Shaving and tattoos: We answer the questions you’re itching to know
Freshly inked? We get it, you’re probably dying to show off your new tattoo asap. And all that stubble may be spoiling its appearance or making you want to scratch like a bear on a tree.
But hold up! Before you go taking a razor to your newly tattooed skin, read our guide about what’s okay (and not okay) when it comes to shaving and tattoos.
Should you shave before a tattoo?
First things first, what about shaving before getting a tattoo?
Well, if you’re getting a tattoo on an area that’s covered in hair (e.g. chest, back, arms legs etc…), then it’s really important to shave beforehand.
Not only is it vital that no hairs are in the way for a smooth finish, but hair can harbour bacteria which may lead to irritation and/or infection.
After all, fresh tattoos are open wounds and minimising the risk of infection is paramount to their healing.
Do tattoo artists shave you?
Your tattoo artist will usually shave you before they begin inking your skin. This may be the case even if you’ve shaved yourself prior to your appointment.
If you’ve got sensitive skin, you can always shave a few days before you’re due in the chair to allow any irritation to subside.
Should I shave my arm before a tattoo?
If you’ve got hair on your arms, which most adults have to some degree, then you’ll need to shave it before getting a tattoo.
For some people this may not be a usual occurrence, but it’s totally expected when getting a tattoo. So, go ahead and get out that razor.
Shaving after a tattoo
When it comes to shaving after getting a tattoo, there’s a few things to consider.
When can I shave after a tattoo?
It’s really important that you wait until your tattoo is fully healed before letting a razor anywhere near your skin.
How do you know if your tattoo is fully healed and ready to shave? Well, tattoos typically go through several distinct healing stages.
During the first week, you’ll probably notice the skin around your tattoo is red, maybe swollen, and even oozing liquid. This is all part of the healing process and by week two things should have calmed down, although your skin is now likely to go through an itchy stage where it scabs over.
During these first stages it’s really important not to shave the area. The thought of shaving over a wound will probably make you wince, plus it’s vital in terms of keeping the area free of infection, as well as not doing any harm to your skin and your ink.
By weeks three and four most of the earlier itchiness should go away. And after this time it should be safe to resume shaving the tattooed area.
How long after a tattoo can I shave my legs?
You should wait until your leg tattoo is fully healed. This can take anywhere between three and four weeks, depending on factors such as the size of your tattoo and how fast your skin heals itself.
Can I shave my tattoo after a week?
Shaving your tattoo after a week is definitely not recommended. Your skin is likely to be still in its healing phase, so you should avoid introducing any bacteria to the area. By shaving too soon you also run the risk of cutting the wound with a razor and damaging your beautiful artwork.
Can shaving damage a tattoo?
Shaving can only damage a tattoo if it’s done too soon. Taking a razor to the area before it’s fully healed runs the risk of cutting the healing tattoo, which may result in ink coming away and ruining your design.
Once a tattoo has had time to fully heal, the ink will be embedded in your deeper layers of skin. This means it’s completely fine to shave the area - just like you would with any non-tattooed area of your body.
How to avoid a shaving rash after a tattoo
Urgh, shaving rash. Whether you’ve got sensitive skin or not, it’s likely you’ve experienced this nuisance at some point and know how irritating it can be!
To avoid shaving rash after getting tattooed, there’s a few do’s and don’ts to follow:
- Do soften your hair first - Soaking yourself in a warm bath or shower will help your skin expand and soften your hairs, making it easier to shave
- Do exfoliate your skin before shaving - Exfoliating is generally great for tattoos. When it comes to shaving, exfoliating first removes dead skin cells and dirt from your skin, allowing for a smoother (i.e. less irritating) shave
- Do shave in the right direction - This is the direction in which your hair grows. Test it out by running your hand over your skin - the right direction is the way that feels smoother, with less resistance.
- Don’t shave until your tattoo is fully healed - If there’s only one thing you remember from this blog, let it be this!
- Don’t go too hard with the razor - It'll cause more friction and may catch your skin
- Don’t dry shave - Instead use a shaving gel or foam, which helps form a protective barrier between the skin and razor blade and reduces friction and irritation.
And finally, don’t forget the tattoo aftercare…
Shaving rash treatment after a tattoo
Even if you follow all these do’s and don’t to the tee, sadly you aren’t guaranteed to eliminate all instances of shaving rash. To help ease the irritation, you may want to apply something to your affected skin.
At Stories & Ink, our tattoo Aftercare Cream has been specifically designed to soothe, calm and repair damaged skin immediately after tattooing.
As your tattoo heals, the Aftercare Cream is gentle enough to use as a post-shave soothing treatment, helping reduce any irritation, leaving your inked skin smooth and happy!