Are Tattoos Safe?
Yes, as long as you go to a reputable artist that is following all recommended safety precautions.
What should I expect when I go to get my tattoo?
The best thing you can do is educate yourself on the process of the tattoo application, and that way you will be prepared and know what to expect when you sit in the artist’s chair..
After your paperwork is filled out, you will be seated in the tattoo chair. Sometimes this is in an open work area, and sometimes a private room depending on the location of your tattoo. If you are shy and don’t want others to watch, you can request a private room, but be sure you have done this in advance. A lot of studios use dentist-style chairs, some use regular table chairs, and some use benches. Your artist will do his or her best to make you comfortable for the tattoo you have chosen.
Now it is time for the preparation. The area of your body you have chosen for your tattoo will be cleaned, usually with rubbing alcohol. Then, any hair will be removed from the area by shaving it with a new disposable razor which will be discarded after being used. Even the finest of hairs can get in the way and cause problems, so this is a crucial step, even if you can’t see any hairs. Then, the area will be cleaned again to make sure it is smooth and ready for the transfer.
Once your stencil is ready, it’s time to create the transfer onto your skin. Some artists will use soap or water to moisten the skin, and some will use stick deodorant. These aid in making the design transfer better and darker onto your skin. When the paper is pulled away from your skin, it will leave you with a purple-ish blue likeness of your future tattoo!
It is at this time that your artist will start preparing their tattoo machine. The inks will be placed in little tiny cups called “ink caps”, and the needles and tubes will be removed from their sterile pouches and placed in the machine. Clean, distilled water will be poured into a cup for cleaning the needles during the tattoo process and to change from one color to the next. Some A&D ointment or Vaseline will be placed on a clean surface for your use only.
Now it is time to get down to serious business! A little ointment will be placed over your transfer design for a few reasons. One is that it helps keep the transfer on longer without accidentally rubbing it off, and it also helps the needle to slide along the skin more smoothly, which is certainly going to be more comfortable to you! After the ointment is applied, it is time for the first line. If you’re nervous, don’t hold your breath. Some people have passed out during a tattoo, and trust me – it wasn’t the pain, it was the panic! Take a nice, slow, deep breath and try to relax. The first minute or so will the be roughest. After that, your skin will kind of get used to it and the pain will begin to subside.
Does it hurt?
Pain is really relative. Everyone has a different tolerance to pain. I’m not going to kid you, though – it does hurt. Just not that much. Some have compared it to a “hot scratching feeling”. But, people would not be returning again and again for tattoo after tattoo if it hurt that bad! Most of us are not into pain, but the beauty of the tattoo and the pride associated with wearing it far outweighs a little pin-stick here and there.
Can I use some kind of numbing cream?
These kinds of products are really not recommended. Yes they do dull sensation for a half an hour or so, but also when the sensation returns, it is a shock to the system and the discomfort felt from being tattooed becomes more painful. Without the numbing cream it would have been annoying and possibly even a discomfort; whereas with the cream, the returning sensation is ten-fold what would have been felt without the use.”
How much is it going to cost?
When it comes to tattoos, you get what you pay for. Yes, there are plenty of people tattooing out there that will ink you cheap, and you’ll be crying to a real artist to have it covered up. Look for quality, and be willing to pay for it. NEVER haggle over the price of a tattoo. It is disrespectful to the artist. If you can’t pay for quality, don’t bother. This is not a bargain bin. It is a piece of art you will wear for life.
Should I tip my tattoo artist?
Tipping is a really nice gesture! But, there are no real solid ground rules for tipping.
What should I get? And where?
This is all a matter of personal taste. You can get whatever you want, and whatever your artist is willing to do. You can choose a picture off the wall, or you can have them create a custom piece just for you. Your only limit is your own imagination. As far as where you should get it goes, just keep in mind what you do for work and the type of social circles you are in. You might want to consider placing your tattoo where it can be easily covered up with normal clothing.
What is the best time of year to get a tattoo?
