Expectations vs. Realities of Getting Your First Tattoo

Anticipating getting your first tattoo is an experience that can be filled with a variety of different emotions ranging from excitement to pure, unadulterated terror. The majority of the time, though, the process is not nearly as bad as you might think!

The Tattoo Parlor

Expectation: SCARY AS HECK. Everyone in there will think that you’re a wimp because you will no doubt walk in as a shaky, anxious mess. Other customers are probably screaming or crying due to the pain, but it’s drowned out by the daunting sounds of tattoo guns making contact with skin. Also, only the most terrifying of people work there because no one with a personality less than frightening could ever purposefully injure people for a living.

Reality: If you go to a reputable place, your experience will be lovely. Don’t buy into the stereotype that tattoo artists are scary people, because they definitely are not. On the contrary, they are exactly what their title says; a tattoo artist. They are working to ensure that your vision is permanently inked on your body in the safest and most beautiful, high-quality way possible, so how could they even begin to be seen as scary? And, they are totally accustomed to people being nervous as they get their first tattoo. Don’t sweat it. Chin up, grit your teeth and it will be over in a jiffy!


Expectation: DEATH. Or, at the very least, passing out because you’re fragile and terrified. Although people have tried to explain exactly what it feels like (in detail), you are still paranoid that it will be the absolute worst pain of your life. And, if it is unbearable, you know you’ve willingly done it to yourself and, to make matters worse, you’re paying for it.

Reality: Not totally awful! Although pain level certainly depends on size and location of the tattoo, it is unlikely that the pain will be so extensive that you suffer any major consequences. And, you are definitely braver than you believe, so your adrenaline and excitement will kick in and spare you the extent of it.

After Care

Expectation: An absolute breeze! You can immediately do anything you wish, as it surely won’t hurt the tattoo. Also, since so many people know you’ve gotten it and want to see it, the best option is to go right from the tattoo parlor to see your friends so you can receive all of the compliments.

Reality: You need to be diligent in taking care of it! Your tattoo artist will bandage the new tattoo and often recommend to leave it covered up to 10 hours, depending on factors like size, location and style. Additionally, it is imperative that you apply a substance like Aquaphor or other similar product to keep the tattoo hydrated and protected. Do not scratch or really touch your tattoo at all, unless you are cleaning it with unscented soap and water. Do not submerge it in water. Do not let things rub or bump up against it while it heals. Basically, take the initiative and research the best care practices for new tattoos. It will save you a lot of stress and the potential for ruining your beautiful new skin masterpiece.

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