Time is one of the central measures we humans use to dictate our daily lives. We created the calendar and defined the hours of the day to keep track of time. For tasks, big and small, we set deadlines and create timelines to achieve them and we celebrate anniversaries, count our age, rejoice in birth and fear death. Time is relevant to everything we do, including getting tattooed.
There are a few common ways to think about time in relation to tattoos. For example, the amount of time it will take an artist to complete a design, or the amount of time it will take for a new piece to fully heal. Another way to think about the relationship between time and tattoos is to question if there is an ideal time to get one. Should you book your appointment for a specific time? And if so, when is the best time to get a tattoo?
While the answer varies the short answer is yes, there are optimal times to schedule your tattoo sessions.
Time of the day: within two hours of eating
Jes Valentine, Brooklyn-based tattoo artist and owner of Haven Studio, has been tattooing for over 14 years and, when asked when is the best time to get a tattoo, feels there isn’t one perfect time of day. She explains that the best time ultimately comes down to personal preference. “Some people prefer to get tattooed early because then they can get it out of the way and go about the rest of their day, while other people prefer to get it done at night so after completion, they can just go home and sleep it off.” Whatever time of day you choose to get tattooed though, she recommends it be within two hours of eating a meal. Eating before getting a tattoo is integral to your comfort throughout the process as it spikes your blood sugar, which helps your body produce the adrenaline needed to dampen any pain you might experience.
Time of the week: a few days before your next workout or party
The day of the week isn’t a measure of time that has any real effect on the tattooing process, so it’s fine to get tattooed on whatever day best suits your schedule. That said, Astrid Elisabeth, co-owner of Somewhere, a private tattoo studio in New York, suggests booking your tattoo appointment a few days in advance of the next time you plan to exercise (if you work out daily, you should take at least a day or two off after a new tattoo) or party. Like any other wound, it’s important to give a new tattoo time to begin its healing process, and the best way to do that is by resting for a few days after its completion. The excess pulling or stretching that comes from working out or partying can impede this process, so try to schedule your tattoos around these activities where possible.
Additionally, if you menstruate, Valentine recommends that you avoid booking your tattoo appointment while you’re bleeding. If your period comes early or you don’t keep close track of your cycle, you can still get tattooed, but she notes that “our bodies are much more sensitive during this time and that makes the pain worse.”
Time of the year: autumn or winter (when it’s cold out)
“Summer is the worst time to get tattooed. You’re sweaty, the sun is frying your skin, and you probably want to swim in the ocean [but you can’t],” says Elisabeth. To heal a new tattoo most effectively you need to keep it out of the sun and avoid soaking (in showers, baths, pools, lakes, etc.), which is far more difficult in the summer than it is during the colder months throughout autumn and winter. Plus, if you get new ink in the cold months, your tattoo will be fully healed and ready to show off when warm weather returns.
Time of your life: in your 20s and 30s (but really whenever you want once it’s legal)
When answering the question, “when is the best time to get a tattoo?”, it’s also worth thinking about your age, If you’re younger than eighteen years old and craving ink, know that most tattooers will turn you away, in large part because it’s illegal to tattoo minors in most US states and also because, as Elisabeth explains, many people grow to dislike the tattoos they get when they’re very young. Although some tattoo shops and studios will accept clients under 18 years old with permission from a parent or guardian, many won’t budge on age restrictions as a way of ensuring that everyone they tattoo is making an educated, adult decision.
Once you’re of the legal age though, there’s no right or wrong time to get tattooed. But if pain is a consideration, it’s worth noting that tattoos tend to hurt more as you get older because of thinning skin, so your 20s and 30s are the best time for tattoos in terms of the skin’s elasticity. Still, just because “tattooing older skin can be more difficult, doesn’t mean that an older person shouldn’t get tattooed,” says Valentine. “There’s really no perfect age. It really just depends on when you’re personally ready to make that change to your body.”
Time spent considering getting tattooed: it depends
Some people, myself included, are impulsive when it comes to tattoos. They think up a design one day and reach out to an artist to book an appointment the next. Others need to think about their idea for days, months, weeks, or even years before getting it tattooed. There’s no correct length of time to wait, so wait as long as you need and understand that, as Valentine says, “no one should feel forced into getting a tattoo nor should they feel forced to hold off on one.”
If you liked our post, “When Is The Best Time To Get a Tattoo?”, check out The Best Ways to Prepare For A Tattoo.