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.
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.
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.