Drinking Alcohol Before Or After Getting A Tattoo

  • Written By Dan Hunter on June 9, 2016
    Last Updated: March 12, 2022

Most people love an alcoholic beverage, and some do much more than others.

Generally, however, it’s not a very good idea to drink alcohol before or after getting a tattoo – for several important reasons. We explain why.

Can You Drink Alcohol Before Getting a New Tattoo?

It’s generally recommended that no alcohol should be consumed for 24 hours before getting a tattoo, and there are multiple reasons why:

Alcohol Thins Your Blood

It’s a scientific fact (source) that alcohol consumption leads to temporary blood-thinning (much like how blood thinners work).

The magnitude of this thinning effect depends on how much alcohol is consumed, but even small amounts can be enough to generate a change in blood consistency.

Although you’re never likely to end up dying from blood-loss simply by getting tattooed after a heavy drinking session, there are a couple of problems that can be caused by the thinned-out blood when being inked. These issues include:

Visibility – The thinner the blood, the easier it’s going to be for it to leak out of the tiny puncture wounds caused by a tattooing needle. This excess blood is going to pool over your skin and make it much more difficult for your artist to wipe the area while accurately tattooing where he needs to.

When your blood is thin from alcohol (or other blood thinners), it doesn’t clot quickly.  Imagine painting a picture under a waterfall – it is unlikely to turn out accurate and refined. A tattoo artist already has to be extremely accurate when working through patches of excess ink, so he doesn’t need another problem added to the mix.

Not to mention, if the tattoo artist is of lesser experience, he may not yet have the skills to properly tattoo through the excess blood over the area, potentially causing your tattoo to be of a lesser quality compared to if you didn’t have any alcohol-fueled adventures before your tattooing session.

Ink Dilution – Excess blood being pumped to the tattooed area can cause more blood to mix with the ink. This process can thin/dilute the ink, which in turn can result in your tattoo looking faded and washed out.

Any subsequent continuous/heavy bleeding could also potentially flush recently tattooed ink back out of the area, making your tattoo look patchy and faded once healed.

Impaired Judgement

Walking into a tattoo studio heavily intoxicated could potentially be the biggest mistake of your life. Remember that you are about to make a decision that will keep with you for eternity.

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

Due to the rather important fact that ink is permanent, it would be advantageous that you remain in the clearest state of mind possible when choosing and getting your new tattoo.

There are many parts within the tattooing process at the studio when you need to be in complete control and make responsible decisions.

These parts include:

  • Approving that the artwork designed by your artist is exactly what you would like
  • Approving that the stencil has been applied to your exact liking
  • Making sure that the placement/size of the tattoo is perfect

You will also need to coherently answer or adhere to any other questions or requests that your artist may have throughout the day, and of course, you will have to sign-off the tattoo at the end of the day by letting the artist know how you feel about it after looking at it in the mirror.

Finally, you will need to ensure you’re able to listen fully to any aftercare instructions your artist may give you at the end of the process.

Tattoo Refusal

The vast majority of tattoo artists will refuse your tattoo request on the spot if they have any suspicions whatsoever that you may be intoxicated as you enter the studio.

Not only can you not legally sign the consent form/liability waiver that all tattoo shops require, but you could also be greatly damaging a tattoo shop’s reputation should anybody find out that the studio is tattooing intoxicated customers.

Intoxicated customers can cause many problems for a tattooing artist. Not in the least down to the fact that alcohol naturally makes people much more fidgety, and decreases their ability to sit still for long periods of time. This can be very distracting to the artist and could degrade the quality of work.

Of course, when you go into a studio drunk and fidget throughout an entire session while being a general distraction to the artist, you’re naturally going to be wanting to march into the studio the next day complaining about the sub-par work done on your body while complaining about the lack of skill from the artist – which will be completely down to no fault of their own.

This can ruin an artist’s reputation, so be considerate and think of the bigger picture before thinking about getting a tattoo after consuming alcohol.

General Mood When Being Tattooed

Getting a tattoo while fighting a hangover is not pretty, especially if it’s a long session. Not only may you feel ill/sick at times during the day, but you may also have headaches, feelings of tiredness, and other less-than-optimal side-effects.

This self-infliction makes your whole day at the studio a lot less of a positive experience, and can become a burden on your tattoo artist if you’re not completely coherent.

