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What You Should Know Before Getting Your First Tattoo

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

College is the time we do the things our parents forbid us from doing in high school. This, of course, includes getting tattoos– which are only growing in popularity. If you are considering getting one for yourself, keep these ten tips in mind so that you won’t live with regret (half kidding).

Photo source: StockSnap.io

1. Do your research

Surprise! Not every tattooist is… ehem… “professional.” Even if they are, they might not specialize in the specific style you want. Remember, tattooists are artists. A tattoo artist who focuses on new school styles will not be able to execute a perfect realism tattoo.

2. Cheaper is NOT better

Tattoos can be pretty pricey, ranging anywhere from $80 to $1,000! As broke college students, sometimes it’s tempting to go for the cheapest option. But don’t do it! If you see a tattoo parlor offering $20 as their minimum price, you might want to take a step back. It’s better to pay the hefty amount once rather than spending more money on painful laser removal. Or worse: being stuck with a sloppy tattoo.

3. It doesn’t have to be meaningful

Well, since a tattoo is a lifelong commitment, shouldn’t I get something meaningful to me? You can, but you don’t have to. Here’s why. People’s interests and opinions change over time. Instead, get a tattoo that’s timeless and well done. You’ll look at it in a decade, and it will still be as beautiful as ever. But at the same time, it’s okay to get a significant tattoo, but that doesn’t have to be the only incentive for getting one!

4. Placement matters

Where you place your tattoo is so so important. You might want one on your back to hide for work and later wish you had gotten it in a more visible area because you didn’t have to hide it after all. There are certain areas on the body where tattoos might warp, or fade quickly, or look strange when you move around. Fortunately, your tattooist will give you suggestions for where to position your tattoo, or they will even alter the shape and size to make it look its best.

5. Go for black (suggestion)

While vibrant tattoos might look appealing, the truth is that they need to get touched up… a lot. Colors like red, pink, orange, yellow, green, teal, and white will fade quickly. Constant sun exposure and time will inevitably alter the pigments. Black ink will ensure a long-lasting tattoo and minimal fading.

Photo source: StockSnap.io

6. Bigger and simpler is better

Ink not only fades, but it spreads as it heals. The closer the lines, the more likely they are to blur. It’s like drawing on a sheet of printer paper with Sharpie pen. The usual rule of thumb is to get a bigger tattoo with simpler designs. However, some tattooists are able to create detailed work by using thinner or fewer needles, making sure the lines won’t merge overtime. Again, it really depends on who you go to.

7. Get what YOU want

It’s great to get your best friend’s opinion on what you should wear to a first date. It isn’t always the best idea to get their two cents on your tattoo. At the end of the day, it’s your skin that’s going under the needle. Get what you want! Tattoos are very personal. And did I mention, very permanent?

8. Wait

Don’t rush your tattoo. Don’t try to force inspiration for one either. You might end up wishing you had gone to a better artist or thought it through a bit more. Patience is key to better results! Often, it takes months to make an appointment with a well-reviewed tattooist.

9. Commitment isn’t the biggest concern

The point behind these tips is to make sure that you don’t end up regretting your tattoo. However, good or bad, that bit of ink becomes a part of you. The process of getting one and seeing it every day is so special. No one can tell you otherwise. If you’re afraid of getting “sick of” your tattoo– don’t worry. You’re more likely to regret getting it badly done than rue the design itself.

10. Tattoos aren’t that painful

This depends on the location of your body that you get tattooed. For example, bonier areas and places with more nerve endings (like the top of your feet or palms) will hurt more than fattier areas ike your upper arm; the needle barely penetrates the dermis layer, meaning it’ll feel more like an annoying scratch. If you really want to get inked, the minimal amount of pain will be worthwhile. Contrary to what you see in the movies and on TV, you’re probably not going to writhe in pain. 

Photo source: StockSnap.io


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None of the images used belong to the author or Her Campus UC Davis.

Becky is currently a third year Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies and Communication double major with a minor in UWP.
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