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Alcohol and Tattoos - Everything You Need to Know

Tattooed woman drinking alcohol before tattoo appointment

Nervous the day before your tattoo? This is a perfectly normal response, particularly if it’s your first time getting tattooed. As such, you may be wondering if it’s okay to grab a drink or two before your appointment.

Our answer to you is simple: don’t do it!

A tattoo appointment is only optimal when you’re prepared, alert, and healthy — qualities that are impaired by alcohol consumption. In this blog, we’ll explore why even just a cocktail or two could negatively impact your tattoo appointment before and after. We’ll also provide you some healthy recommendations for pre-tattoo activities.
 

Platelets becoming less sticky during tattoo procedureAlcohol Thins the Blood

Light bleeding is to be expected when you get tattooed. Your blood’s ability to clot prevents the bleeding from being excessive. Clotting happens when red blood cells called platelets hurry to the tattoo site, clumping together to close the hole (broken skin).

However, even just one beer or cocktail affects your blood’s ability to clot. Your favorite whiskey, beer, or margarita may help you feel less nervous, but it reduces the platelets in your bloodstream. It also causes the platelets to be less sticky, so they’re not able to clot as efficiently.

How does this affect your tattoo?

When your blood doesn’t clot properly, you bleed more; and when you bleed more during a tattoo, two things can happen:

  1. Your artist’s visibility is impaired by the pooling of your blood mixed with the tattoo ink; they may not be able to tattoo you at their best.
  2. Your blood mixes with the tattoo ink, dilutes it, and causes your finished product to look faded or washed out.

 

Alcohol Impairs JudgmentTattoo client experiencing the beer goggle effect after drinking

Impaired judgment has a multi-faceted effect on your tattoo experience.

The Beer Goggle Effect

After a few drinks, things may look a lot better than they would if you were sober. This is often called the beer goggle effect. When it comes to approving a mock-up or stencil, you want to have a clear mind and vision; you don’t want to don a rosy pair of beer goggles, which may cause you to approve a concept you don’t 100% want on your body.

Mutual Respect between Artist and Client

 You wouldn’t want your tattoo artist to have a drink before tattooing you, right? You’d like for them to be alert and at their absolute best.

Your tattoo artist expects the same from you! While it’s perfectly fine to be nervous, showing up (even mildly) intoxicated for an appointment can impair your ability to make sound judgment, sit still for the duration of the tattoo, and communicate effectively with your artist. This is especially important if the final design of your tattoo has not yet been finalized the day of your appointment. Moreover, if you’re intoxicated enough for it to be visible in any way, a professional tattoo artist will refuse to tattoo you.

So, aside from avoiding an “alcohol tattoo” of impaired quality, you’ll want to avoid an impaired relationship with your artist. Therefore, it’s for the best that you show up sober.
 

Can You Drink After Getting A Tattoo?

 When your body is healthy and sober, it’s quite efficient in repairing the damage caused by a tattoo. Unfortunately, because of alcohol’s effects on the blood mentioned above, a couple drinks after your tattoo can compromise the healing process that occurs days to weeks after needles have touched your skin. So, in a nutshell: Drinking after tattoo = not advisable.

We recommend our selection of tattoo aftercare (as well as avoiding alcohol) to promote a healthy tattoo healing process. Shop for great brands like INK-EEZE, Hustle Butter, and Recovery Aftercare.
 

What Can You Do Before Your Tattoo?

While mixing alcohol and tattoos is not our recommendation, there are plenty of things we do recommend before your tattoo appointment to ensure an optimal experience!Three bottles of water for hydrating before a tattoo

  1. Avoid the sun and stay hydrated several days before your appointment. Hydration is a process that occurs over several days (i.e. not in the time it takes for you to chug a big glass of water). Staying hydrated keeps up your energy and state of well-being, so you’re better prepared for your tattoo session. It also helps not to have a big sunburn on the place where you’ll be tattooed!
  2. Dry brush or apply lotion to your tattoo site to help with blood circulation and cell turn-over. For dry brushing, use a gentle bristle brush and sweep over the skin.
  3. Rest up and stay well-fed. Tattooing burns calories and takes up energy, especially if it’s a longer session.
  4. Eat plenty of dark green leafy vegetables that are high in vitamin K. This helps to thicken the blood for your tattoo procedure.

 

Still nervous before your tattoo? Make sure you’ve chosen an artist who you trust to have an open, honest conversation with; and bear in mind, your nerves may dissipate and be replaced with pure excitement as soon as the tattooing begins.

But one thing’s for sure: alcohol and tattoos don’t mix like your favorite cocktail! In the end, you’ll want an amazing tattoo, not an alcohol tattoo.