Booking a tattoo session can bring up a lot of feelings and emotions, no matter whether this is your first tattoo or your tenth.
In the time leading up to getting a new piece of ink, it is perfectly normal to feel a mix of different emotions: these may include suspense, excitement, anxiety, and even pure panic, especially if you have never had a tattoo before.
No matter what anyone else tells you, yes, the tattoo is going to hurt. Of course, it is.
The tattoo artist is going to be jabbing you with a needle for, at least, an hour: if it didn’t hurt, it should be presumed that your skin is made of stone. Unfortunately, this is something that cannot be completely avoided, and it is simply something that you will need to endure if you want that sick piece of ink on your body.
The level of pain you experience will depend on who you are, and what your tolerance level is, but you really shouldn’t worry!
Depending on the size of your design, the pain should be tolerable, and you will most likely zone out from the feeling after a little while. Most clients even have full-on conversations with their tattoo artists while their tattoos are being done, meaning that you will likely be distracted from the pain most of the time.
When people are experiencing anxiety beforehand, anticipating the pain that they are about to endure, they sometimes turn to alcohol to help them calm down, believing it will help them enjoy the moment more effectively.
Some people may suggest to you that having a drink before your tattoo session may help calm your nerves. Many people will get last-minute tattoos on a night out, or on vacation, whilst being absolutely wasted.
What many people are unaware of is, however, that consuming alcohol too soon before or after having a new tattoo can have a significant detrimental effect on both the overall experience and the quality of the end result of the tattoo.
But, if so many people get intoxicated before getting their new ink, surely it can’t have too much of a negative impact on the finished tattoo… right?
In this article, we are going to look at seven reasons why getting drunk before and/or after getting a fresh piece of ink could be a bad idea, and why you probably shouldn’t do it.
So, let’s jump straight into the facts.
Why Shouldn’t You Drink Before Getting a New Tattoo?
Here are seven reasons why you should avoid drinking alcohol before, during, and after getting a new tattoo.
1. You Could Potentially Get Turned Away From The Tattoo Parlor
When planning a new tattoo, you will be faced with two options to choose from: whether you want to book an appointment in advance, or whether you would prefer to turn up for a walk-in appointment.
Depending on the tattoo parlor of your choice, you may only be able to book one ahead of time. If they allow walk-ins, however, you may be able to get your new piece of ink that same day, provided the design is small and simple enough to complete within a short period of time.
Since many people will spend a significant amount of time arranging their new tattoo encounter, getting both nervous and excited while the big moment is looming, it may be extremely disappointing for them to be turned away by the tattoo shop since they are seemingly too drunk when they arrive for their appointment.
If you are planning to go for a walk-in appointment, it is heavily recommended that you turn up to the shop completely sober.
It is also recommended to remain sober if you have booked an appointment ahead of time, also. Many artists will refuse, and have the right to refuse to tattoo someone if they believe they are intoxicated, even if the appointment was booked months before.
Being turned away from an appointment can be extremely disappointing at the best of times, but can feel even worse if it was due to a reason that could have easily been avoided.
If you want to avoid disappointment on the day, be sure to avoid those seemingly inviting drinks that you believe will calm your nerves beforehand.
2. You Should Be In A Clear State Of Mind Before/While Getting Inked
Anyone who has been wasted at some point in their life knows that alcohol rarely ever leads to great decisions being made. In fact, alcohol usually leads to poor decisions being made.
Unless you are someone who is completely covered, head to toe, with tattoos, and one more tattoo probably will not make a difference to your overall appearance, you should probably think long and hard about what you are getting inked onto your body. Once it is there, there is no easy way of removing it.
Even if you have had an idea in your mind for a tattoo for years, you will definitely be more satisfied with the end result if you were sober while getting it done.
Before the tattoo artist starts creating the tattoo with ink and needles, they will usually place a light, removable stencil of the overall shape onto the body part that you wish to get tattooed, allowing you to view what it will look like before it is permanently etched into your skin.
When we are drunk, we often do not see things for what they really are: you may decide that you love the placement at the time, only to wake up the next morning and wish you had placed it somewhere different.
Getting a tattoo is a permanent decision, and you should be completely clear-headed while getting one done. Otherwise, you will probably regret it when you sober up. Trust us: it’s just not worth it!
3. You May Move Around Too Much While Being Tattooed
Unlike a sketch or a painting on a canvas, a tattoo is a piece of art that cannot be erased or painted over if it goes wrong.
Yes, there are options to get tattoos laser cut off, but these procedures are not only extremely expensive (and, not to mention, a lot more painful than a tattoo) but several sessions will be required to fully remove the tattoo if it is even possible.
Long story short, your chosen tattoo artist will only have one shot to get it right. If it goes wrong, the whole process will be ruined.
