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20 Helpful Tattoo Tips for First Timers

Getting a tattoo has lots of implications. Besides being a tattoo enthusiast and feeling passionate about this type of art, you also need to find out more before getting inked for the first time. You’ll find tattoo tips everywhere, but these 20 tattoo tips are the most reliable. This is because they come not only from professionals, but also from a person who has over 20 tattoos so far.

Among the most important factors that you need to consider before getting inked are choosing a great tattoo artist, personalizing your design, picking a less painful area for a less frightening first experience, going to a tattoo parlor that meets all hygiene standards and learning exactly how to prepare your skin for inking, as well as some aftercare rules.

Portrait of a beautiful young woman with a tattoo

1. Choose an amazing tattoo artist

Tattoo tips that don’t include this step as the most important one shouldn’t be considered. Yes, you may look for a design online and not want any additions to it, but even so, you get what you pay for. Let’s say you go for a minimalist design that involves a few lines and some shading. This would require a very steady hand, which doesn’t come for granted. Only experienced tattoo artists are confident enough to draw a straight line. In addition, not every tattooing machine is good enough for this type of work. So, don’t settle for less when you can get much more. Unless you want to go through gruesome tattoo removal steps and empty your pockets that way, do some research! My first tattoo is 12 years old and looks as good as when I got it. I did pay a ridiculous amount of money for it, but it was totally worth it!

2. Choose a clean tattoo shop

This is the most obvious tip out of all tattoo tips. Make sure the tattoo salon you pick meets all the cleanliness regulations. Everything has to be sterile before it is used on you. For example, the tattoo artist has to wear gloves when he or she touches you and put on a new pair every time he or she touches other objects. The needles, the ink caps and even the surface you sit on should be sterile and germs free. It would be ideal for the tattoo artist to prepare all the needed tools while you’re there, watching, rather than wait for you prepared. The most common diseases you can get are hepatitis B and C. Make sure he or she uses a spatula to take cream out of the recipient, not fingers! Conversely, ask him or her to open another can of cream.

3. Choose a design you love

Many people are tempted to get a tattoo that’s very fashionable at a given time. I’m not saying there is something wrong with that, but you need to make sure you love it. You won’t find tattoo tips that emphasize this aspect enough. These days, all black tattoos are very popular. They do look out of this world, but you have to ask yourself if they represent you or not. For example, I got a watercolor feather inked on my ankle a few years ago when they were very popular. I can’t say I’m as happy now as I was then, since the colors faded away a little and it’s a simple feather after all. However, I embrace it as part of me and who I was back then. Make sure you can do the same. No one asks you to get a tattoo with a profound meaning. Just find something you actually love.

4. Choose a grammatically correct text

If you decide to get inked with your favorite quote, a name or anything else that involves letters, make sure you check the text before the needle touches your skin! You would be surprised how many typos you can find in other people’s tattoos! Sometimes, the tattoo artist might transcribe it incorrectly because he or she is in a rush or just generally not focused enough. Remember tattoo tips like this one; they are life savers! Pay attention to details! You can double check the text after the tattoo artist applies the stencil on your skin.

5. Choose to be flexible and communicate

An experienced tattoo artist will give you some valuable tattoo tips that may include design flaws and so on. Try to be as flexible as possible and listen to what he or she has to say. Communicating to the artist who will leave something permanent in your skin is crucial. If you’re not sure about something, ask questions and don’t agree with him or her just to look cool. For instance, I’ve actually argued with one tattoo artist because he had a different vision than mine. He was trying to convince me that his way is the best way. However, I got what I wanted because that’s the most important aspect! I wasn’t rude or anything, I just didn’t agree with him.

6. Choose a fitted body part

Tattoos hurt, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. On the bright side, some body parts are less sensitive than others and the pain tends to dissipate after 15 minutes of tattooing. Arms, forearms and thighs are among the less painful, while sternum, ankles, clavicle, spine and ribs are hell. When you start with a small tattoo located on your wrist, you can build up your way to a chest tattoo. It is not recommended to do it backwards. Tattoo tips are all valuable, but keep this one in mind: do not go for a large tattoo on a painful area for the first time! The risk of leaving the tattoo shop with an unfinished tattoo and a horrible experience is high. Start small, go big!

7. Choose your real pain resistance level

Ask yourself how much pain can you take. Do you have piercings? How bad did they hurt? Did you have to deal with a sun burn? How much did that hurt? For your information, thin lines hurt more than fillings. So, it really depends on the complexity of your chosen design. Lines are drawn with 3 or 5 needles, while fillings go up to 15 needles. As scary as it may sound, 15 needles hurt less than 5. Also, colored ink is more dense than black ink, fact which changes the way you perceive it when it’s inserted under your skin. It would be a pity for you to quit half-way. I’m sure you’ve seen those videos in which people actually scream when they first feel the needles piercing their skin. I bet that’s not something you want.

8. Choose a long lasting tattoo

Speaking of body parts, you should know that hands and feet aren’t ideal to get tattoos on. This is because the ink tends to fade away a lot quicker. Skin regenerates faster in these areas and they are also more exposed than other body parts. Tattoo enthusiasts don’t get hand tattoos unless they are already covered up in tattoos. So, this is something you can think about!

9. Choose a less visible body part

Since you are not yet used to what it means to be a tattooed person, you might consider tattoo tips that advise you to choose a less visible body part for your first tattoo. I got my first tattoo on my neck, but I knew I can always cover it with my hair if I’d really have to. 12 years later, I still don’t have a tattoo that I cannot hide if I must. Don’t get me wrong, I pride myself with my tattoos, but in case I really have to, I can cover them all up and don’t let myself be discriminated. Depending on your job and social status, I’m sure you will choose wisely!

