When Is the Best Time to Get a Tattoo?

A tattoo artist at work on April 22, 2014, in London.

Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

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Answer by Jae Alexis Lee, 50 hours under the needle and counting:

Fall or winter, assuming the tattoo is going to be involved enough to take more than one session.

When you have fresh ink, one of the things you want to avoid is a lot of direct sun—not because it will damage the tattoo, but because it’s really uncomfortable.

Another thing you want to avoid is immersing it in water. Forget about swimming pools and hot tubs while you’re healing out your ink. Also, forget about that refreshing dip in the water at the beach, river, lake, you name it. All of those nice water activities in the summer—right out.

Those two restrictions don’t sound like much, but they can put a serious damper on your summer. If it’s a simple, small tattoo that you’re going to heal out in two or three weeks, then it’s less of a big deal. But if you’re going back under the needle every three to four weeks for another session on a large piece, your entire summer can be shot very quickly.

Besides, summer is when you get to show it off—wouldn’t it be nice to have it finished by then?

Here’s another odd thing that I’ve noticed over the years getting tattooed: My artist is usually booked up during the summer, and tattoo shops are busier. I’ve always suspected that it’s because so much skin and ink on display makes more people get the idea in the summer that they want tattoos. In the fall and winter, things are less busy, the whole environment is more relaxed, and sometimes when you’re getting a large piece you wind up paying a bit less for it because the artist has more time available.

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