Fantasizing about tattoo ideas is fun, but actually getting inked is a completely different story. Tattoos are typically permanent (kind of, at least), so feelings of doubt and intimidation may temper your initial excitement. The final decision is obviously up to you, but we highly recommend doing your homework before committing to the lifelong responsibility.
To help you out, here's a list of five things you should know before getting your first ink.
1. Placement and size matter.
You've probably already saved several tattoo pegs on your phone, but aesthetics isn't the only thing that matters. ICYDK yet, the pain you experience will actually depend on the placement of your ink, with the fleshier parts of your body being less painful than the bony areas. Although getting a tattoo will always hurt, a bigger tattoo usually entails being in pain for much longer. In fact, some tattoo designs will require more than one appointment and several touch-ups.
2. Find an artist you trust.
You can't just walk into a random tattoo shop and expect everything to be settled in 20 minutes. First, you need to find a tattoo artist who specializes in the kind of design youâre eyeing. For this, we suggest following tattoo artists on Instagram, reading online reviews, and asking for referrals from your friends and acquaintances. Don't be lazy—taking the time to look for a reputable and licensed tattoo studio is totally worth the initial hassle. Once you find a promising option, book a consultation with your artist and have an in-depth discussion about your future ink, from its expected price to your design pegs.
3. It will hurt.
This one's pretty self-explanatory. As we mentioned earlier, getting inked will always hurt, but most experts say that the initial pain eases minutes after your body's natural adrenaline kicks in. Plus, regardless of your personal pain tolerance, professional tattoo artists will always encourage you to speak up if you feel extremely uncomfortable or lightheaded during the process.
4. You have to be thorough with tattoo pre-care and post-care.
Two days before getting a tattoo, people are discouraged from taking caffeine, alcohol, and other blood-thinning substances. You may also be asked to lightly moisturize and shave the area of the tattoo before your appointment.
After you finally get inked, you'll have to baby your new tattoo for a while. Apart from regular washing and moisturizing, you also have to wear loose clothes and refrain from scratching or picking the area (Disclaimer: it will be VERY itchy). We know it may seem like a lot of work, but keep in mind that a fresh tattoo is basically a healing wound.
5. Take your time.
We already mentioned it earlier, but we can't stress this enough: You have to be 100 percent sure that you're ready to commit before making your final choice. Some people even say that you should spend at least one year contemplating on your first ink. If you're having doubts as early as now, maybe you can stick to temporary tattoos and revisit your options further down the road.
Whatever you're feeling now, just remember to go at your own pace and choose what makes you happy. Good luck!
*This story originally appeared on Candymag.com. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.