Shaving Can Ruin Your New Tattoo if You Don’t Do it the Right Way

A tattoo artist explains why it’s risky to shave freshly tattooed skin (and when you’re in the clear).

Man looking in mirror while shaving with son.

Shaving Can Ruin Your New Tattoo if You Don’t Do it the Right Way

Let’s get one thing straight: Once a tattoo has fully settled into the skin, it’s exactly the same as non-tattooed skin, meaning shaving is A-okay. That said, shaving tattooed skin during the healing process can damage the tattoo. “You run the risk of slicing the healing tattoo, which can result in some of the ink falling out of your skin,” explains LA-based tattooer Dillon Eaves. Not to mention it will hurt like heck, since tattooed skin is extremely sensitive during the healing process. This raises the question: When can you safely shave a new tattoo?

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Eaves recommends allowing your new tattoo anywhere between two weeks to a month to fully heal before shaving (you can find his tattoo aftercare tips here) — this means no scabbing, peeling or shininess on or around the site of the tattoo. Once your tattoo is fully healed, however, shave as your heart desires. The tattoo ink will be located in the second layer of skin, so shaving — which only affects the top layer of skin — won’t do the art any harm.

In fact, shaving tattooed skin is an easy way to show off your sick ink: According to Eaves, shaving can further expose your tattoo by removing dead skin cells and hair that might otherwise cloud and cover the ink. Plus, if you wanted the pinup girl on your bicep to have a mustache, you would have asked the artist to tattoo it on her in the first place, right?