Getting your first tattoo: what you need to know

Planning to take your first trip to the tattoo studio? Congrats! 

Whether it’s a tiny infinity symbol or a detailed back piece, getting a tattoo is super exciting. But we get it, getting a tattoo is pretty nerve-wracking. It’s a permanent decision that’s usually pretty painful. 

Fortunately, we’re tattoo veterans at this point and have plenty of useful advice on how to prepare for your first tattoo. We’re assuming you’ve already done your research and chosen an artist you’re happy with, so keep reading to find out what to expect, what you need and how to care for your first tattoo.

What you need to know for your appointment

Wear loose-fitting clothes

It might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people go to the studio in clothes that make it difficult to access the desired tattoo spot.

To avoid taking your jeans off for your new thigh tatt, wear shorts, a skirt, or anything that makes accessing the spot easy.

Take sugary drinks and plenty of snacks

Depending on how long you’re booked in for, it’s essential to keep your blood sugar up with full-fat drinks like Coca-Cola or Pepsi. We know plenty of you love a Diet Coke, but it’s got to be the full-fat stuff on this occasion.

If you’re in for a few hours, it’s also good to be prepared with a classic meal deal to keep your energy going.

Block out your entire afternoon

Again, depending on the size of your tattoo, allow enough time on either side of your appointment. Tattoo artists don’t run like trains, they’ll take the time needed to get the job done well.

That might mean the prep takes a little longer to get the placement just right or do those finishing touches.

Oh, and show up on time. Being punctual shows your artist you respect their time. You don’t want to piss off someone who’s permanently marking your body, right?

Don’t get a tattoo right before a sunny holiday

As you’ll learn in the next section, caring for your new tattoo includes avoiding the sun and swimming pools. With that in mind, it’s probably best to avoid getting a tattoo if you’re off on holiday in a month.

If it’s your first tattoo, it’s probably best you’re at home while it heals in case anything goes wrong such as an infection. That way you can get in touch with your artist or medical professional.

How to care for your new tattoo

The advice below is generic, you should listen to your artist before someone on the internet. If you have any concerns or your tattoo doesn’t look right, ask your artist and don’t Google it.

Leave the covering on

Whether it’s cling film or those fancy second skins, it’s there to protect your tattoo. We know it’s tempting to take it off to show your friends your new ink, but a tattoo is an open wound and must be treated as such.

We recommend changing it before you go to bed to avoid getting excess ink (or plasma) on your bedsheets. Carefully wipe the tattoo with some kitchen roll and warm water and rewrap with cling film, securing with medical tape.

In the morning, you can remove the covering, hop in a warm (not hot!) shower and wipe away the last of the excess. Once you’re out of the shower, gently tap your tattoo dry and don’t rewrap.

Use coconut lotion to moisturise

After a day or two, your tattoo will start drying up and crusting over. This is normal as your skin is healing, but you need to moisturise once or twice a day.

There are lots of tattoo healing kits on the internet, but you really can’t beat coconut lotion. It’s affordable, hydrating and perfect for helping your new tattoo heal.

Also, don’t use Bepanthum. It’s not good for your tattoos, no matter what anyone on the internet tells you!!

Don’t scratch

Your tattoo is very likely to get to the dreaded itchy phase. It’s annoying and very difficult to resist, but you must!

Scratching your tattoo can damage it, leaving you with missing chunks once it’s healed.

Gently wash your tattoo

Use mild, unscented soap and water to gently clean your tattoo area. Don’t use any type of cloth as this will exfoliate the area which will hurt and isn’t good for the tattoo.

You should continue doing this daily until it’s healed.

Avoid sitting in the sun

Basking in the sun isn’t good for our skin at any time (#weloveSPF), but it can cause irreversible damage to your tattoo during and after healing.

Make sure to always apply extra sunscreen to your tattooed areas to keep them looking fresh and vibrant.

Don’t go swimming

You should avoid swimming for at least two weeks, longer if you don’t think your tattoo has healed yet.

Your tattoo artist may suggest longer, so ask if you’re an avid swimmer.

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