How To Choose A Tattoo Artist Or Studio – The Easy Way

As a tattoo artist and shop owner, I am quite well versed in what to look for when talking with a tattoo artist or entering a shop, so no surprise that one of my good friends that has moved abroad permanently phoned me and asked told me he is looking to extend his tattoo collection, but doesn’t know which artist to trust.

So how do you choose a tattoo artist or studio? Have a search on Google or Facebook and see what tattoo studios are in your area, then look for the reviews. If there are a lot of reviews and they underline the cleanliness and professionalism of the studio, then have a look at their portfolio and see if it’s the style you want.

This is the easiest way to find a reliable tattoo artist or studio, but there is so much more to picking the perfect one, and this is what I will expand on further. Here is what I have explained to my friend from my point of view.

Which Tattoo Artist Is Perfect For You

Sometimes choosing a tattoo artist can be a daunting task, as nowadays there are literally hundreds if not thousands of tattoo artists that are coming out of “the shadows”. Some of them are bad, some are good and some are just amazing.

So how to tell the difference between tattoo artists and how to spot an inexperienced or unprofessional one?

First of all having recommendations are a wonderful thing if you have friends or family that have tattoos and also have the experience of knowing how a professional tattoo artist looks like.

Here I am NOT talking about how they dress or things like that, I’m talking about professionalism, quality of the finished product and health and safety.

Best chances are that if one of your friend or family has a really good tattoo that is healed, they will be the best to inform you on who they would recommend, but sometimes it might be better to do your own research just to be that little more personal on your choice of tattoo artist.

If your uncle recommends his homie who can do your full sleeve for $20 and can do it even at your own house or maybe his, chances are that all the alarm bells will start ringing, as you can’t get anymore obvious of this being a very poor choice.

But with so many horror stories nowadays with actual “licensed” tattoo artists that turn out horrible tattoos, the days when going into a tattoo studio and getting a professional tattoo are gone. Now it’s the hardest it’s ever been to differentiate between real and fake, as some shady tattoo artists even go to the extent of posting online other well renowned artists work and pass it on as their own. Some tattoo artists might even write their own reviews on Facebook or google.


So here is the difference between a tattoo artist and a licensed or unlicensed “scratcher” (tattoo artist with no experience or regards for health and safety)

1. If a tattoo artists page has only 5 reviews and in all of them he is classed as the best tattoo artist around, chances are you have a scratcher. Usually tattoo artists that have business Facebook pages will have at least a hundred if not more of reviews all from genuine people that highlight different aspects: the quality of his/her work, professionalism, cleanliness, etc.

Although some tattoo artists only have their personal pages, in this case you might want to have a look at the tattoos that s/he has posted and try to gauge if it’s up to your standard and/or your style.

3. Portfolio and diversification is very important. Although some professional tattoo artists might specialize in only one style, you will be able to spot them straight away the good from the bad as it will be easy to differentiate from the pictures. But in most cases a good tattoo artist will always try to push himself into all styles of tattooing, even if they have specialized themselves in one tattoo style. A good tattoo artist will have hundreds of images of tattoos and videos they have done throughout the years, whilst a “scratcher” will post mostly other artist’s tattoos and ask if anybody would like something like that or say design up for grabs.

4. Photoshoped Images are usually a sign of hiding something. We come across a lot of times of images of tattoos where the white is literally pure white and colors are more bright than a rainbow. 9 times out of 10 they will not look like that in the real life. Although most of the times a tattoo artist can only take a picture of the tattoo they have created right after it was finished, you will find that reputable tattoo artists have recurring customers and they will also post pictures of their healed tattoos.

There are also a few absolutely brilliant tattoo artists, that still choose to photoshop their images to enhance certain features, but you will find that although they are brilliant artists, usually their own customers will be disappointed with the tattoo as the photoshoped image posted by the tattoo artist will create unrealistic expectations and will not reflect the healed reality.

5. Jumping ship often is quite common with less than excellent tattoo artists. If you find a tattoo artist has changed workplaces (tattoo studios) very often, then this might mean that this tattoo artist might be very difficult to deal with or maybe unreliable. Good professional tattoo artists tend to have very long periods of time in the same tattoo studio, and don’t move too often.

6. Professionalism in communication. A professional tattoo artist will not reply to your e-mail or private message with “Sup Homie?” or “Nae bother!”. You will find that a professional tattoo artist will keep their professionalism when dealing with customers and will offer and request respect. They will not use foul language or hood slang, as this reflect poorly on the way they present themselves to their potential customers.

7. Consultations are an absolute necessity when talking about a new project, as a professional tattoo will always try to understand the customers vision and will discuss the details (style, location, black and grey or color). Whilst a “scratcher”will only offer a price and ask for a deposit, as he will not care about the details, but rather to do the minimum necessary to take your money.

8. Deals Deals Deals – Any professional tattoo artist will make a discount every now and then to fill out the open spaces in his diary, or a special offer now and then. But when an artist is always advertising 50% off or deals constantly, that should be an alarm bell. Also, every other post being about a full day available tomorrow at a discounted rate is not a sign of a good professional tattoo artist. Don’t forget: “Cheap tattoos aren’t good, and good tattoos aren’t cheap!”. So better save up and get a proper tattoo then regretting the one you got because it was the cheapest artist around.

A professional tattoo artist that has a good reputation will not be the cheapest in the area, sometimes they might be the most expensive in the area or just about, as a professional tattoo artist will compete with other artists on artwork and not on price. Quality over quantity.

9. Gut feeling – this is probably one of the most important signal to indicate if a tattoo artist is right for you. If your “gut feeling” is telling you something is not right, chances are that it’s true. A true professional tattoo artist will ask you a lot of questions about your next tattoo and will also explain as many aspects of the tattooing as possible, before you even ask them.

There is no guidebook to distinguish a professional tattoo artist from a “scratcher” and there is also no definitive answer as we are all unique and a tattoo being so personal and a matter of preference, when you meet or chat to the perfect tattoo artist for you, you will know, as you should “click” with said tattoo artist.

How To Tell If A Tattoo Studio Is Right For You

When walking into a tattoo studio, you will notice a lot of things around you, but you might also miss a lot of important clues to what that tattoo studio actually has to offer.

Tattoo studios are meant to abide by the laws that apply to the Health and Safety aspect of tattooing, and nowadays tattoo studios need to abide by rules and regulations that are just as strict as a dental surgery or a family doctors practice.

Although having a license or permit does not always insure you will have a good experience.

Here are some of the thing I would expect, or not expect a professional tattoo studio to have:

1. Massive Discounts – before you even walk in a tattoo studio, if you notice outside or in the windows big massive writing offering massive discounts, this might mean that the tattoo studio is struggling for customers. If a tattoo studio doesn’t have enough customers that means that there are some reasons behind it. Either their etiquette regarding customer relationships is not up to scratch, or their artwork is failing them, or other negative reasons.

Things like “We will match or beat any price!” might work for appliances where there are 100 shops selling the exact same product, but when it comes to tattoos, every artist is at a different level of experience and quality, so how can Mr Scratcher that has been tattooing for 3 months and using cheap products and consumables offer the same thing as Mr Tattoo Artist that has been tattooing for 10 years and uses the most renowned products and the best quality consumables?

2. Shop Front – if walking towards the tattoo studio you notice a clean, well-kept and maintained shop front, this usually means that the owners or artists take great pride in appearances and this can relate to their work. This is not a clear indication, but it might does help.

3. First impression – when entering a tattoo studio, your first impression is probably the correct one. The reasons I’m saying this is that if you enter a tattoo studio and whoever is at the reception growls at you, this might me the right moment and walk out. A tattoo studio is a happy place where art is created, so a grim looking face might not be the indication of that.

4. Cleanliness – a tattoo studio should be well-kept and clean at all times. If you walk in the person at the reception is cleaning a window or wiping a frame on the wall, this is actually a very good sign. You don’t want to see somebody brushing when you enter a tattoo studio as this raises dust into the air, and this should have been done before opening the studio, but cleanliness is very important. If there is a lot of dirty or dusty areas in the reception, that usually means that cleanliness is not the most important thing for the studio.

5. NO pets – pets are illegal in tattoo studios in most countries, and if you ask me, although I have to hairy dogs at home, pets don’t have what to do in a tattoo studio. Regardless if we are talking about dogs, cats, snakes, turtles or fish at one point or another somebody has to clean their poos and wees, and although most might argue that they will wash their hands, can you really trust that they have not touched any other surfaces that people customers come in contact with?

One of the most important things to avoid in a tattoo studio is cross contamination. This meant that if you touched a “dirty” or unsanitary surface, you should not touch anything else and dispose of gloves or wash and sanitize hands immediately.

I have heard of people that forget to wash their hands after going to the toilet, so I wouldn’t be surprised about pets and cross contamination. I say pets should never be allowed in a tattoo studio, regardless of species.

6. Talking to an artist – if you ask in a tattoo shop to speak to an artist, one should never be far away, or at least you should be able to arrange an appointment with them to speak about the details. If you can’t meet the artist that will tattoo you beforehand, chances are that the tattoo studio cares about bringing money in and are not customer focused.

7. Gang Hut – I call a gang hut any place where a group of friends stand and chat away with no regards to their surroundings. A tattoo artist or tattoo studio owner should always be customer focused, and try to be helpful to his customer, rather then prioritizing friends.

8. Artwork – have a look on the walls. A professional tattoo studio will have displayed some of the tattoos done by the artists working there on their walls. I am yet to find a professional tattoo studio that doesn’t display their own artists work on the walls, to showcase the quality of their artists. If unsure, don’t be afraid to ask if the artwork displayed is their own or generic images. If there is no artwork done in that studio on the walls, I would turn away and run the other way.

Any tattoo artist or studio owner will take pride in displaying to their potential customers the level of their skill.

