Currently this section is under construction and will
eventually consist of a menu system - for now please be patient and accept the following
as one big article. If you have articles that are of tattoo interest and would like a
reciprocal link - please e-mail with TATTOO
as the subject and provide information - thanks!
Before & After a Tattoo
Receiving and healing of a tattoo is 100% your
responsibility. Sorry but before you read anything I
have to state a disclaimer. If you do or do not do any of the following it is not my
responsibility in any manner - everything is your decision. People are sue happy these
days so before you even bother reading and thinking anything I hereby state that I have no
responsibility nor make any medical claims of there being any proper procedure to heal a
tattoo for every person. Consult with a medical professional and your personal tattoo
artist for any questions or concerns. The following information is posted as a
general guideline and may not be applicable for you. No medical claims or warranties are
being stated, just general information that may not be true for every individual. Your
election to do or not to do any of the following is your decision and I am not responsible
in any manner for any consequence, side effects, or injury should you elect to do
any of the following.
Research the Tattoo Shop
- If applicable be sure the tattoo shop is a state/county licensed business for giving
tattoos. In most states this means that the shop has an autoclave on premises that
passes spore tests on a regular basis. An autoclave is the same machine that
hospitals use to sterilize equipment. Tattoo grips, tubes, and needles all should be
sterilized in an autoclave. However many artist purchase pre-sterilized needles and
tube/grips are also available in disposable sterilized packaging.
- Be sure the tattoo shop has been around for a while. That way if you
have a problem you will have a better chance of that shop still being around in a year.
Tattoo shops pop up and disappear often within two years, as is the case with many new
businesses. If you are going to a newly opened shop it should be because the artist
is well established and known. I would also recommend that the business owner (or at least
one of them) is a tattooist.
- Check the general cleanliness of the shop. If the shop is dirty chances
are what is being used on you could be dirty or just not as clean as it could be. This
includes the seat you are sitting in could have left over body fluid from the last client
- ICK and dangerous! Check the bathroom too.
- NEVER get a tattoo at a house or tat party. Think of it this way - would you get surgery
in a friend's house? The price might be cheaper than a shop but look at all the
trouble and decease you might be buying.
- In some states tattoos or tattoos administered in a home are illegal. Both you and the
artist can go to jail if caught.
- I would also recommend contacting the Better
Business Bureau in your area about the shop. You might find out some interesting
Research the tattoo artist
- Be sure the artist has current licensing, if your state &/or
county regulates the tattoo industry. In Missouri this means that the artist has filed
with the State of Missouri. In St. Louis County they have been tested for Hepatitis (and
vaccinated) and HIV. In Missouri it is illegal to administer tattoos with HIV or Hep. In
any case be sure the artist is clean. If they are giving you a tattoo and sneeze on you -
guess what - you could catch something more that artwork.
- Ask to see pictures of inking the artist has already done. Ask
- Watch the artist do a tattoo before you get one. How clean are they? Be
sure to watch the set up and break down after they do a tattoo as well as them performing
the inking of a tattoo. Did they use new gloves, new ink cups, surgical soaps that can
kill bacteria and virus, and use plastic bags. Did they clean the station up after a
client... all these things add up and can prevent cross-contamination.
Before you get a tattoo
- Select the design. Hey, if this is your first tattoo it can be really
difficult but think about it. Will you love that in a year, five years, ten years? You
will have it forever so be sure. Don't get a name that you may want to hide in years to
come. Children and parent's names are safe. Consider time - all tattoos spread a little.
Tiny holes in a letter 'e' in a name will block up. Tribal that is in all black and too
small will eventually fade together. Packing a color in small areas will reduce this time
- Decide where. I think the design comes first and the placement second
but others may disagree. Sometimes people know they want a tattoo on a place of the body
and have to wait till they find the right design for that place.
- Talk to the artist about how you want the design to look - with shading
and color. Show them samples and talk to them about color. Even medium dark skin can get
color but remember that no matter what your skin tone is, two layers of your own natural
(or sun tanned) skin color will cover the finished product. So you may want to pick really
bright colors so they heal out good on dark skin. Orange may heal to be a bright red.
