Can You Drink After Getting a Tattoo? Understanding the Impact of Alcohol on Tattoo Healing

Can You Drink After Getting a Tattoo? Understanding the Impact of Alcohol on Tattoo Healing


Deciding to get a tattoo is a significant moment often involving carefully considering various aspects. Among numerous questions, one that frequently arises is, can you drink after getting a tattoo? It's a valid query, especially since many social events where tattoos might be shown off also often involve alcohol.

Understanding the effects of drinking, both before and after getting inked, is crucial for the longevity and appearance of your tattoo and for your overall health. This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions and control your tattoo's care from the start, ensuring its longevity and satisfaction.

This article will delve into why experts strongly advise against consuming alcohol before and after your tattoo session. You'll learn about the specific risks associated with drinking after getting a tattoo, including its impact on healing and the potential for increasing side effects.

Moreover, we'll explore what could happen if you choose to ignore these guidelines and provide healthier alternatives for calming nerves without alcohol. By the conclusion, you will understand why moderation or abstinence from alcohol plays a vital role in your tattoo aftercare regimen, ensuring you're fully equipped to take care of your new artwork.

Why You Should Avoid Alcohol Before a Tattoo

Drinking alcohol before getting a tattoo can negatively impact both the process and the outcome of your new ink. Here's why it's advisable to avoid alcohol before a tattoo session:

Thinning of the Blood

Alcohol acts as a blood thinner by reducing the levels of fibrinogen, a protein essential for blood clotting, and decreasing the activity of platelets, the cells responsible for forming clots.

This can lead to excessive bleeding during the tattoo session, making it challenging for the tattoo artist to work accurately and diluting the ink, potentially leading to a tattoo that appears faded and less vibrant. Moreover, heavy scabbing can occur due to thinned blood, which might damage the appearance of your tattoo [1].

Impaired Judgement

Alcohol consumption can significantly impair your judgement. This impairment can affect your ability to make sound decisions regarding the design, placement, and details of your tattoo. The so-called 'beer goggle effect' might cause you to approve a design that you wouldn't choose sober, leading to regrets later [2].

Additionally, reputable tattoo artists are likely to refuse service to intoxicated clients to avoid legal issues with consent forms and potential dissatisfaction with the tattoo.

Loss of Self-Control

Being under the influence can lead to poor control over your body movements, which is crucial during a tattoo session. Sudden movements or an inability to sit still can result in a distorted tattoo design, which is permanent. Furthermore, alcohol's diuretic effects could lead to frequent trips to the bathroom, disrupting the tattooing process and frustrating your artist.

In summary, avoiding alcohol before your tattoo appointment ensures that your blood clots properly, you maintain clear judgement, and you have full control over your body movements. This not only aids in achieving the best possible outcome for your tattoo but also in a smoother experience for both you and your tattoo artist.

Why You Should Avoid Alcohol After a Tattoo

Delayed Healing Process

When you drink alcohol after getting a tattoo, it can significantly delay the body's natural healing process. Alcohol dehydrates your skin, impairing the immune system and slowing down the regeneration needed to heal the tattooed area effectively.

This is particularly crucial as your new tattoo is an open wound requiring optimal conditions to heal correctly. Studies have shown that alcohol consumption reduces the skin's ability to form blood clots and scabs, which are essential for wound healing [3].

Increased Risk of Infection

Your immune system plays a vital role in protecting your new tattoo from infections. Alcohol, by depressing your immune system, can make you more vulnerable to infections, which your body would otherwise naturally fight off.

This increased risk is compounded by alcohol's impact on the skin's ability to regenerate and produce essential immune responses. For instance, alcohol affects lung immunity and the movement of white blood cells, which are critical in fighting infections [4].

Excessive Bleeding

Drinking alcohol thins your blood, which can lead to excessive bleeding, not just during the tattooing process but also afterwards. Moreover, the inability of your blood to clot efficiently can prolong the bleeding, increasing the duration of the healing process and potentially leading to larger issues such as heavy scabbing.

Consequences of Ignoring Guidelines

Impact on Tattoo Quality

Ignoring the guidelines and consuming alcohol before or after getting a tattoo significantly compromises the quality of your ink. Excessive bleeding during a tattoo results in a tattoo that may appear faded or blotchy.

