What to do Before You Get a Tattoo

Updated on January 27, 2016
Leg skeleton tattoo, dot tattoo on male
Leg skeleton tattoo, dot tattoo on male | Source

Getting a new tattoo is similar to having a minor medical procedure done. Your skin is penetrated by rapidly moving needles, that deposit ink beneath the top layer of your skin. Once completed, your tattoo is in fact an open wound, prone to infection and requiring care.

Now, nobody in their right mind would turn up for their medical procedure without having followed the doctors recommendations of pre-care. And they certainly would follow all further aftercare instructions in the hope that their wound will heal well and not require any further medical intervention. Your tattoo is the same.

Considering you're about to spend quite a fair amount of money on your new piece of body art, investing your time on learning how to:

  • Prepare yourself and your body for your tattoo - the more comfortable and prepared you are, is the longer you will be able to sit for your tattoo.
  • How to look after your tattoo once you've had it done - help avoid infections, so your tattoo will heal without any damage.
  • Invest further money on aftercare lotions and anti-bacterial wash intended for tattoo's.

Tattoo Pre-care, preparation and tattoo aftercare will assist with the entire tattoo healing process and give you the best opportunity for your tattoo to completely heal, with no blow out, fading or loss of ink.

Pre-Tattoo Consultation with Your Tattoo Artist

Arrange a pre-tattoo consultation with the tattoo artist you have selected. Your meeting should be at the tattoo studio where you will also get your new tattoo done.

This appointment gives you the opportunity to check out the studio itself. See where you will be sitting when you're getting tattooed, what their infection control procedures are and to ask any questions you may have.

One of the main reasons for your pre-tattoo consultation is to discuss the design of your new tattoo and its positioning on the body. Your artist could possibly draw a quick outline of the shape of your limb on a large piece of paper, for a size reference. This is taken as they may want to pre-draw up your design, on your stencil for when you arrive.

Describe to your tattoo artist the feel or theme you wish your tattoo to have, express color, size and placement. Bring along any reference material you may have for your new tattoo including pictures, colors and examples.

Remember, this is your tattoo. Do what you want with your tattoo, but take into consideration the tattoo artist's professional suggestions and opinions. That is what you are ultimately paying them for, their skill, knowledge and their previous experience with tattooing.

Once you have discussed your design, make sure you ask all the following questions.

  1. Approximately how much will this tattoo cost?
  2. How long do you estimate this tattoo will take to complete?
  3. How long will this tattoo session be for?
  4. What time do you want me here for my tattoo?

Premium Tattoo Aftercare Box

Girl shoulder tattoo
Girl shoulder tattoo | Source

What to Eat and Drink Before and After Your Tattoo Appointment

When a tattoo is being inked, many tiny needles are piercing the skin. This can create unwanted bleeding. To avoid excessive bleeding and potential damage to your tattoo;

  • Do not drink alcohol 24 - 48 hours before your tattoo,
  • Do not consume coffee or
  • Do not take an aspirin for pain relief.

All are commonly known blood thinners which could result in additional, unwanted bleeding.

Increase consumption of foods that contain vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and sweet vegetables i.e sweet potato, cauliflowers, broccoli. This naturally occurring medicine from Mother Nature, aids the bodies tissue repair and tissue recovery processes.

Drink a lot of healthy fluids such as;

  • Water.
  • Soups.
  • Juices.
  • Herbal teas.

It is extremely important to maintain your fluid levels while being tattooed as dehydration will intensify the discomfort of a tattoo, giving you a headache and make you feel ill.

Do not skip the meal prior to attending your tattoo appointment. Provide your body with plenty of sustenance and fuel to last a good few hours on the tattoo table.

Also the night before is not a party night. You will need to get a full nights sleep as your body will go through the equivalent of running a short marathon, when getting tattooed.

Once you've received your tattoo increase your consumption of garlic and onion in your diet, many naturalist believe they assist in healing due to their anti-microbial properties.

