Admit it—all those hours you spent browsing Pinterest for dainty accessories and inspiring quotes have made you eager to take the plunge and finally tick "getting a tattoo" off your bucket list. But now that you’ve actually decided on a design you want and where you want it, you probably still have a multitude of questions running through your mind. Below, we list down some of the must-knows and must-dos before you get inked for the first time. See them below!
Before your appointment:
1. Make sure you’re getting inked because you want it, not because you feel pressured to do so.
The first question to ask yourself is,"Why do I want to get a tattoo?" If your answer is because you genuinely want one—whether it means something deep or just a form of self-expression—then by all means, get a tattoo. But if it’s only because your peers are getting inked, too, then you may want to do a double take. Either way, it’s your body and the choice is yours.
2. Do your research and look for a reputable artist/parlour.
We can’t stress this enough: do your research on the most recommended and reputable tattoo studios. The number one thing to keep an eye out for is the studio’s hygiene and overall cleanliness of the space. If the place is dingy, unkempt, and smells kind of funky, that is already a telltale sign to look somewhere else. Read reviews online and ask around for recommendations. Once you find a tattoo parlour that passes your standards, try talking to their previous clients and ask what they thought of the service.
The next step is to meet and talk to the artist. Take note of their professionalism and the way they present themselves to you as a potential client. Keep in mind that you are entrusting this person to etch a permanent design onto your skin, so you have to be comfortable with them.
3. Understand that quality tattoos are pricey.
Getting a tattoo—depending on the design and where you want it—can put a dent in your savings. Dainty ones may go as low as P1500, but larger and more intricate designs may cost thousands of bucks. The cardinal rule is to not compromise quality for price. It’s better to save up for a prime establishment than risk your tattoo turning out nowhere near what you envisioned, or worse, getting an infection. Yikes.
4. Know your pain tolerance.
Before you ask, yes, it will hurt, but the pain will also depend on the body part and your ability to tolerate it. Think of tiny but many sharp cat claws digging and dragging across your skin…repeatedly. The head, foot, ribs, and hips are usually the most sensitive parts to get inked due to the lack of tissue, thin layer of skin, and proximity to the bone. If you think you won’t be able to handle the pain, consult your artist and consider starting small and at a less painful body part.
Generally, it isn’t advisable to take aspirin, ibuprofen, and painkillers before a tattooing session because these may "thin out" your blood and decrease its natural ability to clot, making the area bleed more than normal and make you more susceptible to bacterial infections.
5. Consult a dermatologist.
Most people skip this part, but it never hurts to be sure. In some cases, artists would refuse to work on people with skin issues such as psoriasis, eczema, and skin asthma as it could lead to infections and affect the final result. The same goes for people who have the tendency to develop keloid scars, which are protruding scars from growth of fleshy tissue on the skin. Whether you have known skin issues or none, it’s always best to consult with a dermatologist beforehand.
6. Consider the timing.
Make sure you have no upcoming beach trips lined up at least two weeks after getting inked as sun exposure and water may infect your skin.
7. Stay away from alcoholic and caffeinated beverages at least 24 hours before your session.
Do not consume alcoholic or caffeinated drinks the night prior your appointment as those could also thin out your blood, which can decrease the accuracy of the needle and have more blood mix with your artist's ink. Instead, get a good night’s rest and make sure to hydrate yourself. You wouldn’t want to walk into the studio sleep-deprived and fidgety.
On the day of your appointment:
8. Eat a heavy meal beforehand.
You need energy to withstand the pain of needle pricks. Lightheaded and hungry is the last thing you want to feel while in the studio.
9. Shower and make sure that your skin is clean.
Again, this should help avoid infections. You may also need to shave your arms or legs if that’s where you want your tattoo.
10. Lastly, wear an outfit that is loose and easy to slip on and off.
…especially if you’ll be getting a tattoo in an area that's mostly covered by clothes.
Remember, the first tattoo is always a different experience for everyone. Some would hate it, some would love it. You know your body better than anyone else and it’s normal to feel intimidated, but as long as you’re taking precautionary measures, there’s no need to worry too much. Good luck!