Thinking of Getting Your First Tattoo? 10 Tips for Newbies

Getting your first tattoo is a big step, but it can be intimidating. Check out this guide to learn some tips to get yourself ready.

Arrows, hearts, skulls, butterflies, an important date, a loved one's name. These are the most popular and most requested tattoos.

Are you ready or thinking about getting your first tattoo? It's a big step, so it can be intimidating. Check out this guide to learn the ten tips for tattoo newbies.

1. Research the Shop

It's important not to leave your first tattoo up to chance: you want a reliable, highly-reviewed parlor that you feel confident trusting.

Read Google reviews, check out their website for before and after photos, and talk openly with people who've been there. Knowing the reputation of the parlor you choose is vital!

As for pricing, many tattoo parlors have a minimum charge that they'll use for small tattoos, like an arrow. Understand your parlor's pricing before you commit to anything.

You may not think of it, but a parlor's policies might surprise you. For example, some tattoo shops will not do face, hand, or foot tattoos because they wear off relatively easily. Most shops won't tattoo you if you're intoxicated or pregnant.

2. Research the Artist

If you just walk into a tattoo shop or call and make an appointment, you'll usually be paired with any of their artists who are free. You don't have to take this route.

You can research an artist whose work you like or who specializes in your kind of design. Don't be afraid to talk to the shop beforehand, show them what tattoo you want, and ask which of their artists they'd recommend.

3. Decide on a Design Beforehand

Are you going into your first tattoo with a specific design in mind? Finally getting a certain tattoo that you've always wanted is always less scary than getting one just to get one.

Making a tattoo design meaningful will help you be and stay attached to it. Research online, scour Pinterest, talk to other people, find a design that you absolutely love.

Here are some good ideas for meaningful, personal tattoos:

  • A loved one's name
  • A name, word, or phrase in your family's (or ancestors') native language
  • A common saying in your family
  • The outline of a state or country of a place you're attached to
  • A loved one's handwriting
  • An important date (your anniversary, your children's birthdays, the day you recovered from an accident)
  • Your beloved pet's paw print
  • An image that symbolizes an important memory

Don't rush into your design decision! Take all the time it requires to think of the perfect one. Don't leave it until you're sitting in the artist's chair, looking around at the walls for ideas.

4. Avoid Tattoo Trends

A lot of times, tattoos are a fad. Which means they're a passing trend. You don't want to get a first tattoo that you fall out of love with in five years.

For example, right now in 2019, certain face tattoos are trendy. You may be sucked into the trend vortex and think it's super cool in the heat of the moment, but are you really going to love it after the trend dies?

5. Bring a Picture With You

Just like you bring pictures as examples when you get your hair done, bring pictures when you're getting your tattoo. It makes all the difference when you're explaining the design. It's worlds easier for your artist to understand exactly what you want.

By bringing a picture with you, your desired design is much less likely to be lost in translation. You don't want to be disappointed by the end result. Avoid any miscommunication between you and your tattoo artist -- bring example pictures with you!

6. Ask Questions

In a public setting, with people you don't know, getting your first tattoo, it's understandable that you'd be a little hesitant to ask the 100 questions in your head. But don't be!

Your artist and shop are there to serve you, so ask any question you have. Ask details about price, length of time, pain, even how tattoos work, the number of needles they'll use for your design, their confidence in performing your design, etc.

You don't need to be embarrassed about asking all the questions. This is a big decision, don't rush!

7. Prepare for the Price

Some tattoos cost more than you might think. There are highly sought-after tattoo artists who charge by the hour. If you're going after one of them, be well-educated about their pricing.

If you're just getting it done in a regular shop, talk to them about how much your design idea will cost. Prepare yourself for a high number if your design includes lots of color, lots of ink, or lots of body space!

8. Prepare for the Time

Tattoos always take longer than you think. Even if it's tiny. A lot of time goes into the prep work: talking about your design, getting the plan exactly right, sterilizing your skin, and getting the right needles.

If your desired tattoo is large, prepare for a lot more time in the chair. Some really big or detailed tattoos even require multiple sessions to complete.

Be open with your shop and artist about how long they think your tattoo will take. Don't be surprised if it's many hours, even all day, or multiple days.

9. Diligently Follow the Healing Instructions

Once you have your first tattoo, you might be tempted to cut corners with the healing instructions. Don't give in to that temptation!

The instructions your artist gives you are of vital importance to the cleanliness and longevity of your tattoo. You don't want to go through all that work and spend that money to then have complications like an infection or flaky ink.

10. Remember: Tattoos ARE Removable

Contrary to what you always hear about tattoos, they are removable. It's a process (and sometimes an expensive one), but it's possible.

Tattoos can be removed via laser treatment. The procedure, which is usually performed over several sessions, requires healing.

You may have redness, scabs, and swollen skin afterwards. But that can be worth it for people whose tattoo was planned poorly or performed poorly. Check out these healing tips for successful and safe tattoo removal healing.

Your First Tattoo Doesn't Have to Be a Future Regret!

Your first tattoo doesn't have to be one of those "I'll laugh about it later" stories. You can love and cherish your first tattoo for the rest of your life!

Follow these ten tips for tattoo newbies for making all the right decisions. And check out our other articles about beauty and fashion!

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