Can You Drink After Getting A Tattoo?

February 27, 2018

Jelly Jeff

Can You Drink After Getting A Tattoo?

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Welcoming a new tattoo is properly a fair reason to hold a party and get drunk with your friends. However, can you drink after getting a tattoo? Numerous studies and scientific experiments suggest a different answer.

The Healing Process

Before getting to the answer for “Can you drink after getting a tattoo,” we will take a glance at the body’s healing process to understand deeply how drinking could get into your body’ repair period in the next part. The healing process has three phases, and the first phase starts immediately after you finished the tattoo application.

If you’re curious about the tattoo application, please read our last article HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A TATTOO.

Phase 1: Exposed Injury

Since a tattoo is a deliberate wound, the body will commence the healing process promptly. The immune system would take action in no time. You will see lots of plasma, lymph – white blood cell, and blood oozing from the tattoo, that is a defensive reaction of your body. This mixture will naturally form a coating over your tattoo to protect it from bacteria.

Exposed Injury
Exposed Injury

The tattoo artist will wash the area with antiseptic liquid or soap and then bandage it with sterile gauze. The bandage will absorb the combination of blood, plasma, and ink leaked out from the tattoo. If the gauze gets too wet, it may become sticky and hard to come off.

It’s recommended to cover your tattoo for at least twenty-four hours after the application. Also, many tattoo artists suggest changing the bandage and cleaning the tattoo more often to prevent it from sticking to your skin. If the bandage does stick to your skin, run it through the lukewarm water to soften the gauze and gently take it out. Don’t forget to clean your tattoo after removing the bandage.

While your body tries to heal the tattoo, you may feel a bit irritated and sting like when you get a sunburn. The area will turn red and become swollen, yet do not worry as it’s common phase of the healing process [1]. Then, the scabs will gradually form all over the area of the tattoo. Try not to scratch it and let it heal naturally.

Depending on each person’s health, the first phase of the healing process may last up to a week – seven days. If the pain gets worse and worse and become unbearable, you can take a pain reliever from doctor’s prescription.

Phase 2: Recovery

The 2nd phase is marked with itchiness; it’s the turning point when your body starts restoring your tissues and skin. The scabs have done created and been about to slough off. The scabs are actually your dead old skin cell. Under the layer of scabs, a layer of newborn skin is built. When the newborn skin is fully formed and ready to face the external environment, the scabs will automatically fall off.

It’s recommended not to scratch or peel off your scabs. If you do so, the newborn skin is forced to contact with the external environment while it’s not fully grown. Hence it’s likely that your healing process may take more time than it should be.

To support the recovery, you may follow a proper aftercare procedure or apply a thin layer of tattoo lotion. Besides, try to avoid sweaty activities such as working out, outdoor games as sweating brings bad effect to your tattoo. Try to prevent sunburn on your tattoo as well.

The 2nd phase will continue for around another week with itchiness, scabs, and plasma (the mixture of ink, blood and lymph) leaking.

Phase 3: Wound Closure

At this phase, from the outside view, your tattoo has generally been healed. If the appropriate aftercare has been applied and you have managed to prevent serious infection, most of the scabs must have fallen away, left alone the new layer of skin.

Your tattoo may look a bit faded, and not as bright as it was at first, and this is ok. There still is a layer of “new” dead skin cover your tattoo, and it’s about to slough away. Once the dead skin go away, and the new layer of skin is exposed, your tattoo would properly look great as expected.

Please note that under the outer layer of the skin, the healing process is still going on, so maintaining your aftercare procedure and protection from exposure to the sun is a must. Depending on the size, location, detail of the tattoo and each body’s health, the time of healing can vary around two months or more. For completed recovery of the tattoo, it may take up to four months.

For further explanation of the healing process, please read our last article HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR A TATTOO TO HEAL.

Can You Drink After Getting A Tattoo?

Can you drink after getting a tattoo? Of course, yes … if it’s water, juices or any healthy drinks. However, there are several types of drinks you should avoid due to its bad effects on the healing process.


Alcohols including beer, wine, liquor,… all have the harmful effect on your body and the recovery process by influencing the protective mechanism. If you have ever wondered can you drink after getting a tattoo, then the answer is NO.

High Chance Of Infection

Abundant medical research has proven that alcohol consumption can diminish the healing process and raise the rate of infection. Depending on the amount, the length of alcohol consumption, and whether it’s chronic or short-term alcohol exposure, the effect on the body may vary. A temporal ethanol intoxication is capable of increase of vulnerability to infection in the tattoo.

