Drinking is fun (in moderation!) – no one can deny that. But drinking alcohol before and after tattooing can have undesirable side effects. Most (reputable) tattoo artists won’t tattoo you if you show up drunk for your tattoo appointment – let alone go to a tattoo parlour without an appointment. Tattoos last a lifetime, and as you may know, you’re not able to make the best decisions for yourself when you’re drunk!
But let’s go into detail about why you shouldn’t drink alcohol before and after getting a tattoo.
Can you drink alcohol before a tattoo?
The simple answer is no, you shouldn’t. Drinking before getting a tattoo has various undesirable effects on your body and mind that you want to avoid. Your blood is thinned and therefore it’s much harder to get ink into your skin (and that’s kind of required for a tattoo!). Also, your body’s healing abilities are diminished and you will not have the right mindset if you drink alcohol before a tattoo. This may lead to your tattoo artist turning you down from the very beginning.
No alcohol 24 hours before a tattoo
There are good reasons why you should not drink alcohol before your tattoo appointment. Alcohol dilutes your blood and reduces your ability to make decisions, and because alcohol is metabolised slowly by the body, it takes time to be eluted and absorbed. Therefore, you should not drink alcohol, take drugs and avoid blood-thinning medication for at least 24 hours before your tattoo.
Of course, it’s even better to take care of your diet and live a healthy lifestyle a few days before your tattoo. A rested body and mind will help you tolerate the pain during the tattoo session and help the wound heal. This will ensure that you get the best out of your tattoo.
Alcohol reduces your ability to make decisions
When you’ve been drinking, you’re not as good at deciding whether the design your tattoo artist has created for you is really what you want. A tattoo is always a joint project that you undertake with the artist. Your skin is their medium, and they naturally want you to be happy with the result. If you show up to the appointment drunk, your decision-making ability is diminished and there is a risk that you will not like the design when you are sober and hungover. For liability reasons alone, most tattoo artists will refuse a drunk client. After all, the tattoo artist is responsible for you and your tattoo.
Alcohol dilutes your blood
You should not drink alcohol for at least 24 hours before the tattoo appointment, because alcohol dilutes your blood. This also applies to all other substances that dilute your blood, such as drugs or medication (e.g. aspirin). Of course, half a glass of wine the night before or a beer the night before will not dilute your blood so much that a tattoo is impossible. But for the best result and experience, you should abstain from it 24 hours before the appointment – that’s not so hard, is it?
If your blood is diluted, your tattoo artist will have trouble getting tattoo ink into your skin and, even if they continue to tattoo you, the result may not be what you and your artist envisioned. The watered-down blood will wash the ink right back out and the tattoo artist will have to go over the same area, again and again, causing skin irritation and pain. The result will be a less beautiful and faded tattoo.
By the way, it is perfectly fine to smoke cigarettes or take Ibuprofen before a tattoo, these substances do not affect your blood.
Under the influence of alcohol, you are no longer in such good control
A drink for nervousness. And another one for courage? That can only go wrong because when you’re drunk you’re no longer in as good control as to when you’re sober. Imagine you get bouncy and while your tattoo artist is about to tattoo a nice straight line, you flinch away or move all at once. The line is gone – forever. Besides, alcohol is a diuretic, which means that you have to go to the toilet again and again or fidget around. And tattoo artists don’t like that at all.
Alcohol the day before the tattoo
If you drink alcohol the night before your tattoo, you will most likely have a hangover the next morning (even if it’s only mild). And everyone knows that when you have a hangover, you definitely don’t feel like exerting yourself or feeling pain. Your pain tolerance is diminished and a tattoo is certainly no easier to bear with a booming headache. You want to be at your healthiest and best when getting a tattoo because then you can tolerate pain better and your tattoo artist can work on your skin more easily.
Can you drink alcohol after a tattoo?
Drinking after a tattoo is not a good choice as well. It’s okay to have a beer or half a glass of wine with dinner after your tattoo, but it should be limited to that. Because even directly after the appointment you should create the circumstances in your body that your tattoo can heal perfectly. Too much alcohol weakens your immune system and your body needs every reserve and healing power for your new tattoo. The many micro-injuries to the skin need to heal as well as possible to achieve a beautiful result.
During the healing phase, it’s best to hold back on the partying. The next party is sure to come and it will be even better than before with your new, well-healed tattoo.
To learn more about tattoo healing, please check out our Advice Hub article ‘The Healing Process of a Tattoo’.