Is Chlorine Bad For Tattoos?

woman with tattoos laying by the pool

Summertime means showing more skin, and let’s be honest— if you’ve got a new tattoo, it probably means you’re looking forward to showing it off when you’re at the pool or beach.  Sorry to disappoint, but in addition to the obvious dangers of exposing that pretty new tattoo to the sun, you need to be forewarned that chlorine isn't your friend either right now. 

Although tattoo infections may be rare, if you do expose your new tattoo to chlorinated water, unfortunately you are definitely taking a risk. Just like oil and water don’t mix well, the same premise applies to chlorine and new tattoos.

A fresh tattoo is an open wound, and chlorine is a pretty harsh chemical that has the potential to be a real troublemaker. At best, it can cause rashes and other irritation, and worst case, a bad infection where the skin is still open and vulnerable.

Even if you are spared from an infection, chlorine is still no friend to a new tattoo. It actually leaches ink from the tattoo, which obviously will reduce the vibrancy of the colors and appearance over time. Guess what, chlorine isn’t the only antagonist. You really need to steer clear of salt water too for the short term. Just like chlorine, the ocean water increases the chance of infection, and the salt can dry out the skin and stall the healing process.

So, now you probably want to know if the whole summer is a goner for diving in and exposing that new tattoo. All is not hopeless! Generally, it’s recommended to wait around 4 weeks to insure everything is really well healed. Needless to say, if you are slower to heal, then please don’t rush into the pool just yet. 

More good news—chlorine does not seem to do any harm to your tattoo once it’s healed and happy. If you’re already further down the road of healing and things are looking good, then suit up, dive in and enjoy without worry!

Honestly, if you are still in the planning phase or you’ve booked an appointment but didn’t yet get that new tattoo, you may just want to reschedule until after Labor Day, then go ahead and enjoy the rest of your summertime without worry. But, if it’s too late to reschedule, and your tattoo is still healing, now may be the perfect time to invest in a big beach umbrella, pick up a few selections from Oprah’s 2020 best beach reads, and keep yourself safe and dry.

Yes it’s a bummer, especially since summer is so short—but think BIG picture. It’s certainly worth being extra cautious in the short term if you are planning to be poolside or at the beach during those first few weeks of healing, and then you’ll have endless summers to come to enjoy your tattoo.


About the author: Yaffa Baslaw (@yadeinu) is a Freelance Writer with over a decade of experience copywriting and blogging compelling content. She has written for more than 20 companies in the fields of healthcare, skincare, and retail.