Things You Should Know Before Getting Your First Tattoo

Classic Tattoo Styles You Need To Know - Tattoodeepink 

Getting your first tattoo is both scary and exciting, and you probably already have a million questions. How much will it hurt? How do you know if a salon is safe? How much will it cost? Before you permanently place anything in your body, you need to make sure that any and all of your pressing questions are answered.

Even though I have nine tattoos and counting, I am still far from being an expert in tattoo care. So I enlisted the best professionals in the business (a celebrity tattoo artist and two dermatologists) to spill all that tattoo-related tea: removals, reactions, prices, and more. Along with his expert medical advice, I also shared a few things I learned when I personally went under the needle, both the good and the very, VERY bad. Read on for all the things you NEED to know before getting your first tattoo.

Things You Should Know Before Getting Your First Tattoo

dream catcher tattoo traditional tattoo sleeve

Prices vary by size.

Tattoo parlors adjust prices based on the size and style of tattoo you want. And FYI, if they know you're a virgin, they might try to jack you up. It's a good idea to call and get a quote before you go in, although that number may change slightly once the design is drawn. If you can, bring someone who has gotten tattoos before to help you negotiate or research prices beforehand to make sure you don't get ripped off.

DO NOT go bargain hunting.

Many salons have minimum prices (usually $50 or $100), so a small heart tattoo, for example, shouldn't cost much more than that. If someone is willing to give you a tattoo for $15...something is wrong. Incomplete artists could mean infections and shoddy work. Since your tattoo will be on your body for life and your health could be at risk, it is a worthwhile investment.

That said, some parlors do totally legitimate tattoo sales for holidays, like Halloween or Friday the 13th (I've even seen some for Harry Potter's birthday). They're called "flash sales" and you pick a pre-drawn design for a discounted price.

Other than that, however, tattoo purchases are not the time to haggle. Instead, save up for a reputable, professional tattoo artist. "If you can't afford to get tattooed by the artist you want, you should wait until you can instead of settling for 'fast food,'" says celebrity tattoo artist Bang Bang McCurdy, who has tattooed celebrities like Kylie Jenner. . , Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. "You won't regret waiting, but you may absolutely regret not waiting."

Things You Should Know Before Getting Your First Tattoo

traditional rose tattoo 

You may be allergic to tattoo ink.

Allergies to the ink and allergic reactions to the preparation process and aftercare may occur. How can I know? Well, it happened to me and it fu*cking su*cked.

Dr. Rachel Nazarian MD FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, says that ink allergies, while rare, are not unheard of. But if you're experiencing a reaction, it's likely due to a substance used in the tattoo process or aftercare products (which is what happened to me).

"True allergic reactions to tattoos and ink are very, very possible, but thankfully not very common. People with sensitive skin often develop a reaction to the preparation process that cleanses and sterilizes the skin, which is more common." than a real allergy. reaction to the ink and the tattoo itself.

If you react badly, the tattoo can lead to an itchy red rash like mine, but Dr. Nazarian says it can be treated with steroids from your doctor or extra strength hydrocortisone cream. That's what I used and my tattoo healed up nicely after treatment, FYI. (Read the full story of my terrifying reaction to the tattoo here.)

You have to be 18 to get one.

Yes, like voting and scary movies, you have to be 18 to get a tattoo. However, some states will allow you to get a tattoo earlier with your parents' permission while you are still a minor.

Look in the hall beforehand.

Just because the tattoo parlor is within walking distance of your bedroom doesn't mean it's a quality shop (I learned this the hard way, by the way). Visit the salon, ask about their artist licenses, and also check online reviews – Yelp will give you all that tea. Tattoo laws differ by state, so you should research the guidelines in your state and make sure that any venue you're considering is properly licensed and adheres to those guidelines.

Things You Should Know Before Getting Your First Tattoo

lightning tattoo neo traditional tattoo

"It's very important for a client to feel comfortable with how clean the studio is," says McCurdy. "Ask an artist: What do you do to clean between tattoos? How often do you clean this station where I'm getting tattooed? What kind of surface do you get tattooed on?"

The salon must be spotless (like, spotless, spotless).

