Can You Drink Before or After Getting a New Tattoo?

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It is no secret that many people think of drinking alcohol before or after getting a tattoo is a good idea. The usual explanation of such an act is to calm the nerves and increase one’s pain tolerance for the upcoming tattoo, or the discomfort following a new tattoo. In the following paragraphs, we’ll explain why it is NOT a good idea to consume alcohol before and after getting a new tattoo. Some of the reasons may even shock you and keep you away from alcohol before/after getting inked.

Drinking Alcohol Before Getting a New Tattoo

Alcohol Before Tattoo
Image Credit: Saved Tattoo

Let’s just start by saying that professional tattoo artists cannot legally provide their services to anyone visibly under influence of alcohol!

But, even if you somehow manage to drink without looking drunk, it is not recommended to drink alcohol at least 24 hours before getting a tattoo. Some of the reasons why you should NOT do that include;

Alcohol Thins the Blood

Alcohol consumption is known to act as a blood thinner. However, such an effect is in direct correlation to how many drinks you’ve had. The more alcohol you drink, the thinner the blood. But, it is important to mention that only one beer or alcoholic drink can reduce your blood’s ability to clot. Now, this effect alone get set off several other negative effects and potential problems during the very process of receiving a tattoo, like;

  • Excess bleeding can affect visibility 

Because alcohol thins the blood, during the tattooing process there can be excessive bleeding and leaking as the needle penetrates the skin and creates a wound. This can affect the work of the tattoo artists to the measure that they cannot even see what they’re doing. Visibility in such cases is rather compromised, which also compromises the final result.

Excess bleeding doesn’t only affect visibility, but because of it, you can end up with a completely trashed tattoo. The tattoo won’t be accurate, refined, detailed, or to put it simply, nothing you expect it to be. So, if you don’t want to see blood, and want to see your tattoo, then stay away from alcohol at least 24 hours before the tattooing schedule.

  • Alcohol can dilute the ink

The body works in such a way that it pumps more blood to an area that is being treated or affected; for example, the affected area during tattooing. Now, because alcohol thins the blood, there will be an excess of blood in the tattooed area, which is unable to clot. The extra blood mixes with the ink, and the tattoo needle penetrates the skin.

Note: This mess can result in heavy bleeding, as well as a patchy, faded, and completely disturbed tattoo. The tattoo will look truly washed out since the ink wasn’t able to stay in place due to excess blood.

Alcohol Impairs Judgement

Getting a tattoo, which is permanent, while being drunk might not be the smartest idea. It is best to stay sober and clear-minded because tattooing isn’t just the artist’s responsibility, but yours as well. There will be times during the tattoo process where the responsibility and decision-making will be in your court.

For example, the tattoo artist will ask you to approve the artwork design, the stencil, the way it can be applied to your skin, the placement and the size of the tattoo, etc. All of this requires clear-minded answers, mostly because the tattoo is permanent and it will cost you a lot of money to get it removed once you sober up and realize it is a complete mess.

Alcohol Affects Your Mood and Behavior During Tattooing

When being tattooed, it is essential to stay still and not move too much. But, when you drink alcohol, you immediately become jittery, restless, and your overall behavior is not controlled. This can create a lot of issues for the tattoo artists, which can result in mistakes like;

  • Tattoo misplacement
  • Tattoo blowout (tattoo artist pushing the needle beneath the skin surface and causing ink spread)
  • Messing up the tattoo design
  • Lack of accuracy and refinement of the tattoo, etc.

Not to mention that your uncontrolled behavior can be a burden to the tattoo artist and cause general awkwardness in the tattoo shop for other guests and artists. So, you should come to the tattoo session sober, clear-minded, and positive.

Your experience will be much better and the tattoo artist will find it more pleasant to work with you. You won’t feel cranky, restless, jittery, and instead be positive, excited, and focused.

More to know: What Happens If A Tattoo Artist Messed Up?

Also, when drunk, people tend to experience the so-called Beer Goggle effect (also known as just having the beer goggles). This means that after drinking alcohol, your perception of things will change, for the better of course. So, a messed up, bloody tattoo will look amazing, when in fact the design is completely messed up and placed in a weird body position. So, to avoid the hungover surprise tattoo, try to get your tattoo sober and in a clear state of mind.

Note: Being drunk shows a lack of respect for the tattoo artist – imagine your tattoo artist working drunk. You wouldn’t want such a person anywhere near a tattoo gun or your skin. The same goes for you. No tattoo artist wants their client drunk and completely unpredictable. So, showing up drunk for a tattoo session shows a total lack of respect for the tattoo artist’s professionalism, experience, time, and dedication.

Drinking Alcohol After Getting a Tattoo

Alcohol After Tattoo
Saved Tattoo

Here’s the deal; you’ve managed to stay away from alcohol before getting a tattoo, and now once tattooed, you think you deserve a drink. Well, not so fast! Do you think your doctor would let you drink right after surgery? We don’t think so!