It is critical that the individual getting tattooed remains calm during the entire process, and does not move around at all throughout the procedure. Unfortunately, whilst under the influence of drink, most people generally become more lively and energetic, unaware of their movements. They also become more comfortable, which leads to increased conversation and gestures.
The tattoo artist’s task will become incredibly difficult as a result of this. If the person is continually fidgeting, squirming, or moving around while speaking, the artist will be somewhat distracted, and unable to execute their role professionally.
When it comes to receiving a tattoo, you want the artist to be entirely focused on the job at hand. Putting additional distractions into their environment raises the likelihood that the tattoo you are acquiring will not turn out as well as you had hoped.
You will be much better off being sober, being completely aware of your own actions.
4. The Tattoo May Not Be Able To Be Finished During The Session
Another danger of arriving at an appointment whilst being intoxicated, or under the influence of any sort of drug, is that the tattoo artist may be unable to complete the tattoo.
If the artist becomes unable to fully concentrate on the task at hand, due to reasons that we have mentioned above, they may ask you to leave and return at a later date. This will be extremely disappointing all around: after all, no one wants to go home with an incomplete tattoo.
If you have caused too much damage during your session, even if you did not mean to cause any harm, they may not ask you to return to finish the piece.
This is not only embarrassing, but it will also mean that your finished tattoo may not look the way that you want it due to someone else having to finish it for you. Some tattoo artists will point blank refuse to finish another artist’s piece, so it may be difficult to find someone else who will complete the tattoo.
Overall, this will be an incredibly disappointing experience. For the tattoo artist, it will be a pointless exercise that is a complete waste of their time, as well as a loss of revenue, as they could have had an appointment with someone else during this time.
Even if the tattoo artist asks to reschedule an appointment with you, the next time you meet will undoubtedly be awkward. Honestly, it is just best to avoid this scenario altogether.
5. You Will Bleed More While Being Under The Influence Of Alcohol
Some people bleed more than others: this is a simple fact. While some individuals are able to have injections or give blood with ease, others may bleed all over the place, requiring several napkins to mop the mess up.
The same rules apply to those being tattooed. Some people may barely bleed at all during their session, whereas others will end up going home with red tattoos, having to wait a while longer for the bleeding to stop.
This is hardly a life-threatening scenario, so you do not need to worry about that! Generally, though, it is a better experience for both the client and the tattooist when the person being inked does not bleed everywhere (although this often cannot be helped).
One way to ensure that you will bleed more than usual is if you have drunk an excessive amount of alcohol before your appointment.
So many individuals are unaware that once alcohol enters their bloodstream, it acts as a blood thinner. While receiving a tattoo, it is expected that that area will bleed since the tattoo gun injects the ink between several layers of skin. Combined with alcohol, however, will ensure a truly messy experience.
If you have consumed enough alcohol to thin your blood, you will most definitely bleed profusely throughout your session. Heavy bleeding will require your artist to work more slowly because they will continuously have to pause to dab the blood away as they operate.
If the bleeding delays the process too much, the tattoo artist may ask you to come back at a later date to finish the piece. Again, this can be incredibly disappointing for both you and the artist.
6. The Ink Will Not Set As Well Due To The Alcohol In Your Blood/System
Another unfortunate factor that you could encounter while getting a tattoo whilst being under the influence is that alcohol can actually alter the appearance of your artwork.
As we previously stated in the last section, alcohol thins the blood. As a result, the ink from your tattoo may become weakened and diluted as the thinned blood will allow the ink to be absorbed much more easily into your skin. This is bad news if you have chosen to have a tattoo with bright, vibrant colors.
When this happens, your tattoo will begin to gradually fade just a couple of weeks, or even days, after you have had it.
Most tattoos will need to be retouched after a couple of years, due to the ink in your skin naturally fading over time, but usually, this process does not need to happen for a long time after the initial tattoo session.
This means that you will end up having to pay extra to have your tattoo touched up, bringing the colors and vibrancy back, increasing the amount of money that you will have spent on the piece overall.
If you wish to save your money (and the amount of pain that you will have to endure) you should make sure that you remain sober for your tattoo session. You do not want to have to return to the parlor just a week or so after getting the initial piece completed due to the ink not fully absorbing into your body.
7. You May Regret Getting The Tattoo!
As we previously mentioned, people generally do not make a lot of great decisions while they are wasted. In fact, a lot of bad decisions are usually made while individuals are under the influence.
We have seen it time and time again, in several movies and TV shows. Remember that scene in the second Hangover movie, when Ed Helms’s character wakes up, horrified to realize that he has the infamous Mike Tyson tattoo on the side of his face? Of course, the character thought it was a great idea at the time! When he sobers up, well… not so much.
It is a trope we have seen in the media for decades, and although these scenarios are fictional, it does not mean they cannot happen in real life.
