Can You Get a Tattoo While Drunk? 

  • Written By Dan Hunter on March 19, 2020
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

Permanent art on your skin can tell your story. They can be empowering reminders of good times or a way to stand out in society. It should be a celebration, but some people push it too far when they attempt to use alcohol to dull the pain or enhance the experience. 

You could get inked when drunk, but you shouldn’t. You may sober up to regret your art choices or the decision to get a tattoo in the first place. Adverse reactions, increased risk of infections, and excessive bleeding due to alcohol consumption can also interrupt the healing process.

Why You Shouldn’t Get a Tattoo While Drunk

There are levels of alcohol intoxication ranging from subclinical to coma and death. In the subclinical stages, which is intoxication resulting from one or two drinks, you feel confident and euphoric. Getting a tattoo at this stage may seem like a great way to dull the pain, but don’t be too quick to get inked just yet. 

The dangers associated with inking while intoxicated outweigh the perceived benefits.

Tattoo Regret

Over 24% of Americans have tattoos. With the meteoric rise of tattoo removal clinics, however, it’s clear that a substantial group of people seek to undo their ink. 

Don’t do anything that you might regret in the future…

During a night of partying, a snap decision to get inked increases the likelihood that you’ll regret your tattoo. With no time to plan a meaningful design, it would have to be a flash—art chosen from pre-made illustrations. Do you trust your drunk self to pick out permanent ink for your skin?

Reactions In the Body 

There’s the potential risk of several dangerous reactions in your body if you get a tattoo while drunk:

Bad Blood

Ethanol is a vasodilator, which means that the veins carrying your blood will expand after a few shots. This is why we become flushed the more we drink—because your blood is brought closer to your skin. Even after two drinks, our blood loses some of its ability to clot, which can cause you to bleed excessively when you get your ink.

Infection and Intervention 

Humans have been giving and receiving tattoos for over 5,000 years—some of the elaborate designs we see today wouldn’t have been possible then. The risk of infection was too high for most people to try anything body-wide.

Tattoos are done by repeatedly puncturing the skin, and, with each perforation, comes an increased risk of infection even if you’re not getting the work done while drunk. 

If you’re tipsy, the possibility of bacterial corruption increases because intoxication may inhibit your ability to pay attention to after-care instructions. You may also be unable to articulate or remember medical concerns that the tattoo artist should be made aware of. 

Imagine what would happen if a client was unable to communicate with the artist about allergies to certain ink.

Heavy Metals

Allergic reactions are also a possibility. Since the inks are often made with metals and other fillers, it’s possible to be allergic to the ink even if you have no other heavy metal allergies. Being drunk on alcohol could mask these symptoms and worsen your reactions. 

If you were to get an allergic reaction when intoxicated, the chances are that you can’t get any immediate treatment. Antihistamines, which are used to reverse allergic reactions, don’t go well with alcohol.

Cut and Dry

Your skin could also suffer from serious scars since alcohol dehydrates, and dry skin isn’t a good canvas. The needle may tear the skin instead of puncturing it cleanly, which can result in blurred lines, as well as leaving you open to infection.

If your skin is unable to heal correctly, your tat may become muddled or dull. This may force you to get the tat redone—an avoidable expense. How about preventing all this by turning down those shots before your appointment?

Service Unavailable

Most qualified tattoo artists won’t work while their clients are drunk. If you’re wondering why anyone would risk it, studies show that most people are ill-informed about the possible dangers. 


Intoxication can be dangerous if it renders the clients unable to communicate with their artists. Discussions about medication or chronic illness are important because low blood pressure, diabetes, or alcohol abuse can affect the healing process. 

Societal Restrictions

In some countries, it’s illegal to enter a tattoo parlor while intoxicated on any kind of inebriant. In the US, the law is a bit more relaxed, and there’s hardly any attempt at stopping a willing client from getting inked by a willing artist.

That doesn’t mean that parlors will welcome your drunk self with open arms, though. Even if you planned your ink with them beforehand and will have no regrets, the aforementioned health risks are ground enough to refuse you service. 

More often than not, you’ll lose your time slot and probably your deposit. Though it’s possible to book another appointment, your artist may refuse to work with you altogether. That’s very likely if you let the alcohol do the talking and complaining the last time you met. 

Clean and Sober

Alcohol can skew your perception of the world. Even moderate amounts depress the areas of your brain that control your ability to think and act rationally. Is there a worse time to choose ink that’ll probably stay with you forever?

A drunk decision may take you to a tattoo shop you haven’t been to before. Depending on the degree of intoxication, you may not be able to make reasonable judgments on the shop’s cleanliness. 

It’s always advisable to ask if the shop uses proper sterilization equipment and hygiene measures, and an intoxicated mind will hardly remember to do that. A dirty shop could increase your risk of infection and screw up your healing process. 

5 Stars

With social media at the forefront of business advertisement, a poor review can spell disaster for an artist or their shop. If someone regrets their drunk choices, a shop could be discredited and penalized. Don’t expect a good shop to put its reputation at risk by indulging your intoxicated requests.


Getting a tattoo can be a magical experience. You want to choose your designs carefully and find a reputable artist with a clean shop and lots of experience. 

Alcohol affects how you heal, how you bleed, and how your skin reacts to the needle. Do yourself a favor; avoid alcohol directly before or after your tattoo sitting.