You’ve been thinking about it for a while, and you want to get your first tattoo.
Let’s talk about how to make the experience one to remember for all the right reasons.
Here’s our ten step guide to getting your first tattoo.
1) Pick a Safe Studio
We want your experience to be memorable and pleasant, not a horror story.
Here’s how to choose a safe place to get a tattoo.
First, shop around and see what’s available. Get to know artists by following their Instagram feeds. Talk to friends with tats and see who they recommend.
If a place seems too cheap, it probably is. You’re likely to end up unhappy with the results or at risk of infection.
Then, visit the tattoo studios that appeal to you and ask questions.
Does the place look clean? Do they have an autoclave to sterilize equipment? Will they open a fresh needle right in front of you when it’s time to start working? Are the staff wearing gloves?
If you aren’t happy or comfortable with what you see, try somewhere else.
2) Preparing for Your Tattoo Appointment
What instructions did the tattoo parlor give you?
Depending on where you’ll get inked, you may have to shave. And then, you won’t be able to shave that spot again for a couple weeks.
Did you pick up a numbing cream? (Double-check that the artist doesn’t mind if you use one.)
Remember that some places are more sensitive than others. The backs of your knees, your ribs, and your face might not be best for the first time.
3) Have Your Art Ready
You’ll need an example of the tattoo you want. Be prepared to discuss it with the artist. Bring the design with you to show them.
Consider color, style, and font if you’re going to have something written.
This is your own personal body art. Listen to what other people say, but remember it’s your choice and it’s there because it means something to you.
Think carefully about the art you want. Tattoos are difficult, but not impossible to remove. An easier option is to have the tattoo filled in or altered.
If you’re not certain about the design or its placement, find an artist who does henna tattoos. Those only last for a week or two. Then use that as a demo to see how you feel about tat you’ve chosen.
4) Eat and Relax Beforehand
Have a meal and relax before you show up at the studio. Bring snacks, headphones or something to entertain you.
Apply numbing cream according to the directions before you arrive. Some need an hour or two to reach full potency.
Don’t fret about having to take a break during the appointment. In most cases, it isn’t a problem at all if you need to go to the bathroom. Just check with the artist before you begin.
5) Bring a Friend If You’re Nervous
Depending on the studio, you might be able to bring a friend. It’s extra helpful if your friend already has a tat and had a good experience getting it.
If you can’t see where the artist is working (like on your back), your friend can update you on the progress.
Keep in mind that the skin may look red and irritated, but that will pass.
6) Yes, It’s Going to Sting
You’ll feel more scratching, stinging, and burning if you don’t use a numbing cream. But getting a tattoo isn’t the most painful thing you can do.
Take a deep breath and go to your happy place. Accept that the unpleasant feelings will pass and it’ll be done before you know it.
If you’re especially worried about how you’ll handle the pain, get a small, simple tattoo without a lot of shading.
7) Keep It Clean
Once your tattoo is done, it’s very important to keep it clean.
Before you visit the studio, get one of the best antibacterial soaps for washing tattoos. It’s likely that the tattoo parlor will recommend their favorite brand. Then you’ll be ready to care for your new ink.
Also, think ahead of time about how to shower for the first few days. You might need to wrap your tat in plastic wrap to protect it. That’s because you don’t want to keep the scab wet.
While the tattoo is healing, you’ll need to wash it once or twice a day.
8) Keep It Moisturized
Another item to put on your shopping list is care cream. Ointments like Aquaphor and other moisturizers for new tattoos will speed up healing.
Follow the tattoo artist’s directions and don’t freak if it bleeds a little ink the first day. That’s normal.
During the healing process, your scabs will flake off – but don’t pick them. If your skin is itchy, slap on more moisturizer.
9) Keep It out of the Sun and the Water
Until your tattoo is fully healed, avoid sunbathing and swimming. This may take a couple of weeks or longer, so getting a new tattoo in the summer can cut into your outdoor plans.
Ultraviolet radiation will fade the ink, and soaking in water can damage a new tattoo.
Once your skin has recovered, protect your body art with one of the best tattoo sunscreens.
If you tan indoors, there are also tanning lotions to keep your ink bright.
10) Ask for a Touchup If You Need It
Even if you went to Michelangelo or da Vinci for your tattoo, you might notice a small detail you want to adjust.
Don’t be afraid to ask the artist to do a touchup.
It’s better to take care of it in the first couple of weeks than to wait.
One Last Tip – for the Tattoo Artist
If you appreciate the artist’s work, tell them, and show them by leaving a tip. The usual is fifteen to thirty percent of the cost of the tattoo.
They might have it if you mention their work on social media, too.
We hope you have an outstanding experience when you get your first tattoo.