Tattooed man diving into a swimming pool

When is the Best Time to Get a Tattoo?

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According to experts, there are certain times of the year when it is better and safer to get tattooed. Normally, experts would advise to avoid the summer when you’re less likely to be in the sun or going swimming, but some say winter can be just as tricky.

The aftercare of your tattoo is incredibly important. A fresh tattoo is essentially an open wound which is susceptible to infection should you not look after it properly. This is exactly why you need to do everything you can to keep the tattoo clean and to protect it from harmful germs and bacteria.

With that said, it doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to a new tattoo over the summer or winter period. So, to help you decide when’s best to get your tattoo, here are some things to bear in mind. 

Summer

During the summer, you’re more likely to be in a warm environment, whether that’s at home or on holiday, and that means water! In both cases, it’s important to consider how long after a tattoo not to swim for, or soak in general! It’s extremely important to avoid swimming for at least a month. This includes swimming pools, hot tubs and any natural outdoor bodies of water such as the sea, lakes and rivers.

There are a number of reasons why you need to avoid swimming, but mainly, it’s for your own safety. Just think, you and your fresh tattoo in a swimming pool will be sharing the water with strangers and their germs. The same goes for hot tubs and natural water; they are all prone to lots of bacteria which can cause serious infection. But, it’s not just the infection you need to worry about. 

The chlorine in swimming pools and hot tubs are extremely unhelpful in the healing of your tattoo. Chlorine will dry out the area and irritate the skin, causing reactions such as redness and itching.  

As we’ve already alluded to, summer means sun (in most cases!) and UV rays. For how long to avoid sun with a new tattoo, we’d recommend at least two to three weeks as the skin will be extra sensitive. So what happens to a fresh tattoo in the sun? Not only will the skin be more prone to burning and UV damage, but it’s also detrimental to the healing process. The tattoo could also end up scabbing or peeling and result in fading the ink as well. When you’re all hot and sweaty, it’s also easier to pick up infections.

Sunbathing with tattoos

It’s also important to know how to protect a new tattoo from the sun too. You should wait at least three weeks before using sunscreen to avoid risk of infection. But this shouldn’t be just for new tattoos; you should always take extra care with ALL of your tattoos when you’re in the sun. Experts advise that you should use a higher SPF, 30 at least, to preserve the colour of your tattoo and avoid the ink fading. There are specific sunscreens for tattoos like Tattoo Goo Renew that we’d suggest taking a look at.

If you are going on holiday and are planning on getting tattooed while you’re away, make sure you leave it until the end of the trip so you don’t have to put the beach or any swimming on hold. If the weather is unavoidably hot and sunny when you’re getting your tattoo, just think about the best ways to keep yourself (or at least your fresh tattoo) out of direct sunlight while it’s in the healing process.

Winter

Some people opt to get tattooed in winter as they are much less likely to be going swimming or exposed to the sun.

However, if you are thinking about getting a tattoo during the colder months, think about how many layers you’re going to be wearing. Wearing thicker clothes can rub against the tattoo which can also prevent the tattoo from healing properly and in some cases, cause infection. The tattoo needs room to breathe, so it’s a good idea to choose a time and place where your new tattoo isn’t being suffocated by thick jeans or jumpers. Where it can’t be helped, ‘second skin’ products like Dermalize and Tattoomed are a great barrier between clothing and tattoos to consider in these instances.

You might also be feeling a little bit pasty during the winter months, but sunbeds are just as harmful to new tattoos as direct sunlight. Again, we’d recommend waiting at least a few weeks before using a sunbed after a new tattoo.

Spring & Autumn

In our opinion, Spring and Autumn are both great seasons to get a tattoo. Neither tend to be too sunny and you still have the option to wear looser clothing to protect the tattoo.

Just don’t forget, the sun can still penetrate the clouds on overcast days when temperatures are high, so try bear this in mind.

A map of the world tattooed to the inside of a forearm

For more information on tattoo aftercare, we’ve written an article that runs through the good stuff: how to look after a new tattoo, what is the best tattoo aftercare cream, how long not to swim for, how to care for your tattoos in the sun. Find out more here.

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Meet Our Experts

Chris Harrison Tattoo Artist

Chris Harrison

Bridgend Tattoo Studio

Bridgend, South Wales, UK

Sneaky-Mitch, tattooist at Gold Room Tattoo, Leeds, UK

Sneaky-Mitch

Gold Room Tattoo

Leeds, UK

Tito Inkid

L’Atelier Sans Nom

Armentières, France

Lianne Moule

Immortal Ink
Chelmsford, UK

Julian ‘Corpsepainter’ Siebert

Corpse Painter Tattoo
Munich, Germany

Alex Rattray

Empire Ink
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

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