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Good Ink: 10 Insider Tips for Getting a Tattoo You Won’t Regret

By Ariel Wodarcyk - March 18, 2020
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Whether you have baby-blank skin or a growing sleeve, it’s a good idea to brush up on tattoo best practices. Here’s what you need to know to walk into your appointment feeling prepared and confident in your decision. No regrets!

 

No Caffeine Or Alcohol

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You already know alcohol can make for bad decisions. But it also thins the blood. And so does caffeine. Thinner blood equals more bleeding during the tattoo, which could interfere with the artist’s process, boosting the chances of a mistake.

Choose The Right Color For Your Skin Tone

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This is especially key for people with a darker complexion looking to get a color tattoo. It’s harder for certain colors to show up on deeper skin tones, but an experienced artist can make your vision possible. Vibrant, warm-toned shades, like reds, pinks and oranges tend to look best on darker skin, James Spooner of  Monocle Tattoo  in Los Angeles has said.

“Green can be OK, but only shades with a lot of yellow. I usually stay away from blue because it falls on the cool side of the color temperature wheel. Still, I have had some success with turquoise because of the levels of yellow-green and white present.”

Don't Forget To Tip

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Tattoos aren’t just a physical commitment—they’re a financial one too. Be prepared to tip at least 20 percent at the end of your appointment. If your tattoo gets infected or irritated, it’s best to be on your artist’s good side.

Book An Appointment First

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Unless you’re picking a flash tattoo—a pre-drawn design—off the wall, don’t expect to stroll into any tattoo shop and get inked. A good shop and artist is likely to be booked well in advance. So book an appointment and show up a little early so you have time to check out the shop and connect with your artist beforehand.

Eat Before

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The pain and anxiety of getting tattooed can make some people light-headed. If your blood sugar is low or you’re dehydrated, that effect can be even worse. So eat a good meal before the appointment and bring your water bottle.

Make Sure They're Licensed

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Not every state requires individual tattoo artists to be licensed, but most mandate the shop to be certified. Research the qualifications of artists and salons in your state before you make an appointment, and ask to see the appropriate licenses when you go in. Your artist should be happy to show you upfront—if not, keep moving.

Wear Loose Clothing

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Loose, breathable clothes are your friend at a tattoo appointment. You don’t want your sleeves to be so tight you can’t push them up high enough for your forearm tattoo, or for your jeans to chafe against your new thigh piece.

No Advil

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Yes, tattoos hurt, but non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Aleve) thin the blood. More bleeding prolongs the process of getting tattooed. If you’re seriously scared about the pain, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is OK.

Thin Skinned vs. Thick Skinned

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If you have a low pain tolerance, you might want to skip getting that beautiful flower design or the name of your new significant other on bony, thin-skinned areas like the ribs, elbows, ankles, hands and feet. (On second thought, skip the new love tattoo altogether.)

Listen To Music

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Music is especially key if you’re getting something big or are really nervous. Pop in your headphones and let your favorite songs distract you from the buzz buzz buzz of the tattoo gun.