So You Want to Get your First Tattoo

Whether it feels like it or not, deciding to get your first tattoo is a big decision, with many little factors to consider before letting that needle touch your skin. Such a permanent addition to your skin grants you with a newfound pride in your body as you can use it to express yourself, your visions, or your interests. However, with this new sense of artistic freedom comes the importance of thinking it through before jumping into such a commitment. Although I’m no tattoo artist, through my own experiences with receiving tattoos, let me walk you through some of the foundational elements to think about before booking your tattoo appointment!
  1. 1. Deciding on a Tattoo

    The most important aspect of deciding on a tattoo is ensuring that it is something that you will love on your body forever. With this in mind, there are two things to remember: the tattoo is forever and your body condition isn’t. By this I mean that you must be mindful of exactly what you are tattooing on your body and where you decide to place it to avoid unforeseen stretching and deforming when entering older ages, if this is something that would bother you in later years. In terms of deformation, some common areas for this to occur would be near the stomach, ribs, and most likely the upper bicep. 

    Of course, deciding on what tattoo to get is the most vital- and most exciting- part of this process. Not only must you love the concept, but also the design. It might help to look online and look at existing tattoo ideas to get an idea of what kind of designs and looks you like and would be interested in taking inspiration from. Pinterest is a great website for this! Also, Chronic Ink has an online gallery of available tattoos that are up for grabs. If you find one you fall in love with, you can reserve it to ensure that it is all yours! 

    Many people choose to go with a tattoo that has great meaning or significance to them, and has personal value that will never fade. But whether it is significant or simply a tattoo of interest to you, I would recommend waiting a few months before getting it. This will help ensure that your tattoo idea and design is something you would love forever. You never know if something would become less interesting to you as time passes by — and so, to ensure this isn’t the case, it never hurts to wait it out to make sure this desire or interest isn’t a fad!

    journaling
  2. 2. Positioning and Pain Tolerance

    Everyone can tolerate different levels of pain. It is so important to choose a tattoo spot that you will adore, however, your pain tolerance is a big factor in this process as well. Depending which location on your body you choose, the pain can vary from light to very painful (for most individuals). Especially since this pain will last anywhere between 30 minutes to hours on end depending on your tattoo, it’s important to consider what you can bear to feel and experience. 

    As a general principle, locations with less body fat, where the bone is less covered, are the more painful areas. This includes places such as the ribs, feet, hands, ankles, and wrists. Doing research on the pain scale of tattoos may be of interest to you if you are concerned about the pain level!

    Collar Tattoos on Woman wrapped in towel
  3. 3. Choosing a Tattoo Artist

    Whether they are at a local tattoo shop or grabbed your attention online or through other means, all tattoo artists have different strengths and talents. With this in mind, depending on the kind of tattoo you get, it is helpful to do some research on who you will allow to put that needle to your skin!

    If you are looking to get a simple tattoo, such as a paw print or script, you can most likely choose any tattoo artist with confidence in knowing it will be exactly what you want. However, if you are interested in a specific artistic style, it is important to be a little pickier in choosing an artist to ensure that they can capture your vision accurately! Although artists with specialized talents may be a bit more pricey, tattoos are the most perfect thing to invest in as they will be on your body forever. So, make your tattoo count and fall in love with it! Some examples of artistic styles would be realism, portraiture and surrealism. There are dozens of styles out there for all different interests and visions!

  4. 4. The Importance of Aftercare

    Tattoos are extremely sensitive and remain this way for approximately two to three weeks. With this in mind, it’s important to be very sensitive and careful with your movements and overall activities you are engaging in during this healing process. Many precautions must be taken to preserve the state of your tattoo to ensure it does not cause an issue in the healing process. If these precautions aren’t taken, you will risk infection of the area and/or having to return to the tattoo artist to touch up the tattoo due to damage. After getting your tattoo, your artist will inform you of all precautions and aftercare instructions in much more depth- but I will outline some of them here for you to consider! Although all of the precautions and restrictions may seem tedious, it’s one of the most important steps to ensuring that your tattoo comes out perfectly! 

    First, it’s very important to use unscented soap and unscented lotion during the first few weeks to ensure cleanliness of the area without any scents agitating or infecting the tattoo. Applying unscented lotion twice a day allows the tattoo to remain moisturized during the healing process. An important warning is that, while your tattoo is peeling (which is perfectly normal), you may feel the urge to itch your tattoo during this process. However, it is very important to fight this urge to not deform the tattoo or agitate the area! 

    Fresh tattoos are also sensitive to sunlight, meaning that you should try your best to keep it covered for the first little while to avoid fading. If it must be exposed to the sun for any reason, there are specialized sunscreen bottles that can be purchased to be applied to the tattoo to help prevent fading from occurring. It is also recommended to be mindful of what kind of clothing you wear during the healing process. Tight clothing can agitate the area, and thus, loose clothing should be worn instead. 

    However, mistakes can happen! If you need to get your tattoo touched up at any point, no stress at all! It will be of low cost- if any cost at all- depending on the tattoo location and tattoo artist. But it’s important to note that the wait doesn’t end in the tattoo chair. Instead, your tattoo won’t be completely healed and final until after a few weeks of healing!

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  5. 5. What If I Have Regrets?

    If your tattoo becomes something you wish you never got and wish you could press the ‘undo’ button, there are various options for you to consider! One option is to get a cover-up tattoo, allowing you to hide your past regrets and get a brand new tattoo at the same time! Or, if you would prefer a blank slate and wipe any trace of it ever existing, you may want to consider laser removal instead. Whatever route you decide to take, the important part is that you are choosing the best option for you to feel good in your skin!

Getting your first tattoo is an important milestone in expressing yourself in any way or extent you choose. From deciding on the tattoo itself, to the process of getting it as well as its aftercare, there are many steps to this decision that need to be considered. However, as you move through the steps, you will have an undeniable sense of excitement and pride in your new skin! It’s a moment you’ll love experiencing and perhaps go back again.