Friday, October 5, 2012

My Tattoo Guide! A How-To For Your Appointment

I have wanted to do a post like this for a while but I keep putting it off.  However, now that I am getting tattooed after four years of waiting (October 16th), I find myself inspired!
 This post is a guide that features tips and suggestions for getting tattooed.  Whether you are "taking the plunge" and getting tattooed for the first time or if you are getting a new piece (and several years have past), this post is for you!

After you deciding on a design and researching which artist you want to do your work, you are probably thinking about the tattoo itself (especially if it's your first session!).  Is it going to hurt?  How much is it going to cost?  Can I take a painkiller beforehand? Well, y'all, read on and get informed! Trust me, the more knowledge you have before your appointment, the better the experience will be!

1. 72 hours before your appointment, refrain from alcohol and drink lots of water.  Hydration is very important!  Alcohol thins the blood which can affect your tattoo session and your healing time!

2. If you are getting tattooed in an area you normally shave (legs), do not pre-shave the area before your tattoo!  Your artist will shave the area just before they apply your tattoo transfer.  Shaving beforehand can cause razor burn and this can affect your tattoo and its healing!

 3. Try to reduce if not eliminate caffeine on the day you tattoo.  If you are nervous (like me), the caffeine may make your nerves worse!  Drink plenty of water and maybe herbal, caffeine-free tea.

4. For your tattoo, wear comfortable and loose clothing.  Do not wear anything that can restrict your movement and/or affect your comfort (especially if you are sitting for a long period of time).  Be sure to wear clothing that can be washed.  You are more than likely going to be stained by inks, a small amount of blood plasma, and the ointment the artist uses during and after the tattoo itself.

5. Do not take any painkillers before your tattoo.  Most pain medication contain blood-thinners and like alcohol, this can cause your tattoo to heal poorly.  Some artists suggest only Ibuprofen-based medications (taken and hour before tattoo begins).  However, it is best to ask your artist!

6. Before your tattoo, eat a proper meal with a light protein and complex starch.  Drink plenty of clear fluids.  If you do not eat well, your blood sugar will drop and you can pass out or feel faint during your tattoo!  Sometimes, people can even get sick.  Not good!  So, please prepare your body and eat!

7. Bring a light, portable snack and a drink to the tattoo session.  Most artists allow for this and even encourage clients to do so.  An ideal snack can be: granola bar with water, trail mix with gatorade, protein bar with ginger ale, and so on. Just stay away from junk food and simple sugar! Organic-based, protein-rich food with complex starches helps maintain blood sugar levels.  In the past, I had a Glucerna bar with a Vitamin Water. Glucerna is for diabetics.  The bars taste good and help keep glucose level!

8. Be sure to bring a valid photo ID and your form of payment.  Also bring cash for tips!  In many states, like Colorado, the artist is required to make a photo-copy of your ID before any tattoo work can begin.  Tipping your artist is always important!  It shows appreciation for their work and time.  If a tattoo is $200.00, I tip the artist at least $40.00.

 9. If you are worried about the pain level, then you can do a few things before your tattoo begins. Bring a friend to keep you company and keep you distracted. Also, you can bring an iPod or MP3 player if you are alone and/or prefer music. More often than not, your artist can be a great help to stay focused and give support! I have had many amazing conversations during my tattoo sessions!

10. Speaking of discomfort, tattoos hurt. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise! If this is your first tattoo, do not worry. You can do it! Certain areas of the body like the inner wrists, inside of the biceps, the ribcage, knuckles, underarms, ankles, and the tops of the feet are usually the most tender areas but with some deep breathing, good hydration, and a proper, balanced meal beforehand, you will make the process more tolerable. The pain varies from a mild bee-sting sensation to an intense sensation. I had my inner wrist and both ankles tattooed and it was not fun but I made it!

11. When your tattoo is complete, your artist will coat in ointment and wrap it in a plastic-based bandage. Be sure to follow your artist's after-care instructions to the letter! You will be healing for two-three weeks and during this time it is VITAL that your care properly for your new tattoo. As you care for your tattoo, you may get impatient and feel like getting lazy with after-care! Don't! Think of it this way: two weeks of good after-care equals a lifetime of beauty!

12. Enjoy your new skin art and always keep it covered in a good sunscreen (once you are fully healed)!
If you have any questions or if you think I forgot something, let me know!