A Comprehensive Checklist For The Tattoo Virgins: Expectations, Precautions, And More

tattoo artist

June 5th, 2021   |   Updated on March 14th, 2022

Thinking about getting your first tattoo! Don’t proceed unless you are completely sure about letting an imprint stay on you for life. Also, getting a tattoo isn’t as straightforward as putting on your favorite dress. Instead, the process leading up to the same is extremely vital and often as important as the aftercare strategies.

Considering the complexities associated with tattoos and major bumps that usually come along the way, I have put together an exhaustive checklist. The mentioned pointers are also segregated into 5 broader phases, including the build-up, day of the appointment, actual sitting, immediate post-operative period, and the long-term stage.

The ‘Build-Up’ Phase

Now that you have already decided to get inked, it is necessary to follow the mentioned guidelines on days leading up to the sitting.

1. Avoid Sunburns

It is important to ensure that your skin isn’t heavily tanned or exposed to sunburns. Using a top-shelf SPF at this stage can do the trick. However, I would advise you to lessen the sun-kissed strolls at least a week before sitting with the professional.

You should know that sunburns can leave the skin surface vulnerable and damaging it further during the tattoo session might lead to pain, sputtered blood leak, ink dilution, and a less vibrant tattoo. Also, when the sunburnt surface sheds off, it takes out a lot of additional ink; thereby calling for touch-ups.

2. Ensure Minimal Skin Markings

Caring for the skin should be an incremental process the moment you plan on getting a tattoo. This means, you should take additional care to get rid of the scratches, cuts, and unhealed scars at the earliest as once these skin-based anomalies dry off naturally, they end up creating several uneven patches, thereby making life harder for the professional.

3. Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration keeps the skin surface supple. Also, if you have been drinking enough water leading to the appointment, you would notice that the skin holds its true tone and the tattoo design comes out as envisioned.

But then, hydration doesn’t include alcohol and you should keep this out of the daily regime, for at least a week before getting inked. From a scientific perspective, alcohol is a potent blood thinner and you wouldn’t want to leave the blood tap running while the skin is being ruptured.

4. Research

Despite nobody talking at length about the value of research, it is still an essential factor to consider and implement, before getting inked. While by this time you might already have zeroed in on the tattoo parlor, artist, and design of choice, you can always change your mind if you get a better deal or a better set of offerings.

As a skin tattoo is anything but transient, there won’t be any judgments even if you keep researching and second-guessing your choices the night before the appointment.

As a part of the research, I would like to check the parlor reviews, talk to the existing clients in person, evaluate the quality of accessories, monitor the hygiene levels, and even assess the credibility of the professional behind the tattoo machine.

5. Get Medical Validation

Licensed parlors need your signature on waivers, which then require you to disclose the underlying medical conditions and other issues that might interfere with the process. Just to be on the safer side with these official proceedings you are advised to procure a doctor’s note before proceeding.

Day of Appointment

Here is the list you need to check, a few hours before the sitting. I understand that the entire premise might be a bit overwhelming and nerve-racking if you are getting the first tattoo but these pointers will surely put your mind to rest.

6. Prioritize Health

Understand that your health comes ahead of any grooming session and therefore, it is necessary to evaluate the physical and mental state a few hours before heading over to the parlor. In case you are feeling sick, nauseous, or dizzy, skip the session and reschedule the appointment.

7. Carry Essentials

Tattooing, in one way or the other, is more like going for a small and invasive procedure. Therefore, it is better to sit on certain items before going to the parlor, including a water canister, cellphone, and even a pair of headphones for staying distracted, once the heavy coil tattoo machine starts blaring and reverberating up to the precipice.

8. Keep a Sugary Snack Handy

Consider keeping the blood sugar level elevated as you would presumably be losing a lot of blood during the process. While a wholesome meal before going out can do the trick, I would recommend keeping a sugary snack.

Also, you might feel a bit light in the head once the coil machines and the intimidating needles start cutting into you. At this time, munching on something with a dense carbohydrate profile can help.

9. Take a shower, beforehand

It is better to be well-washed before going for a sit-in with the artist. But then, you should refrain from those overpowering perfumes and aftershaves as they might not be appreciated by the professional sitting with you for hours in a closed room.

10. Do not shave in a hurry

Should the tattooed area require shaving, let your tattoo artist do the needful as you might end up cutting the surface or unwittingly cause a razor burn, thereby deferring the appointment.

11. Account for the Pain

Firstly, you need not worry about the pain as new-age tattoo artists use light, pen-like tattoo machines, which aren’t exactly known for discomfort. Even some of the list of coil tattoo machines on are capable of scaling beyond the misnomers of agony, despite being considered as massive units.

Regardless, if you have sensitive skin and are still worried about the pain, ask the tattoo artist about pain relief or even numbing cream that can be used before the process. As a rule of thumb, creams or ointments with the highest concentration of Lidocaine need to be prioritized.

The ‘Sitting’ Stage

Now that you are sitting with the tattoo artist, here are the factors to keep in mind before getting the session underway:

12. Pick a comfortable position

Tattoo sessions are anything but short. You must prepare yourself accordingly and pick a sitting position that is comfortable enough and offers the desired level of accessibility to the artist.

13. Keep up the Chatter

While this doesn’t mean distracting the artist, you can always start a conversation to make the process mutually entertaining and inclusive. Also, if you are confused about a process or segment, never hold back the queries.

14. Sudden Movements aren’t Advised

This seems like an obvious point and you certainly wouldn’t want to shake or make abrupt movements when the needle is cutting through your skin. Also, if you really want to move, communicate the same to the artist.

Immediate ‘Post-Operative’ Stage

Getting a permanent tattoo is not a lot different than getting operated on as you need to follow several guidelines to speed up recovery.

15. Listen to the aftercare plan, carefully

Every tattoo artist gives a set of instructions after the session to facilitate faster healing and color maintenance. You should take this conversation seriously, jot down the pointers, and follow them to the letter.

16. Care for the Wrap

Once the session is over, the artist wraps the area with a skin-friendly plastic wrap. Better termed as the Saran Wrap, the piece of plastic or even cloth needs to be removed only when you are instructed!
Keep the aftercare repertoire handy

You should also talk to the professional and enlist every relevant aftercare product there is, depending on the type of skin and sensitivity levels. As you are expected to encounter scabbing and dryness at some point, it is important to know the products that can help eliminate the issues.

17. Talk about the Touch-Up Policy

Check with the tattoo artist if he or she is fine with a free touch-up session or not. This includes treating the worn-down tattoo for patches and blemishes.

The ‘Long-term’ Stage

18. Treat the Body well

It is important to eat and drink right, at least for a week after getting inked. This includes resting enough, eating green veggies, and staying hydrated. Also, you should stay away from alcohol for at least one to two weeks.

19. Wash the area, often

The recovery phase requires you to clean and wash the area for eliminating the excess ink and the residual blood that keeps oozing out for a certain period. But then, you should apply the prescribed aftercare products and pat dry the area upon washing.

20. Let the Tattoo Breathe

Now that the tattoo is a part of you, you must keep the lotion consistency moderate for allowing it to breathe and heal quickly. Also, you must minimize sunlight exposure as the UV rays can be extremely hazardous to newly tattooed skin.

21. Holistic Aftercare

In addition to these pointers, you should also avoid swimming and shaving for a while, at least by the time the scabs appear, turn into peels, and fall off on their own.

This 22-point checklist needs to be read and memorized by every tattoo virgin there is, who is looking to embrace this fashion statement for the very first time. However, if you still have doubts regarding body-specific tattoos, reach out in the comments and I will reply at the earliest.