When Can You Shave After Getting A Tattoo?

Tattoos are a fantastic way for people to express themselves. Because of this, they've become so common that, according to a 2023 Pew Research Center study, about one-third of Americans have a tattoo, with 22% of that group having multiple.

Naturally, anyone who's gotten a tattoo knows that it requires long-term upkeep, like always using SPF so it can look beautiful for as long as possible (via Healthline). But when it comes to tattoo care, the first couple weeks post-appointment are the most critical, as your artwork needs to fully and successfully heal. Tattoos aren't cheap, either — if they are, you're better off going somewhere else — so you don't want to drop a bunch of money just to have it get messed up during the healing process.

One thing that might come to mind is when you can shave again after getting a tattoo. The answer? When it's 100% healed. "Once the skin is fully closed and any scabs that were present are gone is a good sign," board-certified dermatologist Morgan Rabach tells Byrdie. This means that it could be anywhere from two to three weeks before you can shave again, depending on the tattoo's size, its location, and how long it takes your individual body to heal in general. So, don't rush back into shaving — give your skin time to recover.

Why it's important to wait

The tattoo healing process starts with general inflammation and even a bit of ink seepage (via Healthline). Next up is the itchy stage, which can be alleviated by keeping the tattoo moist with ointments like Aquaphor. In fact, you don't want your tattoo to get dry at any point because it can lead to scabbing. Then comes the peeling part of the process. Thankfully, there's not typically a lot of peeling — it's just your body's natural way of recovering from an injury, which every tattoo is.

If you don't let the skin where you got your tattoo go through this process completely before shaving, you can end up with two possible scenarios. Of course, the most obvious outcome is ruining your artwork with the razor, but there's also the risk of spreading bacteria, per Stories&Ink. In general, when you shave, you're always taking the risk of piercing the skin and causing a bacterial infection. When you have an area of skin that's hypersensitive, like when it's been tattooed, there's an even bigger chance of causing an infection because the skin is already pierced and in the scabbing process. Ultimately, whether it's an accidental razor wound or bacterial infection, neither scenario is good for a healing work of art, so definitely prepare to set the razor down for a few weeks.

How to shave over a new tattoo

Once you know for sure that your tattoo is healed, meaning you can run your finger over it and feel zero scabs or puffiness of any kind, it's time to take precautions for your first shave. For starters, you want to use a brand-new razor, as you have no idea what type of bacteria may have made a home on the razor you were using before you got your tattoo. This is especially true if it's been sitting in the shower; warm and wet areas are a breeding ground for mold, bacteria, and even rust.

Second, you don't want to jump back into using shaving creams or gels. These products can cause skin irritation that could possibly infect your new tattoo, which is an open wound. You want to use a product that's as gentle as possible, so it's best to stick to natural, unscented soap for cleaning the area, as well as your shaving liquid. Once you begin, make sure you shave in the direction in which the hair grows instead of against it (via TattooProfy), and, of course, simply be cautious and take your time.

When you're done, pat the area dry, and then apply a fragrance-free moisturizer. Then, you're good to go — you've successfully transitioned back into the world of shaving with your new tattoo still looking perfect.