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Can You Drink After Getting A Tattoo?

Got a fresh tattoo and wondering if you can grab a drink to celebrate? It’s actually a really bad idea. Here’s why.

Understanding the Tattoo Healing Process

When you get a tattoo, it’s not just ink on skin. 

It’s a series of tiny wounds that your body needs to heal. Here’s the deal: your skin has three layers, and the tattoo needle punctures the top layer to deposit ink into the second. This triggers your immune system to start the healing process.

First, there’s swelling and redness. Your body’s sending blood and nutrients to fix the damage. Then, you’ll see scabbing. This is good; it means your body’s doing its job, creating a barrier to protect the wound as it heals.

Over the next few weeks, your skin repairs itself from the inside out. 

The ink stays trapped in the second layer, while the top layer heals over it. It’s a delicate time, and what you do (or don’t do) can make a big difference in how well your tattoo heals and looks in the long run. 

So, let’s talk about why reaching for a drink might not be the best idea during this time.

How Alcohol Impacts The Healing Process of Your Tattoo

Alcohol can negatively impact the healing process of a tattoo in several ways. When you get a tattoo, your skin is essentially experiencing a wound, and your body needs to heal that wound for the tattoo to look its best. 

Here’s how alcohol can interfere with this process:

  • Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases the rate at which your body eliminates fluids. This can lead to dehydration, which is detrimental to the healing process. Dehydrated skin can become dry and flaky, which might cause the ink to look patchy or lead to excessive scabbing.
  • Blood Thinning: Alcohol thins your blood, which can lead to increased bleeding during the tattooing process. This not only makes the job harder for the tattoo artist but also can result in more bleeding and oozing in the days following, which can push ink out and lead to patchiness or blurriness in your design.
  • Slowed Healing: Your immune system is responsible for healing wounds, including tattooed skin. Alcohol can suppress the immune system, slowing down the healing process. This prolonged healing time increases the risk of infection and can lead to a less vibrant tattoo.
  • Poor Decision-Making: Alcohol impairs judgment and can lead to poor aftercare decisions. You might neglect proper hygiene or aftercare instructions, leading to complications or infections.
  • Increased Risk of Infection: Because alcohol can impair your immune system and because it might lead to poor aftercare practices, the risk of infection is higher. An infection can significantly damage a new tattoo and lead to health complications.

How Long Should You Wait To Drink After Getting A Tattoo?

So, how long should you hold off on the booze? Experts say wait at least 48 hours before having a drink. In some cases, you may need to wait even longer.


That’s the critical time when your tattoo starts its healing journey. In these first two days, your body’s working overtime to stop the bleeding and start the scabbing. It’s a delicate phase, and alcohol can throw a wrench in the works.

But let’s be real, the longer you can wait, the better. A full week is even more ideal. It gives your tattoo the uninterrupted healing time it needs. 

A tattoo artist works on a tattoo for a client
Can you drink after getting a tattoo?

What About Drinking Before You Get A Tattoo?

Thinking about a pre-tattoo drink? Again, bad idea. 

Alcohol before a tattoo messes with two important things: your blood and your brain. 

First (as we already mentioned), it thins your blood, making it harder for your skin to hold onto the ink. This means more bleeding, more pain, and a less crisp tattoo.

Now, let’s talk brain. 

Alcohol clouds your judgment. You might think that slightly wonky design looks fine under the influence, but sober you might not agree. 

A tattoo is for life, so you want to make sure you’re 100% on board with what’s going on your skin.

From the artist’s side, it’s not just about quality, it’s about ethics and legality. They need you sober to ensure you’re making a sound decision. 

Plus, tattooing someone under the influence is a major no-go in many places. Artists have a reputation to maintain, and they can’t risk it on a drunken whim. 

What Should You Do to Aid the Healing Process?

Okay, so no drinking. But what should you do? You’ve got that fresh tat; how do you ensure it heals into the masterpiece it’s meant to be? Here are some healthy options to aid your tattoo’s healing journey.

