I thought I should share this about getting a tattoo coming from a scaredy-cat like me (sensitive, really sensitive girl with a fear of all things needles).
Experience + Pain
I got a recommendation for a tattoo place from my colleague at work and didn't think twice to call them up. They told me to come whenever and bring my motive to discuss it and its price and that's what I did. My tattoo artist took a look and made some suggestions and we went through them and we both suggested changes in detail back and forth. That led to a great final draft that he pinned and took with my deposit of 40 pounds (the whole thing cost me 70 pounds which was less than I would've had to pay over in Germany).
My tattoo artist was pretty great and doing a good job at making me feel safe and comfortable when the day had come and when he was about to stick needles into my arm. I had picked an area that wasn't too painful for tattoos and I was extremely glad to realize that it didn't hurt too much. There were areas where it hurt a lot more but I didn't cry or scream or faint as I had expected.
If anything it felt like having a cat scratch you and just letting it happen. After getting it done it didn't hurt at all, all I felt was my tattoo itching from time to time whilst healing and my underarm being sore because of the position I was lying in for solid 30 minutes (went by extremely quickly).
Taking care of it
I got the recommendation to use Bepanthen that I easily got from Boots and I cleaned my tattoo three times a day with antiseptic wipes (and water and antiseptic soap) and let it air-dry, then put a thin layer of Bepanthen on it. Different tattoo artists suggest something else but what I was told was that Vaseline was too thick for the tattoo to "breathe" and a thin layer of Bepanthen would do the job. Here's a tip: Hold the tube of Bepanthen under warm water for a while. This thins out the substance and makes it super easy to apply.
Some people let their tattoos air-dry – which is very possible – but to be frank, the itching feeling of my healing tattoo whilst healing was unbearable to me and had me feeling irritated and unsettled so putting on Bepanthen helped a bunch.
No taking baths either because my tattoo shouldn't be soaked for at least the first two weeks. Breathable, loose clothes were a must. Protection from the sun is important, too. Don't touch your tattoo too much and don't let it be touched by others. You don't want it to get irritated or infected in any way.
If it happens to be scabbing, don't stress out. Don't pick the scabs, though! That's natural process for the healing and it should fall off on its own. Don't risk ink getting off.
I use cling wrap to protect my tattoo from getting irritated by clothes and my movement whilst sleeping. But don't use it too much during the day as it's important for your tattoo to be able to get some air when healing.
Advice to anyone thinking of getting a tattoo
- Wait it out until you actually get a tattoo. Think about alternatives. Don't act too spontaneously, otherwise it's likely to be regretted.
- Get your remedies before getting the tattoo so you don't have to stress once you've got it.
- You will be nervous before getting your first tattoo, especially if you're a scaredy-cat like myself. But just let your tattoo artist or a friend you brought take it off of your mind and talk to you through the whole procedure. Trust your tattoo artist.
- Try out several tattoo places to compare prices. Some of them don't seem too trustworthy so seek opinions on your motive in several places.
- Research on motives and meanings.
- Eat a full meal beforehand and drink enough water. No caffeine or aspirin in your system that day as both increase bleeding which could be of a problem for the artist to actually do his work. No alcohol beforehand, either!
- Shower of course. And shave the area for your tattoo.
- Draw your own motive or bring a high quality photo.
- Take time to check the stencil design and its body placement beforehand. Don't be scared to say something, you're not going to hurt anyone's feelings, this is going to be permanent after all.
- Be prepared to go through some pain. Tattoos do hurt, some more, others less. Don't clench your fist as the muscles will change and make it harder for your artist to work on. Try to stay relaxed the whole time and pinch yourself somewhere else so you can maybe distract from the pain of getting inked. But your artist shall stop if it hurts too much. Google where tattoos hurt the most if you're curious about the tolerance of your body parts.
The meaning of my tattoo
Two flowers, two branches, three leaves, the initials H and V. H stands for my mother as it is the first letter of her name. V stands for my sister. Both are symbolised as beautiful, timeless, pure flowers that stand for undying love, new beginnings, grace and watchfulness – features that I see in both of them and appreciate about them more than anything. They're my anchors.
The branches stand for endurance and kind of look like open arms that I can always expect from my mother and sister as they always welcome me with open arms and would always take me in, no matter what and who doesn't want to. They're home to me and arms of support throughout. The branches are bent, standing for my kind of fucked up, sad past and parts of my childhood that I'd rather forget but they left something within me that brought me to where I am now, symbolised in the upwards motion that stands for "growing".
The leaves stand for growing up and growing strong and there's three of them because 3 was my lucky number when I was young, always in connection with our family of three. Basically this tattoo is a complete representation of my love for both my mum and my sister and the bond the three of us have. I thought about this motive thoroughly and waited two years until I could be sure that I really really wanted to get it.
If there's any further questions about my tattoo or anything else about getting tattoos, feel free to ask me!
Until then – stay kind,