Thinking about getting inked? Maybe you are a newbie and this is a first or you are a collector. Either way, these are the Top 10 things you need to know before you go get inked up.
1. Start small.
If you’re new to tattooing, there’s no shame in starting small. Give yourself a chance to learn the process, how your skin takes ink, and how your body heals.
2. Know your pain tolerance.
Nothing wrong with pushing yourself, but on a first tattoo it’s more than fine to respect your body’s limits. If you’re very sensitive, avoid choosing ribs, backs of knees, elbows, or groin areas for your first tattoo.
3. Consider timing.
Sun exposure and water submersion can damage a new tattoo, so beach bums in particular will want to avoid getting a new tat in the summer. Spring and early autumn are the most practical. You won’t burn, but you can also leave any arm or leg tattoos exposed rather than covering them up with irritating fabric while they heal. Lemme tell you, there is NOTHING like the hot sun hitting a fresh tattoo! Once you do it, you will never, ever do it again.
4. Don’t do it on the cheap.
Unless you have several trusted friends who can vouch for a suspiciously cheap tattoo parlour, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You’re altering your body for life. If that’s not worth a decent investment, I don’t know what is. Cheaper is NOT better when it comes to inking your body. Trust me, you will be covering it up later. Just spend the money the first time.
5. Research your artist.
Look into who you’re trusting your body with. Choose an artist at least a week in advance, and look over their portfolio before committing. Make sure you’re happy with their work and that their style fits yours. Shots of their work should be available in the parlour and online, and reading reviews of parlours and artists on Facebook, Yelp, etc. will help you determine if you’re comfortable.
6. Choose wisely.
No matter how madly in love you are right now, putting your S.O.’s name on your body is a risky choice. Be 100% sure that you can stand behind your choice for the rest of your life. As a tattooist of mine once said, “You want it removed? OK, let me get the saw.” The name curse is real. Once it’s on you, they are ghost…
7. Sleep on it.
Give yourself some time to be sure you’re happy with your choices — design, placement, artist. Spontaneity is all well and good, but marking your body for life is a big decision. While it’s more than OK to choose something that isn’t the be all end all of your existence, make sure you are making your decision in the right mind and for the right reasons for yourself.
8. Buy Bepanthen+ or Aquaphor in advance.
Your tattooist may or may not supply you with care cream, so to be safe, pick up a tube of Bepanthen+ at a pharmacy in advance of your appointment. This nappy rash cream is excellent for sensitive and sore skin, and will keep your fresh tattoo from spurting blood at inopportune moments. If your tattoo artist gives you care cream, use that and double check there’s no problem in using an over-the-counter ointment like Bepanthen or Aquaphor. Apply it at least twice a day for several weeks. Personally, I prefer organic/virgin coconut oil. Just dab a little bit on your tattoo and trust me, it heals it VERY quickly. It’s amazing for your skin and works better than anything over the counter.
9. Take a buddy.
If you’ve got any nerves, don’t go alone. If you can, bring a friend who’s been tattooed before (and had a good experience!). Having someone to talk to, and someone you trust to walk you through the process as it’s happening will work wonders. It’s especially helpful to have a friend if you’re getting a tattoo done on an area you can’t see, so they can keep you informed on the progress!
13. Ask questions.
Just do it!