When you get a tattoo, the area will be completely shaved before it's applied, so at least you're starting off with smooth skin. After a couple days of stubble and bristly skin, the urge to shave can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, at this point, shaving is about as brutal on your tattoo as a weedwacker. The wound is still fresh, and especially if you have any scabbing or raised areas, you run the risk of damaging your artwork by running a razor across it. Chemical hair removers are just as bad if not worse - you never want to put anything like that on a fresh tattoo.
Of course, you can shave the area around the tattoo. Be sure any and all creams, gels and/or hair follicles are cleaned away from the tattoo immediately afterward, and then apply your ointment or lotion as directed by your artist.
So, when is it safe to shave again? Your tattoo will go through several different stages, one of the last being the peeling stage. Once the peeling has finished, your skin will start to regenerate and produce a new protective layer over your tattoo. Once this new layer has appeared, it is usually safe to shave again. Depending on your tattoo and your own body's ability to heal, this can take anywhere from 5-10 days in most cases. Do this simple little skin test to see if it would be safe for you to shave:
Close your eyes and run the tips of your fingers across and around your tattoo. Are there any bumps? Raised areas? Hard scabs? The tattoo should feel the same as the skin around it - if you can tell where the tattoo begins and ends or feel any skin irregularities, you might need to wait a little longer.
Sometimes a tattoo can remain raised slightly for as long as a couple months. This can be very frustrating and itchy to the wearer. In this case, if the tattoo is completely healed with no open sores or scabs, an electric razor is you best option. Even a chemical hair remover would be better than a blade, but be sure to leave it on for the minimum time required to remove the unwanted hair. If you must use a blade razor, exercise extreme caution. Your tattoo is so close to being successfully healed - the last thing you want to do now is open it up.
Once a tattoo is completely healed, you can shave just like normal without worry.