Can Tattoos Damage Hair Follicles & Prevent Growth?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on December 8, 2019
    Last Updated: March 17, 2022

Tattoo popularity demonstrates a rise throughout recent decades, especially with our younger generation. A 2018 study by Statista states that 46 percent of Americans have one. If you’re planning on joining this statistic, research the effects they can have on bodily functions in advance.

The hair follicle is located in the dermis, thus, in the same location where ink is deposited. It can be natural, then, to question whether the inking process could prevent hair growth. Yet, there’s no need to worry — it shouldn’t do.

Tattoos shouldn’t affect hair follicles and prevent hair growth due to a couple of reasons: 

  • Ink pigment particles are deposited in the dermis layer of skin
  • The hair follicle root is located deeper down

Understanding how hair follicles work and grow will allow us to see why tattoos won’t directly affect their growth.

A hair follicle can be defined as a structure of cells and tissue that extends around the hair follicle. It’s located in the epidermis skin layer. 

The root of the hair grows from the very bottom of this follicle, deep in the dermis layer of skin. Its root consists of protein cells that are cultivated by blood vessels.

A cycle of cell growth promotes continuous hair growth. The hair rises through the dermis and epidermis skin layers through growth. 

Each hair will permeate and fall out, but in its life, it experiences four cycles:

  • Anagen — the growth phase — several to seven years
  • Catagen — the transition phase — a couple of months
  • Telogen — the resting stage — several months
  • Exogen — the telogen phase — new hair grows continuously

A hair follicle will also store melanin:

  • Eumelanin — a prominent presence of this pigment results in darker hair
  • Pheomelanin — the existence of this pigment results in red hair


Tattoo Technique and Your Skin

Our skin is complicated, and creating a permanent tattoo requires a proper procedure — a needle pierces through the skin, and pigment is inserted into the dermal layer.

Now, you may be thinking, well, isn’t that the same place in which the hair follicle is located?

Let us explain.

The location of the hair follicle is significantly deeper down than the deposition of the tattoo ink. Thus, it won’t affect nor hinder hair growth.

Tattoo artists should shave the area in which they’re about to tattoo so they can work more precisely and see more clearly.

Ingrown Hairs and Tattoos

The Science

Be wary of ingrown hairs and tattoos. While your fresh ink won’t directly stunt hair growth, the tattooing needle can inadvertently poke down hair into the skin during the tattooing procedure, leading to the possibility of ingrown hairs.

Alternatively, ingrown hairs can also be caused by either yourself or your tattoo artist as the hair is shaven away from the area that is about to be tattooed.

Hair growth from a hair follicle should push upwards and outwards. Ingrown hairs lose this capacity and grow sideways or curl back within the skin layers.

The hair follicle becomes inflamed — they’re typically red and bumpy and may cause some discomfort. They can appear around areas such as the legs, chest, back and armpit.

Can you spot the ingrown hair?

Note that if they’re present in the tattoo area, you should avoid:

  • Irritating the area
  • Excessive touching
  • Harsh products
  • Squeezing
  • Scratching
  • Picking

Doing so could damage the tattoo and cause distortion or fading.

Pimples From Tattoos

Tattoos shouldn’t affect your hair follicles and the growth of hair they incubate. Pay attention, though, to the other side of the spectrum: pimples

These pesky things are caused by an infection in the hair follicle. A fresh tattoo is a delicate thing, and thus, spots around the area could cause some irritation. Try to avoid scratching or popping at any pimples and don’t apply any aftercare lotion/moisturizer that is likely to clog pores, such as petroleum-based products.

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No Danger to the Follicles

It’s perfectly natural to be concerned about possible effects tattoos could have when it comes to your body. Don’t be concerned about tattoos affecting hair follicles and obstructing hair growth. They won’t. Yet, do be conscious that irritation in the hair follicles can cause ingrown hairs and pimples to form around and over your tattoo.

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