It's Tattoo Time...
Dragon Sleeve by Natan Alexander
Okay, now it's the day before your appointment!! I know you're excited, but there are a few things you want to keep in mind so that your tattoo experience is the best that it can be! First, make sure you get a really good night's sleep the night before your appointment. If you are well rested, you will be able to deal better with the stresses of the process. Also, don't drink heavily the night before; it makes you very sensitive to sensations and will prevent you from getting a good night's sleep. Also, it sucks to get tattooed with a hangover and if you have thinned your blood with alcohol you could bleed out a lot of the ink your artist is attempting to put in!!
Its good to shower prior to your appointment, so you have fresh, clean skin; also, if you've got any hair in the area that you are getting tattooed, you can shave to prep the area, if you have a general idea of size and placement. If you aren't comfortable with that, your artist will take care of it for you at the beginning of your appointment.
Make sure to stay hydrated the day of your appointment and to eat a good meal just beforehand. It is very important that your body has the energy to deal with the experience and you definitely want to give it more fuel than just chips or a quick snack. Bring plenty of water and a couple snacks with you, if you are booked for a longer appointment, as you may want to take a break mid-way through your appointment to give your body more fuel to work with.
It is very important to mentally prepare yourself, as well. Everyone feels it differently, but it is at least irritating and at worst painful. Depending on your pain threshold, the location of the tattoo and many other factors, you may feel it more or less than friends or family that you have spoken to about it. It may be good to get yourself centered and grounded; some people prefer to really focus on the sensation itself, or may use meditation in order to overcome the pain. Some people prefer to distract themselves from the sensation with music, movies or by talking with the artist or a friend. Overall do what works best for you because everyone will deal with the experience differently. You may want to psych yourself up a bit, so you can get your adrenaline going, which will help with pain management, but don't psych yourself out and make yourself overly sensitive or second guess what you're doing.
You've Made It Through!!
Traditional Ship and Anchor by Steve Gillespie
You did it! You're tattoo session is complete and you made it! Was it what you thought it would be? It wasn't so bad, right? You may even have already started planning your next one!
So, now that you're done, the most important thing is taking very good care of it! You have a large abrasion on your body and its going to take a bit of time to heal, and you have to make sure you do everything in your power to help it heal properly with the least amount of ink loss.
Your artist will probably have bandaged your tattoo at the end of your appointment, so you don't leak lymph and blood and ink everywhere while your skin starts to clot. After a couple of hours, or when you are ready to wash it, remove the bandage and clean thoroughly. Sometimes its easiest to clean it in the shower, so if you have that option, use it. If the bandage has stuck to your skin, soak it with warm water first and it should peel off after a few minutes. There will be a lot of ink on the surface of your skin and on the bandage... don't worry, it's normal, your tattoo is not falling out! Using a fragrance free anti-bacterial liquid soap, wash your hands first, then your tattoo. You want to get all the lymph and blood off your skin, and you want it to feel smooth when you're done washing it. The less material on the surface of your skin, the less of a scab will form. When you have thoroughly rinsed your tattoo, you can pat it dry with a clean paper towel or let it air dry.
The most important thing now, is to let it breathe! Let the air get at it and keep it clean and dry for the next few days. It is ideal to wash it 2-3 times a day as you can. If needed, you can apply the tiniest amount of fragrance free hand cream to it, to relieve tightness and to prevent cracking, but you never want your skin to feel damp or greasy.
It can up to 3 weeks for your skin to look healed after your tattoo, and it can take up to 3 months for your skin to completely regenerate and be considered fully healed. During that time, make sure to keep it clean; if you work in a dirty environment or go to the gym or public places that have questionable surfaces, you might want to keep it covered with loose clothing, but generally you want it to be able to breathe.
Don't pick or scratch at it! I know it itches, but don't do it... if you must, slap it lightly (with a clean hand) until it stops itching. Also, if you pick off those scabs, you could be lifting ink up with it or you could scar your skin and mar the tattoo.
Protect it from the sun! For the first few weeks, you definitely want to keep it covered with clothing and not use sunscreen to protect it, as it could interfere with the healing process; after it has fully healed, you want to always at least have sunscreen on it to protect it from the sun. The sun is the tattoo-killer and will fade the color right out of your tattoo if you aren't careful.
You also don't want to submerge it in water during the first month or so. Showers are fine, baths are not. Also, beware of hot tubs, swimming pools, ponds and the ocean; there are chemicals and bacteria in all of these places that can adversely effect your tattoo while it is healing.
Taking care of your tattoo during the healing process and beyond will help to protect your investment and keep your tattoo looking beautiful for years to come. You didn't go through all that pain to be stuck with a tattoo that is sub-par because you burned out the color or scratched off a scab and scarred it.
As always, if you aren't sure about something, ask your artist!! Call the studio at 978-744-9393 and we will walk you through the process!!
Phoenix Arm Piece by Jaesun Duggan