First Tattoo Guide: Prep for Beginners

First Tattoo Guide: Prep for Beginners

As surprising as it may sound, getting a tattoo has a lot in common with getting married. You’re excited, nervous, you’ve hopefully put a lot of thought into it, and you’re doing something that is meant to last forever. When it comes to big moments like these, you’re going to be overwhelmed with emotions. As with planning a wedding, if you’re thinking about getting your first tattoo, you should know as much about tattoo preparation as possible.

This article may be just what you were looking for. This is essentially a first tattoo guide, containing everything you need to know about getting inked. We’ll tell you what to do before visiting the tattoo parlor, what to expect once you’re there, and how to take proper care of your new ink once you’ve got it. Your tattoo artist should give you tips too.

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where to get your next tattoo

Before Getting Your Tattoo

Think It Through

This is probably the most important step considering it will be on your body forever! You don’t want to have a “no ragrets” situation on your hands. Make sure it’s something you want on your body forever, whether you’ve been thinking about a specific style or design for a while, or it’s a fresh idea you liked from Pinterest. Sleep on it, preferably more than once, to make sure it’s exactly what you want. Getting your first tattoo is not the time for hasty decisions. 

Get Laser Hair Removal First

If you have been seriously contemplating getting laser hair removal on an area you want a tattoo, then hit the pause button. The lasers used in laser hair removal can damage natural skin pigment and tattoos. That means, that before you sit down in the chair to get your ink, you need to have your laser hair removal sessions done.

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Laser hair removal usually takes several sessions to complete. So think ahead and book your consultations now.


Research, research, and again–research! Don’t go to a tattoo artist with a broad idea of what you want and then expect them to read your mind. This can truly end in disaster if their vision of what you want doesn’t sync with yours. Before walking into the tattoo parlor, spend some time scouring Google reviews, asking tatted friends who live in the area for a referral, and finding inspiration photos on Pinterest or Instagram to find a few designs that you can show your artist. All of these things will lessen your margin of disappointment! 

A High-Quality Tattoo Will Cost You

Those who ink are called tattoo artists for a reason. Using a needle to paint on someone’s skin, with a steady hand we might add, and make it look beautiful is something extraordinary. As a part of your tattoo prep, check up on prices at the tattoo parlors you’re interested in, as well as the artists you’re interested in. Some may cost more than others depending on experience. It’s common for tattoo parlors to advertise a minimum price to protect their time and daily income. If you’re wanting something very small and fine, it could take the artist 5-10 minutes to do the work, but you’ll likely be charged the minimum, which, depending on the parlor, could be anywhere from $60 – $120.This is not a vintage market, so bargaining for a lower price is close to an insult for these artists.

A High-Quality Tattoo

Physically Preparing

Upon arrival, your tattoo artist will prep your skin and sanitize the area, but moisturizing for about a week ahead of time wouldn’t hurt.  Minimize your consumption of things that thin your blood, like alcohol, painkillers, and caffeine about 48 hours before getting inked. Thin blood means more bleeding at the time of getting your tattoo, which could affect visibility for the artist. Lastly, don’t go to the tattoo parlor with an empty stomach. Your body will need energy and strength, especially if your tattoo will be bigger in size or in a more sensitive body area. Think of your body going through an experience like blood donation—bring snacks to keep your body stabilized!

Feel like you’re missing something? Find everything you need to know about your next tattoo visit on Booksy.

At the Tattoo Parlor

Proper research about the tattoo parlor is something that should be done prior to your appointment. Once you get there, if you can cut through the nerves and excitement, make note of the following things:

  • Is the artist wearing gloves?
  • Are the tools continually being sterilized between customers?
  • Are the needles new and unpacked from sterile packaging in front of you?

When beginning the work, the artist will dip the needle into ink and then turn on the motor. That motor will move the needles and allow the artist to apply the ink under your skin. We won’t lie to you, it’s not the most pleasant experience you’ll go through in your life. The feeling of getting a tattoo is often compared to tiny pinching of the skin, quickly and continually. Don’t be afraid to tell them if you need a quick break.

Tattoo Parlor

Proper Aftercare

If your artist doesn’t provide you with a takeaway or a one-sheeter for how to take care of your tattoo once you leave the parlor, ask them for the best resources. 

To clean your tattoo, use lukewarm water and a mild liquid soap or antibacterial gel — most soap that you wash your hands with will work just fine. To dry off the washed wound, touch it delicately with a paper towel so that it absorbs water. Wash the skin area 2 or 3 times a day. Contrary to belief, Vaseline can cause infection by trapping moisture and bacteria in. Opt for light ointments with vitamin A instead. Ask your artist what they prefer for their own tattoos. Avoid submerging your newly tattooed area in a pool or bath during the healing process, about 3 weeks.

We hope our tattoo guide put you at least a little bit at ease! If you’re not sure where to start, let Booksy help you out. Find locations, services, reviews and more on the Booksy app and book your appointment today!

Booking your next tattoo just got a whole lot easier. Find tons of 5-star parlors near you on Booksy.

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