There is a certain etiquette when going for your first or next tattoo. An unspoken gesture of selflessness is to walk into your session with the area you’re having tattooed, already shaved. If you are on the hairy side, at least de-fuzzing will be much appreciated by your artist. However, the timing of the shave is super important, especially if you are prone to razor bumps. Can you tattoo over razor bumps?
Some tattoo artists will tattoo over razor bumps, but this is generally not advised as it can cause infection in the skin or prolong healing. Razor bumps usually have broken skin areas, and when you tattoo over them, they can start to bleed more than usual, and the ink can bleed out.
Careful shaving before an appointment is required. This is only applicable if you have the skin you can trust after a shave; if you are prone to getting little bumps or razor burn after shaving, then there are a few things to consider before getting your next tattoo on a particularly hairy spot. If you are a little hairier than most, de-fuzzinga little will be very kind. The tattoo artist will ultimately shave the area in the studio to make sure it is hair-free. Let’s discuss this topic more in-depth.
What Are Razor Bumps?
As a tattooed person myself, getting razor bumps is the one thing that can cause a lot of discomforts, even in a normal situation. I am always on the careful side with my tattoos. Aftercare and shaving is still a worry. If you have a slightly blunt razor or you didn’t put good shaving lotion on, as the blade edge runs across your skin, you know you’re going to get razor burn or bumps, but what are they really?
Razor bumps develop after shaving; when the hair is supposed to grow out naturally from the follicle, it sometimes meets dead skin, which causes resistance, and the hair starts to curl back inward. This starts to cause redness on the skin, little bumps appear, and the follicles become inflamed.
The thing about razor bumps is that anyone can get them at any time and on any body area where you might shave with a razor. If you are someone prone to getting razor bumps, they can worsen every time you need to shave. If the skin is not broken, the hair will keep getting longer under the spot until it is removed. There are ways to prevent them so that you don’t miss your next tattoo session.
What Can Happen If I Tattoo Over Razor Bumps?
Although it is not impossible to tattoo over razor bumps, and some tattoo artists do take the risk and do it, it is not recommended due to a few things that can happen;
- Increased pain. Razor bumps are already quite sensitive and uncomfortable. Tattooing over them will increase your pain levels, and the skin might feel like it’s burning more in that area.
- More bleeding. Because the skin could be broken in the area with razor bumps, it will most likely end up bleeding more than usual due to being damaged, and this could cause the ink to bleed out and ruin your tattoo later.
- Risk of infection. With broken skin, you take a risk tattooing over it as the needles are placing ink down to the dermis level, any bacteria that could have been around the broken skin section will now be driven deeper into the skin.
- Prolonged healing. If you take the risk and tattoo over razor bumps, it could significantly increase your tattoo’s healing time. The tattoo might push out ink if there is more than usual scabbing or weeping.
What Causes Razor Bumps?
There are a few reasons why razor bumps form on your skin after shaving. Usually, men tend to get them around the neck’s collar area, but anywhere you shave to get ready for a new tattoo can develop razor bumps within a few hours to a day. Body hairs grow much faster than the hair on your head, so places like legs, the bikini area, and underarm can develop razor bumps overnight. The following things contribute significantly to razor bumps;
- A blunt razor. If you use disposable razors, do not use them more than once as it becomes blunt very quickly.
- A dirty razor. A build-up of skin particles and hair can quickly clog the space between blades, and cleaning a disposable razor is not easy. If you need to use it more than once, an old toothbrush and hot water can do the trick.
- Rusting blade. When you leave your razor in the bathroom near water or the shower, you will see the edges start to rust. Discard this razor immediately.
- Not exfoliating regularly. Skin needs to get a regular exfoliating to get rid of dead skin and excess oils. This can significantly improve the clarity and quality of your skin.
- Hydrating. It is recommended that you drink ample water to keep your skin hydrated; this also reduces the risk of razor bumps.
Looking after your skin before you shave will make a remarkable difference to the area you plan to have tattooed. The better your skin health, the faster your tattoo can heal.
Can You Tattoo Over Pimples?
Pimples can appear at any age; it can be attributed to hormonal changes, excess oil on the skin, or keratin build-up in the follicles like with Keratosis pilaris, sometimes called chicken skin. If you plan to get a back or sleeve tattoo and have acne in those areas, see a dermatologist beforehand and get the acne under control. Most tattoo artists will not want to tattoo over pimples because there is already a small pus-filled crater in the skin, tattooing over that will break the skin, and the needles will be driving ink deep into the dermis layer. Bacteria in the pimple can now quickly enter the bloodstream and cause an infection or a surface infection such as staph.
Most people with Keratosis pilaris can get tattoos if it is appropriately controlled. In some cases, tattooing over these areas has cleared up the condition. Please always consult your primary caregiver if you have any preexisting conditions.
Razor Bumps And Pimples After Getting Tattooed
You have made it through the build-up to the day of your appointment, looked after your skin correctly, and your artist proceeds to shave the bit of fuzz on the area you want tattooed. A few days after application, the hairs start to grow, and with it, bumps begin to appear, it’s itchy, and some look like pimples.
This is not uncommon to happen after getting tattooed over a particularly fuzzy spot. Sometimes the razor bumps appear a few days after your ink was applied, and the healing commences. This can be very tricky and uncomfortable, let’s look at how to manage this properly;
- Over moisturizing. You will get some form of ointment or lotion, which you will be instructed to apply to your new tattoo. This keeps it moisturized and the skin from over scabbing. If you use too much ointment, the pores can get clogged up and form a pimple underneath. Let the skin dry and breathe in-between applications.
- Bacteria. If you left the cover on too long or your tattoo got too hot and sweaty, bacteria might be the cause of a breakout. Do not touch your new tattoo frequently; your hands have germs that can transfer to healing skin. Keep the area ventilated.
- Hairs growing out. Just like with regular razor bumps, after being shaved and tattooed, razor bumps can present as soon as the hair in that area grows out again. They may even turn into small pimples.
What Not To Do With Razor Bumps On Your Tattoo
You might likely have a breakout of razor bumps appearing after a tattoo session, they can be rather unsightly, but the most important thing to do is not pop or squeeze them. This can cause a crater in the skin, an infection to form, and the new tattoo to become ruined. Do not apply any alternative lotions or steroid ointments. They need to dry out and heal on their own.
It is a given that at some point before you shave for the next tattoo, you will experience a breakout of razor bumps. The recommendation is that you do not have a new tattoo applied over fresh razor bumps, leading to other complications. If you develop razor bumps after your tattoo is applied, know that this is not uncommon and will heal in no time. One rule only, do not pop a razor bump or tattoo pimple.
Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you
Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.
Design and tattoo ideas
For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):
- Great Book of Tattoo Designs, Revised Edition: More than 500 Body Art Designs (Fox Chapel Publishing) Fantasy, Celtic, Floral, Wildlife, and Symbol Designs for the Skin by Lora Irish
- The Big Book of Small Tattoos – Vol.1: 400 small original tattoos for women and men by Roberto Gemori
- Tiny Tattoos: Over 1,000 Small Inspirational Artworks by Rebecca Vincent.
If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).
The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):