Are Tattoos Safe?

Yes, as long as you go to a reputable artist that is following all recommended safety precautions. Find out what these recommendations are by going through the Safety Checklist .

What should I expect when I go to get my tattoo?

I’ve got it all laid out for you, step by step, with photos at The Tattoo Process.

Does it hurt?

Pain is really relative. Everyone has a different tolerance to pain. I’m not going to kid you, though – it does hurt. Just not that much. Some have compared it to a “hot scratching feeling”. But, people would not be returning again and again for tattoo after tattoo if it hurt that bad! Most of us are not into pain, but the beauty of the tattoo and the pride associated with wearing it far outweighs a little pin-stick here and there.

Comparisons – It’s true that everyone has a different threshold of pain. What one person considers not painful at all could be devastating to another. Some people describe the feeling as a “hot scratch”. Some have said it was “annoying”. Most say it was not nearly as bad as they feared. But there is a little more than pain alone to consider when getting a tattoo.

There are no hard and fast rules about this subject, but based on many opinions over the years, here are some ideas:

Most Painful Areas:

  • Men – Abdomen, Spine, Chest
  • Women – Ankle, Spine, Rib-cage

Least Painful Areas:

  • Men – Buttocks, Arm, Back
  • Women – Abdomen, Buttocks, Thigh, Shoulder

painful areas

Can I use some kind of numbing cream?

These kinds of products are really not recommended. Find out why by reading No Pain, No Gain.
Not only does the Emla dull for only a half an hour or so, but also when the sensation returns, it is a shock to the system and the discomfort felt from being tattooed becomes more painful. Without the Emla it would have been annoying and possibly even a discomfort; whereas with the Emla, the returning sensation is ten-fold what would have been felt without the use.

How much is it going to cost?

When it comes to tattoos, you get what you pay for. Yes, there are plenty of people tattooing out there that will ink you cheap, and you’ll be crying to a real artist to have it covered up. Look for quality, and be willing to pay for it. NEVER haggle over the price of a tattoo. It is disrespectful to the artist. If you can’t pay for quality, don’t bother. This is not a bargain bin. It is a piece of art you will wear for life.

Should I tip my tattoo artist?

Tipping is a really nice gesture! But, there are no real solid ground rules for tipping, so follow the suggestions at To Tip or Not To Tip

What should I get? And where?

This is all a matter of personal taste. You can get whatever you want, and whatever your artist is willing to do. You can choose a picture off the wall, or you can have them create a custom piece just for you. Your only limit is your own imagination. As far as where you should get it goes, just keep in mind what you do for work and the type of social circles you are in. You might want to consider placing your tattoo where it can be easily covered up with normal clothing.

What is the best time of year to get a tattoo?

Although you can get a tattoo any time of the year, your skin gets a lot more abuse during the summer with swimming, tanning and just being exposed to the elements more. Winter time is really the best season to get a tattoo. For more details, see ‘Tis the Season to be Tattooed.

Is it OK to get a tattoo if I’m sick?

Getting a tattoo when your immune system isn’t at 100% isn’t a good idea. You’re going to need your strength and your white blood cells to heal your tattoo, something your body won’t be able to do if it’s already doing battle against virus and bacteria. Not to mention the fact that it’s very inconsiderate to bring your illness into the tattoo studio and risk passing the germs onto others, particularly your artist. If you have an appointment, call and reschedule for when you’re feeling well again.

Where can I find pictures of (skull, teddy bear, lion, etc.) tattoos?

If you’re getting a tattoo, especially as an expression of your individuality, why would you want a tattoo just like someone else’s? Instead, find other pictures of what you’re looking for and have your artist draw up a custom design for you. Example: If you are wanting a tattoo of a penguin standing on a glacier, find real photos of penguins and glaciers. If you want a tattoo of a blue rose wrapped around a cross, find pictures of real roses and crosses that you like. If the pictures don’t show exactly what you want, just take them to your artist to use them as guidelines and tell them what changes you want made to the original pictures. A real artist will welcome the challenge of a custom piece.