Also, the inability of your blood to clot correctly can prevent the ink from settling into the skin effectively, diminishing the vibrancy and clarity of your tattoo [5].

Health Risks

Drinking alcohol around the time of getting a tattoo increases health risks significantly. Since alcohol impairs the immune system, it makes you more susceptible to infections.

Thinned blood cannot clot effectively, leaving the tattooed area vulnerable to bacteria and prolonging the healing process. If you notice your tattoo still seeping blood after 48 hours, it's crucial to seek medical attention, as this is a clear sign of infection due to alcohol consumption [3].

Extended Recovery Time

Alcohol consumption can extend the recovery time of your tattoo. It disturbs the natural clotting function of your blood, which is essential for the initial closing of the wound created by the tattooing process.

This delay in clotting leads to prolonged bleeding, which prevents the tattoo from healing on the usual timeline. Larger tattoos, which already take longer to heal, can experience even more extended recovery periods if alcohol is consumed.

Healthier Alternatives for Nerve-Calming

Hydration and Nutrition

Staying well-hydrated is essential to aiding in the healing process of your tattoo. Water not only transports nutrients needed for skin repair but also ensures your skin remains healthy to enhance the vibrancy of your new tattoo's colours [6]. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water daily, especially after your tattoo session.

Additionally, maintaining a balanced diet rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals can significantly speed up healing. Foods rich in Vitamin A, like sweet potatoes, and Vitamin C, such as oranges, are beneficial for skin repair and collagen production, while zinc, found in nuts and beans, helps with healing and reduces inflammation [7].

Relaxation Techniques

Managing stress and staying relaxed can profoundly affect your tattoo experience and recovery. Techniques such as deep breathing, using meditation apps, or even engaging in light activities like reading or listening to music can help keep you calm. It's also advisable to get a good night's sleep before your tattoo appointment to ensure you're rested and stress-free.

Use of Numbing Products

Numbing products can be a viable option for those particularly concerned about the pain associated with getting a tattoo. Applying a numbing cream to the tattoo area before your session can significantly reduce discomfort. It's crucial, however, to perform a patch test with the numbing product at least 48 hours before its use to avoid any allergic reactions.

Remember to follow the specific application instructions, such as applying the cream 90 minutes before the session and covering it with cling film to enhance its effectiveness.


Throughout this article, we've discussed the importance of abstaining from alcohol before and after getting a tattoo to safeguard the integrity of your artwork and overall health. The collective consensus of experts highlights the detrimental effects of alcohol on the healing process, increased risk of infection, and potential for compromised tattoo quality.

Emphasising moderation or complete abstinence from alcohol as part of your tattoo aftercare routine underscores not just a commitment to maintaining the aesthetic appeal of your new ink but also to promoting optimal healing and wellness.

For those seeking further insights on tattoo care or considering more additions to their body art collection, delving into additional resources can provide valuable guidance and inspiration. We encourage you to check out our other blogs to explore more about tattoo-related care and tips. Ultimately, understanding the role of alcohol in the context of tattooing equips you with the knowledge to make informed decisions, ensuring the beauty and longevity of your tattoos for years to come.


How long should I wait to drink alcohol after getting a tattoo?

You should wait at least 48 hours after your tattoo session before consuming alcohol. Alcohol can interfere with blood clotting and increase bleeding, impacting the healing process of your new tattoo.

Is it okay to go clubbing after I've had a tattoo done?

Yes, you can go clubbing after getting a tattoo, but be cautious. It's essential to avoid bumping or scraping the tattooed area, which might still be forming scabs. Consider the location and size of your new tattoo, as these factors could affect your comfort and activity levels. Additionally, try to avoid excessive sweating.

Can I drink alcohol before having a tattoo touch-up?

It is advisable not to consume alcohol for at least 24 hours before your tattoo touch-up appointment. Alcohol thins your blood and can impair your judgement, which isn't ideal before undergoing a tattoo procedure.

What activities should I avoid after getting a tattoo?

After getting a tattoo, it's crucial to keep it out of the water, so avoid swimming in pools, hot tubs, rivers, lakes, or any bodies of water until your tattoo has fully healed. Also, be mindful of your clothing choices; avoid wearing anything that might adhere to the tattoo.

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