What to Think of When Getting Your First Tattoo – Part III

So you have done all the prep-work (showered, not gotten sunburnt, stayed away from alcohol and painkillers, you’ve brought your snacks, etc) and are all set. Now comes the fun part on getting your first tattoo! 

During your session

LOTR tattoo first tattoo Birmingham

LOTR tattoo by Mike from Vivid Ink Birmingham

To have the best results possible, you like to set both yourself and your artist up to be as comfortable as can be. There are a few things you can do to assure mutual relaxation. 

Number one, do not bring a big group of friends. If you feel that you need the moral support, bring one person max. Have them sit in the waiting area and connect with them while you and your artist are taking a break. You will get through it without having someone physically hold your hand, promise. 

And then, well, easier said than done perhaps, but do your best to relax. Take deep, slow breath, preferably with a relaxed belly (unless this is where you are getting your ink done, in which case, since it’s your first, wow, you are brave). Practice some deep belly breathing beforehand if you are unfamiliar with it as a technique. More than keeping you relaxed, this will make it easier for your artist to work. If you are hyperventilating, more parts of your body will be moving erratically, hence making detailed work more difficult. 

Also, try not to wind yourself up too much beforehand. Yes, it will most likely hurt (anywhere from not so much at all, to quite a lot, depending on placement), but you already know that. The experience of pain is quite psychological however, so if you go in with the attitude that it will be horrible, well… Try and daydream about something really pleasant instead.

Get comfortable, stay warm, and no unannounced sneezing

Hand rose tattoo by Dan from Walsall

Rose hand tattoo by Dan from Vivid Ink Walsall

Try to get into a position that you will be able to stay comfortable in for an extended period so that you can be as relaxed as possible. Also, please make sure that you are warm enough! Bring extra layers, wear wooly socks, wrap a scarf around you. Feeling chilled never makes anything better. Ever.

If you have to move, or particularly if you feel the need to make a sudden shift (think sneeze), if at all possible, do let your artist know what is about to happen beforehand. That way they can pull the needle away and no weird unplanned lines on your skin as a result. 

Aftercare, aftercare, aftercare

Most artists will have a specific brand of aftercare products they prefer. It makes sense to buy the one they stock at the studio.

Today, many artists work with a particular kind of surgical film that adheres directly to the skin. This film was first created to treat burn victims but has since migrated and been adapted for the tattoo world. You just let it sit for three days, and during that time, the healing process is taking care of itself underneath. It is like magic and you literally need to do nothing. 

If you have a regular cling film over the tattoo, ask your artist what they feel is the right time to keep it on. Once it has come off, you will need to wash your tattoo with a mild soap. Do not rub a coarse towel over it, but rather pat dry. Then apply your aftercare product. Often. Repeat the cleaning and care 3-4 times a day for about two weeks.

Traditional tattoo by Mike from Sutton

By Mike from Vivid Ink Sutton

For those two weeks, it is also important that you stay away from clothes that will rub against the tattoo, and avoid swimming, saunas, really hot showers (as if you would want to anyway, aouch) and sunbathing. 

If the tattoos scabs over a little or begins to peel, do not worry, it is perfectly normal. But, do not pick at, scratch or in any other way bother the skin! 

And once your tattoo is healed, always, always, use a sunscreen with high SPF (50, seriously) while in the sun to keep your ink looking stunning and radiant for as long as possible.