  • Hydrate: First things first, water is your best friend. Hydration is crucial for healing. It keeps your skin supple and helps flush out toxins. Aim for the golden standard of 8 glasses a day (minimum).
  • Eat Well: Your body’s a healing machine, and like any machine, it needs the right fuel. Load up on foods rich in vitamins A and C, zinc, and omega-3s. Think leafy greens, citrus fruits, nuts, and fish. These nutrients are the building blocks for skin repair and will help your tattoo heal beautifully.
  • Gentle Care Routine: Follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare instructions to the letter. Gently clean your tattoo with fragrance-free soap, pat it dry, and apply a thin layer of recommended ointment. Avoid the urge to pick or scratch; let your skin do its thing.
  • Rest and Recuperate: Your body heals best when it’s well-rested. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and taking it easy. Stress can slow down the healing process, so consider this your official excuse to chill and binge-watch your favorite show.
  • Sun Protection: UV rays can be a healing tattoo’s worst enemy. Keep it covered or slather on a high SPF sunscreen if you’re going out. Protecting your tattoo from the sun will prevent fading and help maintain its vibrancy.

Long-Term Tattoo Care and Alcohol

Let’s look down the road. 

You’ve got your tattoo healed up nicely, but what about the long haul? Here’s the deal: ongoing heavy drinking can still mess with your tattoo’s looks. 

Remember, alcohol is a dehydrator, and over time, dehydrated skin loses elasticity. This can lead to a faded, aged appearance of your tattoo.

But it’s not just about looks. 

Alcohol impacts your overall health, and that includes your skin’s health. Poor skin health means poor tattoo appearance. 

Plus, if you’re constantly under the influence, you might neglect the ongoing care your tattoo needs, like moisturizing and protecting it from the sun.

In short, a drink here and there is fine, but if you want your tattoo (and mind and body) to stay sharp and vibrant for years to come, it’s best to keep the heavy drinking in check. 

FAQs About Drinking After Getting a Tattoo

Q: Can I have a drink right after getting my tattoo?

A: It’s best to wait. Experts recommend holding off on alcohol for at least 48 hours after getting inked. This gives your tattoo the crucial initial healing time it needs.

Q: Why does alcohol affect tattoo healing?

A: Alcohol thins your blood, leading to increased bleeding and swelling. It can also dehydrate you and weaken your immune system, all of which can interfere with the healing process and affect the quality of your tattoo.

Q: Will one beer really ruin my tattoo?

A: While one beer might not ruin your tattoo, it can still affect the healing process. Even a small amount of alcohol can thin your blood and increase bleeding. For the best results, it’s safer to avoid it altogether during the initial healing phase.

Q: What can I drink instead of alcohol while my tattoo is healing?

A: Water is your best bet. Staying hydrated helps your skin heal. Herbal teas are also a good option. Just avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can dehydrate you.

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

A: Waiting at least 48 hours is generally recommended. However, waiting a full week is even better, especially for larger or more detailed tattoos.

Q: Can drinking alcohol before getting a tattoo affect the process?

A: Yes, drinking before your tattoo appointment can thin your blood, making it harder for the ink to stay in your skin and potentially leading to more pain and bleeding. It can also impair your judgment, which isn’t ideal when you’re about to make a permanent decision.

Q: Will alcohol fade my tattoo over time?

A: Regular heavy drinking can lead to skin issues and poor overall health, which might affect the long-term appearance of your tattoo. While an occasional drink won’t cause your ink to fade, moderation is key to keeping your tattoo looking sharp for years to come.

Q: What are some signs that my tattoo isn’t healing properly?

A: Excessive redness, swelling, pus, or ongoing pain can all be signs of infection. If you notice any of these symptoms, or if something just doesn’t feel right, contact your tattoo artist or a healthcare professional immediately.

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