First Tattoo Tips: A Complete Guide

Sail through your first ink and its healing journey!

Written by , BA (English Hons) Pahul Nanra BA (English Hons) linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Madhumati Chowdhury MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , MSc Manjari Uppal MSc linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Last Updated on
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Every tattoo lover today was once a puzzled tattoo newbie. While embarking on the journey to get your first tattoo is always exciting, it can cause a lot of confusion and hesitation as well. Thus, it is crucial to be familiar with some first tattoo tips that will help you achieve a relaxed smooth-sailing experience. This transformative and exciting experience is more than just acquiring a piece of artwork, it is etching a personal narrative into your skin. Hence, as you take your first step into the world of body art, there are a few things you need to consider. From tattoo design choices and finding the right tattoo artist, to following careful aftercare instructions for the optimal appearance of your masterpiece, there is a lot to plan and execute.

In this article, we share with you important tattoo tips and offer useful insights into the complete tattoo process. You can explore the world of tattoos with our guide, covering everything from selecting alluring designs, choosing the right tattoo parlor, to ensuring proper aftercare. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Tips For Your First Tattoo

Woman showing off her first tattoo
Image: Shutterstock
  • Choose A Tattoo Design: Take time to choose a design that holds personal significance, or you could pick a small casual design that matches your aesthetic. Play around with your options, but keep in mind that the decision is a permanent mark that you will have to carry for the rest of your life.
  • Explore Different Styles: Familiarize yourself with different tattooing styles as well as styles of tattoos to find the one that perfectly resonates with your personality and aesthetic.
  • Select A Reputable Artist: Conduct thorough research and choose a skilled and professional tattoo artist, along with a reputable tattoo shop that follows proper hygiene protocols. Check their portfolio before making a commitment to ensure that your design is in your preferred style.
  • Analyze Pain Perception: Understand that tattoo pain is a thing, and knowing your pain threshold is important. However, don’t let the fear of potential pain stop you from getting inked.
  • Commit To Aftercare: Prioritize proper tattoo aftercare, such as using unscented soaps and maintaining hydration levels for optimal recovery and to achieve a vibrant result.
protip_icon Trivia
Modern tattoo machines have evolved from Thomas Edison’s electric pen invention, which served as the prototype for contemporary tattooing tools.

Now that you are aware of the basic first tattoo tips, delve deeper into each of these pointers, starting off with how to choose your first tattoo design. Scroll down to know more!

Tips For Choosing Your First Tattoo Design

  • Choose a design with some personal meaning for a lasting connection with your tattoo. However, if you want to opt for something casual, make sure it is a small design in case you want to make changes to it or build on it later. You can also sit with the stencil mark on the area you have chosen for the tattoo to see how you feel about it before getting it done.
  • Explore various tattoo styles and tattooing techniques to select the one that matches your aesthetic preference, the design you want and the preciseness of the lines you desire.
  • Consider the placement and tattoo size to ensure a visually pleasing result.
  • Opt for a timeless design that does not go out of trend and stays ever-enduring.
  • Discuss with your tattoo artist for some expert guidance and useful collaboration on the tattoo design.

Rose, a blogger, talks about getting inked for the first time. She writes about her experience at the tattoo studio, stating, “Mine was around an hour more or less. Make sure you shower and eat before, and I took some jolly ranchers for when I was getting it done, but any candy you like is comforting. Research the perfect artist for a really long time. All artists have different styles, so make sure the style matches what you want (i).”

Alongside this, there are certain preparations you must take before getting your first tattoo; continue scrolling to know all about it.

What To Do Before Your First Tattoo?

Woman hydrating herself before getting her first tattoo
Image: Shutterstock

Adhering to some crucial tips before getting inked will help you attain a smooth tattooing experience, such as the following:

  • Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.
  • Ensure that you have a balanced meal before your tattoo appointment to avoid dizziness.
  • Wear comfortable clothing for easy access to the tattoo area.
  • Consult your dermatologist prior to the session, if you have sensitive skin and are prone to allergic reactions.

A most important decision to make before getting inked is selecting where to get your first tattoo, so read on for some good options for you to consider.

Where Should I Get My First Tattoo?

Choosing your first tattoo placement is important, and there are a few factors that one has to take into consideration, such as your pain tolerance, visibility, and aesthetics. Spots that are away from the bone and least sensitive to needlework, as well as areas that can be easily covered are recommended. For instance, certain common areas like the forearm, outer thighs, and stomach are the least painful spots, and hence are recommended for first-timers

Once you have chosen your spot, read on to understand the simple ways in which you can prep your skin for tattooing in the section below.

Preparing Your Skin For Tattooing

Woman moisturizing her arms before getting her first tattoo
Image: Shutterstock
  • Moisturize your skin regularly to boost skin elasticity and achieve clear lines and vibrant tattoo results.
  • Wax before getting inked to remove any pesky hair and allow for better skin visibility for the tattoo.
  • Gently exfoliate your skin to remove dead skin cells and keep the skin clean.
  • Hydrate yourself well to prevent dry and flakey skin for smooth skin texture before getting inked.
  • Opt for a numbing cream before the tattoo session if you have low pain tolerance.
protip_icon Trivia
Veteran singer superstar, Madonna, got her first tattoo at the age of 62 which was the initials of all her six children.

But while we are aware of the things we should be doing, what are some things to avoid before getting inked? Read all about it in the section below!