Getting a tattoo is not a minor change, like dyeing your hair. Another human being is *literally* creating an open wound that can become infected if the shop doesn't take proper precautions. Although it is much more important how surfaces and tools are sanitized, the workshop should look and smell as clean as a hospital.

Make sure the artist uses a new disposable needle and ink bottle, and wears clean gloves.

Reusing needles can spread an infection or cause you to get a serious illness, like HIV or hepatitis B. Yes, this is serious. Therefore, your artist must use a new single-use needle and use brand new cups, napkins, and gloves. Watch to make sure they open the needle package in front of you to make sure it is clean.

Verify that the surface you will be tattooing on is a non-porous material.

Porous materials, like wood or marble, can be difficult to fully disinfect, so it's not a good choice for a tattoo station. "A porous surface, like rock and marble, would not be something your tattoo station should be made of," says McCurdy. "It must be made of stainless steel or a sterilisable material such as stainless steel."

After choosing the salon, check out their artists' work and decide which one you want to work with. Different artists specialize in different styles of tattoos – some are great with color, others with portraits or a delicate script. Don't forget to read the comments to see what their customers think.

The way the design looks on the sketch is how it will look on your skin.

The artist will draw the outline of your tattoo before applying it, so be sure to be especially vigilant when you approve the design. The drawing you approve will go directly onto your body and the artist will use it as a tracing for the final tattoo. Be very careful with your spelling (it's not common to get a misspelled tattoo, but it does happen) and don't be afraid to speak up about any changes you want. Remember: this is forever.

Things You Should Know Before Getting Your First Tattoo

guardian angel tattoo american traditional tattoo sun tattoo

If the artist makes you feel uncomfortable, leave.

If they get bo*ld when you ask them to adjust the design, walk away. If they embarrass your tattoo idea, walk away. If they generally make you feel awkward or uncomfortable, walk away. Getting your first tattoo is scary and shouldn't get on your nerves or make you feel bad.

"I think it's common in our industry for a young girl to walk in to talk to an artist and be met with a nose-in-the-air attitude, like, 'I don't want to do this girl's silly tattoo,'" says McCurdy. "I don't think that's fair or that a client should put up with that. You should find someone who wants to tattoo you."

Larger tattoos may require more than one session to complete.

Larger or heavily colored designs may require multiple sessions to complete, so your tattoo may not be complete after your first visit. A larger design with a lot of detail or color may require two sessions, while a full sleeve can take months (and hundreds or thousands of dollars) to complete. On the other hand, a simple tattoo, like a small black star, should only take about 5 minutes. If you want a better idea of ​​the timeline, ask your artist to give you an estimate of how long it will take before you start.

Think about your tattoo for at least a year before committing to it.

"When you're designing, try to think of the word 'timeless,' because your tattoo will be timeless, even if your design isn't," says McCurdy. What you think will look great can change, so you need to put a lot of thought into the design and make sure you'll still be interested in it months later. Remember: your tastes may change over time but this will last forever.

Getting a tattoo might seem like a fun thing to do with your friends on spring break or before graduation, but getting an impromptu tattoo probably isn't a great idea. "Think twice before getting a tattoo," adds Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, a cosmetic dermatologist who often handles tattoo removal. "Don't do it on a whim, don't do it when you're drinking, those are all the stories I get from my patients. Boyfriend and girlfriend tattoos [are] a no-no, people always regret it."

Don't get a tattoo before your beach vacation.

The quote you want on your ribcage will look great in that cut-off swimsuit, but tattoos take at least two weeks to heal, so you won't be able to swim (pool chemicals and ocean bacteria are bad for healing a tattoo) or hang out in direct sunlight (even healed tattoos are UV sensitive) if you get it on or right before spring break. Your best bet: Just wait until you get home, and make sure you stay out of the sun, sea, or pool for at least two weeks after getting inked.

You will probably have to touch up your tattoo.

Tattoos fade over time, no matter how well you treat them, because your skin is always shedding new layers. So you'll probably have to go under the needle again at some point to keep it in tip-top shape. You can go to any artist to get it retouched, but if you liked your original artist, it's always better to go back to him. Many salons will give you a free touch up, but others charge. Just like regular tattoos, the price of touch-ups varies depending on the amount of work you need to do, so if you're curious, ask your artist for a quote or check the salon's website; they likely have a tinkering policy outlined in their FAQ.