Although you can get a tattoo any time of the year, your skin gets a lot more abuse during the summer with swimming, tanning and just being exposed to the elements more.
Is it OK to get a tattoo if I’m sick?
Getting a tattoo when your immune system isn’t at 100% isn’t a good idea. You’re going to need your strength and your white blood cells to heal your tattoo, something your body won’t be able to do if it’s already doing battle against virus and bacteria. Not to mention the fact that it’s very inconsiderate to bring your illness into the tattoo studio and risk passing the germs onto others, particularly your artist. If you have an appointment, call and reschedule for when you’re feeling well again.
Where can I find pictures of (skull, teddy bear, lion, etc.) tattoos?
If you’re getting a tattoo, especially as an expression of your individuality, why would you want a tattoo just like someone else’s? Instead, find other pictures of what you’re looking for and have your artist draw up a custom design for you. Example: If you are wanting a tattoo of a penguin standing on a glacier, find real photos of penguins and glaciers. If you want a tattoo of a blue rose wrapped around a cross, find pictures of real roses and crosses that you like. If the pictures don’t show exactly what you want, just take them to your artist to use them as guidelines and tell them what changes you want made to the original pictures. A real artist will welcome the challenge of a custom piece.
Is it OK to lay out in the sun or go to the tanning bed when you have tattoos?
It might be really tempting to get some rays during the summer months, but here is the scoop -
Brand New Tattoo~ Don’t put sunblock on a new or fresh tattoo – follow your artist’s aftercare instructions and keep your tattoo covered or shaded with clothing for the first few weeks. You can use sunblock once your tattoo has finished peeling and has grown it’s first protective layer of skin. But sunblock alone is not going to be sufficient for a new tattoo if it is exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time. A tattoo is usually considered well-healed after about 3 months.
Sun Exposure~ It’s no secret that tanning isn’t really good for your skin anyway, but it’s even harder on your tattoos. Ultraviolet rays, while adding a nice bronze tone to your skin, drain the life out of a tattoo. The more you tan, the more the ink fades and slowly goes from brilliant to boring.
Does that mean your tanning days are over?
Well, I guess that depends on how much you love your tattoos and want them to stay bright and looking their best. I can certainly empathize with anyone that also loves the sun and just can’t stay away. If you absolutely must go soak up some rays, at least be sensible and use sun block. Find the highest SPF level you can find and re-apply often if you’re going to spend a lot of time outside. If you just can’t accept having pasty white skin and your goal is to go out and get some color, make sure you at least protect your tattoos with as much sunscreen as possible.
I just got a new tattoo on my leg – can I shave?
When you get a tattoo, the area will be completely shaved before it’s applied, so at least you’re starting off with smooth skin. After a couple days of stubble and bristly skin, the urge to shave can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, at this point, shaving is about as brutal on your tattoo as a weedwacker. The wound is still fresh, and especially if you have any scabbing or raised areas, you run the risk of damaging your artwork by running a razor across it. Chemical hair removers are just as bad if not worse – you never want to put anything like that on a fresh tattoo.
Of course, you can shave the area around the tattoo. Be sure any and all creams, gels and/or hair follicles are cleaned away from the tattoo immediately afterward, and then apply your ointment or lotion as directed by your artist.
So, when is it safe to shave again?
Your tattoo will go through several different stages, one of the last being the peeling stage. Once the peeling has finished, your skin will start to regenerate and produce a new protective layer over your tattoo. Once this new layer has appeared, it is usually safe to shave again. So close your eyes and run the tips of your fingers across and around your tattoo. Are there any bumps? Raised areas? Hard scabs? The tattoo should feel the same as the skin around it – if you can tell where the tattoo begins and ends or feel any skin irregularities, you might need to wait a little longer.
My friend just bought a tattoo kit and wants to practice on me. Should I let them?
NO! Your friend could be putting both of your lives in danger by foolishly trying to learn this at home. Tell them they need to get a proper apprenticeship, and they can start practicing on you when their mentor (master) feels they are ready.