I have always loved tattoos, and I got my first tattoo this year. It’s a small one, so I am by no means an expert, but here are 10 things I wish I had known before I got my tattoo.
- It Hurts
I got my tattoo in a very sensitive area (the inside of my elbow) and it hurt. I’ve heard it doesn’t hurt that bad in other areas, and some people say it doesn’t hurt at all. But generally, ribs, feet, and the inside of knees and elbows are some of the places it hurts the most to get tattoos. It depends on your pain tolerance, but if you’re thinking about getting a tattoo in those areas, know that it’s usually pretty painful.
- Schedule an Appointment If You Don’t Want to Wait
I was a walk-in and I thought that they would be able to see me right away, or at the very most, I would only have to wait 10 or 15 minutes. But when I walked in, they told me the wait would be about two hours, which didn’t help my nerves at all. If you’re nervous and don’t want to overthink it or get cold feet, schedule an appoint so you can get your tattoo when you get to the shop. Note that some shops require you pay a nonrefundable deposit if you make an appointment.
- Know What You Want and Where You Want It Before You Get to the Shop
I knew what I wanted before I went, however, I didn’t know where exactly I wanted it. So I had to sit there in the shop and decide where I wanted it. I was flustered and honestly felt quite dumb and I was wasting the artist’s time. It’s a permanent decision, so don’t wait until you get to the shop and then feel like you have to rush to decide.
- Tip Your Artist
Your artist is going to do their best to give you what you want. Just like with a meal, a tip is a way to say “thank you” for good service. 10-20% is average.
- Bring a Friend—But Not Your Whole Squad
Having one friend there to hold your hand is great. I’m very thankful for my friend who went with me and I don’t think I would have been able to do it without her. But don’t bring every single one of your friends. The rooms aren’t that big and big groups of people can be super annoying, especially to tattoo artists who are trying to focus and do a good job. Stick with just one friend.
- Buy Lotion
After you get a tattoo, you have to apply lotion to it afterwards so it will heal faster and won’t dry out. Aquaphor and Lubriderm are the recommended brands. Whatever you get, make sure it is plain and unscented (no cocoa butter).
- The Healing Process Is About Two Weeks
You will most likely bleed while getting the tattoo and the skin and the area around it will be red afterwards. It may scab over, depending on how much you bled when you got it. It will be quite itchy and start to peel. DON’T SCRATCH IT. After about two weeks, it should be nearly completely healed.
- Protect It From the Sun
The sun will fade your tattoo quicker, especially when it’s fresh and still healing. Cover it up and keep it out of direct sunlight for at least a day or two. Always apply suntan lotion to it even after it’s healed.
- It’s OK to Be Nervous
I was very nervous before I got my tattoo (low-key freaking out really). But after I got it was proud and glad that I did it. If it’s something you really want and has a special meaning or story behind it, the nervousness will be worth it.
- Just Do It
If you’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo for a while and you have a good idea of what you want, just do it. Don’t overthink it. If you’re not drunk and it’s not an impulse, chances are you won’t regret it.