Getting a tattoo means you now have a fresh, open wound on your body that needs to heal. In order to heal, the ‘wound’ requires proper aftercare. And, proper aftercare doesn’t include alcohol, and here’s why;

Continuation or Excess Bleeding

After you got a new tattoo, it will bleed and ooze for the next 24 to 48 hours. That is your body’s response to being treated continuously in one place. So, if you do decide to have a drink after the tattoo session, you will simply thin out the blood. This will result in prolonged or continued bleeding, or even excess bleeding (showcases as blood pool). This means several things;

  • The tattooed area won’t be as effective in forming new skin
  • It will be difficult for the tattooed skin to scab and dry out
  • Excess blood increases the risk of tattoo infection
  • The wound won’t be protected from bacteria and germs
  • Your sheets and clothes will have bloodstains on them (almost impossible to wash)

Inability to Heal

Alcohol can impair your body’s ability to heal a wound like a new tattoo. Drinking can prolong the overall healing process and compromise your immune system. Skin is your biggest organ, so imagine what the body must go through once the biggest organ is lacking function.

Tattoo aftercare doesn’t only include taking care of the tattoo externally, by washing it and moisturizing it. The aftercare routine includes taking care of your whole body internally as well. By eating properly and staying hydrated you’re speeding up the healing process and preventing any tattoo inflammation or infection.

Uncontrolled Sleeping Position

When you’re drunk and you go to sleep, the last thing you think about is the proper sleeping position. So, let’s say you just got a new tattoo on the stomach. The tattoo is still wrapped, it is swollen and painful. But, you got drunk, you don’t feel any pain and you went to sleep on your stomach. Imagine how additional pressure on a fresh wound can make it so much worse. Well, that’s what can happen.

Drinking often results in uncontrolled behavior, and because your pain tolerance seemingly increases, you feel like you can do whatever you want, even sleep on the tattooed parts of the body. This can create a lot of issues for you, including prolonged bleeding, possible inflammation and infection, and prolonged overall healing duration.

Drinking Before/After Getting a Tattoo: More FAQs

When Can I Drink After Being Tattooed?

You will find many articles on the web recommending you wait a day or two to have your first alcoholic beverage after getting a tattoo. This seems reasonable since the tattoo will ooze and bleed for up to 48 hours, However, we believe it is best to wait at least one week to have a drink.

The reason for this lies in the fact that by the end of the first week your tattoo will start to form scabs and dry skin, which means it is healing properly. There is no risk of blood thinning and excessive bleeding, so you should be good to go.

Can I Drink 12 hours Before Getting a Tattoo?

Nope! You should not drink at least 24 hours before getting a tattoo. It is recommended you don’t drink at all before a tattoo, so try to refrain yourself from consuming alcohol at least one day. But, we recommend you try and go 2 or 3 days without alcohol, just to keep things safe and simple.

Note: Alcohol can stay in your system anywhere between 48h and 80h. For some people, alcohol can stay in the system for 24h. Either way, the effects of the alcohol remain; you may not feel drunk after a few days, but your body suffers the consequences long after you’ve stopped drinking.

What Can I Consume Before/After Being Tattooed?

  • Water – staying hydrated is the best thing you can do before or after being tattooed. Proper hydration will keep you energized and promote proper tattoo healing.
  • Dark green leafy veggies – these vegetables are rich in vitamin K, which is responsible for blood clotting and thickening. This way you can prevent excess bleeding issues during and after the tattoo session.
  • Healthy carbs – try to keep your body well-fed and energized by eating healthy carbs, like quinoa, bananas, oats, buckwheat, sweet potatoes, blueberries, etc. Healthy carbs will provide the optimal calorie intake which is necessary for your body to endure the tattoo session and the following healing process.

Note: We also recommend you avoid sun exposure before and after getting a tattoo. Sun exposure can lower your hydration levels, and damage the skin. This can compromise the tattooing process and make it even more painful in case you got sunburnt.

Final Thoughts

Getting a tattoo sounds fun and exciting, but it is also a very responsible and permanent decision. That is why you need your mind and body in an optimal shape to endure the tattooing and the healing process. If you still feel nervous about getting a tattoo (and you’re thinking about drinking), we have a much better and healthier alternative for you; CBD oil.

CBD oil is an exceptional way to calm your nerves, increase pain tolerance, and feel more relaxed during and after the tattoo session. This oil is completely healthy and legal, so you don’t have to worry about weird side effects. CBD oil does NOT contain THC, so you won’t get ‘high’. However, before the tattoo session, make sure to talk to your tattoo artists and see if they think it’s okay for you to take CBD oil.

More to know: 

Can You Swim After Getting A Tattoo? Is It Safe?

Tattoo Aftercare Instructions: How To Take Care Of A Tattoo?

How Long Does It Take For A Tattoo To Heal: Step By Step Guide

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