Things To Avoid Before Getting A Tattoo

Woman refusing a cup of coffee and a glass of iced drink before getting her first tattoo
Image: Shutterstock
  • Refrain from drinking alcohol as it can lead to thinning of the blood and cause excessive bleeding (1).
  • Do not consume blood thinners or blood sugar medications as they can cause excessive bleeding (2), (3).
  • Avoid direct sun exposure that may burn the skin and lead to damage. Inking on such sensitive skin can increase the risk of infections.
  • Avoid drinking caffeine before the tattoo session as it may cause dry skin and blood thinning.
  • Skip shaving before getting a tattoo to avoid the possibility of getting nicks and razor burns and bumps.
  • Do not wear tight-fitted clothes like skinny jeans that may make it uncomfortable to sit through the tattoo appointment.

Now that you are aware of everything you need to know before getting a fresh tattoo, get familiar with some useful aftercare tips that will help in proper healing once you are inked.

Tattoo Aftercare Tips

  • Use A Gentle Cleanser: When removing the tattoo plastic wrap after the initial couple of hours, clean the tattoo with a mild, antibacterial soap and some lukewarm water. Do not soak your tattoo as prolonged exposure to water can cause tattoo bubbling.
  • Moisturize Well: Apply a thin layer of fragrance-free, hydrating ointment or nourishing, antibacterial creams on the tattoo twice a day.
  • Refrain From Touching: Natural scabs may form on the tattoo during the healing process that may result in skin irritation and itching. Avoid picking at them or touching the healing tattoo skin at all costs.
  • Protect From UV Exposure: Guard the tattoo, use sunscreen, and refrain from sitting in sunny spots to prevent possible sun damage and skin infection due to prolonged exposure.
  • Wear Relaxed Fit Clothes: Opt for loose-fitting clothing for a breathable environment for the healing tattoo, and to prevent possible skin irritation from friction.
  • Avoid Waxing/Shaving: Refrain from indulging in any kind of grooming treatment for the initial couple of weeks after getting inked so as not to damage the sensitive skin.

The excitement and nervousness that comes with deciding on getting inked with a beautiful piece of art for the first time is unexplainable. But, while the feeling is extraordinary, a lot of concerns also revolve around the tattooing process. Therefore, this extensive guide can come in handy to getting your skin ready for your custom piece. From understanding how to select a tattoo design and prepping your skin before getting tattooed, to following effective aftercare tips, we have explored everything related to getting a piece of body artwork for the first time. So, keep the hesitation aside and confidently embark on your first tattoo journey!

Frequently Asked Questions

What should my first tattoo be?

Choose your first tattoo design as something that is aesthetically appealing and has some personal connection to you as well. It could be anything, from a symbol of your values, passions, or life experiences.

What should I ask my tattoo artist beforehand?

You may want to ask your tattoo artist a list of important questions. Inquire about things like the price of service and hourly rate, if they practice proper hygiene, what artificial colors do they use, if they use fresh tattoo ink and tattoo needle every time, the tattoo aftercare procedure, how much experience they have, and discuss whether your tattoo idea will fit their style of tattoo.

What is a good age to get your first tattoo?

It is always recommended to keep one’s legal age in mind when thinking about getting a tattoo. Many like to get inked in their mid-twenties as they generally become better at decision-making and are financially independent as well.

Should your first tattoo be simple?

While this completely depends on the individual’s preference, it is recommended to opt for a small and minimalist tattoo design so you won’t have any major regrets in the future and you can build on it later, if you so wish.

Key Takeaways

  • The basic first tattoo tips to keep in mind before getting inked are choosing the right design, understanding different tattoo styles and tattoo processes, selecting a skilled tattoo artist and reputable shop, and maintaining hydrated skin to prevent dryness.
  • There are some things to consider before choosing a tattoo design such as, exploring popular styles of tattoos, fixing on the tattoo location and size, and choosing an evergreen pattern.
  • There are certain things one should avoid before getting tattooed like, drinking alcohol, consuming blood thinner medications, visiting tanning salons, and shaving the skin.

Tons of questions arise the moment you decide to get your first tattoo and the nervousness can instantly overtake the excitement. Watch the video below as it discusses everything you need to know before getting inked!

Personal Experience: Source


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  1. Influence of alcohol consumption on blood coagulation in rotational thromboelastometry (ROTEM): An in-vivo study
  2. Warfarin toxicity
  3. Metformin high dosage and bleeding episode: A clinical case study
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Pahul Nanra
Pahul NanraBeauty & Lifestyle Writer
Pahul Nanra is a content writer with a penchant for all things fashion and beauty. She has two years of experience in writing across beauty and lifestyle genres. She is an English Honors graduate from Delhi University with a diploma in Fashion Designing from YMCA.

Read full bio of Pahul Nanra
Madhumati Chowdhury
Madhumati ChowdhuryAssociate Editor
Madhumati is an associate editor with seven years of professional experience. She has previously worked as an editor, proofreader, and a writer with various organizations, helping her navigate through the various facets of content creation and refinement with ease.

Read full bio of Madhumati Chowdhury
Manjari Uppal
Manjari Uppal Beauty & Lifestyle Writer
Manjari is a beauty and lifestyle writer with over three years of experience in writing across different niches, including beauty, health, wellness, and technology. She first discovered her passion for writing in school and has since honed her craft to perfection.

Read full bio of Manjari Uppal
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