9. NO Smoking, Drinking or Drugs – if you ever find yourself walking into a tattoo studio and anybody is smoking, drinking, or taking drugs run as fast as you can see. This is illegal and dangerous. The reason I’m saying it’s dangerous is that you are about to let somebody tattoo you that might be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

10. Being rushed – when looking for the tattoo studio where you will get your next tattoo, don’t let yourself be rushed or belittled. You are the customer, and any tattoo artist or studio owner will have great pride in answering any questions you might have regarding the tattoo studio, the tattoo procedure, or even showing you around if it’s possible.

11. Social Media – the most ruthless portfolio of any tattoo studio. Before, there were always book in tattoo studio where artists showcase their individual work. Nowadays with social media, if a tattoo studio is not producing great artwork, they can’t hide it or are bound to slip and show the truth about the quality of their artwork on social media, especially in videos. If they won’t, I’m sure a quick search will reveal if customers were unhappy with any aspect of the tattoo studio.

12. License, permits and restrictions – I’m most countries any tattoo studio is required by law to display their license and insurance coverage in a clear and visible manner, where any customer walking in the tattoo studio can clearly see it and read it. In fact this is public information, and if you can’t see the license it within your right to ask to see it and there should be no argument about this. If there is any hesitation, or you see the person getting annoyed or angry, just thank them for their time and walk away.

I always look for restriction signs when walking into tattoo studios, for the following reason. If a tattoo studio doesn’t have a big sign saying they won’t tattoo anybody under 18 years old, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, what other laws are they not conforming to?


But I am more than sure that when looking around tattoo studios once your mind will be settled and ensured that the place you are in is professional and might be the right tattoo studio for you, your gut feeling will be the one that will approve or disprove. Listen to that inner voice, as it’s usually right.

Related Questions

How much is a deposit for a tattoo? Most tattoo studios or artists will charge anywhere between 30% to 50% of the price of the full tattoo as a deposit, and in most cases the deposit is non-refundable. So, before you book in make sure you can make it on the date your proposed tattoo session will be.

Does a tattoo studio need a permit or license to operate? All tattoo studio in USA, UK and Europe need a permit or license to operate, and this is usually obtained after a very thorough inspection from the local Council’s Health and Safety Department and other departments to ensure the clients safety.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will try to answer them as soon as possible.


Are Tattoos A Form Of Self Harm – Tattoo Artist P.O.W.

I had the other day a question that made me dwell deeper into the self harming aspect of tattooing and what it actually is. This is what my point of view on the matter.

Are tattoos a form of self harm? As tattoos are made by inserting a foreign object (ink pigment) into the dermis (second) layer of the skin using needles, it CAN’T be certified as self harm, as the wound is not created by the person receiving the tattoo, nor its created to inflict pain one oneself.

So let’s dig a bit deeper on the aspect of what tattoos actually mean to people and why they get them done.

Self Harm or Body Art

We are inclined to think of self harm when we consider a person that harms herself for the aspect of self punish or feeling the need to feel external pain in order to deal with interior (psychological) pain .

So how can tattoos be considered self harm?

As the process of tattooing involves pain in order to create the tattoo design in one’s skin, and the fact that we basically pay a “stranger” to inflict this pain upon us, might steer your mind in that direction.

The truth couldn’t be any further from this, as most people accept the pain (reluctantly) just to be able to decorate their body with images or designs that usually represent moments in their life that made them feel proud (like the birth of a child) or even to commemorate the loss of a loved one.

Even tattoos that might not have an apparent meaning and are just artwork immortalize in the person getting the tattoo that period of their life. I’m sure each one of us that have tattoos will agree that we can remember the moment in life they got each and every tattoo and can elaborate or how they were feeling, their friends or just stories related to that moment in time.

The pain aspect of getting a tattoo is always the negative part of the process and everybody dreads those moments, but I am yet to meet a person that has a professional tattoo that isn’t proud of showing it off.

The only way a tattoo can be considered a self harming method is if somebody gets a bad tattoo from an inexperienced or bad artist and keeps going back just to be scarred again with “tattoo fails”. But this is mostly down to customers always looking for the cheapest tattoo. Remember:”Cheap tattoos aren’t good, and good tattoos aren’t cheap.”

For example: If a proud father gets his sons portrait tattooed onto his chest, to immortalize his love for his child, how can this be classified as self harming?!

If we were to consider tattoos as self harming, then shouldn’t semi permanent make up be considered self harm?

You have more chances of thinking of plastic surgery as self harm or body mutilation than tattoos.

Tattoos are art, and we are basically decorating our bodies. Exactly how we decorate a Christmas tree, where each one is decorated in a different style with different ornaments to suit individual taste and bring joy to the person looking at is, or how we decorate our homes to suit our own individual preferences, the same can be said about tattoos.

I’m sure a google search will reveal some truly body art with some absolutely stunning tattoos, but also some really horrific examples, nowhere do tattoos come close to self harming.

Tattoos vs Cutting

Tattooing is done by having specially designed needles pierce through the epidermis (the first layer of skin) and depositing ink into the dermis (second layer of the skin).

Tattooing usually done in order to display an artistic image, to send a message or to celebrate one’s individuality.

One of the most common ways to self harm is by cutting through the skin all the way into the hypodermis (the fat tissue of the skin) and sometimes even deeper.

Self harming is how some people deal with internal pain, and need to compensate for it with external pain. Other times it is done as a method of self punishment.

As you can see, tattooing and self harming are two totally different subjects and in a lot of cases I have covered self harming scars with tattoos, as the client wanted to celebrate the fact that he has got help and dealt with the psychological issues.

Piercings And Self Harming

Piercings have also been seen at one point in history as self harming, as they could have been done onto one’s self.

A lot of times i have overheard conversations (usually by older people) where they considered piercings and tattoos as a cry for help or a mental instability.

Piercings and tattoos are solely done by people to decorate their bodies and to show off their individuality, and although piercings and tattoos were once taboo, nowadays are a very common sight.


Related questions

How long does a tattoo take to heal? Usually it takes between 4-6 weeks. Although the epidermis (first layer of the skin) might heal in 2-3 weeks, the dermis (second layer of the skin) is still not fully healed.

Is sunbathing bad for tattoos? Yes, UV rays are very damaging to tattoos, especially in the healing stages of the tattoos. Always wear 50+ SPF sunscreen whenever you are out in the sun with a fresh tattoo.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will try to answer them as soon as possible.


What Is A Tattoo Consultation – Tattoo Artist Answers

A lot of time when I speak with potential customers I have to tell them that we need to arrange a consultation and sometimes the look on their face is quite confused.

So what is a tattoo consultation? A tattoo consultation is a meeting between the tattoo artist and the customer, in order to establish the tattoo design, style, size and all the other details. Usually at this point in time a deposit or a booking fee is paid to the artist to secure the tattoo appointment.

I have seen it a lot of times when people come in for a consultation and don’t known what to expect or are unprepared as some of them might have never had a tattoo before. So now I will explain everything that happens in a tattoo consultation.

What Happens In A Tattoo Consultation

Usually I ask my customers to come into the studio for a consultation on a day of the week that I set aside for consultations and to take bookings. Most of the times I will try to ask the customers 3-10 days before the proposed date of the tattoo session, so that on the day of the tattoo sessions, the details and what was talked about in the consultation is still fresh in my mind.

I usually take 1-2 hours for a consultation about a bigger tattoo, as I want to known as much as possible about the customer and what their vision is for their next project.

These are the questions that most tattoo artists will ask during this meeting:

1. What would you like?

Most of the times customers will have an idea in mind of what they would like, and also they might bring references (photos) of certain ideas and styles. As a tattoo artist, we won’t want to copy other artists work, but these references will help us understand what the customer is looking for as a design and also what styles he prefers.

If the tattoo is going to be a portrait of a person or pet, we would ask to bring as many high quality (preferably digital) photos for us to choose together which one would look the best as a tattoo.

2. Where on your body would you like your tattoo?

Placement is very important for a tattoo to look great, but is also helps dictate the size. The bigger the tattoo, the more details we can include in your tattoo, thus making it more intricate and more appealing as a piece of body art.

For example: A design that is best suited horizontal might look better on the back or chest, and we would probably recommend against getting it on the calf. Same thing works with a tattoo design that is wider at the bottom, we would probably recommend against placing it on the forearm, as the shape of most people’s forearms is quite the opposite (wider at the top and narrower at the bottom).

3. Is this tattoo a cover up?

We would obviously need to known if you are looking for a tattoo cover-up, as this might restrict some of the styles of designs that can be tattooed to make the cover-up and effective one.

Also, at this point we might have to trace the tattoo on chalk paper and also see the space we have around the tattoo.

Any scarring tissue will also be examined at this point in time, to ensure that it’s fully healed, and how serious it is.

4. What other tattoos do you have in that area?

We might want to known what other tattoos you have in the area where you are looking to get your next tattoo, so that we can either incorporate it with the others, or maybe match the style and colors.

All this is to ensure that your next project has a nice flow to it and doesn’t just look like some tattoos were thrown in there.

5. What style of tattoos do you like?

With so many styles of tattooing, we might have a look at different styles of tattooing and help you in choosing one for your next project. At this point, we might also advise what looks best and also let you known, in case you are not familiar with our preferred style or what we specialize in. Don’t be discouraged if your tattoo artist is specialized in one style and you prefer another, as most artists can tattoo most styles.

6. Are you vegan?

Although more and more tattoo studios are going vegan friendly, if the tattoo studio you are going to is not yet part of the vegan community, you might want to let them known, so that they can check and order any new supplies or consumables that might not be on your liking.

Although my tattoo studio is vegan friendly, I still ask all my customers, as I would also want to suggest a vegan tattoo aftercare that I have tried and tested. Vegan tattoo aftercare kits are a bit more pricey, and non vegan customers might not feel happy if I recommend a more expensive aftercare cream If they are not interested in the benefits.

7. Do you have any allergies I should known about?

In order for us to execute a tattoo, we have to use quite a few solutions and creams, but also your skin will come in contact with quite a few materials.