The best advice I can give is to ensure that you always turn up to the studio in the best and clearest state of mind possible, with a relaxed and refreshed mental state with a good night’s sleep behind you.

Will Drinking Alcohol Before a Tattoo Make it Less Painful?

Maybe, maybe not, but either way, it’s just not worth it.

Everybody’s body is different, and while for some people the alcohol might dull the pain for a little while, the dampening of pain will likely be short-lived; and for some people, alcohol can make the experience feel even more painful.

Also, there’s that small issue of probably not even being allowed past the studio reception counter if you’re suspected of having even the tiniest amount of alcohol in your system. So as previously said – it’s just not worth it.

Although they can be quite hit-and-miss depending on the person, there are various tattoo numbing creams and sprays on the market that can be applied to the skin in order to help lessen the amount of pain you go through while being tattooed.

For people wanting a little extra assistance for dealing with the pain, a good tattoo numbing cream can really help to take the edge off.

One of the most effective tattoo numbing products currently on the market is Zensa Numbing Cream, which contains the highest level of Lidocaine allowed by the FDA for over-the-counter use. The feedback left by thousands of customers for this product is nothing short of exceptional.

Just follow the instructions supplied with the cream and apply shortly before your tattoo appointment is due to begin so that you can look forward to a less painful and more comfortable tattooing experience. The amount of cream you get in a tube also ensures you have more than enough for a large tattoo. Click here to buy from Amazon

If you’re truly worried about not being able to handle the pain while being tattooed, take a peek at our huge article about dealing with tattoo pain.

Can you Drink Alcohol After Getting a New Tattoo?

Don’t think that just because your hard day of being tattooed is over you can go out that same night and party until the sun comes up. You may already have a headache from the tattoo before you even consider an alcoholic drink.

Drinking alcohol can be extremely detrimental to the healing of your tattoo and there are many potential problems that can arise from drinking too much and too soon after getting your new tattoo:

Excess Bleeding

Generally, your tattoo will continue to ooze blood and plasma for the next 48 hours after your tattoo was completed. This means that for roughly 48 hours (sometimes longer), the tattoo is going to be affected by any additional thinning of your blood caused by drinking alcohol.

Not only can this excess blood-thinning and leakage lead to having to contend with more blood-stained clothing and bedsheets – but it can also amount to bigger problems.

While your tattoo continues to leak out excess fluids, the skin around the area is going to have greater difficulties scabbing as quickly as it normally would, which in turn can cause delays in the healing process, and increase the risk of infection. This is because the wound isn’t being protected from harmful bacteria as effectively as it should be due to the lack of scabbing.

Sub-Optimal Healing

Depending on the amount you drink, alcohol can greatly affect your ability to heal and regenerate during sleep due to many of the crucial bodily functions being impaired while essentially being poisoned by the alcohol.

This impairment means the biggest organ in your body – the skin, isn’t able to work on effectively healing the area around your tattoo as well as it would be able to if your system was alcohol-free.

Tattoo aftercare and healing is at its utmost importance during the first 2-3 days after getting your tattoo completed, and you should, therefore, ensure as best as possible that your body is in an optimal state to work on healing the area as well as it can during this initial 2-3 day period.

Rough Treatment

Most of us have been there – getting ridiculously drunk and throwing ourselves around a bar or dance floor without a care in the world, bumping into everyone and everything we come into contact with while falling over every few seconds.

Although there is nothing wrong with ‘letting your hair down’ once-in-a-while, getting completely wasted straight after getting a tattoo is not the best time to do it.

Can you imagine the horror of waking up the morning after a heavy night out and finding that half of your beautiful new tattoo has been grazed off by accidentally falling over and sliding across a concrete sidewalk during your drunken walk home from the bar?

Be careful and treat your tattoo as immaculately as possible during the first few days of healing by avoiding as many potential tattoo-ruining situations as possible. Your future self will thank you for it.


We all know that it can be painfully difficult to turn down a big night out with your friends, but you should really be taking care of yourself as best as possible directly after getting your new tattoo. You will enjoy the whole tattooing experience so much more.

You will also be extremely grateful for your responsible decisions once you see how amazing your alcohol-incident-free tattoo looks after it has perfectly healed.

Alcohol can cause so many unnecessary problems before and after getting a new tattoo, and so at the end of the day it’s best to just bite your lip and turn down that epic Beer Pong tournament your friends are hosting; there will always be next time.

Related Tattoo Articles