The more hydrated your skin is, the better it’ll take ink during the tattooing process and the happier you and your artist will be.
A beginners guide to getting a tattoo
By Ash Sabinin, Contributor
So you’ve decided to take the plunge and get your first tattoo; maybe you’ve been wanting one since forever and finally booked the appointment, or maybe this is an impulsive idea that you just can’t wait for. Either way, this list will help you prepare for what to do before your appointment, the day of and after.
Before the tattoo:
Find a good artist! This is the first and, probably, most important step. There are so many talented tattoo artists out there, but you need to find one whose artistic vision matches yours. It’s in your best interests to choose an artist who has a style you like to ensure your tattoo is something that suits your personal tastes.
Choose a date that gives you enough time to heal afterwards and give yourself at least a week before doing any strenuous physical activities. This might be the hardest part, having fresh ink that you want to show off at the gym, beach or pool but please wait till it’s healed to lower the risk of it getting infected.
Start hydrating! The more hydrated your skin is, the better it’ll take ink during the tattooing process and the happier you and your artist will be. You can also start moisturizing the area you’re planning on getting the tattoo to create the best canvas possible.
Day of the tattoo:
Eat something!! This is on the very top of every tattoo prep list because it’s so important to eat a good meal to prevent you from fainting or anything that would ruin your experience. You can also bring snacks if it’s going to be a long session but double-check that it’s ok with your artist before chowing down in their studio.
Drink water! Just as important as eating, make sure you’re hydrated and don’t hesitate to bring a water bottle.
Make sure you sleep well the night before, or as well as you can manage, I know excitement can make that difficult, but a lack of sleep will make you more sensitive to the pain as well as put a damper on the whole day.
Change the bedsheets! You’re going to want your sheets to be clean to avoid any germs or debris getting in contact with your fresh tattoo, I would recommend choosing dark colours as well, in case the ink leaks and stains.
Wear clothing that allows easy access to the tattoo area and is comfortable as you’ll probably be lying or sitting down for at least an hour. For example, if you’re getting a knee tattoo, make sure not to wear skinny jeans or leggings to the appointment. I recommend skirts or shorts for leg tattoos and tank tops for arm tattoos.
Listen to your artist. Most artists have a healing regiment that they give their clients and you should listen to what your artist recommends. However, if you can’t remember what they said, most artists use a combination of the tips listed below.
Your artist will probably put on a second skin or bandage of some sort before you leave their studio and give you specific instructions for when and how to remove the bandage. Second-skin or Saniderm are typically removed in the shower under running water to make the removal process easier and can be removed anywhere from a few hours after the tattoo to a few days after.
After taking off the bandage, wash your tattoo very gently with mild, unscented soap and pat, not rub, dry with a clean towel or paper towel. This should be done once or twice daily until healed or when your artist tells you to stop.
After a few days, you can start applying an unscented lotion to keep your tattoo moisturized. You can also invest in Tattoo Goo which is a moisturizer designed to help your tattoo heal and keep the ink bright. Only ever apply a thin layer of lotion after cleaning to avoid clogging up the tattoo. Your tattoo is a wound, a very pretty wound, but still, a healing wound so treat it as such.
Avoid super scented lotions, tight clothing, swimming or hot tubs until it’s fully healed, I would recommend at least a month, but you can always contact your artist to check on how your healing is going and get their opinion on when it should be safe to swim again.
In general, I would try to avoid consistent direct sunlight on your tattoo, not only right after it’s done but for as long as possible to keep it super vivid. Also, try to stay hydrated and eat well to give your body the nutrients and energy to heal you quickly and efficiently.
Getting a new tattoo is so exciting and it’s easy to forget some of the important steps to ensure you’re ready. Hopefully, this list can help you make sure you’re completely prepared for your upcoming appointment to avoid any unnecessary stress.