If you are allergic to anything that is being used in the tattooing process, this gives us time to research and order alternatives.

8. Are you on any prescribed medication?

Sometimes I find out that people are on prescribed medication, or have medical conditions that might not make them suitable for a tattoo at that moment in time,

This is why I would rather known all the details before booking somebody in and later to find out that they might not be suited for a tattoo, or they are on blood thinning medication.

9. Would you like me to book you in?

At this point, most of the details have been talked about and agreed, and both the customer and myself have a clear vision of what we will be doing in the next time we meet.

This is also the point where I would ask for a non-refundable booking fee. This means that once we have agreed on a certain time and date for the session, the customer will be obliged to come and get the tattoo we just talked about.

Some studios might ask for a deposit and might also agree to move your appointment if something comes up, whilst other tattoo studios will ask for a non-refundable booking fee that gets taken of the price of your tattoo sitting.

I always ask at least 3 times my customers if they are sure that they can make it on the day of their appointment and explain that I don’t want to lose that tattooing time, and would also not like for him to lose his/hers deposit, especially if it’s a full day sitting. If the customer doesn’t show up, this means I lost a full days work and have a few dollars or euros to make up for it.

I sometimes wonder what makes a tattoo more upset: the fact that the customer wasted his time and he didn’t make any money, or the fact that he designed a cool tattoo and doesn’t have the chance to put on the skin?



10. Do you have any questions?

At this point I always make sure that all the customers questions have been answered and double check. In case anything slipped my mind or the customer forgot to ask me, I will always ask again, just to make sure.

I also start advising the customer on how to prepare for a tattoo, just to make his tattoo session as enjoyable as possible.

Do You Have To Be 18 For A Tattoo Consultation?

Depending on where you are from, it might be illegal to get tattooed unless you are 18 years old or over.

For example in the UK it is against the law to tattoo any person under 18 years old with or without the consent of parents or legal guardian. Although this is a well known fact and there are signs all over the tattoo studio this doesn’t stop people from asking us every other week.

If your 18th birthday is right before the tattoo appointment you are planning, then we have no problems having a tattoo consultation in order to establish what that tattoo will be about, and we also do not require a consent on your behalf at that point as the tattooing session will be after you are 18 years of age.

We do however ask for a parent or legal guardian to be present at all times of the consultation, especially if your tattoo will be on the sternum, thigh or other sensitive areas.

If your tattoo will be on the wrist for example, we won’t ask for a parent or legal guardian to be present.

How Much Is A Tattoo Deposit?

This depends on the tattoo studio, and there are no clear guidelines regarding the deposits taken for a tattoo session.

Most studios will usually ask for up to 50% deposit for smaller projects and will reduce the percentage for bigger projects.

Also ask what the tattoo studio policy is regarding refunds, cancellations or moving the appointment, as each and every tattoo studio has a different policy.

Some tattoo studios might charge you a Booking Fee and usually the booking fees are NON-refundable and unmovable, as Booking Fees are a product in itself rather than a deposit. Think of it like an admin fee, but usually studios offer to take it off the price of your tattoo session as a reward that you showed up and got the tattoo appointment through.

Tattoo Consultation Etiquette

Usually the tattoo consultation etiquette is the same as a tattoo appointment. You do not require to be dressed in a certain way, but if you want your thigh tattooed, you might consider coming in shorts rather than tight jeans, as the tattoo artist will have to look at the area that will be tattooed. This is usually to check for moles, skin conditions and other aspects of the skin.

You will also be expected not to bring pets or children, especially if the children are known to misbehave and the tattoo artist can’t have your full attention. Plus pets are illegal in a tattoo studio for health and safety reasons.

Also, please ensure you are not being expected elsewhere as a tattoo consultation can not be rushed. You will have to try to be as clear and as specific with the tattoo artist as possible in regard to the details of your tattoo.

Another quite common nuisance in a tattoo studio is when 2 people walk in for the consultation, and when the tattoo artist starts asking questions in relation to the details of the tattoo that will get done, it’s always the person NOT getting tattooed that answers or starts acting like they known better than the tattoo artist.

This makes the process very difficult, as the person answering should be the person getting tattooed and that person only.

Related Questions

Do tattoos hurt? Depending on the area that is getting tattooed, some areas are more painful than others. However, to have a rough idea of the pain, if you are getting tattooed on the wrist (one of the least sore areas), most people would describe it as a cat scratch or a burning sensation.

Can a tattoo consultation be done via email? Most tattoo artists will refuse this as it would make the process quite lengthy and the artist would still not be able to be 100 percent sure of the skin he will be tattooing.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will try to answer them as soon as possible.


How To Prepare For A Tattoo -Advice From A Tattoo Artist

Although I always have a consultation with my customers, every now and then I see customers that still come unprepared for their tattoo session and this always makes it harder on them, especially if we have a long session.

How To Prepare For A Tattoo? Dress comfortable, don’t drink any alcohol 24 hours in advance, have a good night sleep and have a good protein loaded breakfast the morning of your session. It is also advisable to bring with you a sugary drink and a snack.

In this post I will guide you through the full list of things you can do to prepare yourself for your session, but to also help you raise your pain threshold and be more comfortable.

How To Make Your Next Tattoo Session An Easy One

Although every tattoo artists will give you advice on how to prepare for your next appointment, there are always more ways to help your comfort and ensure your pain threshold is as high as possible and you don’t risk getting light-headed or even fainting.

Whether this is going to be your first tattoo or your 20th, each and every time you get tattooed you body will be subjected to the same conditions.

So what to do?

1. Make sure you drink plenty of water

When your body is well hydrated, your skin is also softer and more permeable. This means that the artist will have an easier time getting the ink into the dermis (second) layer of your skin, and the easier it is for the artist, the less he will have to work the skin, and also the session will be shorter.

It is usually recommended that we drink about 2 liters (4.2 pints) of water daily. This ensures our body is hydrated enough to function without a problem. For your tattoo session you might want to drink a bit more.

On the opposite side, for our body to metabolize alcohol it uses a lot of water, thus leaving us dehydrated.

2. NO Alcohol 48 hours before

As I explained earlier, alcohol dehydrates our bodies, but it also thins our blood.

When our blood is thinned, tattooing becomes more difficult as the tattoo artist will have to wipe more the bleeding skin (which is uncomfortable), but thinned blood can also affect the healing process.

As we rely on the ink particles to remain in the dermis, excessive bleeding can push out more pigment (ink) than normal.

3. NO Blood thinning medication 24 hours in prior to your session

For the same reason we don’t want to drink alcohol in relation to blood thinning, the same applies to Aspirin and similar medication that can be bough “over the counter”.

If you have a medical condition that requires prescribed blood thinning medication, you might want to have a chat with your family doctor before even booking an appointment as in some cases, s/he might advise against getting tattooed.

4. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

24 to 48 hours in advance, start moisturizing your skin, especially the area that will be tattooed.

You don’t need to use anything special, a simple moisturizing cream like E 45 or cocoa butter will be enough to ensure your skin is soft and ready to receive tattoo ink. If you do this, the tattoo session will be a lot faster and also more comfortable.

Dry skin is harder to tattoo, but also very sore, as the tattoo needles don’t pierce the skin, it actually rips it at a microscopical level.

5. Stay Away From The Sun And Tanning Beds

If your skin is tanned or sunburned, your tattoo artist will probably refuse to tattoo you anyway, as tanned skin is very hard to tattoo, and a tattoo done on tanned skin will heal patchy as the damaged skin (tanned skin) is regenerating and sometimes the sun burn is as deep as the dermis, this basically means that the tissue receiving the ink is already damaged and the body is trying to regenerate it.

So try to always wear SPF 50 or higher sunscreen cream well before your tattoo session.

6. Don’t Shave The Area

Shaving the skin also creates micro abrasions that make the skin more sensitive.

Don’t worry about shaving, as your tattoo artist will shave the area that will be tattooed anyway.

Most artists will ask you not to shave as they wouldn’t want the skin already irritated before they even start prepping the skin.

7. Get A Good Night Sleep

We all know that being tired makes even the best of us turn into cranky and moody teenagers.

So it is always recommended that the night before your tattoo appointment you get as much sleep as possible, thus making you be more relaxed and more positive for your next tattoo.

When you are well rested your pain tolerance is a lot higher than normal, so at least 8 hours of sleep can totally transform your next tattoo session from a nightmare into a dream.

8. Eat A Propper Breakfast

A lot of times when asking the customers if they had breakfast they tell me:

“-Yeah, I had a piece of toast and some tea!” – THAT’S NOT A PROPER BREAKFAST !!

As you are getting tattooed the sugar levels in your bloods will drop as your body is feeling the skin is getting injured and sends adrenaline throughout you system. As soon as this adrenaline hit starts to fade, your bloods sugar levels will drop.

So a “proper pre tattoo breakfast” is a high protein breakfast. Whichever way you get your carbs, be it from meat or plants, a slow release of carbohydrates in your system will be the best way to ensure you don’t get light-headed or faint.

Breakfast will give you energy, but will also keep you comfortable for longer.

If your tattoo session is over a few hours, I always suggest you bring some snacks and maybe some sugary drinks with you.

9. Planning Ahead

When the long awaited day arrives you want to make sure that your session will go smooth and as pain free as possible.

Sometimes when you go for your appointment, your tattoo artist might want to do some adjustments or resize your design in order to flow better with the area of the body where is going. This will often mean that the time you are in the tattoo studio is longer than first anticipated.

The last thing you want is to have somebody waiting for you, or having some appointment that you can’t make in time as your tattoo is taking longer that you first thought. Also, your tattoo artist will not appreciate you trying to rush him, as a good tattoo takes time and requires all the concentration the tattoo artist can give.

So make sure the day of your tattoo session is free in your diary, as you will also appreciate that after a longer tattoo session you will be very tired and will be looking forward to going home and rest.

