Should You Shave Before a Tattoo?
If you do shave before having a tattoo, the tattoo artist might still cut the area once more during the pre-tattoo preparation process to ensure that tiny hairs do not interfere with the ink flow.
“Hair can harbor bacteria and should be removed gently to avoid any razor burn or irritation before tattooing,” Otsuji advises.
“If you have sensitive skin or shaving irritates your skin, you can shave a few days prior to your tattoo to let your skin calm down,” Rabach adds Rabach.
How Long Do Tattoos Take to Heal?
According to Rabach, it ypically takes the skin around two to three weeks to completely heal after receiving the tattoo. Tattoos typically go through different phases of healing. After the tattoo, the skin may appear rough and swollen when touched. However, this will only last for up to a couple of days, based on how big your tattoo is and the location it’s put. For instance, a small ink mark placed on the skin of your arm may feel comfortable after a few hours, whereas a larger area in a vulnerable spot, such as your ribs, may take a while to feel normal.
“After about two weeks, you can resume your regular lifestyle although your skin may still be naturally exfoliating and regenerating for up to six weeks,” Otsuji says. “Your artist will have the area bandaged post-tattoo and instruct you how to keep it clean and dry throughout the healing process.”
It is crucial to avoid the sun, swimming, or sweating exposure to sunlight during the two-week healing time, suggests Otsuji. This is because, during this period, there could be mild peeling or scabbing. But, a cream for healing or a gentle moisturizer may be applied sparingly if needed. She suggests Zensa healing cream ($75) for its hydrating and soothing properties due to cucumber extract and shea butter, in addition to sunflower seed oil for preserving the color of your tattoo.
In the middle of the process, the tattoo may appear dark because it’s not yet peeling and is, therefore, safe to shower and touch with, as long as you’re not submerging it entirely in water. The final stage is called the peeling phase, which can occur three to four days up to one week after receiving the ink. After it has scabbed over and falls off the skin, it will regenerate itself and form an extra layer of protection for the tattoo.
When Can You Shave After a Tattoo?
If you get a tattoo, the spot will be entirely shaved before getting it done, so you’ll start with smooth skin. But after some days, the stubble appears, and the desire to shave is often overwhelming. However slowly, shaving can be as rough as a needle if you go to it too quickly. The reason for this is that the cut is still very fresh. Moreover, If you have raised or scabbed areas, you risk causing damage to the artwork by slicing across the region.
Rabach and Otsuji have agreed to wait at least two weeks (four to be on the safe side) before shaving after receiving an ink tattoo.
“Once the skin is fully closed and any scabs that were present are gone is a good sign,” Rabach says. Rabach. “Avoid scent-laden scrubbers and shave gels when shaving over tattooed area. I suggest shaving cream, hot water, soap and any other mild products to minimize irritation.”
Otsuji cautions that although the skin appears better on the outside less than two weeks after the procedure, it might still be highly fragile and delicate or be in the process of peeling. “You don’t want to risk damaging the healing tattoo or causing excess irritation to the area,” she advises.
How Can You Tell If It’s Safe?
Do you need to know if your tattoo is healed fully? Do this skin test to determine whether it’s safe to shave your tattoo again:
Shut your eyes, and move your fingers over and around the tattoo. If you see any raised areas, bumps, or hard scabs, then the skin isn’t back to normal. The site should feel like the skin surrounding it. If you can determine by rubbing it where the tattoo starts to end, or if you feel any skin imperfections, you’ll need to take a bit longer.
Are There Any Exceptions?
Though it’s rare, the tattoo may remain raised for several months. If the tattoo has completely healed and is free of visible sores or scabs, shaving with an electric blade is your ideal choice.
“If you are worried about how sensitive the skin feels you can always use an electric razor or a chemical hair removal, which can be less traumatizing to the skin than the blade of a razor,” Rabach says. Rabach.
Additionally, if you decide to use a blade, use it cautiously, as your tattoo is very close to being fully healed at this point, and the last thing you’d like to do is open it.
When the tattoo is completely healed, you can return to using any of your regular shaving products. Otsuji recommends products for hair removal that moisturize as a great alternative to ensure your tattoos look fresher for a longer time.
“A gentle moisturizer is a great thing to add to your daily routine once your tattoo has healed. I recommend avoiding any products that contain anti-aging ingredients such as retinol, vitamin C, or other chemical exfoliants as these can cause fading to the tattoo,” she states. “Self-tanners can be used once healed, but it’s important to note that they tint the skin, which may cause the tattoo to appear a bit softer.”
Similar to using non-scented and gentle products to shave, Rabach suggests the same method for moisturizing. She also says that Vaseline and Aquaphor can also be beneficial for treating skin.
The Final Takeaway
There’s always the chance of irritation if a routine is disrupted. However, preparation of the area by exfoliating gently and moisturizing for a few days before obtaining tattoos could help minimize irritation, ingrown hairs, and dry, flaky skin.
“If the skin in the area is healthy and the hair is removed properly, it should not compromise the tattoo healing process. Although, if any knicks or ingrown hairs occur from shaving, these issues can cause excess irritation and scabbing, which can lead to premature fallout or fading of the ink.”