Cytokine is a group of protein secreted by the immune cell to act as chemical messengers between cells. To start the inflammation and react to infection, the immune cell will release particular type of cytokine to deliver the order of action to various types of cells [5]. Drinking a small potion of alcohol may lead to restrained pro-infection cytokine release as a protective reaction from the immune system [2]. As a result, the incidence of infection is gone up.

In addition, all organs inside your body will be affected by alcohol, especially your liver. The liver has many functions, and its major function is to detoxify the whole body. When you consume a certain amount of alcohols, the liver will have to work harder and utilize more energy to get rid of this liquid, hence, less energy can be consumed by the defense mechanism to protect your body. Therefore, the infection has higher chance to become more severe.

Healing Influence

Alcohol also prolongs the stage of tattoo healing. In animal experiments, raising the blood alcohol level to 100 mg/dL by drinking can disturb  “the re-epithelialization, angiogenesis, collagen production, and wound closure” [2]. Wound angiogenesis – tissues reproduction can be scaled down to 61% at maximum by drinking just a dose of alcohol.

Alcohol also prolongs the stage of tattoo healing
Alcohol also prolongs the stage of tattoo healing

The level of ethanol in vascularity may restrict the oxygen supply to the blood and boost the oxidative stress. Also, the shrinkage of collagen production may result in slowing down of connective tissue repair and skin recreation. As a result, the wound closure would take more time than usual to be completed. In other words, the healing process – or phase 1 and phase 2 of the healing process in detail – will be extended.

In short, drinking alcohol can cause to proliferate the healing process by perturbing the immune system’s response to inflammation, preventing wound closure, angiogenesis, collagen generating, and unbalancing the protease at the tattoo [2]. If any doctor is asked “Can you drink after getting a tattoo?”, they would roll their eyes and shake their head.

Excessive Bleeding

Another consequence of alcohol exposure is excessive bleeding. In phase 1 and phase 2 of the healing process, your tattoo will spill out the combination of blood, plasma, ink or color pigment as a defensive response from the immune system [4]. Depend on each person’s body, the amount of liquid leaked out will be different.

As previously mentioned, drinking alcohol would delay the wound closure, so the mixture would be leaked out more than usual, or you might be bleeding more than you should be. Losing more blood than you are supposed to will lead to weakening your body, and your immune systems. Hence, as a circle, your healing process will be slowed down once again.

Another issue incurred from excessive bleeding is the fact that your clothes and bed sheets will get stained. If you don’t keep your bedroom hygienic and wash your bed sheets often, your bed will become a home for bacteria to flourish, and your tattoo may get infected.

Impaired Judgment

When you drink too much alcohol, you may get drunk and lose control of yourself. Anything could happen when you get drunk. You may destroy your new tattoo unconsciously by crashing everything nearby, falling over every five seconds, rubbing your tattoo on the wall.

Many people love to get high and get drunk, but celebrating the new tattoo by drinking too much alcohol immediately after tattoo application is such a bad idea.

In two weeks at least, when your tattoo is rather susceptible, you should take serious care of your tattoo and prevent as many potential threats as you can.

Therefore, can you drink after getting a tattoo? For all kind of alcohols, you cannot.


Anything that contains caffeine such as coffee, tea, or sodas could have delayed your recovery. After you undergo a tattoo implementation, it’s suggested to stay away from coffee and sodas since they have a high percentage of caffeine. However, for the amount of caffeine in tea is minimal, drinking tea is acceptable. In the below part, scientific reasons will be explained to help you to decide for coffee, “can you drink after getting a tattoo?”.

Caffeine is well-known for its antioxidant effect thank its theobromine and xanthine. However, caffeine is also an adenosine -receptor antagonist. Both adenosine and antioxidants are capable of promoting the healing process [3], so how caffeine can affect the recovery is still controversial.

Healing Obstruction

Keratinocyte is a type of cell in the outer layer of the skin – epidermis. Its primary function is to generate keratin – a defensive kind of protein, essential substances that build up the skin [6]. According to many studies, caffeine can prevent keratinocytes’ reproduction depending on the amount of caffeine you consume. Caffeine is also capable of postponing cell migration.

Keratinocytes’ proliferation and cell migration play a critical role in skin recreation and tattoo healing. In short, drinking too much coffee, sodas, or anything that includes a large amount of caffeine could result in obstructing the healing process.

Threat Of Infection

Like alcohols, in several experiments, caffeine appears to defer the re-epithelialization – the reproduction of the skin, and wound closure that in turn increase the potential threat of infection. According to research of Ojeh, Stojadinovic, Pastar, Sawaya, Yin, Tomic-Canic (2016), these findings were tested in a human ex vivo wound healing model and confirmed in vitro data [3].

