Getting Tattooed: How to Prepare
Getting tattooed is something you need to be ready for, both physically and emotionally. Here’s a list of things to consider before your time “in the chair.”
Make sure you’re healthy.
Getting a tattoo is an invasive procedure, like a surgery though less extreme. No matter how well you think you’ll react to the tattoo machine, it can be a physically exhausting experience for your body. For that reason, you should be free of any colds or illnesses. If you’re feeling under the weather, reschedule your appointment. For women, having your period could negatively affect the experience as your body may be feeling more sensitive. If you are pregnant, now definitely is not the time to get a tattoo and your obstetrician will likely agree. Also it’s never a good idea to get tattooed while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The risks of increased pain or harm that might come from not being in the best possible physical condition before your tattoo are not worth taking.
Make sure the area that will be tattooed is clean and ready with no rashes or sunburn.
Not only should your physical health be in top shape, but so should your skin. To get the best results, your skin should be in a natural state, with no lotions, oils or other cosmetics applied. This also means it should be clean of sunburn, rash, or other skin irregularities. You don’t need to shave the area if being tattooed if any body hair exists there – your tattooist will take care of this. If there are any other healing wounds (including piercings) in that area, wait for them to heal before getting your tattoo.
Make sure you’ve taken a shower or bath beforehand.
Get clean, because after you get your tattoo, bathing gets complicated. It’s generally recommended that you not take a bath or go swimming for two weeks after you get your tattoo. You can shower, but you will need to be extremely mindful of the area that has been tattooed. Also, your tattooist may have his or her face close to your body for long periods of time, so your cleanliness is a courtesy to your tattooist, as well.
Dress the part—wear loose clothes you’re not afraid to get stained.
The tattoo process can sometimes be messy, involving water, rubbing alcohol or other sanitation liquids, ink, ointments, and blood. Don’t dress to impress or wear anything that you’ll not want to be stained. Don’t wear clothing that will rub against your tattoo or tattooed area as it may affect the healing of your tattoo. Tight clothing may also not be a good idea as it may add to the lack of comfort you feel while getting the tattoo. If you’re getting tattooed on your feet or ankles, be sure to wear the most comfortable shoes you have.
Avoid alcohol and aspirin, which thin the blood.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s not a good idea to get a tattoo during or even after a night of heavy drinking, despite what you’ve seen in the movies. Along with this affecting your overall physical condition, alcohol, and aspirin as well, thin the blood, meaning you will bleed more while getting tattooed. This will add to the challenge your tattooist will face as they will have a more difficult time actually seeing what they are doing. All the excessive wiping of blood could unnecessarily compromise the stencil or further irritate the area being tattooed. Other drugs, legal or illegal, could affect you in various ways as well, so speak to your physician about any medication you are on before getting a tattoo.
Purchase any healing equipment required (ointment/lotions, fresh bandages) before you go to the tattooist.
You always want to be prepared. Get what you need to start healing your tattoo before you step into the studio, including ointments and bandages. This way you’ll have them as soon as you need them. Feel free to talk to your tattooist beforehand to see what brands and aftercare methods he or she recommends for the healing process. Also, never share ointments or bandages as it is possible to transmit diseases or infections this way.
Eat well before you go.
To optimize the tattoo experience, you want to be as comfortable as possible, and that includes being well fed. It’s not comfortable to sit in a chair for an extended period of time if you’re hungry. If you take a break to get a bite that time may be costly if your tattooist charges by the hour. There is also a greater chance of nausea if you get tattooed on an empty stomach.
Make sure you’re properly hydrated.
Make sure you’re hydrated for the procedure, but not overly hydrated—bathroom breaks every fifteen minutes will only slow down the tattoo process. In addition, you might want to bring along some cookies and juice to have after the procedure to boost your blood sugar, just like after giving blood.
Make sure you’ve confirmed the cost and how to pay and have your payment and tip ready.
Find out beforehand what you will need to pay, and check if there are any extra fees before you have the work done. Even if you decide to pay with a credit card (if that’s an option), it’s best to tip your tattooist in cash.
If you go with a friend, make sure that friend is a patient one!
It’s a great idea to bring someone along with you when you get a tattoo. This person can lend some moral support as well as serve as a set of eyes to watch the action if you’re getting tattooed on a place you can’t see. It might be a good idea to ask them to whip out their phone to take a photograph or record a video of the action (be sure to ask the tattooist’s permission for this, though). Of course, a good friend can simply help make the process more entertaining and seem shorter. Just be sure you choose the friend you bring wisely. Anyone who gets bored easily is not the right choice. Children are definitely not ideal companions in this situation. Make sure it’s someone you feel comfortable with, and who’s as excited about your tattoo as you are. A good, patient friend can make a good tattoo experience a great one.