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

So, you want a tattoo. Whether you’ve been planning your design since forever or just recently wanted one after seeing that Tiktok trend, the first tattoo is always exciting, but it can also be a bit intimidating. What if you can’t decide what to get? Or can’t handle the pain? Or don’t know proper studio etiquette? Not to worry, because here are five tips to ease your nerves as you pop your tattoo cherry: 

You should have a clear but general idea of what you want.

If you’re asking your tattooer to design a unique piece for you, then give them artistic freedom. You want to direct them enough so they know exactly what you’re looking for, but you don’t want to micromanage every little detail. They will know what shapes complement certain body parts best and what styles match the design you want. Of course, always speak up if there’s something you want to change, but trust your artist’s guidance as well.

It will hurt (but you’ll be okay).

Instead of constantly worrying about the pain, just accept that it’s going to hurt. Getting tattooed is an uncomfortable process regardless of the piece or the placement, and coming to terms with that may stop you from stressing so much beforehand. Your artist will know to anticipate any flinches and will be more than willing to give you breaks during your session if needed, so don’t get too in your head. It will be painful, but bearable, and in the end it’ll all be worth it. 

Be prepared to tip generously.

Although tattoos are already expensive on their own, a lot of that fee gets disbursed to the tattoo studio itself. That’s why it’s important to tip your artist directly and show your appreciation for their service and their art. A lot of work goes into the designing and the actual tattooing, so make sure you thank them accordingly.

Commit to diligent aftercare.

Once you leave the studio, the quality and longevity of your tattoo depend on you. Depending on the piece, your artist may recommend different aftercare procedures, but generally you want to protect it from harsh elements and keep the area moisturized for the next couple of weeks. One big thing is not to pick at it when it starts to peel! You don’t want to mess with your skin’s natural healing process. It may seem tedious, but taking good care of your tattoo maintains its quality in the long run. 

You’re going to want to get more! 

It’s true, tattoos are addicting. Once you get over that initial hump of uneasiness with your first, chances are you’ll be planning your second soon after. Whether you want something sentimental or spontaneous, tattoos are a great way to show your personality and creativity, so just have fun with it! 

Getting inked may seem daunting at first, but don’t let that stop you! Never forget that you have the final say in what goes on your skin. Once you settle on a design that you really love, the price and pain will be worth it. Remember not to overthink it too much and to be a respectful client, and you’re sure to leave with incredible body art and a memorable experience. 

Audrie is a fourth-year student from Honolulu, Hawaii, majoring in Human Biology Society and minoring in Anthropology. Her favorite things to talk about are self-care, brunch, and her cat. She also really loves the beach and anything matcha flavored! In her free time, you can catch her shopping for records, books, and Trader Joe's snacks.
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