Your first tattoo will always be a major milestone in your life. Like all other firsts, dipping your feet into the tattoo pond can be an exciting yet terrifying experience.
1. Mull Over It For A Year
Here’s the thing about tattoos: they’re permanent. If you get a tattoo on a whim, chances are you’re going to grow tired of it pretty soon. Unless you want to go through the excruciating pain of having it lasered off, you’re going to live with your tattoo forever. If you want a particular tattoo, wait for at least a year before you commit to it. If, in a year, you still want the same tattoo, then go ahead with it. If you want to get the name of someone you’ve been dating for a week tattooed though, give it a miss.
2. It’s Going To Cost You
Tattoos are not something you want to save money for. You might find a parlor that does tattoos for dirt cheap, but be suspicious of it. A good tattoo artist can charge pretty steep prices, but they’re always worth it. Your tattoo is a lifelong investment, so don’t try to cut corners on it. If you get a cheap parlor to do the job, it’s probably going to show in the end product. Having said that though, you also need to be wary of getting ripped off. Try to research the norms of tattoo prices in your area or bring along an experienced friend who can tell you if the prices are fair.
3. Pick A Small Tattoo To Start With
When you’re getting your first tattoo, you’re completely clueless about how high your pain tolerance is and how your body will react to the ink. There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, but it’s probably best to start out with a small tattoo and then progress from there. You could also pick a less sensitive area like your shoulder or inner wrist to get yourself acclimated to the process.
4. Do Your Research
Today almost every tattoo parlor and artist have their own Instagram page where you can easily see their past work. When you have a specific idea in mind, it’s important that you find an artist who has done that kind of work in the past. The wrong artist could make you feel uncomfortable or unsure about your tattoo idea. When you’re getting inked permanently, you need to feel completely confident about it. An artist whose aesthetic matches the look you’re going for, is your best bet for a tattoo you’ll love all your life.
5. Visit Their Studio
You might have gotten your haircuts from a dingy salon down the road, but for your tattoo, you’re going to have to raise your standards. Tattoos are prone to infections because they open your skin and leave it vulnerable until they have fully healed. When you pick a parlor to get tattooed at, it’s important that you pay them a visit in advance to make sure they’re sanitary. Getting inked at a grungy studio won’t earn you street cred, it will only give you an infection. Don’t feel shy about asking as many questions as you need to. You’re the one who’s going to live with your tattoo, so make sure the parlor is spotless and cleaned often.
6. Don’t Do It During The Summer
Summers are a great season to show off your tattoo, but they’re not when you should be getting it done. Your new tattoo needs to be protected like a baby if you’re going to shield it from infections. New tattoos need to be kept away from unsterilized water, so you won’t be able to go for a dip in the pool or the ocean. Harsh summer rays are bad for even a healed tattoo, but they can be especially damaging for a new one.
7. Trust Your Artist
If you’ve picked out a really great artist, then let them do their job. Your artist is fully committed to giving you something unique that you will love all your life. If you try to shadow them and overdirect, they’re going to get frustrated and it will show up in the design. Give your artist enough space to work and if you have certain reservations about the final design, voice your concerns tactfully. Both you and your artist are working toward the same goal, so don’t be too combative with them.
8. It’s Going To Itch
If you’ve had a scab before, you know how itchy the area can get when it’s healing. Your new tattoo will also itch really badly, but it’s important you don’t pick at it. Scratching a new tattoo could peel off certain areas and leave those parts bare. Your parlor should give you ointments to help with the itching, but if you still feel it irritating you, try slapping it gently instead of scratching. Coconut and almond oil also work great to soothe the skin.
9. This Won’t Be Your Last Visit
After your tattoo is finally completed, don’t think that’s the last you’re going to see of the tattoo parlor. Your skin is constantly shedding layers and this can lead your tattoo to become less defined over time. Sun exposure can also make a formerly bright tattoo more dull. To keep your tattoo looking as good as new, you will need to revisit a tattoo parlor every once in a while to get it touched up. To slow the process of the tattoo wearing off, keep the area well-moisturized and protect it from the sun’s damaging UV rays.
10. You Can Always Modify It
If you’re unsure about making a lifetime commitment to a tattoo, don’t get too anxious. In the worst case, tattoos are pretty easy to cover up. If you’re ready to withstand pain, you can even get it lasered off for good. If you’ve thought long and hard about your decision though, you’re probably never going to have to face this dilemma. Your tattoo is meaningful to you, so be proud of it and don’t let anyone ever question your decision. Unless you decided to get a Hello Kitty tattoo. Then you probably deserve all the questioning.