Even though caffeine can have both positive and negative effect on the healing process of a tattoo, the negative effect may arise as a majority impact if a disproportionate amount of caffeine is absorbed. Hence, can you drink after getting a tattoo? For caffeine, it’s considerable depending on the amount consumed.

When Can You Drink After Getting A Tattoo?

You should consider the length of time to drink after getting a tattoo
You should consider the length of time to drink after getting a tattoo

During the phase 1 and 2 of the healing process, the new tattoo is quite sensitive and vulnerable. It’s suggested that you should be careful and follow all instructions from your artist to protect and support the healing process of the new tattoo.

From phase 3, your tattoo is properly sealed, and the outer layer of the skin seems to be completely healed. However, it may take 3-4 months for the deeper layer of skin to be back to normal. The exact timing may vary depending on each person’s health condition. If any abnormal symptoms occurs during this time, you should promptly consult with a doctor.

After phase 2 is finished, you can consider drinking a moderate amount of alcohols/ or coffee. Still, you should carry on the aftercare procedure and limit the frequency of drinking to promote the healing process.

If four months have passed since the date of your tattoo implementation, it’s safe for you to come back to your routine and drink whatever you would love to, yet please remember that whatever is absorbed excessively, it’s always harmful to your body.

When can you drink after getting a tattoo? If your tattoo has been healed completely, yes you can.

What To Do So That You Can Drink After Getting A Tattoo Earlier?

If you want to drink after getting a tattoo as soon as possible, the main point is to speed up the healing process. Following an appropriate aftercare procedure and taking good care of your tattoo is what you should do.

Aftercare Procedure

There are three major steps: cleaning – moisturizing – protecting.

Step 1: Cleaning

At first, clean your hand thoroughly with sterile soap. Then, use your hand – not washcloth or sponge as they’re too harsh for your open wound – to rinse the tattoo gently with lukewarm water. Make sure to choose an antibacterial and fragrance-free soap such as Hibiclens.

For further suggestions, please read our last articles WHAT IS THE BEST SOAP FOR TATTOO CARE.

Step 2: Moisturising

Dry your tattoo with a clean towel, then apply a suitable type of ointment/ moisturizer. There are various popular choices such as Tattoo Goo, Aquaphor or Bepanthen, or Vitamin A and D. Do not apply a thick layer of ointment as it will block your tattoo from breathing that, in turn, slow down the healing process. A thin layer of moisturizer should be enough for the tattoo to absorb.

For further suggestions, please read our last articles BEST LOTION FOR TATTOOS and IS AQUAPHOR GOOD FOR TATTOOS?

For your tattoo, it’s suggested to use a proper fragrance-free, alcohol-free, sensitive types of moisturizing lotion, or tattoo special-made lotion, or natural oils/butter such as coconut oils, and cocoa butter. These moisturizers will reduce dryness, itching, and swelling.

Step 3: Protecting

Some people believe that covering your tattoo will create a defensive barrier between your artwork and the bed, that will stimulate the healing process. A clean towel or sterile bandage should be a proper choice. If you could not get anything like those two, you may replace with plastic wrap.

In another hand, some people argued that wrapping your tattoo may slow down the healing process. Your open wound needs fresh air to breath, yet wrapping reduces the air around your tattoo. Therefore, other people prefer leaving as it is.

As each person has unique body condition, you may try both wrap healing and dry healing to figure out which method is suitable for your body.

Thing To Do With Care

During this time, it’s preferred taking a shower rather than taking a bath. You may avoid taking a bath since water is an ideal environment for bacteria to reproduce, and emerging your tattoo into water is rather a terrible choice. While bathing may cause harmful effect on your new tattoo, showering with care is moderately accepted. You should take a shower with warm water for a short time.

For more detailed instruction, please read our last article SHOWERING WITH NEW TATTOO.

If you are a sporty person who loves going to the gym every day, it’s suggested to stop working out during phase 1 and phase 2 to support the healing process or at least working out with cautions.

For further instructions, please read our last article WORKING OUT AFTER GETTING A TATTOO.

Last but not least, sleeping without proper preparation after getting a new tattoo may cause you lots of troubles. There are various things you may need to prepare for sleep with your new “baby.”

Please read our last article HOW TO SLEEP WITH A NEW TATTOO for further information.


In summary, the response for “Can you drink after getting a tattoo?” is a big NO. Both alcohols and caffeine can impede the healing process and escalate the incidence of infection. It would be better to take good care of your tattoo and follow the aftercare instructions at this time for a gorgeous result.

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