Actually I was debating if I should rather call the headline “5 Steps to be an awesome client who will become every tattoo-artists best friend”.
A tattoo session is far more than just about getting a tattoo done. It’s rather a collaboration during which the tattoo artist and the client both contribute to the success of the outcome. Here are 5 ways you as a client can impact your tattoo session in a positive way.
Step 1: Health & nutrition for better healing & color intensity (4 weeks prior)
A healthy lifestyle doesn’t only prolong your lifespan, it also has a positive impact on the condition of your skin. As your skin is the canvas for your tattoo, its influence on the outcome is major. Over the years I’ve developed a good sense for the many different types of skin. Overall health and sun exposure over time is palpable to me within the first 10 minutes of a tattoo session. Experience has shown me that people with great overall health seem to heal not only faster but with a more intense vibrance of the ink. Also, their skin is more firm which creates a better ground for precise line-work.
That’s why I recommend all my clients to take overall care of their body during 4 weeks prior to their tattoo session. This includes a healthy sleep schedule, drinking enough water and taking supplements. Especially with the tattoo session coming up and the aftercare for your new tattoo, I recommend a multivitamin supplement that has sufficient Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Zinc as well as Collagen in it. Vitamin C and Zinc help boost and support the immune system, which then helps the body have a quick recovery. Vitamin E and Collagen have the benefit to moisturize, strengthen and enhance the elasticity of the skin. But remember this article is no medical advice, always check with your doctor, if you have any medical conditions or concerns which would restrict the intake of any supplements first.
If your skin is well prepared due to these extra steps of care, the difference will show noticeably by how the skin takes in the ink, the higher intensity of the color as well as the faster healing result.
Step 2: No alcohol & blood-thinning medication for less bleeding (3 days prior)
It’s not only highly recommended but even mandatory for some tattoo artists, that the clients don’t drink any alcohol or take any blood-thinning medications like Aspirin or Viagra at least 3 days prior to the tattoo session. This recommendation is one of the most important ones and not to be taken lightly.
If your blood is too thin, the tattoo result can lose a lot of its color intensity and can heal “spotty”, meaning that for example in large black areas parts of the ink seem to miss. The reason for both of these is that the increased amount of blood creates a film of liquid on the surface of the skin. During the tattoo session the needle which holds the ink penetrates through this layer of fluid and dilutes the ink before getting a chance to enter the skin. The second effect is that the blood which is seeping through the skin also washes out some of the already tattooed ink and therefore the inking effect can’t be achieved fully.
In heavy cases tattoo artists even must interrupt the session and continue on a later date. Not to mention the session becoming such a bloody mess, that you’d assume somebody slaughtered a living creature on the body part of the client. On the other hand, it’s not infrequently that clients who are in good health, have healthy nutrition, take their vitamins, sleep regularly and avoid blood-thinning substances don’t bleed at all, almost as if they were vampires of a kind.
Step 3: Bring along the right things with you to the tattoo session (the day of your appointment)
That’s it, the day has come! Make sure to get a good night sleep since your sleep quality influences your endurance during the tattoo session significantly. Depending on how much sleep you got you’ll either feel more or less pain. Remember that depending on the size of your tattoo or its complexity a tattoo session can take several hours. If you feel anxious about it the night before consider chamomile tea or kava root as natural relaxants to calm you down and help you find a better night rest.
After a good night sleep, start your morning with a good and full breakfast to provide your body with extra energy and nutrition. As pointed out above some tattoo sessions can easily last for several hours and the first food break might be some time along.
Also, there are some things that could help you out during your tattoo session:
- Some energy bars and water: They provide your body with some extra fuel during the session.
- Kava Pills: If you’ve got them already, bring them along. They are a great help to reduce stress and relax your body.
- Headphone: Listening to your own music or podcasts can help you stay focused and calm.
- A stress ball: It also helps to release stress and anxiety during the session. Many people feel more relaxed when they can squeeze something and it’s better for both the looks of your tattoo and the tattoo artist himself if that’s not the tattoo artist’s arm.
- Cash: Just in case you want to tip the artist at the end of the session, that’s always greatly appreciated.
Bring your friends along – not
Counting on the help of a friend is kind of universal, that’s what friends are for, right? When it comes to tattoo sessions many people bring friends along and that’s okay with most tattoo artists.
Nevertheless, I recommend showing up to your tattoo session by yourself. The reason for this arse various:
- Other people can be a distraction for the tattoo artist and make her or his work harder.
- Also, your friends can be a distraction to yourself as in making it harder for you to focus on yourself and handling the physical discomfort.
- With more persons in the room the potential for cross-contamination of the workspace becomes higher.
- Other people, especially a friend can influence your design decisions and keep you from finding your very own and personal tattoo design.
- Last but not least going through the tattoo session by yourself gives you the chance to have this personal and transforming experience as your own and really profit from it.
Step 4: Follow and you shall recover (the week after your tattoo session)
Before your tattoo session is after your tattoo session. Following the weeks and especially the first week after your tattoo session it’s crucial to follow the aftercare guidelines very carefully. Your tattoo artist will explain everything you need to know about the aftercare procedure. She or he will let you know exactly which creams, soaps or lotions are best for you to use for achieving the best possible recovery and end result. But there are more than just ointments that will speed and enforce your recovery:
- To start with, your body uses a lot of energy to recover and to keep your immune system in line to heal a larger area. That’s why it’s a good thing to do if you keep supporting and strengthening it with Vitamin C and Zinc. Take your time and treat your body with some extra tender love and care for the next few days after the tattoo session.
- Though continuing a healthy lifestyle, you should stay away from sports or other energy-draining activities for at least a week after the appointment. This is to reserve your energy for your immune system.
- Also keep a good overall body hygiene and avoid any form of contamination while the tattoo is not fully healed. Common sources for contamination can be pools, oceans, rivers, unwashed hands, saunas, hot springs, gyms, pet hair, computer keyboards and so on.
- When your tattoo gets to the point of becoming itchy, avoid scratching and damaging it. As an alternative, lightly slap the skin with your hand palm. Keeping your skin moist will also help, but make sure to use a petroleum and paraben-free lotion.
On the one hand following these steps will make you heal faster and on the other hand will also lead to a bright colored and proper result for you to enjoy. I’ve seen many clients who followed the aftercare instructions who had great healing results without scabbing in sometimes less than 3 days. On the other side people who ignore the instructions often end up with infected tattoos or have a lack of color intensity at the end.
Step 5: Post-Aftercare (as long as you have your tattoo)
Of course, you can also help to increase the lifespan of your tattoo overall. The best ways of ensuring a bright and clear tattoo over time are:
- Avoid frequent sun exposure or protect your skin with sun lotion. This will preserve the tattoo details and helps protect yourself from skin cancer in general.
- Some clients like to use a few drops of skin oil to temporarily increase the vibrance and contrast of their tattoos for special occasions, like when they go out on a date and want to impress their mate.
Prepare & prevent instead of repair & repent
Getting prepared for your tattoo session as well as the aftercare isn’t rocket science. It just requires a bit of determination, which I’m sure you’ll have when it comes to your tattoo. I’ve never had a client who didn’t care about the outcome of her or his tattoo session and about how their tattoo would turn out in the end.
So be so nice to yourself and your chosen tattoo artist to follow the above steps. The artist but most of all you will absolutely get the most out of your tattoo session like this. Remember: It’s always better to prepare and prevent rather than to repair and repent.
I hope you found this article useful, please share it if you know someone who is about to get a new tattoo or maybe or if you’re a tattoo artist, please share it with your clients to prep them for their upcoming session.