First Tattoo! - Tips & Advice5:00 PM
Tattoos eh? Most people want one, loads of people have them, and I’m absolutely sure every single person who’s had one was worried about the pain at some point. I definitely did. I consider myself to be pretty hardy (if I do say so myself), but I’ve had most of my body parts pierced at some point in my life, and I’ve also sustained a broken wrist, fallen out of a 15ft tree, and had a coconut thrown at my head by my little sister. I’ve always thought my pain threshold was pretty high, but when it came to the week before my tattoo was booked, I started to get seriously nervous about the pain.
Aside from the whole 'do your research, make sure you love the design, choose your artist carefully' spiel, there are about a million things you can do to prepare for your first tattoo (some helpful, some not).
A week before:
Watching videos/Reading blog posts
I chose to watch a few youtube videos, some were pretty good, but some were horrific! I'd recommend staying away from any videos that show anyone actually being tattooed. In my experience, I've found that people play up the pain WAY more if they've got someone with them; multiply that by a thousand if they're being filmed. It's just not going to help, it's going to set your nerves on edge. Blog posts were great for me; there is loads of them and they're honest and thoughtful and most of the time are inspiring!
Chat to people
I sent out a few tweets asking people for their opinions on how I should best prepare. People responded mostly positively! There are people out there who are happy to talk to you about their experiences and this can really help. My dad has a couple of tattoos, and so I spoke to him about the pain and that I was nervous, and he said that he loved the pain (weird, I ended up loving the sensation too), but even so, it's nice to have proper conversations about your worries with people who have gone through it beforehand.
On the day:
Eat a huge breakfast
Fuelling yourself with a whole heap of food is going to prepare your body for the sensation of getting a tattoo. It's tiring and honestly uncomfortable, and you can suffer from headrush or dizziness due to the adrenaline which gets pumped around your body to help you get through the session. I went for pancakes with my friends, which I think is a great fuel. Food in your stomach helps combat the dizziness and tiredness you'll probably start to feel mid-session.
Take everything you will need
Do NOT, for goodness sake, do a Jasmine on the morning of your tattoo, and leave your house and get halfway into town without your ID. It was NOT my proudest moment and I ended up having to call a taxi to drive me back up the hill to my house, then to Barclays so I could get some cash out, then to the station so I could catch my train. You'll need ID, definitely, (only dodgy places won't bother to ID you) and you'll need money.
Be on time
In the tattoo business, you're paying by the hour and you'll still be charged probably if you rock up late.
Red Bull was my elixir of life on the day of my tattoo! I asked people what they thought I should take and the main answer was SUGARY STUFF! So chocolate, energy drinks, fizzy drinks and sweets are all perfect. These kinds of things will keep your energy levels up and again, prevent that horrible light-headedness you might get.
With regards to pain, there's not a lot you can do about it. If you've chosen to get a tattoo, you're signing up for a bit of discomfort. Just remember that pain is unique for everyone, and everyone feels it differently, so if someone has said it was the "most painful experience of their life", chances are, it won't be as bad as that for you. When I compare the pain to other instances of pain in my life, I'd say that getting a tattoo was a 1/10 pain, whereas my piercings, my nose piercing especially was a solid 8/10. Make sure you let the tattoo artist know if it's your first one and they'll probably go gently. My artist did a few really tiny lines first so I could get used to the sensation, and after that I was fine. Remember it is always perfectly fine to ask for breaks too!
Ask about aftercare
The artist will go over most things, but always make sure to ask about any specific issues you might have with aftercare. For example, I asked about whether I could wear a bra over my tattoo and I was advised to wear a vest underneath my bra, and wear the bra on the loosest hook to minimize discomfort and rubbing, and potential ink smudging! Make sure you clarify all the information if it's a bit vague, and leave the shop knowing exactly what you need to do. Aftercare may be different for coloured tattoos or larger or smaller ones, but my aftercare consisted if leaving it under the cling wrap for about 2-3 hours, then rinsing it with warm soapy water in the shower, and then applying a cream that I was given. Then, I applied the cream 3 times a day for the first few days, and gradually applied less. My tattoo is now fully healed and looks amazing!
This is just a general statement, but I'd definitely resist the urge to poke it, prod it, let all your friends touch it (remember it is an open wound), or go out partying as soon as you've had it done. Like I said, getting a tattoo is traumatic for your body and you'll need to give yourself time to recuperate.
I hope you found my little guide helpful! I'm always happy to answer any questions you might have about getting my tattoo. I know I'm no expert but having experienced it I'm always happy to reassure!