Can I Drink Before Or After Getting A New Tattoo?

Getting a tattoo is often filled with many emotions. It’s common for people getting a new tattoo to feel excitement, nervousness and some stress in the days leading up to getting the new tattoo – especially if you are about to get your first one.

Many times, when people have these emotions they look to alcohol to help calm these feelings so they can better enjoy the experience. Drinking alcohol both too soon before and after getting a new tattoo can have a surprisingly significant impact on both the overall experience and could also impact how well the tattoo turns out.

In the article below, we will review how drinking alcohol (or even consuming some common daily beverages) might cause problems for your new tattoo.

Drinking Before Getting A Tattoo

In a recent survey conducted by, we found that almost 90% of those who responded had planned ahead of time to get a their first tattoo. Only 10% of stated that they had put no planning into the experience.

Since a majority of people have a considerable amount of time into planning their new tattoo experience, it can be quite frustrating for them to get turned away by the tattoo shop when they show up for their appointment because they are intoxicated. This can, and almost certainly will, turn what should have been an exciting fun experience into one full of frustration and anger.

Drinking before getting a tattoo can cause numerous problems for both the person getting the tattoo and the artist doing the work.

Below are the most common reasons why it is not smart to drink before getting a tattoo:

Liability Issues

Most tattoo parlors won’t work on you if they suspect you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Tattooing a person under the influence can put both the artist and the parlor at risk for legal problems. Even though the paperwork that you sign prior to getting a tattoo releases the artist and shop from certain liabilities and issues that may arise, those papers don’t entirely release the shop from all forms of negligence.

Some states will also view the “contract” or consent paperwork that is signed before that tattoo is given as “invalid” should the person signing the documents be intoxicated.

Too Much Movement

An artist only has one chance to get a tattoo correct. It’s extremely important that the person getting the tattoo is calm and not moving around during the process. Most people who are under the influence of alcohol become more active and animated. They also become more relaxed which causes them to talk more.

This makes the job of the tattoo artist extremely difficult. The artist can’t do their job if the person is constantly moving or turning around to make eye contact while talking.

Trust me, when getting a tattoo, you want  your artist completely focuses on the job they are doing. Adding other distractions to their environment significantly increases the tattoo that you are getting comes out not looking as good as you had envisioned.

Not Being Able to Finish

Another risk to showing up intoxicated or under the influence of a substance is the fact that the artist may not be able to finish the tattoo. As we covered above, if the artist is unable to completely focus on the work, they may ask you to leave and return at another time.

This is a waste of time for the tattoo artist and also a loss of income for them.  This may end up causing your follow-up meeting with artist to be a bit awkward.

Poor Decisions

Let’s face it, no one makes their best decisions while under the influence of alcohol. Everyone at one time or another has probably regretted decisions they’ve made while intoxicated.

These same issues can apply to tattoos. While intoxicated, it may sound like a great idea to get some ink put on your knuckles or even your neck. However, the morning after may be filled with regret as you then decide the location of this new tattoo isn’t in the best place for you.

Beer Goggle Effect

In addition to not always making the best decisions, many times things look better while drinking than they do when sober. This is often referred to as the “Beer Goggles” effect, and typically applies to men trying to pick up women that they don’t find quite as attractive once they have sobered up.

A great example of this happening with tattoos, is an intoxicated person OK’ing the mock up drawings by an artist.

When intoxicated, you are much less likely to be focused on the details of the drawings that you are reviewing. Therefore, it’s also likely to assume you are only going to glance at the work being done and tell the artist to continue.

This behavior can have serious consequences once you sober up and realize that certain details are different than you remember approving the night before. Given that the tattoo is permanent, making any changes to it can become expensive or even impossible.

Blood Loss

Many people don’t realize that alcohol works as a blood thinner once it gets into your system. It’s common to bleed when getting a tattoo because the tattoo gun is embedding the ink between layers of skin. These make for bad combinations.

If you have consumed enough alcohol for your blood to be thinned, it’s likely that you are going to excessively bleed during your tattoo. Excessive bleeding will slow down your artist because they will need to constantly wipe away the blood as do their work.

