Tattooing is essentially a medical procedure. Like all medical procedures, there are steps you can take before your session to ensure you have a great and easy experience. Whether this is your very first tattoo or your fifteenth and you just need a refresher, these tips to help you prepare for your tattoo appointment will set you up to get the perfect ink.
Table of Contents (clickable)
- 1 How to Prepare For a Tattoo
- 1.1 Ask Questions
- 1.2 Pick a Design That’s Best For You
- 1.3 Do Thorough Research on the Shop
- 1.4 Get a Good Night’s Sleep
- 1.5 Stay Hydrated
- 1.6 Shower and Exfoliate
- 1.7 Moisturize - But Not the Day of Your Tattoo
- 1.8 Do Not Show Up With Damaged Skin
- 1.9 Wear Comfortable Clothes
- 1.10 Bring Snacks
- 1.11 Ask Before You Bring a Friend
- 1.12 Don’t Show Up Intoxicated
- 1.13 Don’t Cancel Last Minute
- 1.14 Don’t Touch the Work Station
- 1.15 It’s Customary to Tip
- 1.16 Aftercare is Essential
- 2 Our Final Thoughts
How to Prepare For a Tattoo
We’ve got the 16 best tips for the smoothest tattooing experience.
Likely the most important tip of all, you’re going to have a consultation before your actual tattooing session and you need to come prepared with a list of questions and concerns. These questions should also include items related to your personal medical history or current skin issues that your artist may encounter.
Don’t be afraid to continue these questions during your actual session as well. If something feels weird or you are worried about the process, ask your artist to explain it to you. They’re in the field of service and they’re here to make this the most comfortable experience for you.
Pick a Design That’s Best For You
Selecting a design is not an easy process and there are many factors that should be considered, including:
- Pain tolerance
- Personal style
- Work requirements
- Financial availabilities
- Color and allergy concerns
- The abilities of the artist you’ve chosen
We truly believe that if you are investing in a high-quality and professional artist, they will help you develop the design that is best for you, your skin, and your style. Discuss options with your artist and trust their artistic knowledge - it’s much better than a photo you printed off the internet!
Do Thorough Research on the Shop
Your health and safety are no joke, and you should spend extensive time looking into and asking the shop about their sanitation processes, their certifications, and their licensing. In addition, take time to read reviews about the shop you’re interested in, so you know you’re heading into a clean and qualified space for your tattoo.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Well-rested skin is skin that is in a better state to heal itself. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep before your session. In fact, if you can schedule your appointment first thing in the morning, your adrenaline will be higher as well which can help combat the pain.
Prior to and during your tattoo session, you should be filling up on those bottles of water. Staying hydrated is not only good for your immune health but also your skin health. It keeps your skin tight and provides your artist with an easier tattooing experience. In addition, it helps combat any dizziness or light-headedness you may feel during your tattoo session.
Shower and Exfoliate
No tattoo artist likes having to deal with a smelly person in their chair for two hours or more. Ensure you take a shower prior to your session and take time to exfoliate the skin you plan to get tattooed. This gets rid of dead skin cells and makes for a smooth tattooing experience on happier skin. If you want to shave the region as well, you can, but a quality artist will do that for you, as well.
Moisturize - But Not the Day of Your Tattoo
Moisturizing your skin is essential to maintaining your skin health. Dry skin can cause the needle of your artist to jump or skip and may make for a more painful tattooing experience. You should moisturize your skin leading up to the tattoo, but you should avoid skin products the day of your session. This could add layers to the region being worked on which could complicate or irritate the process.
Do Not Show Up With Damaged Skin
Tattoo artists cannot tattoo over scratched, cut, bruised, or peeling skin. This is not only an infection risk for you as the client but a health risk for them as the person doing the tattoo. Damaged skin, such as skin suffering from rashes or psoriasis, should not be tattooed. It’s best to delay your appointment until you’re healed or not dealing with a breakout.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
You’re going to have to sit, exposed, for a few hours during your session. You should be sure to head into your tattoo with comfortable clothing that does not cause you to fidget, scratch, or shift during your session. In addition, consider your placement when choosing your outfit. You may have to remove some articles of clothing for your session, or at least have pieces that lift comfortably and don’t interfere with the artist doing their work.
Bonus Tip: Did you know that your immune response to the trauma of tattooing could cause you to feel cold which leads to you shivering during your session? Bring an extra sweater, even if it’s the hottest day of the year.
Your body needs fuel to heal, and you’re going to want to have some on hand. You should also eat a meal before your tattoo session that has a lot of protein, vitamins, and zinc. Remember that you cannot eat during your session, but your artist will likely designate breaks where you can munch on some quality snacks to ensure your combat any light-headedness during your session.
Ask Before You Bring a Friend
A tattoo artist is not an animal in a museum, and some people don’t like a spectacle as they are working on a client. If you intend to bring a friend to keep you distracted during your session, make sure you discuss this option with your artist during your consultation. Don’t assume it’s okay, and if they do come, keep the energy of the artist’s space calm and respectful. Remember that they’re working and this is their livelihood.
Don’t Show Up Intoxicated
Not only does being on drugs like weed or alcohol during your appointment show that you don’t respect your artist and their time, it simply isn’t allowed. Any shop willing to tattoo you in this state is one that should be avoided. You should avoid drugs and alcohol for 24 hours before and after your tattoo appointment.
Don’t Cancel Last Minute
On the topic of appointments, it’s truly rude to cancel an appointment last minute. Yes, emergencies happen, but canceling last minute, if it can be avoided, means your artist is losing a valuable time slot of work and income in their pockets. If you are anticipating a delay, simply move your appointment as soon as possible out of courtesy to your artist.
Don’t Touch the Work Station
No matter how curious you are, keep your hands off the tools and equipment of your artist. This is not your space, and touching their sanitized area could actually introduce a whole host of bacteria to your needles or ink that could lead to an infection.
It’s Customary to Tip
Not only do service roles deserve to be compensated fairly for their time, but many tattoo artists also rely on tips as a primary means of income. We believe that if you’re unable to tip your artist, you should consider putting off your tattoo until you have the means to do so. If you need help better understanding this process, check out our article on tipping; Help! How Much Do I Tip My Tattoo Artist?
Aftercare is Essential
You could pick the cleanest shop with the most law-abiding tattoo artists, but eventually, your long-term healing all comes down to your aftercare process. An excellent aftercare routine is the key to a smooth tattooing experience. Be sure to ask your tattoo artist for their own advice specific to their artistry style and your skin needs.
Our Final Thoughts
A perfect tattooing experience always comes down to your ability to research and ask questions when you are unsure. Your tattoo artist is working with you, and it’s important to feel comfortable with this person doing this intimate and permanent procedure on your skin. As such, don’t be afraid to bring a list of concerns or needs to your consultation with your artist so you can ensure you come out with absolutely pristine ink at the end of it all.