Is it OK to lay out in the sun or go to the tanning bed when you have tattoos?

It might be really tempting to get some rays during the summer months, but before you ruin your tattoo, please read this article about Tattoos and Tanning.
Tanning Beds – What about tanning beds? Indoor tanners are just as damaging as the sun, if not more so. The ultraviolet rays are much more concentrated and people tend to over-expose themselves in tanning beds, not realizing their own limits. Burning the skin damages a tattoo even more than slowly tanning. Again, if you must do it, protect your ink!
Brand New Tattoo – Don’t put sunblock on a new or fresh tattoo – follow your artist’s aftercare instructions and keep your tattoo covered or shaded with clothing for the first few weeks. You can use sunblock once your tattoo has finished peeling and has grown it’s first protective layer of skin. But sunblock alone is not going to be sufficient for a new tattoo if it is exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time. A tattoo is usually considered well-healed after about 3 months.

I just got a new tattoo on my leg – can I shave?

Before you pull out the razor blade, please read this article, When is it Safe to Shave Again?
When you get a tattoo, the area will be completely shaved before it’s applied, so at least you’re starting off with smooth skin. After a couple days of stubble and bristly skin, the urge to shave can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, at this point, shaving is about as brutal on your tattoo as a weedwacker. The wound is still fresh, and especially if you have any scabbing or raised areas, you run the risk of damaging your artwork by running a razor across it. Chemical hair removers are just as bad if not worse – you never want to put anything like that on a fresh tattoo. You will need to wait 5 – 10 days, run your finger over the tattoo, are there any bumps? Raised areas? Hard scabs? The tattoo should feel the same as the skin around it – if you feel anything then don’t shave, rather wait.

My friend just bought a tattoo kit and wants to practice on me. Should I let them?

NO! Your friend could be putting both of your lives in danger by foolishly trying to learn this at home. Tell them they need to get a proper apprenticeship, and they can start practicing on you when their mentor (master) feels they are ready.

How do I become a Tattoo Artist?

So, you want to learn how to tattoo or pierce? If you’re serious about it, you’ll do it the right way. The wrong way is by buying a “shop in a box” kit and trying to teach yourself. The right way is through apprenticeship – learning from a skilled artist with hands-on experience.

Finding a tattoo apprenticeship, or should I say finding a good apprenticeship, is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. There may be many offers with pricey dues, or no offers at all. With so many “traps” and cons out there, the hunter many times becomes the hunted. Don’t become the victim of your own prey. Gear up, my friends! The hunt is on…

Your Mission: Apprenticeship
To find an apprenticeship within your means that will provide the proper training to get you into the business of tattooing. This is not a “get rich quick” scheme. You are looking for an apprenticeship that will last long enough to provide you with the proper skills needed – not just in tattooing – but also in sterilization, proper cleaning, and business management. Among these skills you may also learn things such as needle making, prepping, making stencils and every other aspect of the business. A complete apprenticeship cannot be accomplished in just a few months time. A good mentor won’t even let you begin tattooing until you have learned all these other things.

Finding a good apprenticeship is not an easy task. You may have to visit several studios before you find someone willing to take you in. You may not find anyone in your area, and relocation might even be a consideration. But the fact remains that if this is what you really want, it is more than worth it to do it right! Learning how to tattoo or pierce on your own is not only unwise, it is dangerous. You must be properly trained in sterilization techniques and how to avoid harming the customer. There is nothing more damaging to your own reputation than 100+ people out there showing everyone what a horrible tattoo or piercing you gave them. Or worse yet, the disease or infection they got as a result of your ignorance. Take your time and learn the right way.

More about hand Poke tattoos

Hand poke tattoos bring a more traditional feel to tattooing, instead of using tattoo machines the needle is pushed in by hand and a design is created out of small dots. Hand Poke tattoos takes tattooing back to its roots and should definitely be tried by anyone collecting tattoos or just wanting something different.