How To Prep For Getting A Tattoo

I love every single one of my tattoos – I currently have 9 and am hoping to have at least a dozen in the next few years, because oh my gosh I have so many ideas and the thing they always warn you about when you get your first tatt is that it will open the floodgates and you’ll want MORE, MORE, MORE. It’s true!

Now, in my experience, I’ve found that there are certain things that need to happen when you are prepping for and then getting a tattoo. I would like to take this opportunity to educate y’all and hopefully help you avoid any discomfort* if you ever wish to get inked!

*cannot promise to avoid all discomfort. Tattoos hurt. That cannot be helped by me, I’m afraid!

Eat a full meal first. Then snack.

It is so draining, getting a tattoo. Having the needle relentlessly stabbing away at you, drawing blood and introducing ink? It knackers you out and leaves you rather light-headed! So you must have a pretty hefty meal beforehand. I have had massive veggie burgers and tons of fries myself, before getting my bigger tatts! Also lots of water. Lots and lots. Don’t get dehydrated! Being inked does that to you, too.

And yes, snack during. If the piece you’re getting takes longer than 20 mins, it may be a good plan to stock up on fruit and nut bars, chocolate, even fizzy sweets to give you that sugar high. Basically, you cannot eat too much in this situation. Go crazy!

Find a spot.

Somewhere to stare throughout. Think of it like an injection, or a long dance…you need a place to look. I’m generally okay with blood and what not, but I struggle with tattoos – sometimes it’s better to not look, that’s all. It stops you focusing on the pain, too.

Wash.

Obvs. Wash the area that’s getting inked. The rest of you, too. And maybe if the area is on your arm or leg, shave it first. An artist will usually do that themselves, get a little razor out before sticking the transfer pattern on you, but it’s nice to help them out.

Think.

Okay, I know the thought process of booking then getting a tattoo. It can get pretty scary. No matter if you’ve had the idea for the tatt for weeks, months, years – or hours, perhaps! – it is a whole new level of real when you book it in. You can get smothered by doubt. You might change the idea ever so slightly. You could panic that your chosen artist may go in the wrong direction with your idea. So, think. Really think. Do you want this? In that space? By that person? You must be sure! But don’t scare yourself out of it, either. Y’know?

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Photo supplied by Gracie, but drawing credit to Ella Bell

Trust your artist.

They understand the importance of what they’re doing. A lot of artists I’ve met are actually thrilled beyond belief that I trust them to doodle (artistically and beautifully, obvs) on my body. They’re honoured it will be there, on you, forever. A piece of their work – of them. So be 100% sure when you book with the artist, and then leave them to it. They know what’s what.

Stock up on nappy rash cream.

Any moisturiser is generally alright to use afterwards, but artists and the experts (the ones with tatts from their heads to their toes) will tell you to use the leading brand nappy rash cream. Yes, the baby butt stuff. It’s thick and smelly and takes forever to rub in, but damn it it’s the best thing for the job and will ensure you heal up real good.

Love your bod.

This is my advice for life, not just for tatts. Love your body, love yourself, be true to yourself and be kind to your body. Simple as.

I personally get tattoos as a way of decorating my body – of reclaiming it, too. Making it mine. Whatever your reason is, it’s valid. Unless of course it’s to commemorate an evil ex or it’s a dare when drunk in Magaluf…

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  • I would add make sure the tattooist you go to is a professional, with all the necessary hygiene certificates and whatnot, and make sure you see examples of their previous work. Most tattooists and studios have social network presences, so it should be easy enough.

    The after care debate is an interesting one, I’ve had different advice from different tattooists. The nappy rash cream has been recommended, but I’ve also been told specifically *not* to use it, just to make sure I wash the tattoo regularly with very hot water followed by very cold water. Whether or not to wrap it seems to be another topic that splits tattooists as well. I think as long as you keep it clean and take care of it you can’t go far wrong.

    It’s so true about the tattoo floodgates, if money was not an obstacle I’d be pretty well covered by now. I’ve got one that needs finishing and plans for the next 3 more in the works.