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Do You Need to Shave Before a Tattoo?

shave before a tattoo

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While the area you’re getting a tattoo on does need to be shaved before you’re tattoed, the tattoo artist will need to do it themselves. Even if you shave right before you go in and your body is hairless, your artist will still run a razor over your skin to check for any missed hairs.

Hair can cause the linework to be uneven, but more importantly, it gets in the way so the area can’t be properly cleaned and if the needle pushes a hair back into the shaft, it can even cause an infection.

This is why, no matter what, your artist will check for any missed hairs and re-shave you. It’s generally recommended not to shave before your appointment because you could nick yourself, which would leave you open to infection and could mess up your tattoo. Just leave it to the professional – they’re going to do it anyway.

What Do Tattoo Artists Use to Shave?

There is no singular tool that tattoo artists use to shave their clients. Because it’s unsanitary to share razors, most use the cheap razors that come several to a $1 package and they throw them away after every client. This is often cheaper than buying an expensive razor and cleaning it between clients, because when you’re shaving several people per day, even the nice razors won’t hold up long.

If you’re worried about your artist shaving you in a tender spot with a cheap razor – don’t be. Tattoo artists undergo long apprenticeships where they learn everything about skin – including how to properly shave it, even with a cheap razor.

Does Shaving Over a Tattoo Make it Fade?

As long as you wait until the healing process is complete, it’s completely fine to shave your tattoo. At most, shaving will only remove the top layer of skin. All of the tattoo’s ink is held in the lower layers of skin, so removing the top layer of skin will not damage it in any way.

However, be extra careful when shaving your tattoo. If you cut yourself, it will go into the deeper layers of skin and it could permanently damage your tattoo. In this case, you would need to return to your artist and see if there is anything they can do to save your tattoo.

Should You Wax Your Tattoo?

Again, as long as your tattoo is fully healed, it’s completely safe to wax over it. For some people, waxing is preferable to shaving because there is no risk of cutting yourself or getting razor burn. Some people also find it more comfortable to apply lotion after waxing than after shaving and as always, a moisturized tattoo is a healthy tattoo.


It’s recommended that you don’t shave before your tattoo and leave it to professionals instead. They are going to shave you anyway and if you happen to cut yourself before you’re appointment, they may have to cancel your appointment until it heals and some artists will even take your deposit! After your tattoo is fully healed, it’s completely safe to either shave or wax your tattoo- neither will hurt it or cause it to become dull.