Maybe you are thinking that in your next holiday you should get a more permanent souvenir like a tattoo, at the end of the day it will always be a reminder of the good times you had.
So Should I Get A Tattoo On Holiday? No, there are a few reasons for this. In the UK and USA the tattoo industry is very strictly regulated regarding Health and Safety, whilst other countries, especially in Europe, are not really regulated when it comes to the tattoo industry. There are also other reasons which I will explain further.
At first, it might seem like a good idea, or in the spur of the moment after having a few drinks and your friends daring you to do this, but the cold reality if holiday tattoos are not as safe as you think.
Why You Should NOT Get A Holiday Tattoo
The tattoo industry has become almost just as regulated, if not more in some cases, as medical practices.
Tattoo studios are required by law to have in place certain procedures and the tattoo artists need to follow certain protocols developed specially for Health and Safety reasons.
Every workstation surface needs to be disinfected with certified antibacterial products, and absolutely every tool or surface the tattoo artist might come in contact with whilst tattooing you have to be wrapped in disposable film. This includes everything from the tattoo machine to the clipcord (cable that power the tattoo machine) to the power supply, and everything else.
Also, every tattoo artist must have an immunization course against Hepatitis B, needs to be very knowledgeable in cross contamination prevention and every tattoo studio needs to have a specially trained First Aid Person present at all times.
Also, by law, in the UK the waiting area and the tattoo area needs to be separated with walls (floor to ceiling) to prevent dust and to prevent airborne viruses getting into the tattooing area with ease.
These are just a few of the requirements that need to be proved before getting a Skin Piercing and Tattooing License.
All these factors are to ensure that there is as little to no risk for the customer of getting an infection whilst getting a tattoo and also to protect the tattoo artist from getting and spreading any diseases.
So keeping that in mind, here are a few of the reasons why I recommend against getting a tattoo on holiday:
1. Health and Safety – whilst there are a lot of other places that are just as strict when it comes to regulations regarding your health and safety, some countries have not gotten yet to this standard and tattooing is a non regulated industry, where basically everybody does whatever they think is right.
2. Bad Decisions – when being on holiday and after having one to many, you might want to impress your friends and showing off how fearless you are. Is that a good decision? Of course NOT.
When we drink, the alcohol thins our blood and this means that you will bleed a lot more than normal, but also with all of our other senses being dimmed down, falling and forgetting to follow the aftercare can mean that an infection is very possible.
3. Tattoo Artist Reputation – when you are in your home town, you probably already know which tattoo artist is the best in your area, and which tattoo artist is the worst. Be it for artwork, or maybe a friend of yours was unhappy with the hygiene of the studio, etc.
Unfortunately the same can’t be said when you are abroad, as you are not a local, and although all the flashing lights and then promising you that they are the best in the area, you won’t know the quality of their work until is permanently on your skin. There were cases where tattoo studios in touristic areas have been caught out displaying tattoos done by international renowned artists and presenting it as their own, just to attract business.
The other aspect of this can be that if the tattoo doesn’t look the way you wanted when healed, you probably can’t go back and ask the artist to touch it up or repair it. The artist also knows that and is not really interested in providing you with a quality tattoo, but is more interested in the euros, or whatever currency you have in your pockets.
Hence, why almost all “holiday tattoos” have quite a poor quality to then.
4. Aftercare – lets be honest, you are on holiday to have fun, enjoy the sun (or snow), drink, visit places and other fun activities. So how will you actually follow the aftercare procedure whilst having so many distractions? You probably won’t, or just plain and simply forget. Not following your aftercare procedure will definitely affect its quality and can even put you at risk of infections or even worst septicemia.
There was a famous case in the news last year when a tourist in Cyprus (if I’m not mistaken) after arriving in the resort, went to get a tattoo. The parties that follow and the distractions made him forget about the aftercare of his tattoo, and ended up with an infection that he neglected. The neglected infection turned into septicemia within a couple of days and the tourist died.
OK, this is an extreme case, and its not really common, and I’m not trying to scare you, but you need to remember that a tattoo is an open wound and needs to be treated as such.
Can I Go Swimming After Getting A Tattoo
As tattoos are basically opened wounds, the last thing you want is to jump in the sea or swimming pool with a fresh tattoo.
Sea water is not sterile, thus the risk of a skin infection if really high. Not to even think about the discomfort you will feel when the salty sea water is coming in contact with your freshly tattooed area. Imagine having a cut and pouring salt.
In order for swimming pools not to develop any algae and also to minimize the risk of water carried diseases, you will find that chlorine is present in the water at different concentrations.
When your tattoo artist has explained to you the aftercare procedure, one of the sentences was probably “NO swimming or baths with a fresh tattoo!“. If it wasn’t, you might want to reconsider your tattoo artist choice.
The reason for this is that any stagnant body of water can harvest bacteria and comes with a very high risk of infection for your new ink.
A lot of times people forget that tattoos are basically open wounds and this is one of the reason common sense fails to apply.
I always explain to my customers to think of a tattoo as a cut in their skin. So if you wouldn’t put salt on a cut in your skin, you are not going to do that with a tattoo.
Can I Go To The Beach With A New Tattoo
First of all a fresh tattoo should not stay exposed in the sun. Actually any tattoo should not stay exposed to UV rays and even a healed tattoo should always be covered with plenty of high factor sunscreen cream. Preferably factor 50 and above,
The other risk you might encounter on a beach is sand. Let’s be honest, sand is everywhere on the beach, and the slightest breeze will raise quite a good amount of dust in the air.
As you probably figured sand is NOT a sterile material, and getting sand on your fresh tattoo will make the chances of you getting an infection go through the roof.
This doesn’t mean that if you have a fresh tattoo you should stay locked up in a room. What I am recommending is to have the tattoo protected against all these exterior bacteria. Products like Dermalize are fantastic at protecting agains dust, as its a transparent film that keeps the skin breathing but does not allow anthing to come in contact with the wound.
As a tattoo artist and also a avid tattoo collector, I use SPF 50 cream every day, as UV rays are not present only when the sun is shining and its hot outside. So this way, I know my tattoos will look fresh for a very long time.
How Long Before Going On Holiday Should I Get Tattoo? As a tattoo takes 4-6 weeks to fully heal, I always recommend having your tattoo session with at least 6 weeks to spare before departing on holiday
How Long After Coming From Holiday Should I Wait Before Getting A Tattoo? If you enjoyed your holiday in a sunny destination and are lucky enough to come back home with a tan, then I recommend you wait at least 4 weeks. In this time the skin will regenerate to its normal healthy self and the burned skin will have been replaced. If however you went on holiday in a destination that lacked sun or were constantly dressed, you can get a tattoo straight away.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will try to answer them as soon as possible.