10. Choose to prepare your skin

Regardless of area, your skin has to be hairless in order to get inked. Tattoo artists don’t expect people to know that, so they are always prepared to shave you. However, I find that highly unpleasant, so I always make sure my skin is hairless before going to the shop. In addition, another way you can prepare your skin for ink is to moisturize it. Needles go in more easily when your skin is soft. Indeed, they put cream on you while they ink you, but if your skin is already soft, the whole process is much easier. In fact, tattoo artists prefer to ink women because they always have soft skin.

11. Choose to know the aftercare steps

Tattoo tips involving aftercare are offered to you by every tattoo artist. In order to understand the whole process better, you should know that keeping your tattoo covered is not recommended. Like any other wound, it needs air to heal faster. Since it’s basically a wound, you have to wash it with water and antibacterial soap around 3 times per day and then apply a special cream recommended by the tattoo artist. If you want a flawless result, keep in mind that your tattoo has to be moisturized at all times until it heals completely. Do not let it get dry! You can cover it with clothes as long as you make sure it is moisturized! You don’t need an antibiotics cream. Use what the tattoo artist recommends.

12. Choose to not believe in myths

There’s a myth going around according to which you cannot take a shower or a bath until your tattoo heals. That is wrong! You can totally wash yourself like you normally do. The main idea is not to sink your tattoo in water. Apply a thick layer of cream before taking a shower and you’re good to go! If you must take a bath, then keep your arm/leg out while you bathe. It’s as simple as that! What you should avoid are public pools that hold in an unimaginable quantity of germs. Exposing your tattoo to germs might get it infected. The same goes with lakes, Jacuzzi and so on.

13. Choose a healthy lifestyle

Because of the continuous pain, your body will get really tired. In fact, during the tattooing process you will feel sleepy. You won’t be able to fall asleep though since there are dozens of needles poking through your skin. To avoid low blood sugar levels and exhaustion, you should have a good night sleep before your appointment, eat well and boost your energy levels with sugar. Drinking beverages that contain sugar is usually enough, but you can treat yourself with some chocolate too. By doing that you will avoid dizziness and you’ll feel well during the entire process. It’s an excellent opportunity to give in your guilty pleasures!

14. Choose to not drink alcohol or do drugs

Tattoo artists will definitely refuse to ink you if you are drunk or on drugs. However, it really counts if you had a few beers before your appointment too. Alcohol makes your blood thinner, which means that you will bleed a lot more if you have it in your blood stream. Now, don’t imagine rivers of blood flowing out of you when you get tattooed! There’s only a small quantity of blood that comes out, depending on the chosen area. In case you feel anxious, drink a calming tea rather than an alcoholic beverage. Leave the beer for later!

15. Choose to know the risks

I’m going to rule out the risk of not liking your tattoo over a decade. That’s on you and you should be aware of that aspect. I’m talking about the health risks that may include cheloide formations, granulomas and allergic reactions. The cheloide formations are fibrous skin formations that usually occur on scarred skin. If you are predisposed to getting these, you probably shouldn’t get tattooed. These tattoo tips are meant to guide you towards taking the best decisions, not getting an allergic reaction or granulomas. The latters are nodules that form around foreign bodies, such as particles from tattoo pigment.

16. Choose to be realistic

The consequences of getting a tattoo are numerous, but let’s be honest; the chances of having an allergic reaction or getting hepatitis C are small if you know a little about your health condition and you make sure everything is sterile when you get inked. You have the power to avoid these kind of complications. For example, I’ve travelled to other cities in order to get tattooed and nothing bad ever happened to my tattoos. If you follow the aftercare rules, you should be just fine.

17. Choose to stay away from the sun

Tattoo tips always talk about the damaging effect of the sun. Do you live in an area where you won’t be able to avoid the sun? Are you careful enough to use sunscreen all the time? Sun is the worst enemy of tattoos. A masterpiece may easily turn into a disaster after being exposed to the sun. Can you cover your tattoo or are you a sunbathing enthusiast? You really have to keep sun away from your tattoo at least until it heals completely. Sunscreen can only be applied after the tattoo is fully healed.

18. Choose to know the difference

If you’re looking for cosmetic tattoo tips, this isn’t the place where you can find them. That is a different kind of art and there are probably other things you need to know about them. These tattoo tips apply to face tattoos, but not to cosmetic tattoos. The ink, the tattoo machine and the process itself are different in case of cosmetic tattoos. Their lifespan is shorter and the implications dissimilar.

19. Choose to wait if you are pregnant

Doctors recommend pregnant women to wait until they give birth to get inked. However, they say it’s safe for them to get tattooed after 16 weeks of pregnancy. Even so, most tattoo artists don’t want to do it because a pregnant woman’s skin is much more sensitive, therefore the process will be much more painful. In addition, the lack of calcium and the overall low immune system aren’t encouraging factors either. If you really want a tattoo, you will be able to get it after you give birth. Waiting might be the best decision for your unborn child that may taste some not so delicious ink if it gets in your bloodstream and to him or her.

20. Choose to make a statement

I lost the count of my tattoos and I couldn’t be happier! By getting one or more tattoos that you love and following all these tattoo tips, you will be happy too! We are all making a statement when we decide to be ourselves and express ourselves through art. Keep in mind that you should be the one liking your tattoos, not everyone around you. A tattoo that you really want is a tattoo you cannot imagine yourself without. Be smart about this and you’ll end up having many wonderful tattoos that are nicely healed and make you very proud. You’ll always have the option to cover them up or even remove them, so stay serene, love yourself and get inked while you can!

About Daniela Duca-Damian

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