Things You Should Know Before Getting Your First Tattoo

black and grey tattoo scorpion tattoo owl tattoo lily tattoo

Tattoos fade faster when exposed to sunlight.

"There are certain parts of your skin that are more exposed to the sun, so the pigments can break down faster," says McCurdy. "Just like the outside of your arm, it will age differently than the inside of your arm that isn't exposed to as much sun throughout its lifetime." If you spend a lot of time outside and are worried about fading, consider getting your ink somewhere that's less exposed, like the inside of your wrist, and always, always, always use sunscreen, especially on your ink.

The pain depends on the location of the tattoo.

Disclaimer: Getting a tattoo will never stop hurting. Pain tolerance is different for everyone, but in general, tattoos placed right on the bones tend to hurt more. A foot or rib tattoo might be an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, while a bicep tattoo might only be a 4. And of course, the bigger the tattoo, the longer you'll be in pain. . Speaking from personal experience, my foot, ribcage, and spine hurt the most (in that order), while the tattoos on my hands and arms were much more tolerable.

If you end up not liking your tattoo, you can cover it up.

It is quite easy to cover up a tattoo, especially if it is small. A good artist can cover it up with a new design, completely covering the original tattoo; some salons even specialize in cover-ups. So even if you change your mind one day, you won't be left with a tattoo you hate.

You can also remove tattoos.

You can remove your tattoo with laser treatment. Depending on the color of the ink, the hardness of the ink, and the size of the tattoo, it may take several sessions. Blue, black and green inks are easier to remove with laser treatment because lasers can detect those colors more easily and therefore remove them more accurately, says Dr. Rokhsar. Lighter colors like yellow and white, on the other hand, are more difficult to remove. But keep in mind that while the process removes the tattoo, it can leave scars and the procedure can be expensive.

Tattoo removal doesn't really hurt if you go to a doctor.

Salons offer the service, but since they are not medical professionals, you should never go to one for tattoo removal. Go to a real licensed doctor to do the procedure – it's safer and painless, because unlike a salon, doctors can numb the area beforehand.

"Removing [a tattoo] is actually not painful at all. If you go to a doctor, the doctor will numb you... with a local anesthetic," says Dr. Rokhsar. "When you read about people saying tattoo removal is painful, it's because they don't go to doctors. They go to various spas, not doctors. Spas can't give anesthetic injections. A doctor can give local anesthetics, so you'll feel zero pain."

You may not be able to get the exact tattoo you want.

If you want to get a letter in a really small font, your artist might refuse, and for good reason. If a font is too small, it can fade over time and basically become a smudge. Instead, the designer might ask you to commit to a slightly larger font. Remember: your artist is a professional, so if he has serious feelings about the logistics of your design, listen to him.

They could shave you first.

If you're getting a tattoo on your arm or another particularly hairy part of your body, the artist might shave the spot beforehand, much like a doctor would before surgery (it's an open wound, after all). . You can ask ahead of time if you need to shave the area before you go in, but most tattoos don't require it.

It will bite later.

After a week or so (sometimes sooner), new tattoos will start to itch slightly, but whatever you do, DO NOT scratch. Fingernails can chip away at the ink and leave patches of untattooed skin on the tattoo. (However, if you accidentally scratch off some ink, your artist can easily fix it with a touch up.) Dr. Rokhsar says that scratching can also lead to infection, so instead he gently pats your tattoo with a clean hand to relieve it. He also recommends using a cortisone cream to safely remove the itch.

If the itchiness becomes unbearable or your tattoo develops into a rash (photos of that above), go to an urgent care center or dermatologist as soon as possible (again, more on that above).

Avoid long showers while you recover.

It is important to keep the new ink clean by gently washing the area with antibacterial soap and water, then patting it dry three times a day. A little water won't hurt, but try to avoid spending too much time in the shower (no baths, please) after getting inked. Soaking the tattoo is not good because the water will slow down the healing process by damaging the newly formed skin. If you get a design on a part of your body that gets a lot of water in the shower, like your back, try to keep your showers short and limit the area's contact with water until it heals. 

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