8 Tips for Your First Tattoo ...

A tattoo is a decision you will live with forever, so learning some tips for your first tattoo is definitely something you need to do before getting in the chair! The moment I turned 18, I made an appointment to get my first tattoo, and almost six years later, I still don't regret it. That's because I did my research, and learned as many tips for my first tattoo as I could. So to help keep you from feeling regret later in life or expensive and painful laser surgery, here are 8 tips for your first tattoo!

1. Do Your Parlor Research

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While a spontaneous trip to get your first tattoo seems like it would make a great story someday, you really should do your research before settling on the right tattoo parlor. This is one of the most important tips for your first tattoo because the wrong tattoo parlor can affect your overall health. Because there's a needle involved, you NEED to make sure you choose a parlor that's known for taking the proper health precautions to keep you safe from disease. Ask other people you know who already have tattoos what parlor they would recommend and which artist. Every artist has a specialty, so do your research to find the one near you who's the most skilled in the design you want.

2. Avoid Alcohol

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Usually, tattoo shops are not supposed to allow you to get a tattoo if they suspect you've been drinking alcohol. Alcohol thins your blood, which will cause you to bleed more during the tattoo process. Besides your extra blood loss, this blood pushing out also makes it more difficult to push the ink in, which can mess up your design. Plus, if you're drinking, you may end up with a tattoo you thought was cool at the moment, but instantly regret in the morning.

3. Take Your Time with the Design

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When picking your design, take your time! There should be no rush to get something on you that will be there forever. Would you want to marry someone as a spur of the moment kind of thing? So go look for ideas at tattoo parlors, in books, magazines and the Internet. Put together your favorites and narrow it down from there. When choosing colors, consider what will look best with your skin tone. You can ask an experienced tattoo artist for examples of the best colors for your skin. I also find that if your tattoo means something, you won't ever regret it. Like if it represents a passion of yours or a loved one who has passed.

4. Check Your Spelling

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There's nothing worse then realizing you have a misspelled word tattooed on your body forever. It's like constantly having something for people to laugh at on your body that also shows your illiteracy. So make sure you check the spelling of your words over, and over again before having them inked. Also, be wary of symbols. Make sure you know exactly what the symbol you're getting means, because what you thought meant "beautiful" in Chinese could actually end up meaning "giant squid"!

5. Consider Your Tattoo Location

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Where you get your tattoo is just as important as the design, especially depending on your lifestyle and occupation! First, consider your wardrobe, if you have (or want) a corporate job that prohibits tattoos, and how often you want your tattoo to show. For your first tattoo it's wise to skip your face, hands, forearms, ankles and neck. Also consider that tattoos on certain parts of your body will need to be touched up more frequently to keep them looking good. Lastly, if you don't have a very high pain threshold, choose a meaty part of your body because tattoos on bony areas hurt like hell!

6. Prepare for Pain

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When I arrived to get my first tattoo in the morning, I was asked what I had to eat today. I said toast, and I was told to go across the street and eat a sandwich before they got started. Depending on your pain threshold and where you get your tattoo, the discomfort can range from "a bit uncomfortable" to "I passed out in the chair it hurt so badly." Thus, having a full stomach can help keep you from passing out, especially if you are a smaller girl. If you can, bring a friend or family member with you to keep you company and distract you from the pain. I had someone talking to me the entire time I had mine done, and after the first few minutes, it took my mind off the uncomfortable pain! Also, wear comfortable and loose clothing if your tattoo is going to be under them. It will minimize the pain of having the material rub up against it later on.

7. Avoid Names

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I will never understand why some people get their boyfriend or girlfriend's name tattooed on their bodies. Even if they are your spouse, you never know if the relationship is going to last to the very end. So why would you take the chance of having to go through the expensive and painful process of getting the name removed later on? If you really want to get a tattoo for someone you love, get something symbolic. You can even get a matching couples tattoo, but make sure it's something you will both want even if your relationship doesn't work out later on.

8. Care for Your Tattoo

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After you are finished getting your tattoo, your artist is going to give you a list of instructions on how to care for your new tattoo. Make sure you follow these directions or it can seriously ruin your tattoo or cause infection! Keep your tattoo moisturized using the recommended ointment they tell you twice a day. Wash your tattoo with a non-perfumed soap twice a day, dab it dry with a clean towel, and once it completely air dries, put healing ointment on. You'll also want to protect the tattoo from rubbing against anything, so keep bandages on it or let it breath while you're resting. Keep your tattoo away from direct sunlight or any chemicals such as pool chlorine. Because of this, I recommend getting a tattoo in the colder months!

Getting a tattoo should be looked at as a lifelong commitment and treated as such. Also, once you get your first tattoo, you may want others, but try not to go overboard and think each through with the same amount of care you did your first one! What was your first tattoo of? Do you still love it or regret it?

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