By: Natasha Archary
Tattoos have for many years been viewed as either aesthetically pleasing or completely trashy. There’s no in-between unfortunately and you either love them or you don’t.
If you have been thinking about getting a tattoo, there are a few things you should know. Your first tattoo experience shouldn’t be an unpleasant one and it’s best if you are semi-prepared for the process and what it entails.
Design and location
Whatever your reason for wanting a tattoo, it’s advisable to know more or less what you want and where you want it.
This is going to be a permanent fixture on your body and you don’t want to regret your body art within a few days. Now’s not the time to be in a spur of the moment nature. Spontaneity and tattoos should never go hand in hand. This is how people end up tattooing their boyfriend or girlfriend’s name on their body.
Hands and feet don’t take the ink well and fading is high on these areas. With exfoliation occurring more frequently here, your tattoo will likely begin to fade once the initial scabbing takes place.
Choosing an artist
When it comes to choosing your tattoo artist, a cheaper quote isn’t always worth it. Though not common, infections from tattoos, ink or needles have been known to happen. A reputable and skilled artist will go through the possible risks and alleviate any fears you may have.
Of course, you will need to go through their portfolio so request that you see previous work they’ve done. You need to choose an artist you feel comfortable with and whose needlework you trust.
Find out what the cost of the piece will be and how your artist will be sizing the design to fit within the area you’ve chosen. A good tattoo artist will not be pushy and will allow you to make the final call.
Visit the shop before your tattoo appointment
It’s not just about securing your ink session, you need to make sure the studio your artist works from is safe, sanitary and ensures your privacy.
Walk the studio and ask to check needles and apparatus beforehand. A professional tattoo artist will not allow walk-ins and all ink sessions are strictly by appointment only. This should be an indication of the calibre of artistry you’re dealing with.
Your pain threshold
It’s going to feel uncomfortable and the stinging sensation afterwards is going to be almost unbearable. But there’s a certain beauty to the pain that many ink-lovers enjoy. For some, that pain is why they go back for more tattoos. It’s highly addictive.
Depending on what your pain threshold is, expect to feel light-headed and queasy especially if it’s your first time. The adrenaline that surges through you when the needle first hits your skin can be overwhelming.
The night before your tattoo session, avoid consuming alcohol and aim to have an early night. Alcohol thins your blood and may cause you to bleed out more during your ink session. You may be expected to hold an uncomfortable position for a long period of time, while your tattoo artist works on your piece.
You may need to shave the area before you go through for your appointment and you will want to shower before you go. To ensure a hygienic surface to work with and to avoid wasting any time when you get to your artist.
Take along a snack and something to drink. Blood glucose levels may drop slightly, so stay hydrated and take something to nibble on.
Your tattoo artist will take you through care instructions and you should pay careful attention to these. It all depends on where your tattoo is located. Ribs, feet, ankles, wrists, thighs and the torso area hurt the most and will therefore require the most care.
You will not want to submerge your tattoo in water for up to two weeks. This is to prevent infection, so stick to quick showers. Immediately after your session, your tattoo will look pristine but after a few days as it heals it will start to scab.
The area will also feel sensitive almost like a sunburn does. You will be advised when to apply a topical ointment or moisturiser on the area.