10. Dress For The Occasion

When getting ready for your tattoo session always have in mind the area where the tattoo will go on.

For example: if you are going to get your upper arm tattooed you might want to have a sleeveless shirt on, if you are getting your ribs or stomach tattooed, you might want to wear a baggy t shirt, if you are getting your thigh tattooed you might be better wearing shorts or a skirt.

Always try to wear clothing that is comfortable and non-restrictive, but also practical for the area that is getting tattooed.

I also recommend my customers never to bring their best or most expensive clothing as sometimes you might get a little ink or blood on the clothing by accident, and it would be a shame to throw away good clothing.

11. Keep Yourself Distracted

If you don’t have anything to keep you distracted, I’m sure your tattoo artist will have a lot to keep you talking about and all the tattoo artists that I have ever met are up for telling jokes or telling stories.

All this is to keep you distracted, so that you are not concentrating on the pain you are experiencing.

Some of my customers bring with them IPad or their Kindle‘s so that they can watch movies or read whilst getting tattooed to keep them distracted.

Music is also a good distraction, so why not bring your headphones and listen to your favorite music.

You know you’ve been dying to listen to Justin Bieber’s latest album. 🙂 Just joking.

12. Good Company Or Bad Company

When going in for your tattoo session, you might want to bring a close friend or family member to support you.

My advice regarding this is that if your mum is over protective and quite nervous, you might want to consider not bringing her. But if your mum is a “hip mum” that can keep you talking and has a positive attitude, then she sounds like the perfect person to take with you.

Its better to have somebody that has already had tattoos done, as they can help you keep calm.

Some tattoo studios do not allow anybody else into the tattooing area other than the customer that is being tattooed, so check beforehand as you would want you friend to be sitting on a couch for a few hours whilst you are having all the fun.

But whatever you do, don’t bring your toddlers or pets into a tattoo studio, as a tattoo studio is not the best environment for this. Plus, pets are not allowed by law into tattoo studios for health and safety reasons.

Related Questions

What Can I Take Before A Tattoo To Help With The Pain? The only medication you can take without prescription is a non aspirin based pain reliever like Ibuprofen.

Do Tattoos Hurt? Depending on the area getting tattooed, some areas are more painful than others. That being said, if getting tattooed on the forearm (probably one of the least painful) you will probably find the pain comparable to a cat scratch or a burning sensation.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will try to answer them as soon as possible.


How Long Does It Take For A Tattoo To Heal – Tattoo Artist Answer

As a tattoo artist, I get asked all the time by my customers this question. I was also told that when they googled the answer, they got a lot of mixed answers.

So how long does it take for a tattoo to heal? It usually takes a tattoo 4-6 weeks to fully heal. The reason for this is that a tattoo needle doesn’t just pierce the epidermis (top layer of the skin) but also the dermis (second layer), and although the epidermis might heal within 2-3 weeks, the dermis layer is still not healed yet.

In this article, I will explain all the stages and healing procedures, and also how to know when your tattoo is fully healed.

I am NOT a doctor and the advice given here is purely from my own experience and my customers experience over the years and my own research. Do your own research and if unsure ask your own doctor for professional advice!

How Does A Tattoo Heal And How Long Does It Take

First of all, every person heals at a different rate and it also depends if the aftercare procedure has been followed, but throughout all my years of experience I have found that usually they heal in 4-6 weeks.

In order for a tattoo to be created, the tattoo needles need to pierce through the epidermis (first) layer of the skin and deposit the pigment (tattoo ink) in the dermis (second) layer of the skin. Sometimes you might see tattoos that have what is called as blowout (this is when the ink seems to spread underneath the skin) and the reason for that is that the needle has been pushed further down and the tattoo ink has been deposited in the hypodermis (or the fat tissue) layer of the skin.

What are the stages of a tattoo healing:

  • Within the first 24 hours the tattoo will bleed and discharge plasma. This sometimes looks like a mixture of blood and mucus. Its is very common at this stage for the tattooed area to feel like burning and be very warm to the touch. The tattooed area will also be swollen after the trauma (tattoo needles piercing the skin) it has been subjected to.
  • After 3-5 days the tattooed area will start becoming very itchy. This is very normal as your body is trying to heal itself and sends as many white cells to the area to repair the “damage” that has occurred. At any point please do NOT scratch or rub your tattoo, as this can irritate the skin even further. If the itchiness is too much, just apply gentle pressure on the area.
  • Usually after 5-6 days you will notice that your skin starts to peel off and when washing the tattoo, you will notice a lot of skin washing away. At this stage your tattoo will look quite faded and patchy. Do not worry, as this is normal and there is nothing wrong with your tattoo. When washing your tattoo, do NOT pull on any skin that is not washing away on its own.
  • Within 10-20 days the skin will stop washing away and the skin will start to feel firmer. At this stage, the epidermis is almost fully healed, but your tattoo will still feel a bit tender and it is not fully healed underneath,
  • After 3-4 weeks your tattoo will look very shiny and the hairs on your skin will start coming back trough and your skin will feel itchy again, as the hair follicles are coming from the dermis layer (second layer of the skin) and popping through the epidermis (the first layer of the skin). This is the last stage before your tattoo is fully healed.
  • Usually about a week after the last stage your tattoo will be fully healed. By this stage both layers of the skin have fully healed and you are ready for touch ups (if necessary) or just adding onto your existing piece.

Getting tattooed over your healing tattoo can cause scar tissue to form, and this is why we always recommend waiting at least 6 weeks before adding to your new tattoo, or covering up a “holiday tattoo”.

How To Take Care Of Your New Tattoo

As medicine science, so does our understanding of the healing process of the epidermis and dermis layers of the skin.

A lot of older artists or old school artists will recommend letting the tattoo dry and scab over, or keep the film or bandage that the tattoo artist places over the fresh tattoo for 24 hours, but this is not recommended anymore for several reasons, in fact its now considered quite inappropriate in the modern tattoo industry.

Sure, your tattoo artist has been tattooing for 10-20 years and is very professional in doing his job, but sometimes the latest techniques and procedures might take a bit of time to reach everybody. Especially if he is tattooing full time and maybe running a shop and family time, he might have quite a lot on his “plate”.

Researching the latest discoveries and recommended procedures might evade some of the artists with busy schedules.

As a tattoo artist that specialises in black and grey realism and cover-ups tattoos, I have seen firsthand (including on myself) the difference between the “old school aftercare procedure” and the “updated aftercare procedure”, especially on portrait tattoos that require a more gentle approach to aftercare.

Before doing any type of aftercare, please always ensure you read the products ingredients to make sure you are not allergic to any of them. If unsure, do not use and ask your family doctor for advice.

How do my customers and I take care of our tattoos:

1. Tattoo Finished – Once the tattoo artist has finished your new tattoo, and you have approved your new body art, the tattoo artist will give it another wash after which he will apply a cream (usually tattoo butter) and wrap your tattoo in a transparent film, usually this is either cling film or a specialised product like Dermalize.

2. Wash Your Hands – After 4-6 hours after the tattoo has been done, you will have to thoroughly wash your hands using an antibacterial fragrance free (preferably liquid soap).

3. Remove Film – now you can remove the clear film the tattoo artist has placed over your fresh tattoo and dispose of it safely.

4. Wash tattoo – under running luke warm water and only using your hands with antibacterial soap, wash your tattoo thoroughly. Keep in mind that you need to also wash the immediate area next to your tattoo, and not just the tattooed area.

The reasons we don’t use any sponges or cloths, is because as they have been used before they can harvest bacteria, and can even leave fibers that can attach themselves to the tattoo and irritate the area, but also because some sponges or cloths can be quite abrasive to the wounded skin.

5. Tap it dry – using paper disposable towels, tap your tattoo dry, but try not to rub, as this can irritate the skin and be quite painful on a freshly tattooed skin. I found that kitchen paper towels are the most comfortable for drying a tattoo off.

6. Apply barrier cream – using your clean hands, apply a very thin layer of barrier cream (Bepanthen, Tattoo Goo, Hustle Butter, etc) on and around the area that has been tattooed. You don’t need to apply too much cream, as you only need to apply enough to make the skin look shinny and be fully covered in the cream.

7. Wrap up in barrier film. If you don’t have any specialized products like Dermalize, food grade cling film will be just fine.

8. Repeat steps 2,3,4,5,6,7 every 4-6 hours for the first 5 days.

9. Keep moisturized – after the first 5 days, you will still have to wash your tattoo at least 3 times a day and you need to keep the skin hydrated using a dermatologically tested cream (like E45 ) or cocoa butter every 2-3 hours or whenever the skin feels dry. You don’t need to keep it covered with barrier film after the first 5 days.

We have found that all following this aftercare, all the tattoos have healed really well and NO scabbing has occurred.

The reason scabbing is considered dangerous for a healing tattoo is that the scabs can be broken off very easily by accident, and also dust particles and textile fibers can reside in them.

Usually when the freshly tattooed area is becoming itchy, just doing the aftercare procedure is enough to relieve you from the discomfort.

What Not To Do When You Have A New Tattoo

There are a few things that are strongly advice against when having a newly tattooed area of skin.

Here is a list and the reason why:

1. NO swimming or baths – (if the tattooed area will be submerged in the water)

We strongly recommend against swimming, as this usually happens in the swimming pool, the sea, or any large body of water. Any stagnant body of water is NOT sterile and bacteria can thrive without any problems in such waters.

Also, a major discomfort will be the salt in the seawater or the chlorine usually found in the swimming pool coming in contact with your freshly tattooed skin. You wouldn’t put salt on a fresh wound, would you?!

2. NO sunbathing – (this includes tanning salons)

UV rays are very harmful to a tattoo, especially in the healing process, and can fade your new tattoo even before its fully healed. Even once the tattoo is fully healed, we always recommend you have SPF 50 or higher sunscreen cream.

