Tips for Tattoo Virgins

This one was virtually painless!

So, you’ve been playing with the idea of getting a tattoo for a while and now the time has come. You are finally ready to take the plunge and lose your tattoo virginity. Before you rush out and plunk down your hard-earned cash, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Some of this advice may seem kind of obvious but, I’m a mom, so I get to go there.

Do your research. Don’t just walk in to the first tattoo shop you come across. Talk to friends with ink and harness the power of the internet. You want to find a good, clean shop with talented artists and proper sterilization techniques. Your tattoo will be with you for the rest of your life, so you don’t want to cut corners.

Have an idea of what you want. You don’t have to go to the shop with a detailed drawing, after all, you are paying them for their artistic abilities. However, knowing that you want say, cat paw prints on your ankle gives the artist something to work with.

Take your lifestyle into consideration.

  • If you work in a professional environment that requires business attire, you may not want to get a tattoo on your neck or hands unless you want to find yourself looking for a new job.
  • Even though tattoos have grown in popularity and acceptance, there are still those that will look negatively upon you once you have one. You must be mentally prepared to deal with this possible rejection – preferably without being an ass about it.
  • For me, this step also included discussing my planned tattoos with my husband. While he would never dream of forbidding me to do something, I also don’t want to do anything that would make him uncomfortable. I know this sentiment will make some people bow up, but to me it is extremely important. A relationship involves two people and decisions that impact both individuals should be discussed. Period.

Start small. There is always going to be some level of pain involved with a tattoo; the amount varies with the location and your individual level of pain tolerance. In general, the less muscle or fatty tissue under the skin, the greater the pain. For example, a tattoo on the ribs or top of the foot is going to hurt more than one on the bicep or thigh. Since this is your first tattoo and you don’t know how well you will tolerate the pain, you may want to start with something small rather than something like a full back piece. You can always add on to the small tattoo later.

Don’t drink and ink. Actually, getting tattooed while under the influence of any recreational substance isn’t a good idea but, I couldn’t resist the rhyme. ;-) That “awesome” tattoo of your junk rampant on a field of marijuana leaves probably won’t seem like such a good idea when you sober up – especially depending on the location. (Not to mention that alcohol has an adverse effect on the tattooing process.) And, if you have even the remotest suspicion that your artist is operating under the influence, run, and never go back.

Your new tattoo will require care. This is the step that I failed to take into consideration with my first tattoo. As beautiful as it may be, your new tattoo is a wound and it must be treated as such. Your tattoo artist should provide you with detailed aftercare instructions which you should follow to the letter. Failure to do so could result in infection and/or damage to your tattoo. Full healing takes three weeks to a month, so make sure that you are willing to dedicate the time to caring for your ink before you get it. You will also want to avoid tight clothing in the area of the tattoo for several weeks, so once again, take your lifestyle into consideration. If your job requires you to wear tights, no exceptions, you may not want to get a tattoo on your leg/ankle/foot.

Don’t panic. Your new tattoo may ooze plasma for the first couple of days. When you clean it, you will notice that it sheds a bit of ink. There may also be some scabbing. (It is a wound, remember?) However, relax. Take a deep breath. This is all normal. As long as you stick to your aftercare routine, it will be all right.

With a little planning, a little time, and a little effort on your part, your new tattoo can be every bit as awesome as you! So, what are you waiting for?

Are you inked? Do you have any additional tips you would like to share? Go for it!



  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Great tips for sure. The sterility of a parlor and of the tattoo artists’ technique is so important. People want a tattoo, not hepatitis!

    I got a tattoo years ago. Roses on my lower back. :)

  2. Ami says:

    Doing research on the shop is the *super* important in my opinion. I didn’t do it on my 2nd tattoo — and have regretted it ever since. The lines are awful. I’ve planned my cover-up tattoo and thoroughly researched artists that I would consider allowing to do the ink.

    • Isabella Norse says:

      I didn’t do as much research on the shop for my 1st tattoo as my second. While the shop was great, there were some issues with the artist. The line work is inconsistent and one area had no color when it healed. I’m planning to go back to the guy that did my 2nd tattoo in a few months and let him fix the first one!

  3. Lindsey says:

    These were great! I’m getting my first tattoo in less than a week, and I’m super nervous about the pain; but, I’ve wanted the same quote for ten years and I have confidence in my chosen parlor/artist. :)

    • Isabella Norse says:

      Hi Lindsey! I’m glad you found my tips helpful. Good luck with your tattoo! I hope you will stop back by and let me know how it went.

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