it doesn’t have any contact with the other skin layers.
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So, Is Waxing Safe?
As we mentioned in the previous paragraph, waxing is considered safe because it doesn’t affect the inner skin layer where the ink is injected and stored. However, things aren’t this simple we’re talking about fresh, new tattoos; in that case, waxing is simply out of question. But, why?
Well, it is true that tattooing affects the inner skin layer, but in order for the ink to be injected into the dermis, the needle needs to puncture the dermis at a very high speed. As a result, tattooing actually damaged the epidermis and creates a wound; your new, fresh tattoo is considered an open wound for the first few days, or until it starts to close and dry.
After tattooing, your skin is highly sensitive and prone to developing inflammation and infection. That is because it is open to all the germs, bacteria, and viruses around us, or the body can try to fight off the ink by developing inflammation or allergic reaction to the ink.
But, most of the time, thanks to proper aftercare, tattoos heal normally, just like a wound. However, this doesn’t mean you can go on and slap wax onto it. Nope!
Until your tattoo fully heals (meaning, the ink is mattified, there are no scabs or crust on it, it is clean, mat in color, without inflammation, raising, itching, etc.), you can’t do anything to your tattooed skin other than clean it and apply ointment. Even after your tattoo is fully healed, the skin is still super sensitive and requires special attention, so even then it is questionable whether you should wax your tattooed skin or not.
Your tattoo should be fully healed after 4 to 6 weeks, but the healing time varies from person to person. Some people have a super powerful immune system and an excellent aftercare routine, and the tattoo heals quickly. But, others have some immune system issues or don’t follow the aftercare instructions, and the healing is prolonged.
Waxing/Shaving Before Tattooing
You probably already know this, but if you’re new to tattooing, you should know that the designated tattoo area needs to be waxed or shaved prior to tattooing.
The tattoo artist cannot tattoo your skin if there’s hair. This will obstruct their vision, create general issues with the movement of the needle and the ink, and of course, there is always the issue of contamination of the tattoo (since body hair isn’t the cleanest stuff out there).
The designated tattoo area needs to be hair-free, washed, cleaned, dried, and fully prepared for tattooing. Even if you forget to wax or shave, your tattoo artist will shave the designated area for you before they start tattooing.
Waxing After The Tattoo Has Healed
As we mentioned, waxing a new, fresh, or freshly healed tattoo is a big no-no. Your skin is too sensitive and there is too high of a risk that you may induce inflammation, further skin damage, infection, or you may completely mess up your tattoo. Waxing required swift, repetitive hair removal (which also pulls the skin), so we have to mention the almost unbearable pain you may experience as well.
Now, once your tattoo is fully healed, and it isn’t freshly healed anymore, you can continue your regular hair removal and waxing practices. We still advise you to get waxed by a professional who will know how to deal with tattooed skin. Bear in mind that the tattooed are will forever be more sensitive than the rest of your skin. So, a certain professional approach is definitely required, so try not to wax yourself, or at least the tattoo.
Bear in mind that, when it comes to hair removal, there is always a potential for skin irritation, ingrown hair, or follicle inflammation. This can happen even on tattooed skin, which further indicated how important it is to have your tattooed area waxed by a certified professional.
Also Read: Can I Put Vaseline On My Tattoo?
Waxing can cause some hair growth complications, as we mentioned, but that occurs rarely, especially when the waxing is done by a professional. Other than this, your skin should be perfectly fine after waxing and hair removal.
It is essential to keep your skin hydrated, especially after waxing. Don’t forget to protect your tattoo with sunscreen as well. Of course, you also need to keep your body hydrated from the inside out, so make sure to drink enough water daily. Other than this, here are some other tips and tricks you can utilize to keep your (tattooed) skin well and healthy after waxing;
- Try to avoid sunbathing, even when you put on sunscreen. Excessive exposure to UV rays can damage your already sensitive skin, so try to refrain from sunbathing and keep your skin protected by also wearing covering clothes.
- Make sure to cool the waxed area if it’s irritating and red. You can use cooling gels and compresses after your waxing session to reduce irritation and keep your skin refreshed.
- Refrain from wearing tight clothes, especially after the waxing session. Your skin needs room to breathe and recover from the ‘trauma’, so try to avoid irritating it further by wearing tight, non-breathable clothes and materials.
- Do not cover your tattooed/waxed area in cosmetics or heavy lotions. As we mentioned, the skin needs to breathe and recover. By putting anything on it, you’ll be clogging its pores, introducing potential dirt and bacteria to the area as well. This may promote ingrown hair later on too.
- Keep your skin moisturized and hydrated, but wait for a day or two after the session. To avoid clogging the pores, make sure to also use light, non-comedogenic, lotions made from natural, hydrating, and nourishing ingredients.
And that’s it! Now you whether to and how to wax your tattooed skin area. Again, we can’t recommend enough for you to get waxed by a certified professional, especially if you’re dealing with tattooed skin. Professionals will know how to handle sensitive skin and ensure the waxing process is minimally damaging and irritating. For more information, or if you have any concerns, make sure to talk to a certified professional as well. We wish you good luck and may your summer holidays be as fabulous as your tattoo!