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