Ingrown Hairs On A Tattoo

If you just got a tattoo and discovered ingrown hairs sprouting over the freshly tattooed parts of your skin, you might be in a bit of a panic.

Do the ingrown hairs mean you’re having a bad reaction to the tattoo? Will they ruin the ink or the design? Is there anything you should do to treat these ingrown hairs?

In this article, I’ll go over what causes those ingrown hairs, why you shouldn’t worry about them, and what you should (and shouldn’t) do when you get them.


Ingrown Hair On Tattoo

What Are Ingrown Hairs?

Like the name implies, ingrown hair is body hair that’s grown into the skin instead of growing out of it.

Ingrown hairs irritate and inflame the hair follicle, which causes it to swell, resulting in small red bumps on the surface of the skin.

Ingrown hairs might be itchy or a bit uncomfortable, but they’re not a serious condition.

Is Your Tattoo Safe?

Your tattoo is permanent because the tattoo gun deposits the ink on layer of skin that’s well below the one on the surface.

Your ingrown hair, then, does not affect the layer of skin that has been tattooed. So, there’s no need to worry. Your ingrown hairs won’t ruin your tattoo and they won’t compromise your healing.

The only way an ingrown hair is going to damage your tattoo is if you consistently squeeze and scratch at the area, which could possibly lead to infection and scarring.

What Causes Ingrown Hair on a Tattoo?

Because these ingrown hairs show up soon after getting tattooed, many people assume it’s the tattoo that caused it – either because of the roughness of the tattoo gun or because the skin didn’t react well to the ink.

There’s no reason to worry about this. It’s not a sign of an infection or that you’re allergic to tattoo ink.

In fact, it’s got nothing to do with your tattoo at all. It’s a bad shave, not a bad tattoo, that causes ingrown hairs.

Ingrown hairs can show up after a rough shave (that’s why one common name for them is “razor bumps”). When the razor cuts your body hair too close to the base, that hair can easily curl inward and grow back into the follicle.

Before tattooing any part of your body that has body hair, you or your tattoo artist will first shave it. But tattoo artists are not barbers, so they don’t always know how to give you a smooth, perfect shave (I’ve even heard of tattoo artists shaving their clients without using any shaving cream or water, which is a terrible idea). So, when the hair starts to grow back, you might be left with itchy and irritated bumps instead of the kind of healing you were expecting.

How to Prevent Ingrown Hairs on a Tattoo

The only way to prevent ingrown hairs from showing up on the area you’re getting tattooed is to use the right shaving technique.

First, you’ll need to use a razor with a new, clean, sharp blade. You’ll then need to apply a generous amount of shaving product, like a shaving gel or shaving cream, before putting the razor to your skin. You should shave with the grain of your hair and go gently enough so that you’re not applying excess pressure on your razor. Then, rinse everything off and apply a moisturizing aftershave product.

I highly recommend you do all this before going to the tattoo parlor. Your tattoo artist will have razors on hand and can shave the area you want tattooed, but the only way to ensure it’s done right and doesn’t result in ingrown hairs is to do it yourself.

Treating Ingrown Hairs on a Tattoo

Since you’re dealing with a freshly tattooed area, you’ll need to be careful with how you treat your ingrown hairs.

The best way to deal with ingrown hairs on your tattoo is to just let them heal on their own. They should clear up within a few days and there is little risk of infection or other complications.

Don’t use any ointments or other topical treatments for ingrown hairs or razor bumps, and avoid scratching, pulling at them, or trying to pluck them with tweezers. All of these can interfere with your healing process far more than the ingrown hairs will.

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Get My eBook & Never Worry About Your Tattoo Again

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Not only will you learn about everything you need to do before and after getting a tattoo, but I also go through every single thing that can go wrong with your tattoo, and explain how to prevent and treat each and every one of these issues.

With hundreds of tips and tricks spread over a whopping 400+ pages, Becoming Inked will reshape the way you think about tattoos, and will give you all the tools and strategies you need to ensure your own tattoo turns out to be everything you hoped it ever would be.


If you have ingrown hairs, there’s no cause for alarm. They’re not a serious concern and won’t compromise your tattoo or interfere with the healing process.

Remember that what matters the most is following your aftercare instructions and making sure your tattoo heals properly, not getting rid of these ingrown hairs.

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