In January, I finally got my second tattoo. I know, not what it says in the title. But I’ll get onto how vastly different my experience was between my first and second tattoo in a sec, which is one of the main reasons that prompted me to want to write this post on tips for getting your first tattoo.

Tips for Getting Your First Tattoo

So let’s go back to 2011. I was 18 and I got my very first tattoo. I got the quote, “Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning” from Peter Pan on my hip. I still love that tattoo and I love how much it means to me. I don’t regret it for a second. BUT, if I could go back and do some things differently, I would.

I got this tattoo done by someone a friend of mine knew. He was a friend of her late Dad’s, someone she trusted and actually got a few tattoos from herself. I liked him, he was a nice fella and had a lot of tattoos himself. But looking back now, there were quite a few red flags when it came to the whole process:

  • The first one was that the tattoo was done in his house. Yes, he had a small studio and all the equipment. But in general, a tattoo studio is where you want to be going for your first tattoo.
  • Secondly, the tattoo was VERY cheap. I think it only cost me £15. Which is unheard of.
  • Thirdly, I was heading on holiday to Bulgaria a few weeks after I got my tattoo and he didn’t tell me ANYTHING about proper aftercare in the sun. You shouldn’t be exposing your new tattoo to the sun – especially the blazing hot Bulgarian sun – for quite some time.
  • And finally, he spelt one of the words wrong. Yep, you heard. He spelt “straight” without the “i”. Luckily his wife was there and we managed to get it sorted so it doesn’t look *too* weird but yeah, that’s all I have to say about that.

Also thinking back, my hip was probably the worst placement for a fairly big script tattoo, at the age of 18. I was still growing. I put on weight as I got into my 20’s. And ultimately, it stretched quite a bit. I dread to think how it’s going to look if I ever get pregnant!

tips for getting your first tattoo

But my second tattoo was a vastly different experience. I got it done by an artist called Molly, around 30 minutes from my house who works in an absolutely beautiful tattoo studio. I was constant communication with Molly in the weeks leading up to it, talking about what might look better and her drafting some things up for me to check out.

Molly was ever so comforting and accommodating. She was really gentle with her technique and continued to make sure I was feeling okay during the tattoo. We had a right good chat for the hour it was being done and I left feeling absolutely elated at the experience, knowing full well I’d be going back for another one at that same studio.

I think most people who have had a number of tattoos will have some odd stories about their experiences. And of course, I’m not a professional but in this post I want to share some of my own tips for getting your first tattoo (from my two different experiences):

tips for getting your first tattoo

Do your research!

One of my first and biggest tips for getting your first tattoo is please oh PLEASE do your research into different artists and studios before you commit to anyone. Even if it’s someone that has come recommended to you by a friend, always do your own research to figure out whether that studio or artist is right for you. Check out their Instagram account, send them a message, even go to the studio for a quick chat!

Consider the placement carefully 

If I went back to being 18 and getting my first tattoo now, it’s highly unlikely I’d get it on my hip again. I’d consider placement much more carefully and ask for much more advice from a reputable artist before agreeing on anything. You might also want to consider somewhere that’s not going to be TOO painful for your first one too.

Take on board ALL the aftercare advice (and ask questions if you’re not sure)

Molly was amazing with the aftercare advice. She told me everything in store and also sent me a message too, so I had the information on hand. And I religiously followed her advice. If you feel like your artist hasn’t covered something, then ask them. And don’t be afraid to send them messages to clarify anything or if you’re worried about something.

Eat before you go, take some water and a snack

One of the more practical tips for getting your first tattoo (and any tattoo!) Even a small and delicate tattoo can make some people feel a bit woozy – depending on the placement and your pain threshold. I’d recommend having a substantial meal before you go, with plenty of energy releasing carbs, keep mega hydrated on the day of your tattoo and take a snack with you in case you start to feel a bit shaky.

Don’t be embarrassed to say that you’re nervous

Tattoo artists will be completely familiar with nervous customers. I mean, you’re getting a needle dragged across your skin, I think it’s pretty normal to be nervous! So if you are particularly nervous, tell your artist and they may be able to accommodate you a little better. Maybe by pulling a privacy curtain across, putting a fan on or talking you through the process.

