hairy arm tattoo

What To Expect With A Tattoo Over Hair

Getting a tattoo can be quite a daunting experience for someone who is considering getting one for the first time. A newbie will have a multitude of questions. In particular, this topic pops up quite a bit and has some people worried as they do not want to damage their skin or hair, and most people do not want to take the chance of their hair thickening too. So, what can you expect when getting a tattoo in a particularly hairy location on your body?  

When you get your tattoo, the tattoo artist will shave the area that is being tattooed, so the hair will not obstruct the tattoo needle or tattoo stencil. The hair will grow back completely normal. This will not affect the amount of hair or the thickness of hair that grows in that location. 

hairy arm tattoo
Tattoo on a hairy arm, inspiration from

It is only human to have these concerns; many people do. However, some information will be able to put your mind at ease and help you decide if a hairy location on your body is the best spot for your tattoo. As well as how to make sure the hair does not damage the tattoo either.

What Happens When You Tattoo Over Hair?

Depending on where you want to get your tattoo, the tattoo artist will shave the area for you before they start tattooing, or they will ask you to shave the area before your appointment if it is a very hairy location.

The location is shaved as the body hair can interfere with the tattoo artist during the whole tattooing process and this can be quite annoying to the tattoo artist.

Shaved skin area under the ink
Skull tattoo made by me – skin area under the ink is shaved

After your tattoo has been completed, your hair will start to grow back normally as your tattoo heals over the next few weeks. The growing hair will not damage your new tattoo at all, as this is a natural process.

Why Shaving Before Tattoo Is Encouraged

You can get a tattoo over your body hair. However, it is not recommended to do this as the hair could affect the results of your tattoo negatively by not allowing some areas of skin from getting the tattoo ink deep enough into the skin.

Shaving is recommended as this prevents anything from getting in the way of the needle during the tattooing process. Shaving also allows for a better application of the tattoo stencil as the area is smooth after shaving, so the tattoo stencil can be placed on the skin without any bumps appearing.

If the area has not been shaved and the tattoo artist tries to apply the tattoo stencil, then the tattoo stencil may not stick to the skin as well as it should, or the tattoo stencil may only be partially applied to the skin. If this happens then, the tattoo artist will need to reapply the stencil multiple times.

Shaved skin can make your artist's work easier
Shaved tattoo area can make your artist’s work easier

Shaving the area also allows your tattoo artist to wipe away any blood or extra ink that may pop up during the tattooing process. This permits the tattoo artist to keep the area clean and makes sure that the artist has full visibility of the area that is being tattooed so that no mistakes happen.

If the area is not shaved, then the extra ink and blood may stick to the hairs, and the tattoo artist will struggle to wipe it away while tattooing.

Will The Hair Grow Back Thicker After Tattoo?

The answer to this is simply no. The hair that is shaved off to get your tattoo will grow back normally and will not grow back thicker. This is a regular misconception, as people think that shaving will encourage more hair growth and denser, darker hair to grow.

The fact is that shaving the hair on your body will have no effect on the amount and thickness of the hair that grows back.

So, there is no need to worry about hair growing back thicker and maybe making your tattoo look weird or possibly obscuring your tattoo, as this will not happen.

Will The Tattoo Damage The Hair Follicles?

Tattoos should not affect the hair follicles in any way or prevent hair growth. Here are a few reasons as to why this is the case.

Our skin is quite complicated, and tattooing requires proper procedures to perform the art correctly and get the desired outcome. Tattooing consists of a needle piercing the skin multiple times, and each time a pigment or the tattoo ink is forced through the needle into the dermal layer of the skin.

Why shaving skin before tattooing is recommended
One of my works (on shaved skin even small mistake can be noticed immediately)

Now hair follicles are also in the skin’s dermal layer; however, they are a lot further down in this layer of skin than the tattoo needle and ink will ever go. The needle and the tattoo ink will not touch the hair follicle, and therefore the follicles will not be damaged in any way.

Ingrown Hairs On Tattoos

Ingrown hairs can be a problem with tattoos, especially tattoos that are still healing. The fresh tattoo itself will not stunt hair growth; the needle that is used during the tattooing process can accidentally push hairs down into the skin leading to ingrown hairs.

Ingrown hairs can also be caused by shaving the area that is getting tattooed. With ingrown hairs, the hair follicle becomes inflamed, typically presenting in a red and bumpy manor and may cause some discomfort. The areas that are more susceptible to ingrown hairs are the legs, armpits, chest, and back.

If you have a fresh tattoo that is still healing, or you want to make sure that you do not damage your tattoo, then the following things are what you should try and avoid to prevent ingrown hairs on your tattoo.

Do not do anything to irritate the area in any way. Do not excessively touch your tattoo. Try to avoid any harsh products and scented products on the tattooed area. Avoid squeezing, scratching, or picking at the ingrown hair, as this will just irritate the follicle and will could make it take longer to heal. This could also damage the tattoo and cause the tattoo to distort or prematurely fade.

How shaved skin can help your tattoo artist
Shaved skin can help avoid some mistakes during your artist’s work

So, the best way to deal with an ingrown hair on your tattoo is to just leave it to heal. Just go about your usual tattoo care routine, and the follicle will heal in a few days.

Can Hair Affect The Appearance Of Tattoos?

This depends on the amount of hair that grows in that location and how thick that hair is. If your hair is thin and light, then the hair will in no way affect the appearance of your tattoo. However, if your hair is thick and dark, then this may affect the appearance somewhat.

Should you shave the tattooed area to allow the tattoo to be more visible? Well, this is up to personal preference. If you do not like the hair covering your tattoo, then, by all means, go for it and get rid of it. If it does not bother you, then there is no reason to shave the new hair off as it will not harm the new or old tattoo in any way.

A few ways to remove the hair from your tattoo without damaging it apart from shaving include waxing, shaving, electrolysis, or laser hair removal.

You can avoid some artist's mistakes when you shave your skin before getting a tattoo
Your hair will grow normal on your tattoo (one of my flower projects)

These hair removal options will not damage your tattoo if done professionally.


Depending on where you are going to get your tattoo, the area may be shaved by the tattoo artist to make sure there is no room for error and that you will get the best possible tattoo that they can provide.

The shaving will not affect the hair that grows in that area, so there is no need to worry if you are going to have a bald spot on an area of your body, as this will not happen.

If you have any concerns regarding the whole process or if you are wondering if it is necessary to shave the location where you want a tattoo, then speak to your tattoo artist as they can reassure you and help you make the best decision for you and your body.

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