How to Prepare for Your First Tattoo
Getting your first tattoo is both exciting and potentially nerve racking. Here’s what you need to know before getting a tattoo and how to care for it after.
Are you ready to join the 45 million Americans who have at least one tattoo?
Getting a tattoo can be a fun, memorable experience, but it can also go wrong very quickly if you’re not prepared.
If you want your first tattoo experience to be a good one, read on for some tips to help you prepare for the big day.
Choosing Your First Tattoo
The first step to having a great tattoo experience is choosing a tattoo design that you absolutely love. Don’t rush yourself. Take your time researching designs and figure out exactly what you want.
Remember, this design is going to be on your body for life, so you need to make sure you won’t get sick of it.
Talk to a Tattoo Artist
If you have an idea for a tattoo but aren’t sure how to articulate it, you might want to consider sitting down with a tattoo artist for some help putting it together.
Even if you do know exactly what you want, it’s still helpful to sit down with a professional. They can provide guidance and give you their professional opinion on the design.
Find the Right Shop
Not all tattoo shops are created equal. Take your time looking for one that employs qualified artists with a good reputation.
Be sure to read online testimonials to see what people are saying about a particular shop and its artists before you go there for your first tattoo.
Think about Placement
Tattoos are big commitments, especially when you choose somewhere highly visible for your first one. Face/hand/neck tattoos definitely aren’t for everyone.
Depending on your lifestyle and the field in which you work, it might be in your best interest to get your first tattoo in a more discrete location.
Remember You Get What You Pay For
When you meet with an artist and have your tattoo drawn up, they should give you an estimate of what it will cost.
Tattoos are expensive, and, when you hear a high number, it can be tempting to try and find someone who will do the same tattoo for less.
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for with tattoos. A good tattoo from a talented artist will cost more than a subpar finished product. But, it will be worth it when you have a tattoo that you want to show off.
A Few Days Before Your Appointment
There are some things you can do in the days leading up to your appointment that will help you have a better experience, including the following:
- Avoid the sun: Sunburned skin isn’t just painful, it also can affect the outcome of your tattoo
- Moisturize: Dry or uneven skin is difficult for artists to work with and can cause your tattoo to come out less clear
- Get a doctor’s note: If you have any conditions that could affect you during the tattoo process, you’ll legally need your doctor to give you the go-ahead
Remember, there’s no need to rush to get a tattoo. The wait for your sunburn to go away or for your skin to clear up will be worth it if you get a better end result.
The Day Before Your Appointment
Keep these tips in mind to set yourself up for a successful appointment:
- Avoid alcohol: High blood alcohol levels will thin the blood and lead to excessive bleeding during your appointment
- Stay hydrated: This will keep your skin moisturized and help you stay alert
- Get plenty of sleep: Being unrested might make you more fidgety, which can affect the outcome of your tattoo
Don’t forget to make sure you have enough money on hand, too. In addition to the cost of the tattoo, you may also need to pay for food, aftercare products, parking, and a tip for the artist.
The Day of Your Appointment
On the day of your appointment, make sure you’re prepared with these items:
- ID: If you look like you might be younger than 18, the shop will need to confirm your age when you arrive for your appointment
- Bag of essentials: Bring a small bag with a snack, a charged cell phone, water, and maybe a pair of headphones if you want to listen to music or a podcast during the appointment
You’ll also want to do the following to make sure you’re in a good physical state:
- Eat before your appointment: Getting a tattoo is stressful on your body, and you’ll need to keep your blood sugar up to avoid getting dizzy or nauseous, especially if you’re getting a large tattoo
- Take a shower: Clean skin is better for tattoos, and your artist will appreciate you cleaning up before the appointment
- Wear old clothing: It’s likely that some ink will get on your clothes, so you don’t want to ruin anything that’s new or expensive
- Don’t shave: You don’t want to show up with razor burn or cuts — if your skin needs to be shaved, the artist will do it
- Avoid caffeine: This will probably make you shaky or jittery, which will make things harder for the artist
Finally, take some time to check your attitude before you go to your appointment. Accept that there will be some pain. It’s unavoidable when you’re getting a tattoo.
But, if you go in with a positive attitude and believe in your ability to handle the pain, you’ll be more likely to make it through the session.
Taking Care of Your First Tattoo
In addition to preparing for your appointment, you should also be prepared to care for your first tattoo once it’s finished.
Proper aftercare is essential if you want your tattoo to last. Some things you’ll need to do after getting your tattoo include:
- Remove the bandage in a clean bathroom after two or three hours
- Once the bandage is removed, wash the tattoo immediately with warm soap and water
- Only wash your tattoo with clean hands
- Apply a healing ointment like Aquaphor to keep your tattoo moist
- Don’t panic when your tattoo starts to “weep” in the days after your appointment
If you have any healing-related issues, be sure to call the artist who gave you your tattoo. They’ll give you proper instructions for caring for the issue.
Are You Ready for Your First Tattoo?
Now that you know how to prepare for your first tattoo, it’s time to pick your design and start planning!
If you live in or around Las Vegas, Henderson, or Maui and are looking for a qualified artist contact us at Skin Factory Tattoo and Body Piercing to schedule an appointment or meet with one of our artists.
Stop by our Maui Tattoo Shop or Henderson Tattoo Shop