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Can You Drink Alcohol Before or After Getting a Tattoo?

Can You Drink Alcohol Before Or After Getting A Tattoo?

Does alcohol make you bleed more after a tattoo? The common knowledge of tattoo artists and lovers around the world states that you need to refrain from drinking before, during, and after a tattoo. Where did this belief stem from, and does it even reflect reality? To make the answer short: it absolutely represents the truth. Alcohol definitely affects your body in many ways, and one of those ways involves thinning your blood. Use this page to help you balance your faithful alcohol love with a brand new tattoo. It saves both you and your artist some grief. Without further ado, let’s learn whether you can drink alcohol before or after getting a tattoo!


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Drinking the Night Before a Tattoo

So, what’s the deal with the alcohol ban? Why is it bad to drink the night before getting a tattoo? Scientifically speaking, alcohol and red wine cause your blood to thin out, and the effect ranks up there with synthesized blood thinning medicines. This effect leads to good health or bad health, depending on your body type, but it relates to the art of tattoos in a different way.

Thin blood reduces clotting, something critical to the process of a healing tattoo. Blood carries white blood cells to the source to fight infection, while platelets help seal the wound. Thin blood contains a lower ratio of these two things, causing your tattoo to poorly scab and delaying stage two of healing for a good amount of time. Our tattoo healing guide gives you the details.


How Drinking Affects Your Tattoo

Beyond just your own health, it creates a health hazard for your artist and their clients. Thin blood flows much more freely, and the moment your tattoo starts, blood starts pouring out. Okay, maybe not so dramatically, but a significant amount of blood will hinder your artist’s process. The blood will block the image of the stencil and the tattoo from them, forcing them to clear it away constantly. Blood also alters the perceived color of the tattoo, so with too much blood in the way, your artist might add too much color…or too little!


On top of all this…bleeding like that saps the energy out of you. Naturally, you need to bleed as little as possible! So, how long before your tattoo is it safe to drink? Stop drinking at least 24 hours beforehand, but preferably 48 hours beforehand just in case. Throughout the previous week, stick to two beers a day for men and one beer per day for women…as a maximum. This keeps you in the safe zone! For other tattoo prep directions, check out our tattoo care guide!

Tattoo by Pablo Puentes


Tattoo While Drunk

Any tattoo artist keeps a few stories of the drunk client under their belt. The supposedly-just-buzzed person walks in demanding a tattoo because of a bet or a sudden burst of inspiration. In the end, every story ends the same—‘Come back tomorrow!’ With stories of horrible dick tattoos—or a Dickbutt tattoo, in at least one case—no artist wants to add a terrible tattoo to their portfolio. On top of that, you might feel absolute affection for your cat Archibald today, but tomorrow you may not love him enough to justify the full chest piece you received, coupled with all the pain of a fresh tattoo!

Legally speaking, no artist in their right mind tattoos a drunken client. The client could easily come back to sue them for the non-consensual tattoo. On top of that—and perhaps more aggravating for artists—the drunks that manage to dip under their radar reveal themselves as soon as the tattoo gun makes its first prick. Please, save your artist a huge amount of stress and anxiety: never ask for a tattoo while drunk!


Drinking After a Tattoo

How do you handle alcohol after your tattoo? Can you drink 24 hours after getting a tattoo? Can you drink alcohol at all while your tattoo heals? Drinking beer after a tattoo helps relieve some of the tension and cool down the adrenaline of your tattoo session. Many people use drinking as a way to celebrate their new tat. After all, every tattoo deserves a celebration of its own! However, drinking after getting a tattoo still causes ill effects.


As I mentioned before, alcohol thins your blood and makes it more difficult for your body to heal wounds—including tattoos! With too much blood and too few platelets and white blood cells, it opens your tattoo up to infection. The profuse amount of bleeding also risks carrying out some of the ink with the blood, especially if you drink consistently or in excess. Drinking the night after a tattoo creates similar effects on your body.

In fact, I recommend abstaining from alcohol until your second stage of healing. To learn the stages of tattoo healing, refer to our complete guide on the subject. By the point of your second stage of tattoo helaing, your body seals up the tattoo and only needs to repair your skin. Thin blood still delays the healing process, but it won’t directly damage your tattoo at that point.


Alcohol and Tattoo Healing F.A.Q.

Of course, explaining the cause and effect of consuming alcohol before a tattoo only covers so many things. This little section of common questions helps you prepare for your tattoo and learn how to mitigate your alcohol consumption, if it’s already too late!

How long does alcohol thin your blood?

Typically, alcohol thins your blood for 24 hours. However, drinking in excess prolongs the affect. According to science, men consume two drinks and women only one before reaching their day’s quota. If you usually drink more, then stop drinking 48 hours ahead of time. If you get black out drunk, then wait at least three days. We go into other risk factors on our tattoo healing page.

How to thicken your blood before a tattoo?

Whether you drank an alcohol anticoagulant or not, thickening your blood before a tattoo session assists the artist in their execution and yourself during the healing process. The single best way to thicken your blood and reducing bleeding during a tattoo is to eat a balanced diet…plus a little extra. Vitamin K helps with clotting blood and prevents fervent bleeding. Leafy greens contain Vitamin K1, while Vitamin K2 appears in cheese, meat, eggs, and other animal-derived products.

However, popping a Vitamin K pill before a tattoo session does nothing to help your blood. Vitamins absorb over time—not instantly—so the best way to thicken your blood is through a diligent diet. Want a quick fix? Too bad. Even the supplements usually only contain Vitamin K1, so stay on top of your health!

Does jello thicken your blood?

Lots of artists swear by eating jello before a tattoo to thicken the blood. Unfortunately, this piece of ‘knowledge’ rests far from the truth! The supposed active ingredient, gelatin, thickens water and turns it into flavored jello. However, once you consume it, it breaks down like any other food, and certainly doesn’t form a stronger structure during the digestion process. Gelatin does not enter your blood in any way, shape, or form. Jello still tastes great, though!



Can you smoke after a tattoo?

If drinking is bad, then is smoking bad? Well, as far as tattoos go, smoking never affects their quality or gives your artist grief. So, smoke away! As a small warning, though, many people experience more intense sensations while high. Some high people even experience seizures during the tattoo process from the pain—something which always surprises artists! On the other hand, others use it to relax during the process and fend off the pain. Different bodies and different drugs all create various reactions. If possible, test how you feel pain while high, before the big day.

Oh, and one more tip! Don’t go in noticeably stoned, or you can’t sign the tattoo consent form.


Does alcohol thin your blood before surgery?

While unrelated to tattoos, a lot of people ask me this. Your body doesn’t distinguish between a tattoo, a scrape on the knee, or a surgical incision. It responds the same way to each of them: move white cells and platelets to the area, fast! So, since alcohol thins your blood, then it affects every type of wound you receive…including any surgical procedure.


So, Can You Drink Alcohol Before or After Getting a Tattoo?

In the end, is it okay to drink alcohol before getting a tattoo? Is it ok to drink after getting a tattoo? Yes and no. Wait at least 24 hours before you get a tattoo and then wait about 72 hours for your tattoo to seal before drinking again. For more on recognizing the signs of a healing tattoo, check out our ultimate tattoo aftercare guide! Drinking after that prolongs your healing process but doesn’t lead to disaster. Alcohol and tattoos never get along, but life is life, and sometimes you just need a drink!

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