3. NO make up on the tattooed area – (this includes “fake tan”)

As your tattoo is healing you want to protect it against any type of infection or irritation. So make-up or “fake tan” not being a sterile product, please don’t apply it on your new tattoo whilst is healing

4. NO rubbing or scratching – (this includes tight clothing or anything that can rub against the area)

Anything that is rubbing against the tattoo will cause the sensitive skin (wound) to become irritated. This is very unpleasant and if it is consistent this can lead to your tattoo not healing properly.

5. Never touch your tattoo without disinfecting your hands

Never apply any creams or touch the newly tattooed area without at least washing your hands thoroughly. Just think of all the things we touch during the day and how many other people have touched as well. As you always wash your hands after going to the toilet, make a habit of washing your hands before touching your new tattoo.

You can never be to safe when having a fresh tattoo.

6. Beware of pets and dust –

If you are lucky enough to be a pet owner (like me) you will find that your pets will try to investigate the wounded area and might even try to lick it. Be very aware of this, as this can cause a serious infection. Pet hairs and dust is something you must avoid at all costs when having a tattoo that is healing.

If you consider your newly tattooed area as a wound, chances are that your logic will help answer any other questions in relation to what NOT to do.

What To Do In Case You Got An Infection On A New Tattoo

If you were not careful enough and ended up getting an infection on your tattoo, you need to wash your tattoo using antibacterial soap and then covering your tattoo with a bandage and get in touch with your family doctor or go straight to your pharmacist.

Usually you will be told to let the tattoo dry and stop applying any other creams. Don’t worry about it, as you will avoid any serious complications and ask your tattoo artist to touch it up once fully healed. He will be more than happy to help you out and correct the damage done by the infection on his artwork.

You will probably be given a course of antibiotic to ensure the infection is eradicated and please do follow your doctors or pharmacist’s advice, and don’t stop taking the antibiotics until the prescribed course is finished.

If you do not take your antibiotics, in serious cases, you can develop septicemia.

Related questions

How long do you have to wait before you can workout after getting a tattoo? Usually you can go back to the gym after 2-3 weeks. The reason you shouldn’t before that is that sweat is a saline solution and will cause you discomfort and irritation of your newly tattooed skin.

How long does the tattoo pain last? Usually you will find that tattoo pain will disappear within a couple of days. The length of the pain time frame will also depend on how much skin was tattooed. Small tattoos heal faster and the pain usually disappears after a few hours, whilst big projects (back, chest, tattoo sleeves) can be painful for up to 3-4 days.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will try to answer them as soon as possible.


Should I Get A Tattoo On Holiday? – Tattoo artist Answer

Maybe you are thinking that in your next holiday you should get a more permanent souvenir like a tattoo, at the end of the day it will always be a reminder of the good times you had.

So Should I Get A Tattoo On Holiday? No, there are a few reasons for this. In the UK and USA the tattoo industry is very strictly regulated regarding Health and Safety, whilst other countries, especially in Europe, are not really regulated when it comes to the tattoo industry. There are also other reasons which I will explain further.

At first, it might seem like a good idea, or in the spur of the moment after having a few drinks and your friends daring you to do this, but the cold reality if holiday tattoos are not as safe as you think.

Why You Should NOT Get A Holiday Tattoo

The tattoo industry has become almost just as regulated, if not more in some cases, as medical practices.

Tattoo studios are required by law to have in place certain procedures and the tattoo artists need to follow certain protocols developed specially for Health and Safety reasons.

For example in the UK, every tattoo workstation needs to be equipped with a hands free operated hand washing sink, antibacterial soap, hand sanitiser and disposable paper towels.

Every workstation surface needs to be disinfected with certified antibacterial products, and absolutely every tool or surface the tattoo artist might come in contact with whilst tattooing you have to be wrapped in disposable film. This includes everything from the tattoo machine to the clipcord (cable that power the tattoo machine) to the power supply, and everything else.

Also, every tattoo artist must have an immunization course against Hepatitis B, needs to be very knowledgeable in cross contamination prevention and every tattoo studio needs to have a specially trained First Aid Person present at all times.

Also, by law, in the UK the waiting area and the tattoo area needs to be separated with walls (floor to ceiling) to prevent dust and to prevent airborne viruses getting into the tattooing area with ease.

These are just a few of the requirements that need to be proved before getting a Skin Piercing and Tattooing License.

All these factors are to ensure that there is as little to no risk for the customer of getting an infection whilst getting a tattoo and also to protect the tattoo artist from getting and spreading any diseases.

So keeping that in mind, here are a few of the reasons why I recommend against getting a tattoo on holiday:

1. Health and Safety – whilst there are a lot of other places that are just as strict when it comes to regulations regarding your health and safety, some countries have not gotten yet to this standard and tattooing is a non regulated industry, where basically everybody does whatever they think is right.

2. Bad Decisions – when being on holiday and after having one to many, you might want to impress your friends and showing off how fearless you are. Is that a good decision? Of course NOT.

When we drink, the alcohol thins our blood and this means that you will bleed a lot more than normal, but also with all of our other senses being dimmed down, falling and forgetting to follow the aftercare can mean that an infection is very possible.

3. Tattoo Artist Reputation – when you are in your home town, you probably already know which tattoo artist is the best in your area, and which tattoo artist is the worst. Be it for artwork, or maybe a friend of yours was unhappy with the hygiene of the studio, etc.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said when you are abroad, as you are not a local, and although all the flashing lights and then promising you that they are the best in the area, you won’t know the quality of their work until is permanently on your skin. There were cases where tattoo studios in touristic areas have been caught out displaying tattoos done by international renowned artists and presenting it as their own, just to attract business.

The other aspect of this can be that if the tattoo doesn’t look the way you wanted when healed, you probably can’t go back and ask the artist to touch it up or repair it. The artist also knows that and is not really interested in providing you with a quality tattoo, but is more interested in the euros, or whatever currency you have in your pockets.

Hence, why almost all “holiday tattoos” have quite a poor quality to then.

4. Aftercare – lets be honest, you are on holiday to have fun, enjoy the sun (or snow), drink, visit places and other fun activities. So how will you actually follow the aftercare procedure whilst having so many distractions? You probably won’t, or just plain and simply forget. Not following your aftercare procedure will definitely affect its quality and can even put you at risk of infections or even worst septicemia.

There was a famous case in the news last year when a tourist in Cyprus (if I’m not mistaken) after arriving in the resort, went to get a tattoo. The parties that follow and the distractions made him forget about the aftercare of his tattoo, and ended up with an infection that he neglected. The neglected infection turned into septicemia within a couple of days and the tourist died.

OK, this is an extreme case, and its not really common, and I’m not trying to scare you, but you need to remember that a tattoo is an open wound and needs to be treated as such.


Can I Go Swimming After Getting A Tattoo

As tattoos are basically opened wounds, the last thing you want is to jump in the sea or swimming pool with a fresh tattoo.

Sea water is not sterile, thus the risk of a skin infection if really high. Not to even think about the discomfort you will feel when the salty sea water is coming in contact with your freshly tattooed area. Imagine having a cut and pouring salt.

In order for swimming pools not to develop any algae and also to minimize the risk of water carried diseases, you will find that chlorine is present in the water at different concentrations.

When your tattoo artist has explained to you the aftercare procedure, one of the sentences was probably “NO swimming or baths with a fresh tattoo!“. If it wasn’t, you might want to reconsider your tattoo artist choice.

The reason for this is that any stagnant body of water can harvest bacteria and comes with a very high risk of infection for your new ink.

A lot of times people forget that tattoos are basically open wounds and this is one of the reason common sense fails to apply.

I always explain to my customers to think of a tattoo as a cut in their skin. So if you wouldn’t put salt on a cut in your skin, you are not going to do that with a tattoo.

Can I Go To The Beach With A New Tattoo

First of all a fresh tattoo should not stay exposed in the sun. Actually any tattoo should not stay exposed to UV rays and even a healed tattoo should always be covered with plenty of high factor sunscreen cream. Preferably factor 50 and above,

The other risk you might encounter on a beach is sand. Let’s be honest, sand is everywhere on the beach, and the slightest breeze will raise quite a good amount of dust in the air.

As you probably figured sand is NOT a sterile material, and getting sand on your fresh tattoo will make the chances of you getting an infection go through the roof.

This doesn’t mean that if you have a fresh tattoo you should stay locked up in a room. What I am recommending is to have the tattoo protected against all these exterior bacteria. Products like Dermalize are fantastic at protecting agains dust, as its a transparent film that keeps the skin breathing but does not allow anthing to come in contact with the wound.

As a tattoo artist and also a avid tattoo collector, I use SPF 50 cream every day, as UV rays are not present only when the sun is shining and its hot outside. So this way, I know my tattoos will look fresh for a very long time.

Related Questions

How Long Before Going On Holiday Should I Get Tattoo? As a tattoo takes 4-6 weeks to fully heal, I always recommend having your tattoo session with at least 6 weeks to spare before departing on holiday

How Long After Coming From Holiday Should I Wait Before Getting A Tattoo? If you enjoyed your holiday in a sunny destination and are lucky enough to come back home with a tan, then I recommend you wait at least 4 weeks. In this time the skin will regenerate to its normal healthy self and the burned skin will have been replaced. If however you went on holiday in a destination that lacked sun or were constantly dressed, you can get a tattoo straight away.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will try to answer them as soon as possible.


What Tattoo Should I Get – Tattoo Artist Advice

A friend of mine asked me what tattoo should she get, as she never had one and doesn’t know where to start. So I had a bit of thought about this and as I am sure this is a common question, I decided to write this article to help you get decide on your next tattoo.

So what tattoo should I get? For your first tattoo, It is always recommended that you start with a small design, preferably something with a personal meaning. If you already have tattoos, you can: continue the style you already have, get a contrasting style on the other side of your body, or just go with new ideas.

Depending if this is going to be your first tattoo or you already have tattoos, there are a few different ways to plan your next tattoo project. Today I will explain how to plan and decide on which tattoo is best for you.

