Prepare for your session

So you have that dream tattoo in mind, or you picked an amazing artist that you'd like to work on it, or maybe you already have that appointment set up to get it done. Now you can sit back and let the artist do their thing right? Actually, there are a few things that you can do before even setting foot in the studio to make sure your tattoo turns out amazing.

Curious to know what (else) to do to make your tattoo session more comfortable and successful? Here are some answers to the questions you might have.

Get hydrated
This is generally good for you, and great for your skin. Increase your water intake before and during the session.

Start moisturizing your skin with a nice lotion a week prior. Moisture makes your skin more resilient to damage, enhances ink penetration and staying power, and helps your tattoo heal faster. Good thing all around. Just don't apply moisturizer immediately before the tattoo session, this may affect the tattoo machine functioning.

Shaving is totally optional as your artist will have all the tools to shave the tattoo area prior to applying your design,. Shaving ensures great stencil application and will prevent ingrown hairs later on. If the placement is hard to reach or you're not sure that you won't cut or nick yourself it is better to have your artist do it for you. Generally, you need to avoid any damage to the skin before your tattoo - be it razor burn, cuts, sunburn, chemical peel, or anything else.

Get a good night's sleep the night before. Don't use drugs and alcohol. Alcohol consumption thins the blood and may increase the chances of excessive bleeding, which will affect the ink retention and healing process and may require touchups.

Not to sound like a Jewish mom, but eat a healthy meal, especially if you have a long session coming up! Pain management is much harder on an empty stomach. Bring a snack to eat during a break to keep your energy up. The studio will have candy available for a quick pick-me-up as well.

Don't come if you're injured
Accidents happen, and it is better to reschedule if you are not feeling well. If you feel sick, in pain, have a cold, fever, or are injured, let your artist know and don't try to tough it out. Your immune system will be working overtime in order to heal your tattoo, so make sure you are at best health possible. While accidents rarely happen on a schedule, notify your artist as soon as you know that you are not going to make it to the appointment. If you've experienced a scrape/sunburn or other injury to the area also inform your artist soon.


Please be nice and shower, but don't wear strong perfumes or colognes. Just like when visiting a massage therapist, hairdresser, or anyone else who works closely with your body, olfactory comfort for both parties is very much appreciated.

Come alone
Ideally, you won't bring anyone with you. Onlookers get bored and might be distracting for both the artist and client with phone calls, conversations, recording the process, or moving around the studio. If you absolutely have to have company, please notify your artist in advance. This does not apply to underage clients who do need to bring one of their parents to sign off for them. No infants or pets allowed ever though.

Wear the right clothing
Think ahead about the placement of your tattoo, and have that area easily accessible without getting ink on it, or getting too exposed if that is your concern. Sometimes in spite of all our efforts ink does get on clothes, so don't wear anything too precious if you can. The rest of the clothing should be comfortable and non restricting, especially if this is a long session. Loose black clothing usually works best, but use your discretion depending on the area getting tattooed. Your artist will have extra sheets/draping to make sure you're comfortable throughout the session.

Bring entertainment
If you're in for a long session and need a distraction, come up with some non-intrusive entertainment. Earbuds and mp3 player, laptop, tablet, movies - anything that is passive and does not cause you to move. Some clients mentioned that sugary candy suckers like lollipops work well as a distraction as well.

Don't rush
Do not schedule other commitments right before and after your tattoo session. A good time buffer will make your artist feel less rushed and help them concentrate on doing the best work they can. You might want to take it easy after your appointment and not schedule anything strenuous afterwards.

Numbing creams and painkillers
Do not use any numbing creams on your skin without consulting with your artist. You can take Tylenol (active ingredient acetaminophen), but NOT Advil (active ingredient ibuprofen) or Bayer Aspirin (active ingredient acetylsalicylic acid). Advil and aspirin thin the blood and may provoke excess bleeding. If you are on any other medication that affects blood clotting please let your artist know.

Do not move around
Any movement that you make, even if it seems far away from the body part getting worked on, reverberates through the whole body. While we understand it is not possible to be completely still for any duration of time, trying to minimize movement is appreciated. You can talk, as long as you don't talk with your hands.

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