This past summer, my best friend and I got matching tattoos. We brainstormed for a few months on different designs we found the most appealing before settling on the idea of a butterfly. Butterflies can mean a myriad of things, but they’re most popularly known to signify rebirth, transformation and hope. With the year we’ve both had, we couldn’t think of anything that could mean more to us.

I will admit, I was extremely nervous. Friends with experience getting tattoos confirmed it can definitely hurt, depending on where you choose to have a tattoo placed. Typically, the thinner the skin in an area, the more likely it will cause pain since the nerves are so close to where the needle makes contact.

Nerves aside, here are some ways to tame your anxiety to help you have a great experience whatever tattoo design you choose!

Do your research!

The first step, which is arguably the most important step, is to do proper research on the parlors you’re considering to visit. We recommend looking at numerous places in the city and going down the list, all the while extensively reading Google reviews, looking at pictures of the artists’ work and talking to past customers.

Tattoos are permanent, so it's best to know who will be in charge of your design. It’s important to make a consultation appointment prior to getting a tattoo, so you can get to know your artist. Picture the aesthetic of your design and seek out artists who excel within those themes. It’s imperative you feel comfortable around your artist, especially if you’re getting your tattoo in an uncomfortable spot, to help you prepare mentally.

Don't Plagiarize

It's easy to find almost any design possible with a quick search online, but it's just as easy to find out who created it and give them proper credit! Numerous artists allow you to pay a fee to use their art for tattoos and finding out who created your perfect design can be fun for you and exciting for the artist. Always ask permission if you can find the original artist and provide the compensation they require.

Plan Accordingly

Planning is of the utmost importance! Take a friend who will talk you through it, drink plenty of water to help your skin stay moisturized. Shave the area that will receive the tattoo and make sure to use lotion to moisturize after.  

The Process

The Tattoo process entails your artist using a machine with multiple tiny needles, placing the ink directly below your skin’s surface. It sounds unnerving, but we can assure you it’s not as bad as it sounds. You could almost compare getting a tattoo to a sewing machine. What usually happens is the artist will place an outline on the area of your choosing and then trace with the machine, adding color & shading should you choose to do so.

Depending on the size of your tattoo, it can take anywhere from thirty minutes to a couple of hours, keep this in mind when picking out a specific design!

Everyone has different levels of pain tolerance, but be prepared for anything! In my personal experience, it felt like a cat was scratching me for a long time. As weird as it sounds, I got used to the sensation about 20-30 minutes in. I promise it’s not too bad!

Recovery tips

After a few hours, your body will assume your tattoo is a wound, which causes an itching sensation from the healing response. As unbearable as it might be, don’t scratch your newly tattooed skin! Scratching can cause lasting damage to the tattoo, as well as the skin around it.

After your tattoo is completed, your artist will give you specific instructions on how to properly take care of it. A clear bandage is usually applied that must stay on for around  72 hours, this protects the outer layers from getting damaged or causing infection.

Don’t be alarmed if there is slight bleeding or noticeably black ink, this is common in new tattoos because your body is attempting to heal itself, causing it to reject the ink. Once you’re allowed to take the bandage off, make sure you moisturize multiple times a day. It's fairly easy for tattoos to get exceedingly dry which can ruin the whole design. We recommend using an unscented, organic lotion or cream to help the healing process go smoothly. If the tattoo is on an area that could be exposed to the sun, make sure you apply a generous amount of sunscreen too!

The healing process varies from person to person, with every design being different. It usually takes 2 to 3 weeks for the skin to appear healed, but it's still a good idea to wash it with some unscented soap, as well as moisturizing for a few months after, just to be certain!

Tattoos are an incredible way to express your individuality - be safe and have fun with the experience!