Consider distraction methods

Whether you’re nervous or not, a tattoo is going to hurt. Whether that’s a 3 out of 10 pain (like mine) or a 9 out of 10, it’s ALWAYS going to hurt. So you should 100% be prepared for that when you go into it. And distractions can be a great way of dialing out the pain. I chatted with my tattoo artists all the way through mine – we talked about everything from tattooing to horror movies!

But if you’re more comfortable, you might want to take a book, some music or a podcast or even a relaxing activity like knitting if it’s going to help you zone out from the pain! Someone I went to school with is now a tattoo artist and actually recently posted a video of one of her clients knitting whilst getting their tattoo – wild!

tips for getting your first tattoo

Do you have any tips for getting your first tattoo to add to this post? Tell me your tattoo stories!

Read more from my health and well-being category:

50 Comments

  1. Well this is rather helpful! I’ve been thinking of getting a tattoo for a while now, it’s just ensuring I’m 100% sure on the design and trying to find an artist (it’s been quite hard finding ones that do the type of designs I want that are local to me). But thank you for the advice and I’ll defo be back to read back through these when I eventually get it.

  2. I haven’t ever had a tattoo, always liked them. Just never really got round to getting one, I probably would be too nervous, lol. But this tattoo you’ve got is lovely. I am glad you’ve had a good experience, I’ve known people who have rushed into getting one and then have encountered all sorts of issues. As you said, it is always good to do your research first! Thanks for sharing!

      1. Oh bless you! I hope it isn’t that bad? Haha. I think though it was when people left school/college I’d see posts about tattoos or piercings and then it wouldn’t be long before someone would say they regretted it. But yeah, the tattoo you have is lovely! ^_^

  3. I have three tattoos to date (with many more planned) and I’ve had each one done at a different place, I’ll definitely be sticking with the artist I was last tattooed by though as I had such a great experience. I love my other two tattoos but now I’ve had such an amazing experience there’s lots I can pick out about my first two that aren’t so great.

  4. I am new to your blog so I hope you don’t mind my jumping into the discussion. That said, I am a longtime blogger/writer and I’ve gotten some tattoos. I am always looking to learn something new. Tattoos are very personal and simply quite fascinating. As for what to expect, especially if you’ve been building up to it for a very long time, perhaps years, it’s that you will benefit greatly from all the planning you do ahead of time. It’s not enough to have some vague idea of what you want. If getting a tattoo can be equated with preparing for an exam, many folks end up with an average C result. And pity all the impulsive people who end up with F results! To get an A, you really have to put in the work. What is it that you really want? Can you draw it yourself and then compare that design with a multitude of others out there? Try different sizes and placements on your body. Where exactly do you want this tattoo and why? Then prepare for the tattoo artist to throw you a curve ball and proceed exactly as you directed! Wait, maybe you were hoping that the tattoo artist would use their best judgement, right? Or maybe you are leaving it all up to the tattoo artist. Wrong! You are the best judge of what you want. And then, after it’s all said and done, you may still not get exactly what you envisioned. So, the more you know ahead of time, the better chance of getting an A tattoo!

  5. I dont have any and it is unlikely I ever will, other than being really indecisive, the actual smell of Tattoo parlous makes me want to heave and I don’t know why, I couldnt even sit in with my husband when he has his, I had to get out of there x

  6. I had my first tattoo at 25 and am so glad I waited until I found a design that I loved. I had a great experience and the guy that did it settled my nerves and kept be talking the whole time.

  7. I made an audible gasp when I read £15. Saying that, I know a lot of people who got a first tattoo in college at 17/18 (yes, 17) and had very similar experiences and a lot of them didn’t look great even when they were fresh so I’m sure your situation is very common. I don’t have any because I’ve never been convinced I’ll still love something x years down the line but it’s so so so important to choose your artist and do your research thoroughly x

    1. Thankfully mine looked nice when it was fresh and still looked good for a number of years! It’s since I put on weight that it’s started to look a bit iffy! I think that’s sensible 🙂

  8. Oh wow, your first tattoo experience does sound like an adventure indeed. Thankfully that only served as a learning experience, because now you know what you’re looking for. Thanks for sharing, Jenny, and I admire your candour!

