You’ve put down your deposit and your session is booked — so what can you do to prepare for the pain of your first tattoo?
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You’ve got your first tattoo appointment booked in your calendar. You’ve set aside a chunk of time, you’ve set aside a chunk of money — now what? Ideally, you’ve sent your artist any references for the art you want (link), and you’re just waiting now to go in, see the drawing, and get your life-altering first tattoo. How can you be your best self that day?
There are a number of ways to manage pain and prepare for sitting for a tattoo session. Everyone is a little bit different, but here are some tried and true ways to be prepared.
Make sure you’re really hydrated
Don’t go on a bender the night before — alcohol thins the blood. Make sure you’re well hydrated, and bring a water bottle with you just in case. Being hydrated is good for your body overall, but especially for things like pain management. Your skin and blood vessels will thank you.
Eat well and sleep well
You should probably be thinking about this anyway, since you’re a human and alive, but just in case sleeping and eating are difficult things to track for you, be extra attentive before your tattoo session. You don’t want to sit with an empty stomach for several hours while someone works a needle into your skin, and you don’t want to be on only a few hours of sleep. You won’t be able to take the pain with any dignity or patience if you’re hungry and tired.
Shower and moisturize
Think of your skin as a canvas because that’s what it’s gonna become. You want to have the best canvas prepared for your tattoo artist, so come fresh and clean, and if you’re someone who struggles with dry skin, some light moisturizing will do wonders. Think of hydrating both ways — inside and out.
Think about the timing for your day
If your session is midday, eat a hearty breakfast. If your session is after work ends for you, make sure you bring snacks and water to be ready. Sometimes life gets you, and you find yourself on your way to a tattoo appointment without doing some of the above things — that’s ok, just think of yourself as a tattoo explorer, and get what you need to be prepared. A friend and a tattoo-go-bag will do you right.
“Did it hurt?” is the most common question tattooed folks get from non-tattooed individuals. The answer is always “yes,” it totally hurts. But the key is how much — and this is something we can all manage by being prepared, and knowing what to expect.