Don’t Shave Before Getting a Tattoo!

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A new tattoo, especially your first one, can get you feeling excited! In that excitement people oftentimes want to start their care routines before the appointment. One of the questions we get asked often is,

 “Should I shave before I get a tattoo”?

Our answer is,


In this article, we will go over why it’s best to leave the shaving to a professional, what alternatives may do to your skin, and how best to prep the area to ensure a better tattooing experience!

So you want to prep the area before you get a tattoo…

Does everyone want to take care of their skin? Yes, I wrote that as a question because I know many folks (myself included) who are guilty of not really caring for their skin. When it comes to tattoos, though, my experience shows that most people actually over-care for their skin before and after a tattoo procedure is done. It’s wild!

To some people, it almost seems as if they suddenly realize they have skin, and they recognize themselves to be a rational object within a functional reality.

Yeah, I know I got a little over sciences there, but stick with me.

Should You Shave Your Skin Before Getting A New Tattoo?

The short answer is NO!

You want to leave your skin alone before getting a new tattoo. Shaving is a dangerous action. A client holding a sharp blade (or multiple blades) of metal against their skin, scraping it along to remove growths that reside INSIDE the middle layer of skin. Yes, writing the process out like that does make it sound a bit more horrifying, doesn’t it?!


Why You Shouldn’t Shave Your Skin Before A Tattoo.

After that vivid illustration of words above, I can imagine you may be taking a breath and not wanting to go and hop right into a tub or shower and start scraping hairs off your body. I congratulate you! You have taken the first step to ensure you will be able ACTUALLY to GET your tattoo! Why you ask? Well, the reality of what could happen if you decided to take matters into your own hands is pretty severe, especially if you have a deposit at stake:

  • If you scrape or mark the area, a tattooer can’t do their job!

Yes, that is correct! If you come in with a scrape, burn, sunburn, or anything else that shows a weakening or destruction of tissue, the tattoo artist isn’t going to do your tattoo. This is because the skin in the area where you want the tattoo has been compromised, and if the artist decides to work in this space, you can expect a greater chance of infection, lack of ability to hold pigment properly, an increase in pain, as well as an increased chance of scarring.

  • If you miss a spot all of the shaving is going to have to be redone.

Yup, if you miss a spot, the whole area has to be shaved again, if you have already thinned out your skin by shaving a bit aggressively, there is an increased risk of you getting a little cut, which will make you tattoo appointment evaporate!

  • If you don’t shave enough, you will have to be shaved again.

Just like we said above, this isn’t ideal. Plus, you may get a couple of awkward glances as you walk into the room with an oval shaved out of the back of your head when you need to get a full-skull tattoo.

What If I Want To Use A Depilatory Cream?

Depilatory creams work great when trying to remove unwanted hair. Science has also shown us that it can reduce the chances of picking up an infection if done before surgery. Connecting the dots between the severity of a blood-borne infection after getting a tattoo and the increased chances that shaving with a razor potentially exhibits on the individual, we could hazard a guess that using these products is a better route to take. Especially if you want to groom before your tattoo appointment or just want to skip the razor entirely.

A few things to think about before using a hair removal cream:

  1. Make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients listed on the label before purchasing.
  2. Always do a patch test before committing to use.
  3. Be sure to follow the instructions that are supplied with the brand you purchase.
  4. Make sure to do this at least 24 hours before a tattoo procedure, but not more than 72 hours. (Because hair grows back!)

Laser treatment on a tattoo

What About Laser Hair Reduction?

We cannot comment on the practices surrounding laser hair removal as we are not specialists in such a field, but we can tell you not to get it done right before a tattoo. The chances of having adverse reactions like burns, swelling, or other things commonly seen when a friggin laser burns things off your body should be accounted for. Waiting for a time of 2-3 weeks before getting a tattoo is generally recommended but should be taken only as foundational advice.

Always seek a doctor’s opinion before committing to any procedure!

In Conclusion.

Whether you want to take the reigns and get yourself prepped or trust the artist to do their job, you should always take your time, and talk to your doctor and artist before making any decisions about prep for a procedure. But, you can trust that a tattoo with any experience has shaved a whole lot more skin than you have! Trust your artist, listen to them, and speak up if needed.

It is your tattoo that is on the line!

Afterthought: Self Care, Shaving, And Why Tattoos Are Important

Most people have an issue with self-care. Whether it is time constraints, emotional issues, physical limitations, or any other number of interjections that keep people from being nice to themselves, a person may have a problem getting healthy. But when it comes to a tattoo, well, I think the money being spent opens our eyes as to how important that care can be.

I am never surprised when a client comes in and wonders what all they can do to prep for the tattoo procedure. What I am surprised is that each person is willing to bend or even destroy their personal ontologies to meet the criteria for a well-healing tattoo.

-People who don’t normally shave certain parts of their body are totally good with doing just that to ensure a tattoo that receives more attention once it is healed!

-People who refuse to put lotion on their skin (as I said, I was guilty of above) will moisturize (or sometimes OVER-moisturize) a new tattoo.

-Some folk who rarely look at a part of their body will obsess over the new markings and even enjoy the space far more than they ever imagined before.

In response to all this, my answer regarding what to do before they come to get a tattoo is always the same:

Do what you already do! It is better for your skin if you keep to your routine rather than change it up right before a tattoo. If you do want to change up your routine, use a new skincare product, or do anything that will modify the condition of your skin, be sure to give your skin at least 2 weeks before getting a tattoo to acclimate to the new routine.

We have an article that further explains why this is a good idea. You can find it here:

Skin Care, Tattoo Aftercare, and How To Heal Your Tattoo.

We also have an article that will help you get ready for that new tattoo!