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8 Tips For Surviving Your First Tattoo

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Point Park chapter.

Tattoo by Josh Presley at Fredo Ink & Co. in St. Petersburg, Florida

Rep image by Sam Pennine 

Tattoos are NOT as scary as some people make them seem. In fact, they’re wonderful ways to express yourself and can be personalized to however you want. It’s common to be afraid at the thought of a tattoo needle, but the pain we so often hear about varies on the person and location of the tattoo. Once you get your first one, you’ll be itching to get your second! No matter how many you have, always remember these helpful tips:

1. Be sure of what you are getting. 

This is something that is going to be on your body forever, and you definitely don’t to have to subject yourself to painful laser removal of a tattoo you eventually change your mind on. Make sure your tattoo has some type of meaning and you’re not just going to go out and get I *HEART* SO-AND-SO.

FYI: Names are always a bad idea unless it’s a relative’s name. We promise.

2. Only get what you can handle.

If you can, figure out your pain tolerance beforehand. If you can get scraped up pretty bad and not cry, you can probably handle something a little bigger. But honestly, nothing compares to what a tattoo feels like. Yes it will hurt, but it will also feel kind of cool in a really weird way. Hence why people say they’re addicting! If you don’t think you can handle the pain or are nervous about it, get something small to start off with, in a place where it doesn’t hurt a lot (ask your friends who have tattoos where their worst and easiest one was).

3. Compare artists & studios. 

Prices are important and so is quality. Keep in mind that you will get what you pay for. If you are only willing to pay $100 dollars for a tattoo that normally costs $300, it’s going to look awful. Most artists are more than willing to work within your budget. You want this to be the best quality you can get, so if that means giving up those Jimmy Choo shoes you’ve been dreaming of for forever, then I suggest you put the money toward your body art. Shoes only last so long, but good tattoos last a lifetime.

FYI: You want to also make sure the studio has a good reputation and is extremely sanitary. Visit a few before you commit!

4. Take Ibuprofen.

Ibuprofen is a blood-thinner, so don’t take more than recommended; the more you take, the more you bleed. However, it does reduce swelling, which makes the skin easier to tattoo. Not all artists recommend this, so consult with your artist as much as possible!

5. Bring a stress ball. 

These things are perfect for keeping calm while getting tattoos. It’s guaranteed that the pain will make you tense up, but instead of gripping the chair and convincing yourself that there will be hand marks there forever, bring something else to grip. A towel or squishy ball will also do the trick. It’s not recommended to hold somebody’s hand because you may cut off their circulation!

6. Do not get tattooed while under the influence.

You may think having a drink is a good idea to “calm your nerves,” but this is far from true. When filling out the forms to get your tattoo, one of the statements that you need to initial for says that you are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The artist and studio is not responsible for what you get permanently on your body while under the influence, and they have every right to deny you a session if you are visibly intoxicated. It is not illegal for you to get a tattoo while intoxicated, but it is illegal for the artist to tattoo you.

7. Concentrate on your breathing.

The biggest mistake you can make while getting the tattoo is not breathing. It only freaks your body out more, so taking steady, even breaths will keep you from shaking a lot and will even lower the pain. Breathe in when the artist isn’t tattooing you and breathe out when the needle is on your skin.

8. Distract yourself.

There are many ways to do this: talking with your artist, listening to music, observing the studio and your artist’s space, etc. The more you distract your mind from the pain, the better off you’ll be. If you talk with your artist, it may be difficult to talk while the needle is going but they totally understand. They’re there to make your art beautiful and make sure you’re as comfortable as can be!

Nicolette Kalafatis is a cinema production student (class of '17) at Point Park University. Nicolette joined Her Campus because she has always had an interest in writing, especially journalism. With a love of learning, she enjoys writing articles that bring unique things to readers' attention. When she was younger, Nicolette dreamed of working for a fashion magazine. Today, she plans to follow her dreams into film, but plans to keep writing, whether for a company or on her own on her wordpress. Nicolette's favorite thing about Her Campus is that she has met so many incredible people through it, and she has become friends with people that she may have never even met had it not been for Her Campus. She plans to encourage as many people as possible to join no matter their major. Nicolette hopes to take Her Campus Point Park to new horizons alongside the chapter's Campus Correspondants. She is very happy to be a part of the chapter since its first year and is excited to see how it grows and gets better.