How To Prepare For A Tattoo: 10 Tips From Tattoo Artists is reader-supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

Receiving a tattoo is a life-changing experience and a lot of preparation goes into getting the ink of your dreams. After deciding on a design and tattoo artists, you must know how to prepare for a tattoo session. If it is your first time, it can be a nerve-wracking process. Of course, that doesn’t mean the more seasoned tattoo collectors should forget how to prep for a tattoo. 

Knowing what to do before getting a tattoo will help things go smoothly and leave you with beautifully healed artwork you’ll be proud to show off.

In this article, we share with you 10 things you should do before getting a tattoo

1. Moisturize Your Skin

Healthy skin is not only easier to tattoo but leads to better-looking ink. If you don’t already moisturize your skin daily, start using body lotion a few weeks before your tattoo appointment. It will make your tattoo artist’s life easier as the ink will apply better. In fact, if you know how to prepare for a tattoo it may even let the session go by faster, which means less pain. 

That being said, don’t use lotion on the day of your tattoo appointment. Oily skin will make it difficult for your tattoo artists to apply the stencil. 

2. Shave

You want to give your tattoo artists as smooth as possible a surface to work on. That being said, you also don’t want to show up at your tattoo session with a nick or a cut, so be careful when you shave. Some people don’t like shaving and would rather opt for waxing. That is okay if you do it a few days before your tattoo session. 

Your skin needs time to heal before it has to go through the inking process. It will also be much more comfortable for you if you wait for a day or two between waxing and getting your tattoo

It’s also important that you moisturize after shaving or waxing to keep your skin healthy as mentioned previously. 

If you happen to forget to shave or wax before your appointment, don’t worry too much, tattoo artists always have disposable razors in their kit to help you. 

3. Drink Water

Applying lotion to your skin is not the only way you can moisturize it—drinking water is an excellent way to do it from the inside. Focusing on drinking enough water on the day of your tattoo sessions, however, isn’t enough. It is recommended that you start hydrating four weeks before your tattoo appointment. 

The experts say you should drink two liters of water a day, and that doesn’t include coffee, tea, or soda. 

how to prepare for a tattoo

4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Getting a tattoo—especially a large one—takes a toll on your body. The last thing you want to do is show up hungover or tired. Get a good night’s rest to give your body time to prepare for what is coming. In other words, avoid going to any parties or staying up until dawn the night before your tattoo appointment. 

5. Drink Some Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps with the creation of connective tissue. If you boost your Vitamin C intake starting well before your tattoo session, you will heal a lot faster. 

6. Eat 

This is probably one of the most important ways to prepare for a tattoo—eating a hearty breakfast or lunch. Your body is about to go through a lot; it is going to release a lot of energy to help you cope with the pain. 

If you don’t eat, there is a high chance that your body sugar will dip and you’ll start to feel dizzy or faint. If this happens, your tattoo artist will have to cut your appointment short. So, to avoid such disappointment, get some sustenance into your body before you show up for your tattoo. 

7. Wear the Proper Clothing

If you’re getting a tattoo on your leg, wear shorts. Similarly, if you plan to get tattooed on your upper arm, wear a tank top that gives your artist easy access. For backpieces, a button-up shirt or hoodie with a zip works well to cover your front to make you feel more comfortable. 

You also need to consider that your clothes may get splattered with ink. Although tattoo artists try their best to protect their clients’ clothing, accidents do happen. In addition, there’s a possibility that blood or plasma may ooze onto your clothing after your tattoo session. 

8. Bring Snacks

Although you ate before your tattoo appointment, take some snacks and water along. If you’re there for a long session, your tattoo artists will take breaks to stretch and have something to eat and drink. You should use this time to refuel your body too. 

Also, if you feel dizzy or faint during the tattoo session, ask your artist for a break and eat a sugary snack to boost your blood sugar. 

9. Ask About Payment Options

This is probably something you should do when you make your appointment. Some tattoo studios only take cash, while others don’t mind if you pay with a credit card. 

If you’re visiting a cash-only studio, remember to have enough cash on you to pay your artist. You also have to keep in mind that there may be additional charges if they allow you to pay with a credit card. Find all this out beforehand to avoid any costly surprises. 

how to prepare for getting a tattoo

10. Stay Entertained

This one depends on your personality—and that of your artist. If you’re both chatty, you don’t have to worry about getting bored. However, if you’re not much into chatting, you may want to take something along to entertain yourself with. 

Your tattoo artist won’t be offended if you read a book, listen to music (with headphones), or watch a movie or something on your phone. When you respect your tattoo artists and the other clients in the studio, you can do whatever you feel like to help pass the time. In other words, don’t make noise or do things that can affect your tattoo artist’s concentration

What Not to Do Before Getting a Tattoo 

Now that you know what to do before getting a tattoo, it is only appropriate to mention some of the things you should avoid.

Don’t Bring All Your Friends

We know getting a tattoo is exciting and you want to share it with everyone. Although some tattoo artists will let you bring one person along, it’s generally advised to go alone. If you’re going for a long session, your friend or significant other will likely get bored and they may end up getting in the artist’s way. 

If you don’t have any other option than to bring someone along, ask them to stay in the waiting area unless the tattoo artist invites them in. This doesn’t count for children and infants for obvious reasons. 

Don’t Rush

Give your tattoo artist time. If you make another appointment immediately after your tattoo session, you’re going to make your artist feel rushed and this may affect their work. Relax and let them go at their own pace. 

Don’t Be Intoxicated 

Showing up at your tattoo session drunk or on drugs will only lead to it getting postponed. Furthermore, alcohol thins the blood and may lead to excessive bleeding. Respect your artist and their studio and show up when you’re sober and in control of all your faculties. 

Don’t Show Up With Damaged Skin

Getting a tattoo on freshly damaged skin is not a good idea. Not only will a tattoo cause further damage but it will also be extra painful and the tattoo won’t heal well. So, avoid lying on a sunbed, spending too much time in the sun, getting a chemical peel or going for any other procedure that harms the skin.  

Final Thoughts

The tips on how to prepare for a tattoo listed above are there for your safety and to help your tattoo artists do their job without difficulty. After all, you want them to give their best, so help them by doing your part. 

You won’t regret preparing for your tattoo session if you end up walking away with an eye-catching piece of body art! 

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