A First-Timer's Guide to Tattoos

Like many teens, I spent several years begging my parents to let me get a tattoo. Of course, when I officially turned 18, there wasn’t much they could anymore but support me. But in all honesty, my parents saying “no” gave me time to reflect on what design I really wanted and the fact that this was a permanent decision I was making. So, if you’re considering getting a tattoo for the first time and aren’t sure where to start, here are a few tips that will make the process much easier.  

1.) Do your research

Not all tattoo artists have the same style. Depending on the type of tattoo you plan on getting, it would be helpful to familiarize yourself with artists who are comfortable with that style and have a portfolio for you to take a look at. This can be as simple as searching for tattoo shops or artists on Yelp, Google or Instagram and understanding the various artists that work at a particular location.


2.) Save up money

Tattoos, depending on their size, shape, and complexity can cost up to hundreds of dollars and take many hours to complete. It is important to keep in mind that certain tattoo artists may also individually charge more as they see fit. However, this is permanently going on your body so do not choose an artist that doesn’t meet your needs just because it is cheaper. I recommend once you have an idea get a quote from various tattoo artists or locations that you are interested in to get a general idea of how much money you should save.


3.) Consider setting up a consultation

With that said, while many places allow walk-ins, some artists allow you to schedule appointments beforehand where you can discuss all the details of the tattoo you are interested in getting. This allows you to have a one-on-one with the artist who can answer your personal questions or address any of your concerns.


4.) Be sure to consider the time of year

Tattoos are extremely delicate and act like an open wound on your body. This means that they need to breathe, heal slowly and can get infected if not properly taken care of. With this in mind, note that in the summer, you cannot sweat profusely or go into bodies of water such as a chlorine pool for as long as a month after getting a tattoo. On the other hand, in winter, if you are wearing many layers of clothing, be sure to give your tattoo the time to breathe.


5.) Care and hygiene

Once you have sealed the deal and received your tattoo (yay!), be aware of the proper care protocols. I recommend buying your items in advance so that once you arrive home, you have the necessary products to care for your tattoo. Personally, Aquaphor worked wonders for me and is available in most drug stores. Plus, just a little of it goes a long way. Also note that if you plan on showering immediately after your tattoo, you will need to keep it dry and covered by something waterproof.


Getting your first tattoo is extremely liberating and trust me when I say the pain isn’t as bad as you think. Tattoos are a commitment but I believe they’re a form of self-expression and I enjoy being able to decorate my body. I got my first tattoo with my best friend by my side and I definitely learned a lot from the experience. I now feel much more prepared and excited for future tattoos… I have several in mind. All in all, I hope this helps you feel confident in getting your first tattoo!