15 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Getting A Tattoo

Thinking about getting a tattoo? Statistically, you’re not alone–in recent years, tattoos have become significantly less taboo and much more popular. Over half of millennials in the United States have at least one tattoo, and 29 percent of adults in the U.S. total have some sort of ink going on, too.

I do not happen to have any tattoos myself, but I do always love seeing tattoos (good tattoos) on other people. It’s a wonderful outlet for self-expression, and it’s always cool to see what some people love so much that they have to put on their body, whether it’s a quote from their favorite book or the name of their favorite rapper, right on their forehead. Still, just because tattoos are more accessible than ever, this doesn’t mean that getting a tattoo is necessarily easy. There are actually a lot of things you should do to prepare that, for whatever reason, a lot of people skip. Don’t let it happen to you! Instead, check out these weird mistakes that pretty much everyone makes when they’re getting a tattoo:

1. Not eating beforehand:


Getting a tattoo is painful. Not super painful, but painful enough that you need to eat something beforehand to help you withstand the pain. Plus, you’ll probably be sitting in the chair for three to four hours, so you’ll likely get a little hungry at some point during that time.  Eat a full meal beforehand so you don’t pass out in the middle of getting your tat.

2. Drinking alcohol before you get the tattoo:


If you’re under twenty-one (and in the United States), you shouldn’t be drinking at all. But you definitely shouldn’t be drinking before you get a tattoo, since alcohol thins out your blood. You’ll bleed a little bit when you get the tattoo, but drinking beforehand will make it significantly worse.

3. Getting a super-cheap tattoo:

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Don’t go to a tattoo parlor just because you see they’re having a 75%-off sale–if you see that, chances are good that something’s up there.
You’re getting something etched into your skin, presumably forever, so you want to make sure that the person who’s putting it into their skin is actually an artist, not just some rando who managed to get their hands on a tattoo gun. Plus, there’s a potential health risk there, too–a good tattoo place will have sterilized needles, but you don’t know what’s going on at a sketchier place. At a good-quality place, tattoos (even the teensy tiny ones) will start at about $50. A place that offers anything less probably isn’t that good.

4. Not reading reviews before you go in to get your tat:

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The mere fact that something is expensive does not mean that a tattoo parlor is actually good–so, before you get a tattoo, read through the reviews you find online. This will help you determine if the place is actually worth it, or just an overpriced scam.

5. Trying to bargain with your tattoo artist before you get it:

This is…incredibly rude. It’s like your boss asking to pay you slightly less than you usually get because they don’t think they need to pay what they usually give you. That’s the cost. If you don’t like it, don’t get the tattoo.

6. Not remembering any allergies you have:


If you’re allergic to a certain kind of cosmetic–or know you have sensitive skin that react poorly to things it isn’t used to–you might be allergic to the tattoo ink, too. Think about any allergies you have and talk to your tattoo artist before you get it done–they’ll be able to talk it out with you and help you figure out a solution.

7. Not thinking about the tattoo for a long time:


Again–this is a permanent addition to your body, so you want to make sure it’s something you want to be on your body forever. So, just make sure you’ve thought it through and aren’t just running into a tattoo parlor and picking out a random Chinese symbol just because you want a tattoo right now and don’t actually care what it is. Most people recommend thinking about your design for about a year, so try to aim for that.

8. Getting a tattoo in honor of an S.O on any part of your body:


You guys might be meant to be, and you will never regret your tattoo! Or, more realistically, you’ll have to pull a Johnny Depp “Wino Forever.” (It used to say “Wino Forever,” in honor of Winona Ryder, whom he used to date. He doesn’t anymore.)

9. Taking a bath right afterwards:


Your tattoo artist should talk to you about this, but, just in case, don’t jump in a bath right after you get inked. You can (and, uh, should) definitely shower if you need to, but totally submerging a tattoo for two to three weeks after getting it done could irritate it.

10. Exercising right away:

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Again–liquids are bad. Plus, exercise means sweat, which is salty, which will hurt a whole lot. Don’t do it!

11. Picking at your skin:


Picking at your skin is always bad, and it is especially bad if you do it after getting a tattoo–it’s a wound, so in the days following the tattoo you might feel some itching and throbbing that you think could be rectified with a good scratch. Don’t do this! This will just irritate it even further.

12. Not paying attention to the placement:


Tattoos can stretch out over time, particularly in places where the skin tends to sag, like the underarm, buttock, rib area, and breast. Obviously, if you really want a tattoo on your rib, and nowhere else, go for it–just know that it might not look exactly the same in the future.

13. Not using SPF after getting it:

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Immediately after getting a tattoo, you shouldn’t put anything on it–cover up the area and reduce its sun exposure by wearing long, loose clothing. But after about two weeks, make sure you’re always putting SPF over it. This will help keep it fresh for a longer time than if you were to skip the sunscreen.

14. Getting on a plane immediately afterwards:


Being on a flight–particularly a long one–can do some funky stuff to your body. It means sitting in one place for a long time and potentially putting a lot of pressure on the tattoo for an extended period of time. This probably won’t mess up your tattoo, but it will hurt and potentially make your healing time longer than it should be.

15. Not using a tattoo balm:

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Tattoo balm is important! Your artist will probably give you some, or, you can buy some here. It helps keep your skin from flaking and your tattoo from fading before its time. Use one.


Do you have any tattoos? Do you have any tips for getting one? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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