How To Prepare for a Tattoo? Preparation, Aftercare, and FAQs

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Self-expression through tattoos has become increasingly popular in recent years. Tattoos are a form of body art that can convey deeply personal messages, beliefs, and values. People get tattoos to commemorate special moments or loved ones, express their identity or creativity, or simply for aesthetic appeal.

The popularity of tattoos today is evidenced by their ubiquity in mainstream culture, with celebrities, athletes, and even politicians proudly displaying their ink. According to recent statistics, in the United States alone, about 40 percent of adults aged 18-49 have at least one tattoo, and the number continues to grow. As tattoos become more widely accepted, they provide a unique and meaningful way for individuals to express themselves and share their stories with the world.

Tattooing for beginners can be exciting and nerve-wracking, especially if you’re considering getting inked for the first time. Tattooing is a permanent form of self-expression that can last a lifetime, so it’s essential to approach the process with care and preparation. By knowing how to prepare for a tattoo, you can ensure a positive experience and a beautiful result.

What To Do Before Getting a Tattoo?

Adequate preparation can help ensure your tattoo experience is a positive and successful one. Before getting a tattoo, there are several things to consider to ensure that the experience is positive and the result is beautiful. By preparing, you can feel confident and excited about your new tattoo and enjoy the experience fully.


One of the most critical aspects of preparing for a tattoo is conducting thorough research. This involves taking the time to research and choose a reputable tattoo artist who has experience in the style and design you’re interested in. You should never rush into getting a tattoo appointment with just any artist, as choosing the wrong artist can result in a poorly executed tattoo you may regret for years.

When researching tattoo artists, look at their portfolios to get a sense of their style and skill level. You can also read reviews from previous clients to have an idea of their experience working with the artist. It’s also essential to ensure the artist is licensed and follows proper sanitation procedures to minimize the risk of infection or other complications. You can also ask questions about the tattoo process, such as what type of ink they use and how long their experience has been in the industry.

In addition to researching a tattoo artist, it’s also essential to research the design and placement of your tattoo. You’ll want to carefully consider the meaning behind the design and whether it’s something you’ll want to have on your body permanently. Placement is also essential, as certain areas of the body may be more painful or have different healing times than others. Examples of good first tattoos are often smaller and less intricate designs placed on areas with fewer nerve endings. This will help minimize pain and ensure the best results.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Tattoo?

The time it takes to get a tattoo can vary depending on several factors, such as size, complexity, and design placement. A small tattoo can typically be completed in a relatively short amount of time, normally taking anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to complete.

On the other hand, a larger tattoo, such as a sleeve tattoo, can take multiple sessions and several hours to complete. The exact time it takes to complete a sleeve tattoo will depend on the size, complexity, and intricacy of the design, as well as the individual’s pain tolerance and the artist’s speed.

It’s essential to keep in mind that getting a tattoo is not a process that should be rushed. The artist needs to take their time to ensure that the design is executed correctly, and you may need to take breaks to rest and allow the artist to take care of any necessary touch-ups.

Mental Preparation

Mental preparation is just as necessary as physical preparation when it comes to getting a tattoo. One of the most significant mental challenges you may face during the tattooing process is the pain. Depending on the placement and size of the tattoo, you may experience discomfort or pain during the process. It’s important to mentally prepare yourself for this possibility and consider ways to manage the pain, such as taking breaks or using pain relief techniques like deep breathing exercises.

Another aspect of mental preparation involves committing to the tattooing process as a whole. Getting a tattoo is a permanent decision that requires a significant commitment. You’ll need to take proper care of your tattoo during the healing process, which can take several weeks, to ensure it heals correctly and looks its best. Additionally, you’ll need to protect your tattoo from sun exposure and maintain good skincare practices to keep it looking vibrant over time.

