Tattoos are wonderful works of art that are a beautiful way to express oneself and/or pay tribute to something you love. But, they are not the easiest things to acquire. They cost money, cause a lot of pain, and most importantly, require a lot of aftercare to make sure they heal well. One factor in the healing of a tattoo can be the weather. What is the best time of year for a tattoo? Heat, cold, sun, and layers of clothing will all have an effect on the way a tattoo heals, and all must be considered when getting your tattoo. 

So, what is the best time of year to get a tattoo? The best time to get a new tattoo is in the winter. This is a time when you will wear lots of clothing outside and your tattoo will be less exposed to the elements such as sun, dirt, or unexpected scratches. 

However, that’s not to say you can’t get a tattoo in the summer, or any other time of the year. It’s just important that you are aware of the risks and concerns that come with each season and protect your tattoo accordingly. 

Caring For Your Tattoo Throughout the Year

If you really want to give your tattoo the best chance for success, waiting for the winter months is your best bet. But, that’s not always realistic. Perhaps you are limited based on your chosen artist’s availability, or even your own schedule restrictions. 

Or maybe, you’re just impatient – and that’s okay! Tattoo shops are open year-round and no one is going to turn you away simply because the sun is out and blazing. While winter is the most ideal, it’s not without risks of its own. There are considerations to make at all times of the year: 

Cold Weather

The many layers of clothing that are often required in the winter will protect your tattoo from most of the elements – the sun being most important. Nothing ruins and fades a tattoo like too much unprotected sun exposure, especially early on in the healing process. Another danger to new tattoos is sweat. Most of us don’t do much sweating in the winter! 

That being said, winter is a popular time for colds, flu, and other viruses to go around. If you should happen to get sick while healing a fresh tattoo, the chances of infection will increase. 

Hot Weather

While the winter may be most ideal for getting a tattoo, the summer is often the most popular time. This isn’t surprising, summer is when tattoos get shown off. Whether it’s shorts and tank tops, or a bikini on the beach, your skin is almost always on display. 

Often time, winter rolls around, and people aren’t interested in new tattoos because no one will be able to see them for a while. But, there are actually several benefits to getting your tattoo when it’s cold, aside from the health reasons: 

  • You won’t have to miss out on any summer activities such as sun-tanning or beach days. 
  • Tattoos are easier to hide under clothing if you’re worried about anyone seeing it. 
  • You’ll be able to show it off when it’s fully healed and looking great. Healing tattoos go through many ugly stages of scabbing and peeling. 

In addition to the practical inconveniences, getting a new tattoo in the summer will mean you need to take many more precautions: 

  • Keep the tattoo covered and out of the sun as much as possible. 
  • Be careful not to get any dirt on the tattoo. 
  • Be careful not to let it bump or scratch on anything.
  • Be diligent about cleaning and drying off any excessive sweating. 
  • Don’t let the tattoo get wet or submerged in any water beyond a short shower. 

So, once you really think about it, it does make much more sense to get your new tattoo in the winter. Summer tattoos aren’t out of the question, but it will require more effort and diligence on your part, and you might miss out on some fun summer activities while it’s healing. 

Spotting Infection Throughout the Year 

No matter what you do, infection is always a risk when you get a tattoo. Even when done properly and professionally, it’s still an open wound. This means that you need to pay attention to it and watch for infection, even if you’ve made every effort to get the tattoo under the best circumstances possible. 

In the summer – If you have gotten your tattoo in the summer, just be sure to keep an extra good eye on it. Follow all necessary instructions, take all the precautions, and watch it closely. Especially if you are spending time in the sun – sometimes it is unavoidable – monitor it regularly to ensure there is no negative reaction happening. 

Be on high alert for signs of infection, as the sooner an infection is caught and treated, the better the prognosis will be – for you and the tattoo. Common signs of infection include: 

  • A rash developing on or around the tattoo. 
  • A fever. 
  • Extreme and prolonged swelling, redness, soreness, or itchiness (all of this is normal if moderate and in the very early stages of healing). 
  • Shaking, chills, sweats. 
  • Blistering on or around the tattoo. 

In the winter – In the winter, it’s still important to keep it clean and monitored, but you won’t have to worry as much about things like sun and sweat. What you should worry about in the winter especially, is dryness. Many people experience dry, itchy skin during the colder months even without a tattoo. A tattoo that isn’t moisturized enough will become dry and tight and the cold weather can potentially make this even worse. 

If you notice the tattoo is drying out or feeling tight and uncomfortable, try increasing your moisturizer. Do this slowly, however, as too much moisturizing can be bad for it as well. If you’re unsure about how to find the proper balance, contact your artist and they will be happy to help you out. 

Pay Attention to Aftercare Regardless of the Weather

It’s true that different seasons require slightly different precautions when it comes to healing a tattoo. However, you must ensure you are following the basic aftercare instructions no matter what type of weather you’re dealing with. 

These basic instructions will include: 

  • Leave the bandage on for 24-72 hours (will vary depending on bandage type). 
  • Wash immediately after removing the bandage. 
  • Clean with unscented soap twice per day. 
  • Moisturize with unscented lotion after cleaning. 

The exact details may vary slightly and your artist may recommend certain products. You might be told to clean it more or less often based on your skin type/sensitivity or even your job or lifestyle. Whatever your artist tells you to do, follow their instructions closely and without wavering. 

Failing to follow the aftercare instructions will leave you at a higher risk of both infection and a compromised tattoo. 

Do Tattoos Heal Faster in the Winter? 

If the winter is the best time to get a tattoo due to the lesser risk, then one might wonder if this means it will heal faster in the winter. The simple answer is no, the weather doesn’t make a difference to healing times. How fast a tattoo heals will have to with things like the quality of application, the condition of the skin, your health, and how well you take care of it. 

That being said, an infected tattoo will take much longer to heal, and you’re at a bit of a higher risk of infection in the summer. 

How Long Do You Have to Keep a Tattoo Covered in the Summer? 

Part of the reason many people get their tattoos in the summer is that they want to show them off. This is understandable and certainly reasonable, good tattoos should be shown off! 

But, proper healing should be a top priority after first getting the tattoo. 

You should keep your fresh tattoo out of the sun completely for at least 10-14 days. This means having it fully covered at all times, no matter what. Even if that means wearing long sleeves in the heat. This is one reason why getting a tattoo in the winter is preferable for many – you’re wearing long sleeves outside anyway. 

It also needs to be kept out of the water, which is another reason winter tattoos are great. This will often mean missed beach days, which is a huge thing for many in the summer. You can still go to the beach with a fresh tattoo, but it needs to be covered and you cannot go in the water – not the best recipe for an enjoyable afternoon on the beach. 

Past the initial 10-14 days, it will be up to you and your own discernment to decide when it’s safe to allow the tattoo to be exposed to some sun. You’ll need to keep an idea on its progress and how long it takes to heal. If the tattoo is still at all scabby or flaky, that’s a sign that it’s not ready to go out in the sun yet.