What Should I Get As My First Tattoo

Usually the first tattoo is quite the most brain wrecking, at this moment in time you might not know what to expect when getting a tattoo, how to prepare for one, where on the body should it be and most importantly what should it be.

First of all try to consider that for your first experience you can either go all out with a big bold design or play it safe and get a small tattoo in an area that is known for not being to painful.

Usually these areas are on the forearms, the outer upper arms or on the shoulder blade.

If you decide to play it safe, I always recommend to go small (2-3 inches). There are a lot of designs can help you get a simplistic lined tattoo that can be cute (especially if you are a girl) and can also be quite personal.

The reason I recommend a small liner tattoo on the forearm is because all my first time tattoo customers are concerned with the pain of the actual tattoo. Friends usually don’t help too much as most of them might try to scare you saying that is very painful, whilst others might try to encourage you and tell you that you won’t feel a thing.

The truth is usually in the middle. Most of the customers I ask to put in words the pain they have experienced, usually say that it feels like a cat scratch or a very localized burning sensation, but 9 out of 10 customers will always admit that is far less painful than they imagined, and usually book in straight away for their next tattoo session.

Of course the pain threshold is different for each person, but it can also be influenced on how well you prepare for your first tattoo session.

Depending on how you are as a person, different styles or designs might appeal more to you, and all of them can be personalized so that even if you won’t get another tattoo, at least you have something that is personal and has a deeper meaning to you. Be it a celebration or a memory, I always recommend the first tattoo is personal.

The most common types of designs are as follows:

  • Infinity signs – usually they represent either a love that is never ending (for example for your kids, parents or pets) or a memory of a loved one that has sadly passed away. In these types of designs you can add initials, names, etc.
  • Feather – a feather usually represents a story that is still being written but in some cases it can represent leaving the nest and finding ones true self or “their own 2 feet”
  • Anchor – this type of design usually represents somebody that is grounded to their past (in a positive kind of way, as in “I will never forget”)
  • A loved ones name – a child’s name or a parents name could be a sign of appreciation for them. However I strongly recommend AGAINST getting a partner or a boyfriend/girlfriends name, as we always end up covering them up. The partners name tattoo has become so infamous, that it got the name “The Curse” amongst tattoo artist.

I’m sure a quick google search can reveal a lot of ideas for your first tattoo, but always make sure to also search for the meaning of said design.

What Tattoo Should I Get If I Am Already Tattooed

If you are a veteran in the tattoo side, or as we call it an “ink collector”, and are stuck for ideas, here are some tips that might help you decide on your next project.

I have regular customers that sometimes come in the tattoo studio and ask me what should they get next.

There is nothing more pleasing for me as a tattoo artists to recommend designs and ideas, and I usually get approval on the first design that I show my customer. Trust is also an important factor in this tattoo artists – tattoo collector relationship, but all of my customers know that I tattoo for the love of the art and I’m not interested in “just taking the money”.

The way I see it is that the better the tattoo and the better the design my customers get, the more work I will get from it as my customer is my walking billboard. As you all know a good reputation takes a lifetime to build, so I would never want to jeopardize that. So it in both our interest for my customer to have the best tattoo possible.

Here is what I always recommend to my “collectors”:

1. Good vs Evil – What I mean by this, is that if my customer has a sleeve of super heroes, the other one should be with all the bad guys. This idea applies also to when my customer has a color traditional Japanese sleeve, I always recommend the next sleeve to be black and gray realism keeping the Japanese theme. If my customer has a Greek Mythology black and gray realism I recommend a black and gray realism sleeve with the opposite of the gods that are on the first sleeve.

I don’t know if good vs evil explains the way I propose the next project to my customers, but usually I try to always have a contrast between what has been done and what will be done. Be it changing the tattoo style, changing to the contrast elements of what the sleeve is made of.

2. Black vs Color – this is particular interesting to see a reaction from my female customers, as if one customer has a black and gray sleeve, I might recommend we do the opposite leg in full color, but keeping the theme. Sometimes a change of style might emphasis even better the tattoos as there will always be a contrast on my “canvas”.

3. Style change – by style change I mean that for example if my customer has black and gray portraits I might recommend we extend it with some geometrical style tattoos. That way the contrast between the 2 tattoos will always show off both of them in equal detail. If for example one of my female customers has a mandala type tattoo on her sternum, I might recommend a geometrical style on the chest or maybe some realistic flower design.

If however you are just looking to continue a sleeve, I always recommend keeping a theme going on a larger area, as when is completed it looks more appealing to the eye. We have all seen people with all sorts of tattoo styles or designs that just look like a sticker bomb exploded on their arm, and usually they look quite unappealing.

If still unsure, why not search online databases of ideas like PrintMyTattoo or Miami Ink Tattoo Designs.

How To Prepare For Your Tattoo Session

Every tattoo artist might have different recommendations, but I always recommend what I have already tried and tested myself and if I failed to prepare, I saw the difference in my pain threshold and my comfort.

Although I am a tattoo artist, this doesn’t mean that I won’t feel a thing when getting more ink done.

The only difference between me and other people, is that I prepare for a tattoo session well in advance just to ensure that on the day of my next tattoo session, I’m as comfortable as possible.

Here is what I have found best to prepare me for my tattoo sessions and what I recommend to everybody:

1. NO alcohol 48 hours before the tattoo session – as you probably already know, alcohol thins blood quite considerably, which means that you will bleed more when getting tattooed and the artist will have to wipe more the area getting tattooed and also this might affect the healing process. The second benefit to this is that you will not have a hangover which, lets be honest, it not fun on a normal day, let alone when getting tattooed

2. Plenty of sleep the night before – if I don’t get my 8 hours of beauty sleep I am very cranky, probably just like everybody else. Not just that we are cranky, but also our pain threshold is quite low. We all know how it feels at work after a night where sleep wasn’t really possible, now imagine feeling like that and somebody tattooing you at the same time. Doesn’t look like fun, does it?

3. Drink Water – researchers have found that dehydration has a negative impact in our pain threshold. So this means that 48 hours before a tattoo session you should start drinking as much water as possible.

4. Have a proper breakfast – I usually ask my customers in the morning of their session if they had breakfast and they usually reply “Yeah, I had a toast and some tea…” . NO that is not a proper breakfast. The reason I ask my customers to have a proper breakfast on the morning before their session is that a good consistent breakfast ensures that the sugar levels in their bloods are more stable and they won’t get tunnel vision or light-headed whilst I’m tattooing them, making me stop halfway through a tattoo. As when getting tattooed, you will get a small adrenaline rush and then an adrenaline dump, which when this happens, the sugar levels in your bloods drop and you start feeling light-headed, and if you don’t replenish them, in extreme cases, you will faint.

I actually had a bodybuilder customer that is all into healthy eating and all of that and when I asked if he had a proper breakfast, he replied that he had his “protein shake”. Although I insisted for him to go and have a much more consistent breakfast, he assured me that he will be fine. Needless to say that when I started tattooing him he fainted, and here I was trying to get a bodybuilder to come through just because he thought his size will be better than my experience.

5. Bring a fizzy drink and a sweet snack – The sugary fizzy drink and the sweet snack is to make sure you replenish your sugar levels in your bloods. Or maybe bring some donuts for your favorite artist. It won’t make the tattoo less painful, but it will make your tattoo artist happier.

6. Wear something comfortable – although I advise to all my customers to wear something comfortable, every now and them I get somebody that comes in tight clothing or if the tattoo is on their legs or thigh they might just come in jeans. Try to remember that the area you will be tattooed in needs to be exposed and usually there are other people around, unless you get tattooed in a private area.

I also recommend choosing who comes with you for support at your appointment. From all the tattoo artists on this planet, I beg of you, don’t bring 20 friends and all your family and their dogs and cats. Please bring just one person with you.

It is recommended you bring a close friend that you can have a laugh with and can keep you positive, rather than bringing your overly stressed mom that might be wanting to scream at the tattoo artist because the “bad man” is hurting her little baby.

Always think of the fact that we need to focus on giving you the best tattoo possible, and distractions are not the best things to help with this.

Related questions

Do tattoos hurt? The pain depends on your personal pain threshold, and usually females have a higher pain tolerance than men. Most people associate tattoos to cat scratches or a localized burning sensation.

How long does it take for a tattoo to heal? A tattoo usually heals in 4-6 weeks from the time it was made. Following a strict aftercare routine will help your tattoo heal a little faster. Linework tattoos usually heal within 3-4 weeks whilst black and gray realism tattoos usually heal in 4-5 weeks. Color realism tattoos can take up to 7 weeks to heal.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will try to answer them as soon as possible.


Are Tattoos Vegan? The Tattoo Artists Reply

Every now and then I get asked how vegan or vegan friendly are the tattoo products we use in tattooing. So I did some research to see if we really are a vegan tattoo shop.

So are tattoos vegan? Most tattoo studios still use non vegan tattoo inks and consumables. But lately there are more and more companies that are taking this into considerations. Getting a vegan tattoo doesn’t only refer to the ink, but also to other products like transfer paper and stencil cream.

Many customers nowadays are only wanting vegan friendly tattoos. There is actually a lot more to this and finding out if your local tattoo studio is vegan friendly can be quite tricky. In this article we will cover all the aspects of a true vegan tattoo and the tattoo products I have found to be truly vegan.

What Tattoo Inks Are Vegan

I am very pleased to say that nowadays more and more tattoo ink manufacturers are interested in creating vegan tattoo ink and also in protecting our little non spoken friends.

As one of my vegan friend found out, tattoo studios also have a hard time in knowing if the inks that they use are vegan or not. So I have done some research and these are a list of vegan tattoo ink brands that I found.

1. Kuro Sumi – this is an excellent black ink tattoo that have the carbon black pigment derived from burning a plant that is found in Japan. The manufacturing process is plant based from start to finish and this makes it all vegan. This carbon pigment is used in the Kuro Sumi Outline Ink and also in the Kuro Sumi Greywash Ink.

