Having a tattoo is an aesthetic choice, a form of self-expression and a unique way of imprinting your beliefs, interests or affiliations on your skin. However, the question often arises – ‘should I shave my tattoos and when?‘
While the answer to this question can be influenced by various factors such as the tattoo design, the color of the ink and the density of your body hair, it’s crucial to consider other aspects like shaving techniques, the healing process of a tattoo and post-shaving care. This guide aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of these aspects.
Should I shave my tattoos and when?
Understanding the Tattoo-Hair Dynamics
The Impact of Body Hair on Tattoo Visibility
Body hair can affect the visibility of your tattoo, especially if you have dark and thick hair. The arms and legs tend to be hairier than other parts of the body, which can significantly influence your tattoo placement.
However, if you’ve decided on getting a tattoo and you are concerned about body hair obstructing its view, shaving can be an option. Other options you might want to consider are laser hair removal, before getting tattooed.
Role of Tattoo Design and Ink Color
The design of your tattoo and color of your tattoo ink, play a pivotal role in determining whether you should shave your body hair or not. For example, if you’re getting a portrait inked on your arm, body hair might give the illusion of an unwanted beard – the skull on my own left arm grows a goatee.
Similarly, the color of your ink should ideally be darker than your body hair color. For instance, those with darker hair would be better off opting for darker ink in their tattoos. As an example, my own black tattoo sleeve on my right arm is less affected by body hair.
Considering Hair Density
If your body hair is thick and dark, it’s likely to obscure your tattoo. In such cases, you should consider shaving it or even designing your tattoo to work with your hair growth, especially if you intend to keep your arms or legs hairy.
Analyzing Your Personal Preferences
Whether you choose to shave your body hair for the sake of your tattoo is a personal decision. Some people feel that having a tattoo hidden beneath body hair defeats the purpose of getting inked, while others are indifferent about it.
If you’re in the former category and prefer your tattoo to be visible, you might want to consider regular hair removal or laser hair removal treatments.
Pre-Tattoo Shaving: Is it Necessary?
Your tattoo artist will shave the area to be tattooed, regardless of your hair color or density. This is done to avoid any potential complications like ingrown hairs and to ensure clear visibility of the skin surface for the artist.
However, you might want to consider grooming the area before getting a tattoo, especially if you have sensitive skin or if you are prone to razor burns. Tattooists will simply run over the area with a dry, cheap and disposable razor prior to tattooing you.
The Tattoo Healing Process
A tattoo typically takes two to three weeks to heal through the outer layers of skin. It undergoes several stages of healing, starting with a raw and sensitive skin surface immediately after getting inked. The area then scabs over in a few days, with the scabs naturally falling off after about a week. During this time, you might experience mild swelling, bruising or redness around the site of your new tattoo.
Once all the scabs have fallen off and there’s no more dead skin clinging to the area, your tattoo is close to fully healed. Although the deeper dermal layers won’t be healed yet, so you should stay out of the sun. Minor dryness and flaking around the tattoo site might continue for up to another month, so keep applying tattoo aftercare creams and moisturizing.
Shaving After Getting a Tattoo: When is the Right Time?
Shaving over a new tattoo requires caution. And shaving too soon can cause discomfort and potentially damage the tattoo. As a general rule of thumb, you can start shaving around two to three weeks after getting your tattoo.
However, be gentle initially and avoid any harsh or abrasive soaps or scrubs. Don’t exfoliate a tattooed area until your tattoo is fully healed (longer than 1 month).
What if You Shave Too Soon?
In case you accidentally start shaving too soon, don’t panic. Remember, your tattoo is an open wound and should heal similarly to other cuts on your body. If you notice any irritation, stop immediately.
Clean your tattoo with warm water and a tattoo specific antibacterial soap. Then dry your tattoo with a clean towel and apply tattoo ointment or a tattoo lotion as per your tattoo aftercare routine.
Benefits of Shaving Over Your Tattoo
Shaving over your tattoo once it’s healed completely, can have several benefits. It can reduce the visibility of scars, accelerate the healing process and keep the area clean. Moreover, shaving off dead skin cells can make your tattoo appear more vibrant.
However, remember to maintain a regular shaving schedule to avoid ingrown hair problems that could potentially damage your tattoo. And always moisturize the area after shaving over your tattoo.
Preparing to Shave After Getting a Tattoo
When you’re ready to shave over your healed tattoo, make sure to use a new blade and a gentle shaving product. Shave in the direction of hair growth and don’t shave areas that have scabs or that are still peeling.
After you’re done shaving, rinse the area with cold water and apply a tattoo safe moisturizer to prevent skin dryness. Keeping your tattoo moisturized is an important part of long-term tattoo aftercare.
Shaving Tips for Fast Hair Growth
If you have fast-growing hair, you might need to shave more often. Always shave with the grain, use a sharp blade to avoid irritation and rinse off any shaving product with cold water when you’re done.
Finally, always remember to moisturize your skin after shaving. Moisturizing is important if you want your tattoo to age well and continue looking vibrant for years to come.
Caring for Your Tattoo After Shaving
After shaving over your tattoo, it’s crucial to continue taking care of the area. Avoid direct sunlight, don’t pick at the skin and avoid friction. Keep the area clean with gentle soap and cool water and apply a suitable tattoo ointment or tattoo lotion as per your long-term tattoo aftercare routine.
Final Thoughts – Shaving After A Tattoo
Whether you should shave your arms to show off your tattoo sleeves is a personal choice that should be made considering factors like tattoo design, ink color, hair density and your personal comfort.
Remember, it’s your body and the final decision should align with your personal preferences and comfort. But your tattoo will always look more vibrant if it’s kept moisturized and free of body hair.