Know Your Price
Before you get up to the appointment date, it is important to verify the overall cost of the tattoo. Some artists price by piece or session while others price by the hour. Be sure you have enough money on hand to pay for the session you have scheduled. Keep in mind you may want to purchase some aftercare products, such as Saniderm, either through the studio or on your own prior to the tattoo You’ll also want to throw in a little bit of a tip for your artist, as this is a service industry, after all.
Verify Your Appointment
Verify the time and date of your appointment well in advance. Some studios, like mine, will send you a reminder email or text in advance—but not all do. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time before and after the appointment to rest up. Tattooing is an exhaustive procedure for some, so you may find yourself feeling tired or sluggish after the fact. You also want to be sure to leave your artist some play room. On occasion, tweaks need to be made to the piece once they have laid the stencil on and you may not get started immediately.
Avoid the Sun
In the week or so leading up to your appointment, it is best to avoid the sun as much as you can. Tattooing over sunburned skin is just not pleasant—for you or your artist—and should be avoided at all costs. Some shops will outright refuse to do it, whereas some shops just don’t care and will take your money regardless. However, tattooing over sunburned skin can be extremely painful and can actually cause damage to the tattoo itself.
Why? When you get a sunburn, your skin becomes inflamed and damaged. When you tattoo, it creates more inflammation and damage to the skin. During the healing process of a sunburn, excess blood circulates around the area as the body begins to repair the damage.
When you then proceed to puncture this afflicted area and insert ink, the ink can actually become diluted by the extra fluid and your design will not appear as crisp and detailed. Not to mention, sunburned skin can bleed more which can make things a little harder for the artist. More bodily fluids leaking from the tattooing area means more wiping from the artist… and let’s face it, wiping is one of the worst parts of getting a tattoo as it is. It’s worse when the skin is already enraged from a nasty sunburn. In other words, just don’t do it.
Take Care of Your Skin
Another thing to do in the weeks leading up to your appointment is to be cautious with injuries. Try your best to avoid getting any cuts, scratches, or bruises to the area in which you will be getting tattooed. These can make it very difficult for the artist to tattoo the piece. Depending on the severity of these marks, the artist may even require you to reschedule after the damaged portion has healed. Keeping the area well-moisturized with a lotion for at least a week or two prior to your session is also helpful! Keeping the area hydrated with lotions will make the skin more supple and give the artist an easier time.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Okay, I can’t stress this one enough. It is vital to be well-rested immediately before your tattoo appointment. I have seen clients who typically sit well for their sessions end up squirming and tapping out after staying up late before an appointment. When the body is tired, it has less tolerance for pain and trauma. Try to get at least 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted rest the night prior to your appointment. Wake up refreshed and take it easy in the hours leading up to your appointment. Don’t go running or working out just before your appointment or anything else that can tire the body excessively.
Hydration is Key
Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to your appointment. This will help keep your skin fresh, hydrated, and healthy, but it will also help you to feel more alert. Make sure to bring a drink with you to the appointment. Try to avoid overly sugary drinks like heavy sodas or energy drinks as you don’t want to have that energy crash during the middle of your session.
Don’t Drink and Ink
Okay, this one should go without saying…but, alas it has to be said. Don’t drink and ink. Drinking the night prior can actually cause mild dehydration. It can also lead to a potential hangover. Both of which are bad news for you the next morning. Again, you want your body to be at its best before undergoing the tattoo procedure, so it’s best to just avoid alcohol. It’s one night, it won’t kill ya. Drinking the day of is a big no-no. Most artists will refuse to tattoo someone they know has been drinking for several reasons. First of all, having alcohol in your system can often lead to spur-of-the-moment, rash decisions. It can also lower your tolerance for the procedure and, worst of all, can thin your blood and make the process harder for the artist. Similar to sunburns, having thinned out blood can cause the ink to be diluted or pushed back to the surface while the artist is attempting to apply the tattoo. This can lead to poor quality saturation, line work, and the overall appearance of the tattoo—especially if the artist isn’t accustomed to dealing with thinned blood.