There is a possibility that the artist could ask you to return at a later time to finish up the work if the excessive bleeding slows them down too much.

Diluted Ink

The final risk that you could encounter while getting a tattoo can actually impact how your ink looks. As we covered above, alcohol thins your blood. Due to this, it can cause the ink from your tattoo to become diluted by allowing it to more easily get absorbed into your body.

If this occurs, your tattoo will appear faded within just a few weeks of getting your ink. This will add to the expense of your tattoo you will likely want to get it touched up to bring the bright, crisp colors back to life.

Drinking After  Getting  A Tattoo

We covered how drinking before getting a tattoo can impact the experience. Consuming alcohol after getting a tattoo can have a impact on your new ink as well.

Getting a tattoo, creates an “open wound” on your body. This wound will need time to heal. Depending on the size and location of a tattoo, the healing process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to fully complete the entire process.

Drinking too soon after getting a tattoo can significantly slow the process of healing. It’s important that your body be able to scab the wound and begin to heal itself properly. Drinking alcohol (and thinning the blood) will slow this process down which will cause you to have to care for the open wound for a longer period of time than had you avoided alcohol right after getting your new ink.

How soon after getting a tattoo can you consume alcohol? The minimum that you should wait is at least 24 hours, however, it’s strongly suggested that you wait at least 48 hours to give you body the additional time to heal.

Other Drinks and Medications To Avoid

Alcohol isn’t the only thing that you should avoid ingesting prior to getting a tattoo. It is advised that large amounts of caffeinated drinks be avoided within 24 hours of getting a tattoo as well. This includes coffee, energy drinks and soft drinks.

Many people don’t realize it, but large amounts of caffeine can have the same impact thinning impact on your blood as alcohol.

If you decide that you want to take some medication prior to getting your tattoo, make sure you take the right one. Taking Tylenol before getting a tattoo is highly encouraged as it will help reduce some of the pain both during and after getting your new ink.

Other medications such as Ibuprofen and aspirin should be avoided. These over the counter medications work by thinning the blood.

How To Thicken Your Blood

This might sound odd, but many people often ask how they can thicken their blood before a tattoo to ensure they do not experience excessive bleeding while getting their new ink. If alcohol and other drinks can thin your blood, there should items that do the opposite.

You actually can do a couple things to help thicken your blood a bit before getting a tattoo. The first and most important thing I recommend for someone going in for a new tattoo is to ensure they are properly hydrated.

Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to getting your tattoo. This is the most helpful step you can take to preventing excessive bleeding.

The next thing I recommend is to eat foods that are high in Vitamin K. This vitamin works by increasing the thickness of your blood. Don’t worry, the thickening of the blood is not to dangerous levels. Dark green vegetables are the best source for Vitamin K. These vegetables include brussel sprouts, spinach and broccoli.


As you can see, consuming alcohol can impact the tattoo experience in a number of ways. The excitement of getting and showing off new ink can be ruined by having a few shots beforehand to take the edge off.

Do everything you can to avoid drinking 24 hours before and 48 hours after getting a tattoo to ensure your experience is a positive one.

Tattoo Salve – Once you’ve gotten past the first few days of healing, you can switch over to using a salve to keep your tattoo moisturized. This will also help keep the colors vibrant. Ora’s Tattoo Salve (Click here) is a great organic option to keep your tattoo protected.

Tattoo Wrap – In the days after getting your tattoo, it’s important to keep it protected from dirt, dust and bacteria. On the other hand, it’s also important to make sure your tattoo gets air and oxygen to help with the healing. This tattoo wrap by Saniderm offers the best of both worlds. It is a breathable material that also helps protect your new ink. It’s much cheaper to buy ahead of time rather than waiting till you get to the tattoo shop. You can grab it from Amazon by clicking here.

Numbing Cream – If you are looking for a way to reduce the pain that comes from getting a tattoo, then using a numbing cream is a great option. Lidocaine is the leading ingredient that numbs your skin in these creams. FDA regulations state that the maximum amount of lidocaine that can be bought over the counter is 5%. That’s why I recommend Ebanel Numbing Cream (Click Here). It has the maximum amount of lidocaine and also contains aloe and vitamin E to help with healing.