When you are drunk, you are far less inclined to pay full attention to the details of the artwork being permanently etched into your skin. As a result, it is safe to presume you will just glimpse at the work in progress and instruct the artist to keep going!
When you wake up and learn that things are a bit different from what you recall authorizing the night prior, this action can have major implications. Now, you are stuck with this tattoo for life.
And, hey, remember: while tattoo lasering is an option, it is definitely not something to look forward to. It is best to avoid this situation altogether. Seriously.
What Else Should You Avoid Taking/Drinking Before Getting a New Tattoo?
So, now that we have tried to convince you not to get drunk before getting your new tattoo, you are probably wondering if there is anything else that could negatively affect this experience for you.
Well, another thing that you should remember is that you should avoid drinking alcohol for at least 48 hours after getting the tattoo. Alcohol consumption following getting some fresh ink might also have an effect on your new tattoo.
As we said before, a new tattoo should be treated as a fresh wound, and wounds take a while to heal. Drinking too soon following getting a new tattoo can seriously alter the healing time, due to the thinning of your blood.
When your blood thins, it means that your body will take longer to form scabs over the punctured skin, meaning it will take much longer for the tattoo to completely heal over.
Another substance that should be avoided in large quantities before and after getting a new tattoo is caffeine, as this also causes your blood to thin. The same goes for certain painkillers, such as aspirin and Ibuprofen.
If you really wish to use some kind of painkiller to get you through the process, it is recommended that you take Tylenol.
What Can You Do Before Getting a New Tattoo?
At this point, it probably feels like there is not a lot that you can do before getting a tattoo, doesn’t it?
As we said, you are allowed to take Tylenol if you really feel that you need to take some form of over-the-counter medication before you have your tattoo.
This is fine to take and may reduce the pain you feel while getting the ink done. You will be able to take it straight away after your tattoo has finished too, without running the risk of thinning your blood and slowing down the healing time.
You should drink plenty of fluids during the days leading up to your tattoo appointment, keeping yourself hydrated with water.
It is also recommended that you eat something sugary on the day of your session, too, so that you are less likely to pass out. You will almost definitely feel nauseous during your tattoo experience if you skip the meal before your appointment.
Last but not least, strangely, it has been suggested that individuals should eat foods that are high in vitamin K before getting a new tattoo, such as kale, spinach, asparagus, and even mayonnaise. Why? Well, Vitamin K has been known to thicken a person’s blood. This will be incredibly handy while you are being tattooed, as you will be less likely to bleed profusely during the process.
At the end of the day, if you are getting a tattoo, you are probably old enough to know what is good for you and what is not.
We have given you advice, and if you choose to take it, great! If not, it is unlikely that any real harm will come from drinking alcohol before getting a tattoo. Many people will get drunk before they get inked, and their tattoos turn out fine… although, this is not something to bank on.
Ultimately, it is completely your decision.
You need to do whatever you need to do! Just keep our tips in mind, and hopefully, your new piece will turn out just the way you want it to.
Good luck, and happy inking!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Take Aspirin Before A Tattoo?
While some people may swear that this is a life hack to live by while getting a new tattoo, it is generally not recommended to take aspirin, or other anti-inflammatory pills, for 24 to 48 hours before getting tattooed.
These medications have a predisposition to thin your blood, and this will cause you to bleed out more while being inked: while this should not be too dangerous, and isn’t life-threatening, it will cause excess mess and may cause you to feel a little more lightheaded than you should.
It is generally recommended that you avoid taking most painkillers before your tattoo appointment unless you feel that it is absolutely essential.
What Happens To Your Tattoo When You Get Drunk?
Drinking alcohol while you have a fresh tattoo will not kill you, but it will delay the healing process. Alcohol will thin your blood, affecting the rate that your blood takes to clot, meaning the scabbing process that takes place while your tattoo is healing will take a lot longer than it would have if you had not drunk alcohol.
It is also worth remembering that if you are drunk, you will have a hard time remembering that you have a new tattoo that needs to be cared for. Tattoos tend to itch while healing and alcohol can easily cloud your judgment: after a few drinks, you may be convinced that scratching a little is harmless, or you may scratch it without realizing it, causing damage to your new, fresh ink.
How Do You Get Rid Of Scabs On A New Tattoo?
This will be one of the first things your tattoo artist will tell you once they have finished your piece of ink: you should never try to remove the scabs from your healing tattoo, no matter how much they may be annoying you.
The scabbing of a fresh tattoo is a sign of healthy healing, as the new skin needs to form over the top of the ink: after all, a tattoo is, technically, an open wound.
Picking the scabs could result in a damaged, low-quality tattoo once healed, and in a worst-case scenario, it could lead to an ugly, painful infection. Both these scenarios should be avoided at all costs. Let the scabs fall off on their own!