Maybe you’re 16 years old, or maybe you’re 55. If you’re a lover of tattoos, you might find yourself looking to get your first one at some point in your life.
There is way more to it than just picking out a cute design and showing up at a tattoo parlor. Here are some helpful tips that you should know before you get yourself inked.
1. Know what you want before you go.
I know, it sounds obvious, but your tattoo should not be a spur of the moment decision, especially if it’s somewhere you can’t easily hide. This is permanent, man, think about it.
2. It’s okay if your tattoo doesn’t have a deeply rooted meaning.
You’re allowed to get a design simply because you like it! Just make you like it enough to wear it every day for the rest of your life.
3. Do your research while picking a tattoo artist.
Look for someone with great reviews and who has been in the business for a long time. Get suggestions from friends, check out their Instagram and Facebook reviews, and ask to see their previous work.
4. Be prepared to join a long waiting list if you have one artist in mind.
Talented artists often have long waiting lists, but it’s worth it to make sure you’re getting the best work done.
5. Make sure that the parlor you’re going to is clean.
You’ll want to make sure that it has been regularly inspected by the health department. Unsterilized needles are nothing to mess around with.
6. Also be prepared to put down a deposit to hold your spot.
Getting a tattoo isn’t, and shouldn’t be, cheap. You’re going to drop some cash on this art, but you want to make sure you’re getting the best.
7. Speaking of cash… you need to tip your artist afterward, just like you would at a restaurant.
Think 15% for good service and 20% for anything better. If you can’t afford a deposit and a tip, you can’t afford a tattoo. Period.
8. When it comes to picking out your actual tattoo, put a lot of thought into it, but also consult with your artist.
They know what they’re doing, and can probably come up with something really impressive for you.
9. With that being said, make sure you know what you want, and that you can articulate that to your artist.
Be specific about what you have in mind. A broad idea of a tattoo is never a good idea.
10. When it comes to actually getting the ink, there’s a lot to know for the day of.
I know you’ll want to, but please don’t bring your four best friends to the parlor to keep you calm.
11. Multiple people are a distraction to the artist.
If you’re going to bring one person, ask if it’s okay first. Otherwise, bring a book, listen to music, or focus on breathing to keep yourself calm.
12. Do not drink alcohol at least 24 hours before you go. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how often people do this.
It thins your blood, messes with the healing process, and basically ruins everything.
13. And I shouldn’t have to say it, but don’t get a tattoo while intoxicated.
There’s a reason most parlors make sure you’re sober first. Have you ever seen one that actually looks good afterward? Yeah, neither have I.
14. Consider drinking lots of water and having a good meal before you get your tattoo.
The vibrations can make some people feel nauseous, so be prepared for that to happen.
It will also make the newly tattooed part of your body feel weird after… it’s normal.
15. Give yourself a lot of time at the appointment.
This isn’t something you’ll want to get on your break at work. Some tattoos can take several hours, so be prepared for that.
16. You also have to be prepared that it’s going to hurt.
Everyone has a different pain tolerance, and even small factors can have a huge impact on how comfortable you are.
17. The parts of your body with more nerves and less fat are likely going to hurt more (like the ankle, for example).
Practice deep breathing, and after about 15 minutes or so, it should start to hurt less.
18. Be careful which anti-inflammatory medicine you take before getting a tattoo.
Advil helps some people with the discomfort, but Aspirin is not recommended as it thins your blood and interferes with the healing process.
19. Some people like to apply a numbing gel beforehand, but do your research!
It can work, but some people have found that it increases the risk of the ink bleeding, and you lose those crisp lines.
20. Know that red ink tends to fade faster than other colors, and white ink is prone to turning yellow.
Oh, and those adorable watercolor tattoos tend to blur way faster than something with a sharp line.
21. Tiny tattoos are really trendy, but be warned that the crisp lines will probably bleed much faster than something larger.
It’s best to go with a simple design if it’s going to be really small, instead of something overly detailed.
22. When it comes to the size of your tattoo, don’t be afraid to talk to the tattoo artist if you’re not entirely pleased.
They can resize it for you or change the spot if you don’t totally love it. Don’t be afraid to speak up before it’s too late.
23. You can get a tattoo over a scar, but there are a few things to consider first.
Know that the ink may not be totally absorbed into the scar after the first session, and you may have to come back to get touch-ups. The scar is going to have to be several years old first, and you’ll want to make sure you’re getting a colorful or busy pattern to better disguise it.
24. Consider the placement.
Some people want a tattoo they can easily hide. This means that a face/neck/ hand tattoo is probably not the best idea if your work requires that it be concealed.
25. Getting someone’s name tattooed on your body forever isn’t the best idea. Remember, it’s permanent.
I mean it. Even if they’re the love of your life, it’s not worth it. When it comes to family members, well, that’s a little different, but still think long and hard first.
26. After you get your tat, plan your life around it for the next two weeks.
Healing is a super critical part of the process, and you don’t want to go through all that pain just to mess it up.
27. This means that you shouldn’t bother booking any vacations that involve lots of swimming.
You’re going to want to keep the tattoo dry and as far away from the sun as possible.
28. Keeping it clean is really important, and you’re going to want to stay on top of that every day.
Go ahead and ask anyone who has ever had a tattoo infection. They’ll tell you how crucial hygiene is.
29. It’s going to itch, so be ready to not scratch it.
Scratching is literally one of the worst things you can do to a new tattoo.
Try to imagine all the dirt from under your fingernails getting into your literal open wound. Gross.
30. After you get your tattoo, don’t freak out.
It’s going to take time to get used to the new art on your body. If you thoroughly planned for this and put a lot of thought into what you want, you didn’t make a mistake. Give yourself a couple of weeks to adjust.