How Soon Can You Go in the Ocean After Getting a Tattoo?

How Soon Can You Go in the Ocean After Getting a Tattoo?

How Soon Can You Go in the Ocean After Getting a Tattoo

With the remainder of the summertime forecast in the Lower Mainland indicating more dry and hot days to come, those about to get a tattoo from our Greater Vancouver studios are wondering when it will be safe (Jaws not included) to get back into the nearby ocean. We know how tempting it can be to join your crew in saltwater festivities, but it’s important not to jump the gun. Today, we provide you with some insight into what you need to know before getting back into the ocean after getting inked.

Four Key Things to Know and Consider Before Going Into the Ocean After Getting Tattooed

Wait at Least Two Weeks (but err on the side of caution with four)

The golden rule for diving back into the deep blue after getting tattoo is to wait at least two weeks, although the facts state it can commonly take up to four weeks to fully heal. And that’s they key – your tattoo must be fully healed. That means you should return to our studio for your follow up, and when your artist inspects the work and gives you the thumbs up, you can then (and only then) return to the sea.

Water Quality Plays a Role

The two to four week rule is an all-else-equal one. But you’d better believe that water quality makes a difference, especially if you decided that you’re going to enter the water before getting the go-ahead from your tattooist. Polluted ocean water carries a lot of bacteria (millions of forms, in fact), and unfortunately your dealing with a lot of that within Greater Vancouver’s waterways. If you plan on stand-up-paddleboarding in False Creek for instance, you had best be sure of your balance because a dip in the brown toned saltwater can lead to infection if your tattoo is not fully healed. The same goes for Kits Beach (near our Kitsilano location) where Canadian Geese have been making the shoreline their personal lavatory. Once you’ve been cleared, check the most up to date water quality advisories for local area beaches before getting in, just to be thorough. And to our Toronto residents who plan on taking a vacation to an ocean-based locale, be sure to do the same for each respective destination.

Types of Ocean Activities Matter

What you plan on doing in the ocean makes a big difference too. For instance, if you’re just wading in the water, speed boating, or jet skiing and getting splashed a bit, you can probably get away with the two-week rule without detriment. If swimming, you will want to wait a week or two longer. However, if you have received a tattoo on your front thighs, abdomen, chest, or anterior deltoid (front shoulder), and you plan on surfing, you must absolutely wait until you’ve been cleared by your tattooist. Simply put, if your ocean activity puts any sort of strain or impact on the area where your tattoo is, be patient.

Precautions for Getting Back In

Once in the clear, it is important to take every precaution to protect the tattoo for both health and aesthetic reasons alike. The coarseness of saltwater can wipe away sunblock, so be sure to lather up the tattooed area frequently with a waterproof lotion that carries a minimum SPF rating of 30 (although 50 is preferred for the fair skinned). In fact, always apply an extra layer of sunblock to your tattoo before playing in the ocean, even in the years to come, a practice that will help keep the lines looking sharp for much longer. In addition, consider wearing a waterproof bandage and layer of “clothing” for the first week of ocean water reentry, such as a rash guard or even a wetsuit for when surfing, wake boarding, kiteboarding, or waterskiing even if the water temperatures have you wanting to stick to board shorts or bikinis.


If you plan on getting a tattoo at one of our Greater Vancouver or Toronto shops and you have any preliminary questions about hitting the ocean after the fact we encourage you to contact us today.