  9. I’m considering getting a small tattoo this year I love seeing small tattoos on my hands or feet. Thanks for sharing your tips, Jen 🙂

  10. I will have to share this with my brother. He wants to get his first tattoo soon too! Thanks for sharing!

  11. I was in my thirties when I had my first tattoo – Alan and I got one done together, mine is a little spy on my hip and his is a wolf’s head on his bicep. Neither of us had done it before and I don’t think we’ll be doing it again, haha. But these tips are great, Jenny, definitely do your research, stay hydrated, and be aware of your pain threshold as well. Love your new tattoo, it’s so delicate and artistic xx

  12. Tattoo experiences are certainly different for everyone! I have three (and a bajillion more planned because I freaking love tattoos) and they were all great experiences. The only regret I have is one on my lower stomach/upper hip because I chose to add color to it, which faded really quickly. It confirmed my original desire to have only grayscale tattoos in the future. My shoulder and ankle ones still look excellent though, and they’re the ones seen the most often, so that makes me happy! I loved my artists for the second two and never felt a bit of pain for any of the three (just mild stinging discomfort). But YES to hydration and proper after-care! So important!

  13. This is a great post and some really great tips.
    I definitely recommend being mindful of where you get a tattoo done at. I got my first one when I was 18 in 2008 and then shortly after I got 2 more. One in particular I got done at a theme park and it wasn’t the best experience. (I also had to have it redone). The first tattoo I had done when I was 18 has faded so much over the years. If I could tell my younger self anything about getting a tattoo, it would be to research different tattoo studios, be mindful of where on your body you get a tattoo and to take time to think more about what tattoo you want to get. (I kind of just saw the designs of mine on the wall/in a book and got them).

    Clem x
    https://www.clemloves.co.uk

  14. As someone who’s heavily tattooed, this brought a smile to my face. I had my very second tattoo done at someone’s house (friend of a friend, go figure) and I am planning to cover it soon. I then had a terrible terrible experience with my 4th tattoo (her hand was the one of a butcher, no kidding) and from the 5th onwards I have found THE artist who’s going to do the rest of me because he’s very much the most lovely person I had the pleasure to deal with. Researching and finding the right artist is just the tip of the iceberg, as you said, but so so important.

  15. Awesome post. Never gotten a tattoo but considering it. I get scared that it might cause infection and it’s painful, so I have never really bothered. Thanks for these tips

  16. You’ve shared some great tips here lovely! I had my first tattoo when I was 18 and I’ve had an obsession ever since. I totally agree with you, It’s SO important to do your research before getting one. It’s so easy to just walk into a shop and get one but your at risk of all kinds of things like infection etc if you’ve never been there or heard of the shop before. I always research before having a tattoo as my parents drummed that into me from a young age haha! Thank you so much for sharing this Xo

    Elle – ellegracedeveson.com

  17. I really wish I did a bit more research before getting my first tattoo. I have two quite thickly outlined stars on my stomach, which after two pregnancies (and probably not the best quality workmanship) have been left quite distorted. I’m actually looking into getting then removed. The ink has gone blue, the outlines are stretched and I’ve actually got a stretch mark running through one of them which looks really odd. Interesting, but odd. Haha. Thanks for sharing this! I definitely wish I was a bit more clever instead of being ‘I’m 18, let’s get a tattoo Wahey! Haha. X

    1. That sounds very similar to me! Obviously I’ve not been pregnant but where my first one is on my hip, I developed a lot of stretch marks in that area when I put on weight so it doesn’t look great now!

  18. Great post. And all points are so true. I have a fair few tattoos now and like you, each experience was different. And it does come down to the artist! My advice to anyone would be don’t be shy with the artist, and let them know if you like or don’t like something. I let an artist freehand one of mine and that was my mistake. If you’re not comfortable with something, then say so 😉

  19. A great post Jenny filled with really fab advice! I’ve got a fair few tattoos now & am currently in the process of being obsessed with them again so am back to learning how to look after them/which products to use! Thankfully I’ve found some which do the job really well! 😁
    Love your new tattoo and can’t wait to see what you get next!
    Sarah xo

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: