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6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting My First Tattoo

Are you thinking about adding a piece of art to your body permanently? Have you finally decided to pull the trigger on your first tattoo? I was recently in your shoes and just got my first tattoo. And while I am in love with it and would do it all over again, there are a few things I wish I had known and think that others should know before getting inked.

Watch the needles be opened

When getting a tattoo, the last thing you want is an infection and dirty needles going into your arm. You should always see the artist open fresh needles for your tattoo and make sure that everything is sterile. My artist actually told me this because she knew it was my first tattoo and said that if I ever go somewhere else to make sure I watch them open new needles. Super important! 

Be prepared to tip

Good artwork comes at a cost. And while the tattoo itself may already be pricey, make sure you can afford to tip. Remember what the tattoo artist is doing: drawing, tattooing, paying for supplies, etc. It’s generally recommended to tip 20-30%.

It’s going to hurt

While this may not be the case for everybody, I certainly was not ready for how badly it would hurt. Many of my friends assured me that it wasn’t so bad or that it’s “just a scratch.” And while everybody’s pain tolerance is different (mine is SUPER low), getting a needle repeatedly in your arm is not pleasant. But don’t let this deter you; your body gets used to the pain, and over time the initial shock wears off. I recommend bringing music or something to distract you and also focus on your breathing.

Wear the right clothes

Clothing choice is an important thing to keep in mind that not everyone may think of. Firstly, make sure that your clothing accommodates your tattoo placement. For example, don’t wear long sleeves if you’re getting a bicep tattoo. Also, since it is ink it may bleed so try not to wear your favorite shirt or light clothing that could get stained.

Know the aftercare

Getting a tattoo is not as easy as just getting it done. Afterward, you need to keep it clean and moisturized if you want to avoid infection and your ink fading. My artist recommended washing it 2-3x a day for 2-3 weeks and moisturize! I started with unscented Dial antibacterial soap for the first week and then switched to my normal body wash. Really the moisturizer is the most important part, a hydrated tattoo is a happy tattoo. It’s also best to avoid sweating during the healing period. And remember sunscreen is key to preventing your tattoo from fading.

Don’t be afraid to speak up

And lastly and most importantly, speak up! This is something that is going to be on your body permanently, so if you don’t like an element of the tattoo or are unsure about anything, ask! The artist will more than likely be happy to help. Also, feel free to ask for breaks, and remember to drink and eat beforehand!

Hi, I'm Claire! I'm a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh and a pre-pharmacy major. I love reading, singing, and animals. In my free time, I'll be cuddling with my cat watching TikToks.
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