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Getting a New Tattoo: Preparation and Aftercare

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Getting a New Tattoo: Preparation and Aftercare

Getting a new tattoo often involves a mixture of nervousness and excitement. If it is not your first, you already know the procedure and what to expect. First-timers, however, sometimes don’t realize what is required, from a health and safety perspective, before and after they get their ink. Below are some important preparation and aftercare considerations that you should keep in mind. 

Avoid Consuming Certain Substances 

Getting a tattoo involves a small amount of blood. It is a needle penetrating your skin, after all, so this is to be expected. Certain substances, however, can thin your blood and make it harder to control bleeding.
Alcohol and caffeine are two of the main culprits here and it is advisable to cut both of these out for 48 hours beforehand, for the sake of both you and your tattoo artist. To play it extra safe, avoid any caffeinated drinks as well. 

Get Enough to Eat and Drink

Staying adequately hydrated and well-fed on the day of is important because low blood sugar can make the process more painful. That, plus the nerves, can contribute to dizziness and general feelings of discomfort while you are getting your tattoo, making it an unpleasant experience.
Ideally, you will have made sure to stay hydrated throughout the entire week leading up to your first session. Well-hydrated skin is easier to work on for the artist and is better able to handle the pressure from the needle. 

Do Your Due Diligence

Tattoo artists vary widely in both their talent and experience levels, as well as their attention to hygiene and safety. You should never get a tattoo before thoroughly evaluating the artist (are they right for the kind of work you’re having done) and their workspace. 
If you are a first-timer, it is always a good idea to educate yourself on what more experienced people have to say and recommend when it comes to assessing an artist’s shop or style. Presumably, you already know what to expect from a person artistically, but confidence in their ability to keep you safe and healthy should be a paramount concern. 

Avoid the Sun and Water for Two Weeks

Many people get tattoos before going away on vacation. It makes sense, you want to show off your new ink at the beach, the pool, or wherever you happen to be going. But avoiding sun and water (outside of your regular bathing) for two weeks following your new tattoo is an important part of recovery. 
There are many reasons to avoid the sun while a tattoo is healing. Fresh tattoos are essentially open wounds, which makes the area especially sensitive to UV rays. If you do get a sunburn on a fresh tattoo, make sure to treat it properly to avoid infection and to maintain the appearance of your expensive new body art. 

Moisturize Twice a Day

You should make sure the new tattoo is adequately moisturized throughout the day to ensure proper healing and avoid irritation. It is recommended to apply a thin layer of antibacterial, in combination with something like petroleum jelly twice a day. This 
This process is to be started 24 hours after you have removed the initial bandage that your tattoo artist has given you and done for 2-4 weeks following the procedure. Make sure to remember that you are not to put another bandage on once the initial one has been removed. 

Keeping the Tattoo Clean

Cleanliness might just be the most important post-care consideration. As mentioned, a fresh tattoo is essentially an open wound. With a little bit of time and the proper care it will scab over and heal, but keeping the area free of bacteria should be at the heart of your aftercare routine. 
You need to gently wash the area twice a day with mild soap and water and then pat the area dry before reapplying your antibacterial-moisturizer treatment. It is a good idea to really familiarize yourself with the post-care cleaning requirements both before and after you get your new tattoo. 


Getting a new tattoo should be fun (with a little bit of unavoidable pain) and safe. The vast majority of the time they are, and with a little bit of effort, you will be in and out and on your way to a full recovery with no major issues. Keep the above pre and aftercare considerations in mind and enjoy your new ink. 

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