2. Silverback Ink – this company has found the vegan tattoo ink niche in the market and has developed this ink to make sure that all their vegan friendly customers are 100% served with quality ink.

3. CrazyHorse – this is a 100% American tattoo ink produced only with organic ingredients

4. Eternal Inks – this company has refused to use glycerin carriers derived from animal fats or use any animal products in their color sets and also in their greywash sets, and we salute them as this company is one of the big players on the tattoo ink market

5. Intenze Inks – usually in the beginning of the company it was rumored that they were using crushed bones for their black pigments, but since the company had a makeover they have removed anything to do with animal products and are now 100% vegan products. They have now some of the best inks on the market, both in the Greywash Kits and the Color Kits.

6. Dermaglo Inks – this company is so selective that it does not sell any of their products to anybody except professional tattoo artists and tattoo studios. They also insist that none of their products have been tested on animals and that they are strict against those type of testing.

7. Fusion Tattoo Inks – this is a family run business that puts the animal friendliness of their products on a very high place. They boast with some of the higher concentrations of pigments in their inks, yet are dedicated to remain 100% vegan.

Does Vegan Tattoo Ink Fade Faster

There were times that vegan tattoo inks did lack resilience once they were tattooed in the skin and the UV rays would make them fade a lot faster than the other products, But with massive developments in the tattoo industry, the products that are sold these days from all reputable suppliers are sure to compete with the less animal friendly tattoo inks that were used before.

Some might say that the vegan tattoo inks used now are actually more resilient to fading than the old tattoo inks.

This could be also attributed to the fact that the tattoo market has been requesting vegan friendly products for quite a number of years, so the manufacturers had to listen to this and research on tattoo inks that used animal products or were being tested on animals have been dropped and frowned upon by industry leaders.

So if you follow the aftercare of your tattoo you will enjoy your vegan tattoo for a very long time and will also be happy that you have not contributed anymore to the suffering of our unspoken friends.

Vegan Tattoo Supplies For A Tattoo Studio

When deciding whether to get a tattoo if you are a vegan, you might have a limited choice in tattoo studios and artists that are willing to do the actual research regarding the ingredients in the products that they use.

So when one of my customers came in the studio and asked if our tattoo shop is vegan friendly, I have decided to look into it and see the actual implications of becoming a vegan friendly tattoo studio, in case we weren’t already.

Little that I knew is that being a vegan friendly tattoo studio is actually quite expensive, and requires a lot of research and emailing back and forwards with suppliers and manufacturing companies, as there are hundreds of products and consumables that we use daily.

No wonder most tattoo studios don’t really care about our animal friends and only care about the bottom line. Vegan products are twice if not more the price of normal products, and only as of lately more and more companies are going vegan with their products.

I started looking at the transfer paper that we were using for creating the stencils. We used normally Spirit Carbon Paper but on further research, found out that it wasn’t vegan as it used gelatin in the carbon mix. So after phoning our current supplier, we found that Spirit also makes a vegan version of the same paper, but twice as expensive called Repro Vegan.

Sure you might say its only paper, but a tattoo studio with 5 artists and a lot of customers goes through quite a considerable amount of carbon paper. If you ask me its worth every penny,

Then we looked at the stencil application cream that we used which is called Anchored and after a quick google research we have found that it actually is a vegan product, so that means we were already doing our bit by using this product for our tattoos. So not only Anchored was a great product, it was also vegan. Who knew!?

The next step was finding if the inks are vegan, as some tattoo inks used charred animal bones and other animal related products, we had to find if our tattoo inks were vegan. So we have decided to send an e-mail to the manufacturer of our tattoo inks.

The email came back the next day and when opening the email we saw that the Intenze Tattoo Inks that we were using were in fact 100% vegan.

Vegan Tattoo Aftercare Products

When one of my customer was asking me to suggest a tattoo aftercare cream or kit that is vegan, I was quite surprised that there were not a lot of options out there. Now there are specialized brands that only deal with vegan products, but I strongly feel that vegan products should be the majority and not the exceptions.

After researching a few brands and products, here is what I found to be some of the best vegan tattoo aftercare products in my opinion:

1. Panda Balm – one of their best products is Wundpflege and its so versatile that it can be used as a moisturizing cream, as a tattoo butter whilst tattooing and also as an aftercare cream. It’s made 100% from natural products and does not have any chemicals or any other irritants in the salve. It’s also Paraben, Fragrance and Petroleum Free.

2. Zlatan Tattoo Enhancer and Aftercare – this Tattoo Enhancer is a new body lotion that contains nourishing oils that protect and uplift your tattoos, while still functioning as a great body lotion it is also a fantastic tattoo moisturizing aftercare cream.

3. Hustle Butter DeLuxe – any professional tattoo artist has used or has at least heard of the quality of this product. This butter is included in most select tattoo studios in the world and most artists will swear by its effectiveness. This is also probably one of my favorite aftercare product.

4. After Inked – although a newer name on the market, this company has been vegan orientated from the onset and although a bit more pricey than the others, if you are looking for a product built vegan from the ground up, this is the one for you.

Related Questions

Is A Vegan Tattoo More Painful? Tattoos are made by piercing the skin with a needle, and depositing minute particles of pigment into the skin in the dermis layer (the second layer of the skin).

Where Should I Get My First Tattoo? As a tattoo artist I always recommend your first tattoo to be on the forearms as this is an area that is less painful and I also recommend to start with a small tattoo that is personal, rather than jump in the “deep end”.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will try to answer them as soon as possible.


Can Tattoos Cover Up Self Harm Scars? – Tattoo Artist Answer

As a tattoo artist I got asked lately quite a few times if scars can be covered up with tattoos. So I have decided to give you some information about this.

So can tattoos cover up self harm scars? Self harm scars can be covered by tattoos if the scarred tissue is fully healed. Usually there are a few different approaches that can be taken to cover up scars but most designs used are quite detailed and usually flow with the scarred tissue that is being covered.

We always need a consultation with the customer prior to a tattoo appointment as we need to ensure they qualify for a “medical tattoo” and what the customers are wanting to achieve with covering up their self harming scars.

Self Harm Scars Tattoo Cover Ups

In the last few years we had more and more customers asking for tattoos that can cover up self harm scars, and we have started helping more and more people getting body art that cover up the scarred tissue.

When dealing with scarred tissue in general, we need to know that the tissue is fully healed as we wouldn’t want to create more damage to the tissue. But when it comes to self harm scars we usually take a much more detailed approach in finding out what exactly is best suited for the customer.

We usually ask the customer how old are the scars this to make sure the scars are not that recent and we found that if the answer is under 6 months, the psychological situation that has caused the self harm might also not be resolved. In this case, we might as for a letter from the customers family doctor, as this might give us a second medical opinion telling us if the scars are healed.

The next step, being very delicate, is trying to find if the self harming situation is dealt with on a psychological level, as we wouldn’t want to cover the existing self harming scars, just for in the near future to have our work destroyed by new self harm. If we are unsure, we might refuse to tattoo the customer or ask him to come back in a few months time under the pretext that as at this moment in time we are very busy for a new consultation.

Next step is drawing on tracing paper the location of the scarred tissue and delimitation of the space we have to work with. We wouldn’t want to draw designs and keep having to ask the customer to reveal the self harm scars every time we want to try a new design idea.

Then after a lengthy consultation in which we try to find out what style of tattoos the customer likes and what ideas s/he might have we can start the designing process. We also explain if there are any compromises that need to be made in order to have a successful cover up.

Using the information we have gathered from the customer, we will start drawing the tattoo design that was agreed on using the tracing paper with the delimitation and locations on the self harming scars.

In some cases we might create two designs for the same customers, in case we might have a different idea, or there are options to the customers ideas.

At this moment in time we will ask the customer to come in for a stencil fitting, to make sure that everything fits the way it should and the customer is happy with the design and approves it. At this point we will book the tattoo session at a convenient time that suits the customer and we have availability.

What Makes A Successful Self Harm Tattoo Cover Up

A successful self harm cover up needs to accomplish at least two things:

1. To “take the eye away” from the actual scars

As we are born and taught to look at images from the focal point outwards (the main design piece) and analyze the details, this is something that needs to be taken in consideration by your tattoo artist when dealing with your self harm scars cover up. When there are multiple elements of the design that seem equally important, then we will always view them as we would view a text. This is from left top corner and “read” them all the way to the bottom right corner.

This is a very important aspect of any cover-up, especially when dealing with scarred tissue.

2. The colors in the design have to be equal or darker than the darkest tone of skin

For this reason, colors like red, brown or dark blues are quite important when dealing with a self harm scar cover up.

As I get asked a lot of times if scars can be covered up with text or portraits of loved ones, I always try to explain to my customers that because this two types of tattoos require negative space (clean skin) they will not be successful in what we are looking to achieve.

If there is only one scar, a good place to hide it would be in a dark shadow of the design or if there is a portrait in the design, hair is one of my favorite places to make them disappear.

What Designs Cover Up Self Harm Scars Best

There are a few ways to choose a design that will look great as a tattoo, but will also be very effective in covering up self harm scars.

This type of work can be done with different approaches.

Use The Scarred Tissue

I’m sure if you google scars tattoos you will find a lot of funny and witty ideas in which scars have been used to be part of the design. It all comes down to how you are as a person and how seriously you take yourself. If you like a laugh and think that your scars are a part of your past and don’t really care about being part of a tattoo design, then go for it.

I’m sure your tattoo artist can help you turn your scar into a 3d piece of art.

Cover The Scars

For example if the scars are vertical in a narrow space, they can be part of a tree trunk and that might even make the tattoo look better as the raised tissue will give it a 3d type effect.

If there are multiple smaller horizontal scars they can be part of a stretch of water where different blues can hide them really well and also use the space above to create a beautiful scenery.

