Should You Shave Before Getting A Tattoo?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 22, 2020
    Last Updated: July 6, 2021

Shaving before getting a tattoo is fine as long as you don’t damage the area with the razor. If you’re worried about shaving before your sitting, your tattoo artist will have no problem doing it for you.

It’s not just an old myth. There are real benefits of tattooing on a smooth, shaven section of skin. Removing all hair in the area helps to ensure that your artist will not hit any bumps on the road, so to speak.  Having a hair-free and smooth-to-the-touch area will allow your artist to do their best work.

Timing Makes All the Difference

Yes, it matters. We’ve all had our fair share of razor burns. Shaving irritation can cause pain when being tattooed over, or could result in your appointment being canceled altogether. When prepping for your new ink, make sure you aren’t shaving too often, too recklessly, or too close to the date of your scheduled appointment. This could cause razor bumps, burns, and you could even cut yourself by accident.

Should I Wax Instead? 

No matter what hair removal option you select pre-appointment, ensure you plan ahead. Don’t put hair removal off to the last minute. Any irritation, cuts, or razor burn need to have healing time before that area can be tattooed. With waxing, your skin still has to go through a recovery period. Waxing before a tattoo, especially if you’ve never waxed before, may not be the best thing for you or your skin. 

Moisturizing After Shaving 

Moisturizing before you get your tattoo is another pivotal step for best results. Use a moisturizer on your tattoo site daily beginning a week before your appointment. This includes post-shave! The timing of your moisturizing is also essential to think about. It is generally advisable to not moisturize the area on the day of the appointment. You don’t want to go into your appointment slippery, even if your tattoo expert preps the site beforehand.

Research and Advice 

Checking your shop’s website for their recommended prep instructions is always a safe bet. If you can’t find much information, send an email across to your artist, or better yet, have a chat about the subject at your consultation.

Your Artist Can Let You Know What’s Best For You 

Shaving before a tattoo can be beneficial if you do it right. It saves your artist a job and means you can get started quicker on the day. If you decide to get some new ink last minute, don’t panic. Your artist will know what to do. Just remember, the ideal outcome is going to come from planning. 

The best route to doing the proper tattoo prep starts with your artist. Speaking with them about what will work best for you and following their lead will make your tattooing experience nice and smooth. Your artist is a professional. They know what’s good for you and your skin. 

If in Doubt, Leave It to Your Artist

The worst thing you can do before your appointment is cut, injure or irritate the area of skin you’re about to get tattooed. If you’re unsure how to shave the area right, or are worried you’ll mess up the job, please just leave it to your artist.

Every tattoo artist will have shaved thousands of clients before you, and will totally expect to shave the area before the session begins. Besides, an artist will often go over an area the client has recently shaven again anyway, just to be sure it’s as smooth and tattoo-ready as it can be.

Why Do Tattoos Artists Shave the Skin Anyway?

There are a few reasons why tattoo artists prefer a smooth, hair-free area when tattooing:

  • Shaving helps to clear a path to the skin so it can be properly cleaned before the procedure
  • Hair can get in the way when applying the stencil, potentially distorting the linework
  • The tattooing needles may push strands of hair back down into the skin, which can cause infection

What About Shaving After the Tattoo?

Shaving after your tattoo has completely healed won’t damage it. However, shaving over the area could damage the ink if you don’t wait until the end of the healing process.

If you wait for the skin to heal properly, shaving over your tattoo can make it look great. Don’t forget to use a pre-shave cream and a fresh blade during the shaving process, and use a good moisturizing lotion afterward, too.


Don’t overthink shaving before your tattoo. The most crucial part is making your shaving plans early enough to let your skin heal from any potential irritation, but late enough that your hair doesn’t start growing back before your appointment. If in doubt, just leave it to your artist.

A safe tattoo experience starts with planning, research, and consulting with your artist and ends with following through on those instructions. You’ll always get the best outcome when you come prepared. 

When you eventually go ahead with getting your dream tattoo, it’s imperative that you always follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare advice closely, and be sure to invest in a high-quality tattoo healing lotion to aid recovery.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan-friendly aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated, but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times, and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing.​

Related Tattoo Articles