You’ve finally mustered the courage to get that tattoo you’ve wanted for so long. However, getting a tattoo for the first time can be a physically challenging experience and an emotional rollercoaster. A crucial step is to learn what to do before getting a tattoo. Without further ado, check out our detailed guide for some useful tips to make your first tattoo appointment as comfortable as possible.
Choosing an Artist
The first determining factor of how your tattoo will turn out is the artist, so choose wisely — you shouldn’t let just anyone tamper with your skin. Aim for someone who strikes you as capable and confident about their work. You’ll want an artist who treats you professionally and friendly and who’s also willing to give you skincare advice for both pre- and aftercare.
If you can’t get any first-hand recommendations about your local tattoo artists, explore social media. Many artists will put videos of their work, before and after photos, and even helpful tattoo prep tips on Instagram or YouTube. Look for seasoned professionals who are passionate about their work and have received lots of positive reviews.
Different artists apply different techniques and materials, so look for photos of healed tattoos if available to see if the colors and lines have faded over time and get a sense of how your tattoo will age with you if you choose a particular artist.
Scheduling a Session
Now that you’ve chosen the artist, the next step is to make an appointment. Your artist should have precise and sufficient info on your desired tattoo so they’d be able to meet your expectations. Moreover, the artist is your best source of information on how to prepare for a tattoo appointment.
It’s best to contact your artist by telephone or through social media in advance. Some artists will even have websites where you can find forms to fill out with specific details about your preferences. However, in most cases, the artist will simply ask you what they need to know, so be prepared to answer all of their questions. Here are some key topics you should consider.
Think about the design
Preparing for a tattoo involves choosing a meaningful design that will stay with you forever, so you should give it a lot of thought. If you’ve already chosen a design, provide reference images if available and let the artist know if you want your tattoo colored.
If you don’t have a premade design, be as straightforward as possible about what you want. You can trust an artist to let their creativity run wild and add some sass to your tattoo only when you’ve made sure you’re on the same wavelength and that they have a complete understanding of your vision and preferences.
Think about the size and location of your tattoo
Before thinking about how to prepare your skin for a tattoo, consider size and location. As far as the size goes, artists appreciate it if you give them an estimate of how big you want your tattoo to be instead of just saying large or small.
Additionally, you should have an idea of where you want the tattoo, but don’t worry, as you can always change the size and placement later.
Think about the time and date of the session
Tattoo sessions can be quite lengthy, and you can’t always predict how bad your skin reaction will be, so pick a day when your schedule is clear, and you have plenty of time to relax afterward.
Consult the artist about your skin tone
A crucial point of consideration among first tattoo tips is your skin tone. Some artists choose not to work on a client with a deeper skin tone if they think this will prevent them from pulling off the tattoo to the client’s satisfaction.
Make sure you’ve found a flexible and experienced professional that can make it work. Many artists hold consultations and tattoo test dots or lines in colors of your choosing to see how they’ll heal on your skin. If you’re both satisfied with the test, congrats — you can make your appointment carefree!
How to Prepare Yourself for a Tattoo
Even after you’ve successfully arranged everything with your tattoo artist, you can’t just waltz into the tattoo studio for a laidback session. A significant portion of responsibility lies on the artist, but there are vital steps to take to prepare yourself both physically and mentally. You can also prepare by reading out tattoo statistics to help you.
In this section, we’ve gathered detailed advice on how to prepare your skin and body for a successful tattoo session.
How to prep the skin for a tattoo
Your skin will be the canvas for your tattoo, so you should do everything to prepare it the right way. Here are some quick skin prep tips:
- Moisturize your skin — Use body lotion or other moisturizing products to keep your skin hydrated a few weeks prior to your tattoo session. Moisturizing makes ink application more effective, and your session will be shorter and less painful. DO NOT use any moisturizer on the day of your appointment — it can cause unnecessary issues with the tattoo equipment or skin irritations.
- Take Vitamin C — Vitamin C has many proven skin benefits since it is a powerful antioxidant that aids skin regeneration. It will also help ease your pain during the procedure.
- Shave the area of the tattoo — A big step in tattoo preparation is removing any hair growing in the area where you’ll be doing your tattoo. Shave the area regularly prior to the session, preferably 2-3 times a week. Be careful not to cut your skin because a tattoo can only make damaged skin worse, and the healing process will last much longer. Apart from that, your skin will have a hard time absorbing the ink.
- Shower beforehand — Tattooing exposes the skin to impurities by creating tiny cuts, so your skin should be as clean as possible to avoid any infections. Besides, the artist will have to come really close to you, so you don’t want to put them through the inconvenience of unpleasant smells coming from your body.
How to prep the body for a tattoo
It might seem there are too many things to do before you get a tattoo, but they’re all equally important. You’ll make the artist’s job so much easier if they don’t have to worry about you passing out from exhaustion or being unable to handle the pain — and luckily, there’s quite a bit you can do to prevent it. Here’s how:
- Drink lots of water — We’re constantly reminded to drink water, but this is very important before a tattoo. Water will hydrate your skin, help your body endure the entire session, and enhance the healing process. Additionally, have a water bottle with you throughout the appointment.
- Get enough rest the night before — They don’t call it beauty sleep without reason, so make sure you get a good rest the night before your tattoo session. This will help you in more ways than one — it will ease your mind if you’re too excited and nervous, and you’ll be energized and in sync with your body. Above all, you will respond better to the procedure and be less sensitive to pain.
- Eat before the session — One of the best before tattoo tips you can get is eating well and having some snacks on you during the session. In addition to rest, food will fuel your body and help it endure all the needlework.
- Dress appropriately — You’ll want to be comfortable during your session, but you’ll also want to make the tattoo area accessible. Wear loose clothes that can be easily manipulated and removed from the desired area.
- Stay sober — Alcohol and medication thin your blood, which can have negative health implications after the session, so avoid them by all means. Furthermore, if you’re on any kind of prescription meds, check with your health care provider if you should get a tattoo in the first place.
- Avoid strenuous exercise before the session — We’ve already stated the importance of coming to the session fresh and well-rested, so inflicting unnecessary muscle pain won’t do you any good.
What to bring to a tattoo appointment
Depending on the size and complexity of your tattoo, you can expect a fairly long session at the studio. While some artists like to talk to the clients to pass the time, others want to focus on the work, so you need to find your own entertainment.
You’ll definitely have your smartphone with you, so you can listen to music or watch Netflix, but don’t forget to put on your earphones, so you don’t disturb other people in the studio, especially if you’re not the only client present. And of course — don’t forget your charger!
Some people even bring their friends to the session because they claim conversation with a familiar face helps them mentally prepare for a tattoo, but you can do this only if the artist agrees to have you both in the studio.
In addition, be ready to have to change your clothes — you should wear clothes that you won’t mind getting damaged during the tattooing, but if you’re feeling uncomfortable walking in the street wearing them, be sure to bring backup clothes.
Tattooing can be a one-time thing or become an addiction if it’s done right. Your first time should be a pleasant and memorable experience, and it helps immensely if you know what to do before getting a tattoo. We hope this guide has answered all your questions and you’re ready for your first ink.