By Veronica Thompson

There are a lot of things to consider when getting a tattoo, and the procedural aspects are even more difficult to understand — you can only understand it after you have been through it. That being said, I will do my best to communicate my understanding and thoughts about all the formalities and preparation one must be familiar with before showing up to the appointment that will essentially result in a new, permanent scar.

When it comes to pricing, the cost depends on the tattoo shop and the tattoo itself. Many shops have a minimum of $100 per tattoo, no matter how small it is. I was lucky enough to come across a shop in my area with a $60 minimum. Also, tattoos with a larger surface area, more detail and more color will be more costly.

Tattoo consultations come in many forms. They could be a scheduled or walk-in appointment — where you consult with whichever artist is available and then get the tattoo immediately after.

I was able to have my consultations and corresponding tattoo receptions during the same appointment. This is because none of my tattoos required a lot of time to plan or design. All my tattoos are between small and medium-sized and are not very detailed. A longer consultation would occur if the tattoo was more of an art piece than a simple drawing. 

Following the consultation process and depending on the availability of the tattoo artist, the next step is sitting in the chair — or laying down on it — and getting the tattoo drawn in. At this step, one is expected to get in a comfortable position that allows the appropriate body part to be accessible. Remember to eat something before going to get a tattoo so that you don’t feel sick.

The moment of anticipation right before getting a tattoo can be pretty excruciating, but this is the time to remind yourself that the pain is temporary. Know that the pain won’t last forever, but the tattoo itself is an everlasting gift.

One of the most important things to be prepared for before getting a tattoo is the aftercare period. A tattoo is basically an open wound, so it is very important to wash it with water and fragrance-free soap frequently, at least for the first three weeks. 

Moisturizing your tattoo is essential because this determines how well it heals. Unless your tattoo is extremely small, or you apply lotion to it every five seconds, it is going to peel. Peeling, soreness and redness are normal parts of the healing process. 

Anything should be sufficient to use as a moisturizer. I recommend tea tree oil, fragrance-free lotion and coconut oil. That being said, an antibiotic ointment will work just as well. There is no need to buy an expensive “tattoo balm” when you can just buy vitamin E ointment, which is essentially the same product.

Now that I’ve explained a bit about the process of getting a tattoo and all the technical but important details, I hope you feel less wary about what the experience will be like. There is no reason to be anxious if you are well prepared.