White may be impossible for your skin tone or tanning lifestyle. So ask - a good
tattoo artist can help you get what you want or explain why you can not get it.
- Make sure you skin is in good condition. A few days prior to the day
you plan on getting your tattoo prepare your skin. Drink plenty of water so your skin is
well hydrated. Use a good lotion a few times a day (like Lubriderm or I personally use
Curel Healing lotion). Do not drink alcohol the day before or the day of getting your ink
because that will cause excessive bleeding when getting your tattoo. Do not tan or get too
much sun prior to when you will get ink. You want your skin in good condition , not
sunburnt. You can not tattoo a sunburn or flaking pealing skin. The day of your tattoo be
sure to shower/wash the area well and do not apply anything to the skin. You may shave or
wait and have the tattoist shave the area. Be sure they use disposable razors or request
that a disposable is used.
- Consider where you are getting your ink and wear appropriate clothes.
Ink will NOT come out of your attire so bring something you can change into that can be
ruined. If you don't you will have to wear what the establishment supplies, if they supply
anything at all.
- Think about after the tattoo. If you are getting something on your
foot/ankle/calf then don't plan on going out dancing that night. If you are going to be
going to a swim party - opps - not the time for a tattoo. You will need to stay out
of hot tubs, baths, rivers/lakes, and swimming pools until the tattoo is healed so plan
around sun and water activities. That is why winter is usually the best time to get ink.
AFTER THE TATTOO - HEALING
First I will tell you that even in the shop I work out of there are different ways each
artist will recommend for healing. remember I have stated a disclaimer - USE AT YOUR OWN
RISK. Also note that many artists (like myself) guarantee the application of the tattoo if
you follow their direction. Personally, I do the first touch up for free in case
there was a problem in the healing or in the case of a large tattoo the skin may not of
liked the last bit and the color may not be as impactual as I would like so I ask clients
to feel free to come back for the first touch up. However I will not do touch-ups on the
feet or hands since the skin is different and the tattoo will not hold well regardless.
- Keep the tattoo covered for 'X' hours. If you are getting the tattoo at night you might
want to keep covered till morning. If you are getting it mid-day you will be told
somewhere between 2-8 hours.
- When you first remove the bandage, wash with a antibacterial soapy water using your
fingers, not a wash cloth. PAT dry, do not rub.
- Allow tattoo to completely air dry. I recommend not to recover
unless you will be in a dirty environment.
- Apply 'something'. This is the biggest difference from artist to artist. Some will say a
triple antibiotic or A/D Ointment but an antibiotic will attempt to pull the ink out and
petroleum based products keep the tattoo 'wet'. Some suggest to keep it clean and when it
feels dry to apply a tiny bit of lotion with no dyes or fragrances.
- Remember to keep it clean but as dry as possible. No bath soaks, no swimming, & no
- In about 2-4 days the first scabbing starts. You may have a thick scabbing or not. If
the tattoo got wet it will be thick for sure. You may only have a few spots where you can
feel a thick scab beginning. In any case even if you do not get a thicker scab everyone
goes through a stage where there seems to be a gray plastic film over the tattoo. Don't
worry about the color looking dull or black looking gray. The film is the top layer of
skin that was damaged in the tattoo process. It will flake off like a sunburn.
- Healing varies depending on the person. It can be as quick as five days or as long as
three weeks but 10-14 days is normal.
- Do not touch, scratch or pick at the scab/film. You can damage the tattoo.
- If you have any worries, call your tattoo artist.
- Sun will fade your ink so always apply sunscreen after it is healed. A note for dark
tribal work - even years after your tattoo is healed if you are out in the sun you can get
sun poisoning in your tattoo because the deep black will absorb the sun. If you do you
will get little bumps in the black work from too much sun. they will of course heal but
remember that any damage after the tattoo is healed the scab can still pull out color.
- Just wear sunscreen and you will be fine.
- After all the flaky peely stuff is gone you can resume normal activities.