An all-in-one pre-tattoo preparation guide
You’ve picked a design that speaks to you, chosen the perfect spot for it, and booked an appointment with a talented artist. But wait – is your skin ready to become a canvas for this permanent artwork?
Preparing your skin for a tattoo can feel like navigating through a maze of advice: moisturise this way, protect from the sun that way, eat this, avoid that... it's a lot to take in, especially when all you want is to ensure your new ink looks vibrant and heals perfectly.
So we've made an easy-to-understand, no-fuss guide to all things pre-tattoo preparation, turning the complex world of tattoo prep into a simple, stress-free experience.
What to do before getting a tattoo
Prioritise a restful night’s sleep
Ensuring you're well-rested before your tattoo session is paramount. A lack of sleep may heighten your sensitivity to pain and make it harder for you to remain still during the procedure. A good night's sleep before your appointment ensures that you remain alert and that your body is in optimal condition to handle the stress of tattooing.
Maintain proper hydration
Hydrated skin tends to tolerate the tattooing process better and assists in a smoother healing post-procedure. Go for at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water in the 24 hours before your tattoo session.
Maintaining proper hydration is not only beneficial for your overall health but also ensures your skin is in peak condition, facilitating a smoother canvas for the artist to work on and aiding in subsequent recovery.
Shave the area to be tattooed
Prepping the skin is crucial for a seamless tattooing experience. For areas with hair, shave 2-3 times per week leading up to your appointment, ensuring that the skin is as smooth as possible.
If you’re uncomfortable shaving yourself, or if there are hard-to-reach areas, communicate with your artist beforehand. Remember to be gentle and avoid any irritation, as the skin needs to be in prime condition for the ink to settle well.
Shower and be clean
Hygiene is paramount both for your own health and as a courtesy to your tattoo artist. Showering ensures that the skin is clean and minimises the risk of infection once the skin is broken during the tattooing process. Plus, being fresh and clean ensures a comfortable environment for both you and the artist during the hours-long procedure.
Moisturise weeks in advance
Optimal skin condition is achieved over time, not overnight. Begin moisturising the area to be tattooed weeks in advance, ensuring it is supple and healthy. Choose a skin moisturiser that suits your skin type and is free from irritants. Keep in mind that well-moisturised skin can hold ink better and may facilitate a quicker and more efficient healing process post-tattoo.
One commendable product to consider during this preparatory phase is Tattoo Goo Original Aftercare Salve, known for its skin-nourishing properties and designed to foster optimal skin conditions in anticipation of a tattoo. You can check it out here.
What not to do before getting a tattoo
Avoid arriving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
It's essential to arrive at your tattoo session with a clear mind. Don't consume alcohol or other substances before your appointment. Being intoxicated can cloud your judgment, make the pain feel worse, lead to more bleeding during the tattooing process, and affect the healing afterward.
Moreover, it’s worth noting that alcohol, which is a blood thinner, can cause excessive bleeding during the tattooing process and potentially affect the healing and quality of the tattoo.
Ensure your skin is in good condition; avoid having damaged skin
Your skin should be in good shape before getting a tattoo. Avoid scheduling your appointment if your skin is sunburned, scraped, or has any existing skin issues.
Damaged skin can make the process painful and affect how your tattoo looks when it's healed. Take care of your skin by moisturising and protecting it in the weeks leading up to your appointment.
Refrain from engaging in strenuous physical activities
Before your tattoo session, avoid strenuous physical activities. Exercising too intensely can cause swelling or sore muscles, making the tattoo process uncomfortable. Resting beforehand ensures you have the energy needed for the session and helps you stay relaxed during it.
Do not handle or touch your tattoo or the tattoo station
Respect the artist's workspace and your tattoo during the session. Avoid touching the tattoo needles or any equipment in the tattoo studio, as it's a clean and sterile area. Interfering with it could introduce contaminants. Also, trust your artist to do their job without trying to help or touch the tattoo during the process.
What to do on the day of your session
When dressing for your tattoo appointment, comfort and accessibility are paramount. Choose loose, soft clothing that allows easy access to the area being tattooed without needing to be removed. If you’re getting a tattoo on your arm, a sleeveless top might be prudent; for a leg or foot tattoo, shorts would be apt.
Don't forget to bring any necessary reference materials
Bringing along any reference materials, such as drawings, pictures, or specific colour references, assists most artists in capturing the essence of the design you envision. This becomes the foundation upon which your artist crafts a piece that aligns with your expectations.
Moreover, engage in a discussion with your tattoo artists about your design ideas, ensuring that the final sketch is something you’re pleased with. Your reference materials serve as a tangible guideline, fostering an understanding between you and your artist about the desired outcome.
Be sure to bring snacks and water
Tattooing can be a lengthy process and maintaining your energy levels is vital. Having a selection of snacks—preferably something healthy and energy-boosting like nuts or fruit—can help stave off hunger during longer sessions.
While ensuring you’re not overly hydrated to avoid frequent bathroom breaks, sipping water periodically keeps you hydrated and helps manage stress and anxiety that may arise during the session.
Eat a well-balanced meal beforehand
A balanced meal stabilises your blood sugar levels, preventing you from feeling lightheaded or faint during the procedure. Integrating a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats ensures sustained energy throughout the session.
A nourished body can better manage pain and stress, enhancing your ability to stay composed and relaxed during the tattooing process.
Tips before getting a tattoo
Exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells, rejuvenating your skin's surface. Consider using a loofah, brush, or exfoliating glove during your shower routine to ensure a thorough scrub. This not only enhances the skin's surface but also boosts circulation, which promotes overall skin health. Smoother skin absorbs tattoo ink better, ensuring your tattoo looks vibrant and lasts.
But remember to stop any exfoliation a few days before your tattoo appointment to prevent unnecessary irritation.
Provide deep nourishment for your skin
Healthy, well-nourished skin will be better able to handle the stress of being tattooed and will generally heal more efficiently post-procedure. Begin by consistently moisturising the area to be tattooed, ideally starting several weeks before your appointment.
Choose a high-quality moisturiser to keep the skin soft, and hydrated. Additionally, ensure you're well-hydrated by drinking ample amounts of water which further aids in keeping the skin supple and healthy.
Adopt a balanced diet encompassing all essential nutrients, including proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, to support your body's healing process. Proteins and vitamin C are particularly important for skin repair and healing. Also, maintain steady blood sugar levels during your tattoo session to avoid feeling lightheaded or faint.
Use sun safeguard
In the weeks leading up to your actual tattoo appointment, be diligent about applying a high-SPF sunscreen to the area that will be tattooed to prevent sunburn and skin damage. Sun-damaged skin can be problematic to tattoos and may not heal as well as healthy skin.
A recommended product for this purpose is the Dermalize Pro Total Black Sun Block. This specially formulated product not only offers sun protection but also acts as a protective film, ensuring that your skin remains in pristine condition for the tattooing process.
Wrapping it up
Don't take getting a tattoo lightly. Following these pre-tattoo preparation tips will help you achieve the best possible outcome for your new tattoo! So go ahead and get inked with confidence, and always remember to listen to your artist's recommendations for the best aftercare practices. Enjoy your new tattoo! Keep exploring and expressing yourself through body art.
- Mark Joshua Luz