Cover And Use The Scarred Tissue

I had a case where the customer rally loved the look of skull tattoos and was asking me if there is any way we can use that to cover his self harm scars. He was more into the darker style of tattoos.

Because he had quite a few small self harm scars that were in all directions, I have proposed to make a skull in which the scars were acting like drops of blood that looked like they were actually 3d on the skull. The result was really good and the customer was delighted.

As you can see these self harm scars can be covered up successfully in a lot of designs, it all comes down to having a good consultation with your tattoo artist and then to use your imagination. Don’t worry if you can’t come up with any ideas, as I’m sure your tattoo artist will help you there.

Will Self Harm Cover Up Tattoos Hurt More Than A Normal Tattoo

Because scar tissue doesn’t usually have any nerve endings in them, they are usually the segment where the customer only feels the vibrations of the needle, and doesn’t hurt at all.

In fact, I had customers that said that the sitting on the tattoo chair for a long period was more annoying than the actual tattoo. So this will give you a better understanding of how painful tattooing scarred tissue is.

The cases where scars hurt more than normal are very few and far between. Inner thighs seem to be the areas where the scar tissue is more gentle than normal, but again, these cases are not that common.

Keep in mind that when tattooing scarred tissue the actual tissue itself will swell up more than normal, but within 2-3 days, the swelling will reduce to its normal size. So don’t get alarmed if when your tattoo artist is doing your cover up the scars look more prominent than usual, as this quite normal.

Related Questions

Do self harm tattoo cover ups require special aftercare? Tattoo cover-ups require a bit different of an approach to normal tattoos as they are more sensitive to UV rays (sun, tanning beds, etc), so make sure to ask your tattoo artist what they recommend.

How long does a cover up tattoo take to heal? Cover up tattoos take about 4-6 weeks to heal and if the aftercare procedure is followed correctly then there should be no scabbing appearing. The aftercare cream that is being used also can have an impact on how fast the cover up tattoo heals.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave them below and I will reply to them as soon as possible.


Will My Tattoo Fade? – Answered By A Tattoo Artist

As a tattoo artist I get asked every few days if a tattoo will fade. So, I decided to write this post to answer the most common questions about tattoo fading,.

So will my tattoo fade? It is normal for a tattoo to fade as the ink particles in the dermis layer of the skin get broken down over time by your body and eliminated. Tattoos that are exposed to the sun more frequently will fade faster than tattoos that are less exposed. 

Most people think that black or black and gray tattoos will fade slower, but there is more to it. Yes, black and gray have quite a long-lasting skin time in comparison to other pigments, but this all depends on the actual manufacturer as there are every manufacturers of tattoo ink might have a different recipe for how and what they mix to get the required shade or color.

Another influencing factor in how fast a tattoo fades is the style or tattooing, as some styles require almost perfect saturation, whilst other styles require less saturation.

Why Tattoos Fade

First of all let me explain how a tattoo actually gets done.

A tattoo gets created when a needle that has tattoo ink on it, pierces the skin and passes through the epidermis layer and deposits tiny particles of ink into the dermis layer of the skin.

The reason tattoos are permanent is that the dermis layer doesn’t regenerate like the epidermis layer. The epidermis layer is mostly made up of dead skin cells that protect the dermis layer and is almost transparent.

Imagine the ink droplets like little microscopic bowling balls that gets pushed into the skin.

So, unlike drawing or painting where ink is placed on top of the canvas, the tattooing process is totally different.

As our body is used to fighting any foreign body it finds, our immune system will always try to attack those tiny bowling balls and break them up into smaller pieces in order to evacuate them from our body.

UV rays are the biggest enemy for any tattoo as they are only ones that can actually break those tiny particles into smaller pieces.

Once our body finds any particle broken of from the original foreign body, it will try to take it away and dispose of it.

This is why if you want your tattoo to last and look crisp for as long as possible, you will have to avoid UV Rays.

Which Tattoo Style Fades Faster

It is not a question of which tattoo style fades faster, but more to do with the amount of the pigment density that the tattoo artist puts in the skin (saturation). Although different artists use different levels of saturation, this would probably be a general view on the styles and how much saturation it requires.

The more saturated the skin is, the slower the tattoo will fade.

I would probably list them as follows from the most saturated to the least:

  1. Black Out – This is the procedure where large areas of skin get covered in pure black ink and are a new trend in body art. I would not recommend it as it is not going to be easy to remove it, even with laser tattoo removal sessions, as it’s quite a considerable area.
  2. American Traditional (Old School) – This style requires bold black lines and color saturation, which mean that also colors like green and reds are saturated for to make it look like a block of color.
  3. Tribal Style – Be it Maori, Polynesian or any other kind of tribal style tattoos, they also require a good color saturation of black and this will make them less inclined to fade fast
  4. Geometrical – it basically is what it’s names implies. Geometrical shapes usually tattooed in black in over small to medium areas. This style requires bold lines and/or solid filled repetitive blocks.
  5. Neo-Traditional – this style is more of a blend between American traditional style and more modern realistic style. Also in neo-trad all colors can be used and is not limited to the 4-5 colors of the old school style.
  6. Trash Polka – a mix of realism black, geometrical and color splashes is used to define this style, and although the realism part of the tattoo might fade faster, the geometrical and color splashes will last a bit longer as they have a good saturation.
  7. Realism – be it black and gray realism or color realism, this style uses a lot of negative spaces (clean skin) in order to create an almost 3d looking effect. Things like portraits or images of statues usually tend to fade a lot faster as the saturation of the pigment in the skin is not as dense as other styles.
  8. Watercolor – usually this is composed of black and gray realism and “splashes of color”. For these “splashes of color” to look realistic, they will have areas when saturation is very limited, almost to fading into the actual color of the skin.
  9. Dot work – as the name explains, dot work is the method of using a tattoo needle to create an image using dots. In order to create darker areas, the dots are placed closer together and to create lighter areas, the spacing between individual dots is left larger, almost to the point where it fades into clean skin. This process makes dot work tattoos some of the fastest fading style of tattoos.

This list is made purely for an informative purpose and does not represent a certain chart of how fast your tattoos will fade. As like any tattoo design is different, so is each artists view on these styles and different artists might saturate the skin more, whilst other artists prefer a very light saturation in their tattoos.

This is very prominent in realism tattoos, where some artists tattoos are quite dark and bold whilst other use negative space quite predominantly in their style.

Which Ink Color Fades Faster

Well, this depends on the actual pigment that is used to give the tattoo ink it’s color or shade.

If we were to choose a color based solely on how fast it fades to being almost completely done, my list would be as follows:

  1. White – you will find that white ink is usually used for highlights (the place where the light is reflecting from the object that is being tattooed) and not really used as a filler color. The reason behind this is that white ink usually fades the fastest and if exposed to UV rays (sun, sunbeds, etc) it will turn yellowish in color, which in some cases, it could be darker than the skin around it and can really make the tattoo look unpleasant.
  2. Yellow – this color has been found to be one of the fastest “disappearing” colors in the tattoo ink spectrum, and tattoo artists will try to refrain from using this color to as little as possible into their designs, unless the design requires a large area of yellow. Designs like sunflowers are some of the most common designs that require large areas of yellows.
  3. Pink – my years of experience have taught me that probably one person that I tattoo per year, might come back to reveal that the pink ink has totally disappeared. At this point in any of my consultations with customers that want pink ink in their tattoos, I will always explain that there is a risk of the pink ink disappearing once the tattoo is healed, and ask them if they are ok to assume the risk. In one instance, a customer of mine wanted a pink and a blue rose design, both roses coming out of the same stem. We went ahead and tattooed the design I created and once the tattoo was done, the customer saw the tattoo and was very happy with the result. Fast forward 6 weeks, the customer comes again into the tattoo studio and reveals the tattoo. If anybody else had seen this tattoo, they could have sworn that there was no pink rose ever tattooed on that skin. Although I used different shades of pink (4 to be more precise) all the pink in has completely disappeared. So keep that in mind when looking to get a tattoo that has pink.
  4. Blue and Green – in my experience is a lovely colors to use into any tattoos, but as the years go by, I find it that it lightens up quite a lot.
  5. Red – this is probably the most controversial color in any tattoo artists set. This could be that if a customer is ever going to be allergic to a color, it’s usually going to be red. Don’t get me wrong, tattoo ink allergies are very very uncommon, and if a person discloses a few allergies in their consent form, I usually do a dry test. A dry test mean that I will clean and disinfect a small area of skin usually on the wrist and apply a very small amount of tattoo ink and leave it for maybe an hour. If when I clean the area I find that the skin underneath is irritated or itchy, I will probably advise against using red and maybe proceed another dry test with all the other colors that will be used in the tattoo.
  6. Black – the color of choice for most artists. Although black is fantastic to work with and sits quite well the test of time, after a few years or too much exposure to the sun, you will find that it will slowly turn blueish. We all know a person with an old tattoo that looks blue, although it was black at one point.

How Can I stop My Tattoos From Fading

In order to give a tattoo the best chances keeping your tattoo looking like the day it was done for longer starts with planning your tattoo.

If you get your tattoo in an area that is not prone to UV exposure or repeated damage (like hands, feet, elbows, face, etc), then you are already a step ahead than many others.

Some of the best areas to get tattoos that will stay crisp are chest, upper arm, back, thighs and stomach, or pretty much any area that doesn’t come into contact with the suns harmful rays, especially if you live in a tropical climate, and you are usually dressed lightly.

The second thing you can do is choose a high SPF sunscreen cream when going on holiday.

Also, try to avoid areas that are always being rubbed by items of clothing, like hips lower neck, etc.


I hope this helps you understand why tattoos fade, and don’t let this discourage you from getting an amazing piece of body art. Tattoos can be amazing art pieces that can show your life story or can immortalize life events or even just be cool artwork and you will be the canvas that gets to take pride in wearing them.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave them below and I will reply as soon as possible.

Ink On!