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8 Things You Should Know Before Getting a Tattoo!

Tattoos are a huge love of mine, I have three myself - one on the back of my neck, one on my forearm, and one across my ankle/foot. The tattoo process is such a beautiful jounrey and a great way of self-expression, however, many people are lost on what they should be looking for or valuing before getting their new ink. This list will hopefully help aid you in the processd, make it easier, and let you get excited about the propsect of a new tattoo!

Think It Through

I know I know, everyone always says that. However, getting a tattoo is a life decision; it is permanent and you will have to look at it every single day, so you probably should love it. I have three tattoos and I didn’t get any of them until I was sure I was in love with them and they were important to me. I waited at least three/four months before perusing it; it's different for everyone but take time to be confident in your design.

P.S. You are allowed to change your mind…I have about twenty old tattoo ideas in my tattoo graveyard!

Start Small

When I say this I don't mean you have to get a tiny paw print, sun, or flower. What I mean is that you should probably not go into a tattoo shop, sit in the chair your first time and attempt a full color back piece. Start with something more manageable and build your way up.

Small doesn’t = tiny. Small = start in a place that when you sit to get it done you know you will 100% be able to finish the tattoo. Maybe go for the sleeve when you are more seasoned and start with just a portion of it, or instead of getting your whole back filled, try and go with a design on your forearm first.

Know Your Artist - Skill & Pricing

A huge mistake so many people make is not doing their research. Not all tattoo artists are good in their profession. Not all of them get good feedback & reviews from customers. Not all of them are fair in pricing. Not all of them should be the one inking your body.

Picking a tattoo artist is almost like picking a doctor or therapist. This person is going to have to be apart of a huge life discussion and is the center of what happens to you before, during, and after.

Here is my general step-by-step guide when picking your artist:

- Look at their work: Is their style what you want? Are they skilled in the designs you like?

- Look at reviews: Are they well liked? Have many people have a good experience?

- Connection: Do you have a good connection/communication? Do you feel comfortable? Does the artist get your vision?

- Keep pricing in mind: Is the price fair for the work? Will they work with you on budget? Are they honest and transparent?

- Look at the shop: Is the shop clean? Is the equipment safe and well kept? Does it feel dirty or dingy inside? 

- Do not compromise: Can they do what you want? Do they keep you informed? Do they try to sway your decisions?

Placement & Pain Tolerance

Whether it is your first or your tenth tattoo, always make sure you know where you want it and have some idea of what that will feel like. There are places on the body where the tattoo will simply hurt more, the skin is thinner, bone is closer to the surface, there are many nerve endings, etc. Make sure you do research on placements and be conscious of it. Getting a tattoo is a commitment and being prepared for that is extremely important. There are a ton of tattoo pain diagrams on the internet to highlight what hurts more or what hurts less.

If this is your first tattoo, it is advised to stay away from your ribs, fingers, feet, spine, and face - save that for tattoo number three or above.

Knowing Your Limits

We have established that a tattoo is a serious commitment and that getting one permanently put into your skin is no quick decision. However, just because you are committed to a tattoo does not mean you are not a human being. A tattoo can hurt and at the very least be an uncomfortable pinching feeling so if you need a break ALWAYS ask to have one. When I got my foot tattoo I took three breaks and I had already gotten two tattoos before. Just because one hasn't hurt doesn't mean one won't. Have some water, bring some headphones if you need calming music, and speak up when you need something. At the end of the day you will much rather take a five minute break than pass out in the chair from trying to “tough it out”.

Make Sure There's Meaning

One of my big no-no rules for getting a tattoo is getting one spur of the moment, for no reason, for a dare, or because your judgment is impaired at the time. A tattoo is an expression of artwork and of passion shown on your body, it isn’t a sticker. When getting a tattoo make sure it has meaning to you, that is is important and plays a part in your life. You don’t want to be the one who says, “Oh I don’t know, I got it while I was drunk.” or “Well I saw it online last weekend and thought it would make me look edgy.” when asked what your tattoo means. Even if someone doesn’t get it or if someone wouldn’t get it on themselves, as long as it makes sense to you, that is a-okay in my book.

*It doesn't matter what it is - it matters what it is to YOU*

Caring For It

Once you get a new tattoo it is a healing process; your body will not want ink in it and will try to break it down. Make sure you listen to whatever your tattoo artist instructs you to do, they know best when it comes to their work. Keep the wrapping on your tattoo for at least an hour and then let it breathe. Tattoos flake in the first few weeks, this is natural, DO NOT scratch or pick it off - your ink will fade and you will have to get it fixed!!!  Make sure you wash it with warm water and scentless soap-- perfumes and dyes can infect your new ink. Keep the area moisturized until it is fully healed; this means putting ointment (NOT scented lotion) on it three to four times a day.

Tip: Aquafor will be your best friend!! This is the healing cream I used for all my tattoos and it is the least oily, feels the best, and helps the healing process faster. (Plus it’s super cheap!).


So, you just went through this whole process and now have a beautiful piece of artwork on your body forever-- show it off! Let it shine and be proud of the process you went through! Enjoy it.

 A tattoo is a very personal thing and a personal journey to be apart of so being excited and loving your new ink is what it is all for. 

All in all, getting a tattoo is awesome! I hope these tips and some advice from someone who has been in the chair a few times will help you out. Just remember to think it through and love looking at it! 

"Tattoos have a power and magic all their own. They decorate the body but they also enhance the soul." - Michelle Delio 

Until next time,

HCXO, Maddie Rose

Maddie Engleman

Millersville '24

Hello! I'm Maddie Engleman; A bit about me, I am a senior at Millersville University this year (I am graduating as a super senior in 2024)! I am an Early Childhood Education major and am minoring in General English. I absolutely love kids, writing, reading, cooking/baking, and crafting with my Cricut. I also enjoy spending time around animals! I am really excited to be apart of such an empowering platform and to go out of my comfort zone writing pieces that impact people anywhere. Stay Crazy!!! HCXO ~ Maddie "I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book" - J.K. Rowling
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