It’s also essential to mentally prepare yourself for any potential changes in your life that may affect how you feel about your tattoo in the future. For example, you may need to consider how a new job or relationship could impact your feelings about your tattoo. Although the stigma around tattoos is slowly decreasing, there may still be some people who view them negatively. It’s important to recognize and prepare for these potential reactions to remain confident in your decision to get a tattoo.

Physical Preparation

Physical preparation is an integral part of getting a tattoo. Proper physical preparation can help minimize discomfort during the tattooing process, reduce the risk of complications, and promote faster healing afterward.

  • Get a Good Night’s Sleep.

It’s crucial to ensure you’re well-rested before your tattoo appointment. Getting a good night’s sleep can help reduce stress and anxiety, making the tattooing process more manageable. By getting a full night of rest, you will also be better prepared to handle the potential pain of getting a tattoo.

  • Stay Hydrated.

One of the most important aspects of physical preparation is staying hydrated. Drinking plenty of water in the days leading up to your tattoo appointment can help keep your skin hydrated and make the tattooing process more comfortable. Dehydrated skin is more prone to damage, which can result in a less-than-perfect tattoo.

  • Shave.

If you are getting a tattoo in an area with hair, it’s essential to shave the area a few days before your appointment. Shaving removes any excess hair, dirt, or bacteria that may interfere with the tattooing process and can cause discomfort during the procedure. However, consult with your tattoo artist before shaving, as some areas may require trimming instead.

  • Shower.

You need to make sure that you are as clean and germ-free as possible before your tattoo appointment. Take a shower the morning of your appointment, making sure to use a mild cleanser and avoid any fragrance-based products. Be careful not to scrub or scrub too hard, which could irritate your skin and lead to poor tattoo results.

  • Moisturize your Skin.

Moisturizing your skin is an essential step in preparing for a tattoo session. Properly moisturized skin can make the tattooing process more comfortable and ensure that the tattoo looks its best.

When you moisturize your skin, you’re helping to keep it hydrated and supple. This can make the skin more pliable, which can make the tattooing process less painful. Additionally, moisturized skin is less likely to flake or peel during the healing process, which can help prevent complications and ensure that the tattoo heals evenly.

  • Eat and Bring Snacks.

Eating a healthy meal before a tattoo session is essential in physical preparation. Getting a tattoo can be a physically demanding process, and it’s important to have the energy and nutrients you need to get through the session.

Additionally, bringing snacks to your tattoo appointment can help keep your energy levels up and prevent hunger-related discomfort. Snacks like fruit, nuts, and energy bars can provide quick bursts of energy and help keep you feeling full throughout the session.

  • Dress for your Session

Wearing the right clothing can help ensure you’re comfortable during the tattooing process and can help prevent complications. Knowing the proper clothing to wear for a tattoo session can make the process as comfortable and safe as possible.

It’s essential to wear loose, comfortable clothing that allows the artist easy access to the area being tattooed. For example, if you’re getting a tattoo on your arm, wearing a short-sleeved shirt or a tank top can make it easier for the artist to access the area without having to remove too much clothing.

It’s also important to consider the location of the tattoo and how it may impact your clothing choices. For example, if you’re getting a tattoo on your thigh, wearing shorts or loose pants can make it easier to access the area without having to remove too much clothing.

Avoid wearing tight or restrictive clothing that may rub against the tattoo during the healing process, as this can cause discomfort and even affect the recovery of the tattoo. Additionally, avoid wearing jewelry or accessories that may get in the way of tattooing.

During the Session

During a tattoo session, you can do a few things to make the experience more comfortable and enjoyable.

  • Bring Entertainment

It’s a good idea to bring some form of entertainment to keep yourself occupied during the session. This could be anything from a book or magazine to music or a podcast. Having something to focus on can help distract you from any discomfort and make the time pass more quickly.

  • Know the Best Positions

In terms of positioning, the best position will depend on the location of your tattoo. For larger tattoos, lying down or reclining in a comfortable position is often best. Sitting up or leaning against a surface may be more appropriate for smaller tattoos.