Resist consuming;

  • Dairy products - milk, cheese, cream etc.
  • Processed foods.
  • Sugar.

This is due to the belief that they slow down the bodies healing process.

Steampunk, clockwork, 3D tattoo
Steampunk, clockwork, 3D tattoo

What to Wear and Bring To Your Tattoo Session

Wear comfortable clothing with easy access to the body part getting the tattoo. Take an extra pair of clean socks to wear when being tattooed, make sure they're washed and not holey.

Have an extra jacket or sweater for when you start to feel the cold. In some instances and especially when your having a long tattoo session, your body will begin to shiver. This is an indication that your body is going into shock. Keeping warm will help minimise your discomfort.

Some other items to consider putting in your bag (without cluttering up the limited space in most Tattoo Studios);

  • Music and earphones
  • Tic-tac's or breath mints
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks and nibbles
  • Change of clothes
  • Tattoo aftercare cream
  • 1 support person
  • Camera

Be a Hygienic Client

During your tattoo session, you and your tattoo artist are going to be getting right up in each others personal space, for quite a few hours. This includes getting your naked bits out and breathing each others air.

Make the effort to be a considerate and hygienic client. Don't be the funky smelling customer of your Tattooist's nightmares. So before you leave home for your tattoo appointment make sure you;

  • Brush your teeth.
  • Shower using soap.
  • Wear fresh, clean clothes.
  • Bring Tic Tac's or breath mints.
  • Don't overdo deodorants, perfumes or colognes.
  • Tie your hair up in a ponytail (you don't want hair particles through your new tattoo).
  • If your feet smell like death, don't take your shoes off.

You wouldn't think I'd have to put this paragraph in, but it happens. Ask your Tattooist about the foul smelling people they've had to work on...

Full Chest tattoo on male
Full Chest tattoo on male | Source

Tattoo Aftercare Procedures and Products

Next to actually getting your tattoo, effective tattoo aftercare is the most important aspects of the tattoo process.

The healing of your tattoo can take up to a month, sometimes more.

Follow the aftercare steps below

  1. Purchase aftercare cream or lotion prior to your appointment.
  2. Ask the artist to use your provided aftercare cream once they have completed the tattoo.
  3. Keep your tattoo wrapped from when you leave the tattoo studio, until you get home and into a clean environment.
  4. Wash all plasma and ink off with an antibacterial soap, within one to two hours.
  5. Apply aftercare cream sparely.
  6. Wrap your tattoo when you're wearing irritating, tight clothes, that may rub and damage your tattoo. Also wrap the tattoo for bedtime for the first three to five days.
  7. Ensure there is plenty of time where your tattoo is not wrapped and is exposed to clean, fresh air.
  8. Avoid dirt and infection.

Here is where you consider that tattoos are for life and all that other jazz, I don't need to go over that, you should have already considered this fact.

Tattooing your face, hands or neck is really a job-breaker and some artists will not tattoo those area's for a reason, but that's your deal if you're going there.

Now, tattoo's hurt. Yes, a heap of needles are being repeatedly scraped over your skin, it is really not a joyous occasion. There are products available, that will help with minimizing your pain and discomfort. Possibly consider reading How to Get a Tattoo and Not Have it Hurt. Tattoo Numbing Cream and Dr Numb.

Good tattoos aren't cheap and cheap tattoos aren't good. Make sure you Find a Good Tattoo Artist Anywhere in the world. if you want the tattoo of your dreams.

Good luck with your new tattoo. Hope it all goes well and you love your newly acquired piece of body art!

Have you done back ground work on your Tattoo Artist including seeing previous tattoos

See results
Chest tattoo on girl
Chest tattoo on girl | Source

Questions & Answers


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      • Organised Kaos profile image

        Anne 4 years ago from Hobart, Tasmania ~ Australia.(The little bit broken off the bottom of AUS)

        Many thanks dragonflycolor! finally have gotten it back to the right numbers and back up to the 90's! PHEW :)

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        dragonflycolor 4 years ago

        This hub is definitely NOT a 1!