Things You May Want To Consider Before Getting A Tattoo.
The first time I got a tattoo, I was almost 16 and crossed state lines with my mom—hi, MJ! We planned to get tattoos with my older brother when he turned 18, but Georgia law prohibits minors from getting inked, even with parental consent. My mom, being the coolest, still wanted her tattoo so we drove to Alabama, where you only have to be 16. We got ourselves some cool lower-back tattoos and made the trek back. It was the best bonding experience ever, and I don’t regret it one bit.
Since then, I’ve gotten six more tattoos and plan to get more. It’s true what they say about ink being addicting; I love every single one of mine. Still, you shouldn’t take getting a tattoo lightly. If you’re thinking about getting inked, there are a few things you should consider first. Here is what I’ve learned from my experiences getting tattoos that may help you if you’re thinking about getting one, as well.
1. Tattoos Are Permanent :
Obviously, right? But seriously, tattoos are very permanent. Yes, you can get them removed, but laser removal can be expensive, tedious, and painful. If you’re not sure you can handle having something on your body permanently, try using temporary tattoos for a bit to see if you like it. You might realize that you don’t actually want ink.
2. Be Very Sure Of What You Want :
Seriously, I can’t stress this enough: tattoos are permanent; whatever you get on your body will be there forever, unless you choose to go through a potentially painful removal process. It should go without saying that your tattoo should be something you want on your body for the rest of your life. That really cool design may seem like a good idea to put on your body now, but make sure it’s something you’ll still want to look at when you’re 40, 50 and 60 years old. Take it from me: I have friends with very meaningful tattoos, but who got them removed because they didn’t like them after a few years. And I have friends who have silly, on-a-whim pieces that they’ll never get removed.
3. Consider The Placement :
Where you get a tattoo can be just as important as what you get. Some locations on the body can be more painful than others. Some locations can get you more judgmental looks than others—I have a lower back tattoo, trust me. You also might want to consider placement based on your workplace. I’m fortunate I work in a creative industry where tattoos are welcomed and displayed proudly. However, if you work in a more conservative field, you might not be able to show off your ink. If you’re unsure of where you want it, you can ask the artist to do the temporary stencil on the parts you’re considering so you can see what it looks like.
4. Do Your Research :
Finding a good tattoo shop with a good artist is imperative. You probably don’t want to go to some sketchy place and risk getting a tattoo that looks nothing like you pictured. I recommend spending time researching tattoo shops and artists in your area. Read the reviews thoroughly. Ask your tattooed friends where they got their ink and if they have a recommendation. Most of my tattoos have been done at shops I was referred to.
(Things you may want to consider before getting a tattoo)
5. Scope Out The Shops :
I highly recommend physically going to different shops and speaking with the artists, especially if you want a detailed piece. If you get bad vibes when you walk into a place, then leave. If it looks dirty, keep searching. Tattoo parlors should smell super clean, like a sterile hospital. I mean, you’re literally getting ink injected into your skin. The place needs to be spotless.
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6. Know That It Can Hurt :
Everyone’s pain tolerance is different, but tattoos can really hurt. Personally, I think it feels like constant finger pricks at the doctor’s office and a hot rubber band snapping against your skin. You may get a little numb after a while, and the pain can subside after your adrenaline kicks in. I’ve never cried while getting a tattoo, but a lot of people I know have. Others may scream. It really can depend on your pain tolerance and where you get your tattoo. My most painful was one on my shoulder because I’m particularly bony. Softer, more plush areas with thick skin may not hurt as much. You may also be sore afterwards, similar to when you get a flu shot.
(Things you may want to consider before getting a tattoo)
7. Follow The Aftercare Instructions :
If you’re not prepared to deal with caring for your tattoo, you probably shouldn’t get one. It’s not like having a puppy or anything, but you will have to be diligent about the aftercare, especially for the first two weeks. From my experience, you need to gently cleanse your tattoo with warm water and antibacterial soap every few hours, and then apply a thin layer of Aquaphor or unscented lotion. You’ll repeat the process for 5-7 days. Be warned: your tattoo will likely flake and peel. Don’t worry! This is totally normal. After your tattoo has healed, it’s important to still keep it moisturized and protected from the sun with sunscreen. For professional care advice, make sure to go over this with your tattoo artist and shop.
8. Timing Is Important :
When you get your tattoo can also be very important. From my experience, tattoos, especially fresh ones, are not supposed to be exposed to sunlight, so you probably don’t want to get one before you head to the beach for a week. I got my most recent tattoo on my inner bicep, not factoring in that I had a lot of literal heavy lifting to do at work that week. I was super sore and in a lot of pain. It’s important to keep things like that in mind when you’re deciding when to get your ink.