It’s important to stay still and relaxed during the tattooing process, as moving around too much can make it more difficult for the artist to create a precise design. If you’re uncomfortable, take a deep breath and try to relax your muscles as much as possible.

It’s also essential to communicate with your tattoo artist during the session. Let them know if you’re feeling uncomfortable or need a break, and be open to their suggestions for adjusting your position or taking breaks as needed.

What To Do After Getting a Tattoo?

Taking proper care of your tattoo after getting it is essential for promoting proper healing and ensuring that the tattoo looks its best in the long term. Here are some important things to keep in mind after getting a tattoo:


Aftercare is crucial for your new tattoo’s healing process and longevity. One of the most important things you can do is moisturize the tattooed area. A high-quality lotion designed explicitly for tattoos is essential for proper aftercare.

Look for a lotion free of fragrance and alcohol, as these ingredients can cause irritation and dryness. Some good options include Aquaphor, Lubriderm, or a tattoo-specific cream such as After Inked.

To moisturize your tattoo, wash your hands with antibacterial soap. Then, apply a thin layer of lotion to the tattooed area, being careful not to overdo it. You don’t want to clog the pores or trap bacteria in the tattoo, so it’s essential not to use too much lotion.

In addition to moisturizing, your tattoo artist will likely provide specific aftercare instructions tailored to your tattoo and skin type. Following these instructions closely is vital to ensure proper healing and prevent complications such as infection or scarring.

How to Sleep With a New Tattoo?

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for the healing process of a new tattoo, but it can be challenging to find a comfortable sleeping position that won’t disturb your tattoo.

  • Avoid Sleeping on the Tattooed Area

This can cause irritation and slow down the healing process. Try sleeping on your back or another area of your body that won’t put pressure on the tattoo.

  • Use Clean, Soft Bedding

Dirty or rough bedding can cause irritation and infection. Make sure your sheets and blankets are clean and soft.

  • Elevate the Tattoo

If your tattoo is on a limb, elevate it with a pillow to reduce swelling and promote healing. This can also help ensure you don’t put too much pressure on the tattoo while sleeping.


Can You Drink Before Getting a Tattoo?

It is not recommended to drink alcohol before getting a tattoo. Alcohol can thin your blood, making it harder for your body to stop bleeding during tattooing. This can result in a longer and more painful tattoo session and may affect the quality of the tattoo.

Can You Drink After Getting a Tattoo?

It is generally not recommended to drink alcohol immediately after getting a tattoo. Alcohol can thin your blood and increase your risk of bleeding, which can prolong the healing process and affect the quality of the tattoo. It can also increase your risk of infection, as alcohol can compromise your immune system.

Can You Workout After Getting a Tattoo?

It’s generally recommended that you avoid strenuous exercise for at least 48 hours after getting a tattoo. This is because exercise can cause sweating and friction, which can irritate the tattooed area and slow down the healing process. Additionally, sweating can cause bacteria to build up on the skin, increasing the risk of infection.

When Can You Shave Over a Tattoo?

It’s best that you wait until your tattoo is fully healed before shaving over it. This is because shaving can irritate the skin and cause damage to the tattooed area, which can affect the healing process and the quality of the tattoo.

Can You Shower After Getting a Tattoo?

Yes, you can shower after getting a tattoo, but taking extra precautions to protect the tattooed area during healing is essential. In general, you should wait at least 24 hours before showering to allow the tattoo to set and avoid exposing it to water or steam.

When showering with a new tattoo, use lukewarm water and avoid using hot water, which can cause the skin to become dry and irritated. Additionally, avoid using harsh soaps or shower gels on the tattooed area, as they can strip away natural oils and irritate the skin. Swimming after a tattoo is a different story and may have a different effect to your tattoo.

Getting a tattoo is an exciting yet nerve-wracking experience. Proper mental and physical preparation is essential for ensuring that the tattooing process goes smoothly and that the tattoo looks its best in the long run. With the proper preparation, getting a tattoo can be a positive and fulfilling experience.

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