So, you’ve given up the old analogue cigarettes and you’ve turned to vapes. Let’s look at how vaping will affect your tattoos. And whether or not you should vape before, during or after getting a new tattoo.
But first, let’s just take a minute to say congratulations!
You’ve flipped big tobacco the bird. You’re on your way to a healthier life. Getting rid of cigarettes is a great first step. Congratulations!
I was a smoker when I started my tattoo journey. And I transitioned to vapes and then eventually, I quit. I’ve been tattooed as a smoker. Tattooed while vaping. Tattooed while using nicotine mints and nicotine gum. And now most recently, I’ve been tattooed nicotine free.
Here’s my answers to all those vape related tattoo questions, based on research and my own real world experience.
How will vape affect my tattoo?
The nicotine in vape juices will affect your tattoos in the same way that nicotine in cigarettes does. Tattoos are wounds. And nicotine adversely impacts wound healing. Nicotine slows down the healing process and it extends the time it takes a tattoo to heal.
Nicotine constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure. Nicotine will restrict and decrease blood flow near the surface of the skin.
Research has found that vapes, like cigarettes, reduce the oxygen content in your blood. In doing this, the nicotine in vapes will slow down the healing process for wounds and tattoos.
Vaping will negatively impact your tattoo healing time. Somebody who vapes will heal slower after a tattoo session, than a client who neither smokes nor vapes.
There are an unknown number of other chemicals in vapes. And quite a lot of these other chemicals are found in cigarettes. These chemicals other than nicotine, can also have a negative impact on tattoos.
With that said, vapes are better than smoking. They have less chemicals than cigarettes. And they don’t have the carbon monoxide, that decreases the oxygen in your blood even further.
If you were to put smoking, vaping and being completely free of inhalants on a hypothetical tattoo healing scale together, then smoking would be the equivalent of sucking on an exhaust pipe. Vaping would be like passively inhaling exhaust.
While being completely free of nicotine and inhalants, would be the tattoo healing equivalent of that woman in the sound of music, dancing on a Swiss hilltop.
Can I vape while getting a tattoo?
Vaping in a tattoo studio is not advisable for three reasons. First, it makes the tattoo studio look unprofessional and unhygienic. Second, it makes the store undesirable for all non-smokers and non-vapers. Third, it makes it difficult for the tattooist to work.
When I’m walking past a tattoo studio, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between smoke and vape, without smelling it. If I look into a tattoo studio and I see a cloud, I’d just assume the store is less hygienic.
While most vapes do contain propylene glycol and propylene glycol does have a bactericidal effect, it’s not safe to assume that vapes won’t contaminate the tattoo studio. Just because one element in a vape has a negative effect on bacteria, it doesn’t mean that everything in the vape acts the same way.
Plus, bactericidal or not, vape clouds can make the space undesirable for non-smokers and people who don’t vape. Now that I’m totally free of nicotine, I don’t want somebody smoking or vaping around me.
Most non-smokers and non-vapers couldn’t care less about whether or not somebody vapes or smokes. That is, until they’re stuck in a confined space, breathing secondhand smoke or vape.
It’s common courtesy not to be blowing secondhand smoke or vape into somebody else’s face. Inside a restaurant, store, car or tattoo studio, vape clouds will linger and everyone will get stuck breathing it.
The third and likely most important point to make about vaping while getting a tattoo, is that you may end up getting a crappy tattoo if you vape while the tattooist is working.
It’s hard for them to work while trying to look through a vape cloud. The thicker the vape cloud the worse you can expect your tattoo to turn out. If your tattooist can’t see what they’re doing, they can’t do a good job on your tattoo.
Can you imaging your tattooist trying to work through your vape cloud?
Can I vape after getting a tattoo?
You can vape after getting a tattoo. But vaping in the first 2-3 weeks while your tattoo heals will only be marginally better than smoking. And the same recommendation given to smokers also applies for vaping; don’t vape while your tattoo is healing, if you can avoid it.
Will vape affect my tattoo once it’s healed?
Nicotine based vapes will have an effect similar to smoking. Just like smoking, vape does age your skin faster than a non-smoker.
Vaping decreases blood oxygen levels, restricts blood vessels and decreases blood flow near the surface of the skin. It reduces collagen and skin elasticity. Vaping ages your skin and subsequently your tattoo, which is between the dermis and epidermis layers of skin.
Vaping will not age your tattoo as fast as smoking does. But it will have a similar effect over time.
Will smoking affect my tattoo?
Smoking is terrible for tattoos. Smoking is terrible for both new tattoos in their initial healing period (2-3 weeks) and for healed tattoos. Smoking decreases blood flow and collagen and will increase the healing time of new tattoos and decrease the longevity of healed tattoos. Your tattoo will fade faster and look older than a similarly aged non-smoker.
Quitting is the best policy. But if you can’t quit cold turkey, then vaping is the next best option to preserve your tattoo.
Is it better to smoke or vape after a tattoo?
Vaping is better than smoking for both new and aged tattoos. Increasing blood oxygen levels, blood flow and collagen levels, will make your tattoo last longer.
If you’re a smoker you should switch to vaping. It will save you money and make your tattoos last longer. And the real kicker is that you too will likely last longer, if you get rid of the cigarettes.
When I switched from smoking to vaping, my sense of smell returned and everything smelt and tasted better. My long tattoo sessions were easier when I switched to vaping, as I didn’t need so many breaks. And my tattooist wasn’t stuck working on somebody who smelled like an old ashtray.
Switching to vaping from smoking, I found my tattoos healed 10-15% faster. Cutting 2-4 days off the average healing time, depending on the size of the tattooed area.
As somebody who loves tattoos, switching to vaping from smoking and then eventually quitting, was definitely the best thing I’ve done.
If you love tattoos too and you want to be healthier, you should switch to vapes. Your tattoos and anybody close to you like your tattooist, will thank you. Smokers smell like old ashtrays.
If you’re going to be making clouds, then make vape clouds and not smoke clouds. Vape is the better way, but fresh air is the best!
Article Sources – Recommended further reading
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- Jaleel, Z, Blasberg, E, Troiano, C, et al. Association of vaping with decreased vascular endothelial growth factor expression and decreased microvessel density in cutaneous wound healing tissue in rats. Wound Rep Reg. 2021; 29( 6): 1024– 1034. https://doi.org/10.1111/wrr.12945
- Andia Mitri, Gloria Lin, Reid A. Waldman, Jane M. Grant-Kels, Effects of tobacco and vaping on the skin, Clinics in Dermatology, Volume 39, Issue 5, 2021, Pages 762-771, ISSN 0738-081X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clindermatol.2021.05.004.