Most first-time inkers (and some pros!) tend to get nervous before getting inked.
There are probably many questions and concerns you’ll have before getting into that tattoo chair. Some of you might be holding off on booking your appointment because you’re worried about pain, price, bleeding, and many other things!
But not to worry – we’re here to help!
Tattooing 101: Understanding the Basics
First off, it’s important to go in fully informed. So here are some basic tattoo facts to get you started. For a detailed guide on tattooing and answers to your burning questions, visit Tattooing 101: Everything About Inking – Explained!
- Permanent: Tattoos are permanent because the ink is poked into your skin and placed on the second layer, called the dermis, which does not shed like the top layer of skin. Ink itself is made up of particles larger than what white blood cells can consume, so while the tattoo wound heals, ink stays right where it is. Check out Tattooing 101: Everything About Inking – Explained! for more.
- Ink: Tattoo ink is subjected to rigorous testing by multiple bodies across the world before it is certified as safe for commercial and cosmetic use. For more on tattoo ink, visit Tattooing 101: What’s in my Ink?
- Hygiene: A good studio ensures all equipment is sterilized and generally uses single-use needles and ink. They will also make sure the tattoo area is kept clean and properly wrapped post-inking to protect it.
- Pain: All tattooing hurts, but some do hurt less than others. This usually depends on the placement, size (and thus, session duration), style of tattooing (specifically, how much detailing and shading is involved), equipment (traditional versus modern tools), artist skill, and your own tolerance to pain. For more info, check out The Jhaiho Tattoo Pain Guide as well as The Jhaiho Tattoo Sizing Guide
- Bleeding: There is always some amount of bleeding during tattooing, but usually, it will not be excessive. You do, however, experience a loss of glucose, and this is why it is important to stay hydrated and bring a snack to your session, especially if it is going to be a long one. Check out The Jhaiho Tattoo Care Guide for more dos and don’ts during a tattoo session.
- Equipment: Tattooing uses a machine within which the needle sits. While tattoo needles are long, only 1-2 mm of the needle sticks out of the machine and pierces your skin. For more info, visit Tattooing 101: Tattoo Machines & Materials
- Tattoo care: This begins even before your session, and continues during and after. Your artist will cleanse your tattoo, apply aftercare lotion, and usually wrap it before letting you leave. For a full guide on tattoo care, check out The Jhaiho Tattoo Care Guide
Be sure to read through our other blogs if you have any more questions! And if you need more info – just drop us a comment!
Calming Strategies: How to Enjoy Your Tattooing Experience
If after all that you still have difficulty staying calm, there are a few things you can try – both before getting inked as well as during your session!
When you are relaxed, your muscles are not tensed and you won’t be as stressed during the inking process. Additionally, when you are well-rested, you are better equipped to handle the pain as your tolerance is higher.
You’re also less likely to feel run down or fall sick after the session if you are relaxed before and during your session.
First and foremost – breathe!
This is the most important step! When we’re scared, we tend to hold our breath and tense up our muscles, which actually makes us feel more pain.
Relax. Take a deep breath.
Deep breathing is known to help calm the nervous system. Try counting while you breathe, such as inhale for 8 counts, hold for 4 counts, and then exhale and let your body relax.
Deep breathing is also extremely helpful if you deal with anxiety, but be sure to inform your artist if you do so they know to check in with you throughout the session.
There are many relaxation methods that work well in daily life. Mindfulness is one of the most popular ones, especially if you deal with anxiety.
One of the easiest ways to practice mindfulness is to draw your attention to your immediate surroundings. For instance, the senses technique asks you to find things in your environment that you can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch, and you can repeat this a few times to help yourself calm down and be more present.
Many people find exercise to be relaxing and calming. Whether you prefer running or kickboxing, or yoga or swimming, exercise is a great way to relax your body and mind before you enter a situation you find stressful.
Just be sure to shower before you head out!
It helps to have a distraction during your session. It can be something as simple as a fidget spinner if that’s helpful for you. Just make sure it isn’t something that would distract your artist while they work!
Read on for some ideas!
If music calms you, make full use of that! Certain kinds of music, such as binaural beats, are known to help induce a trance-like state, not unlike the one you enter through yoga or meditation. This helps you stay relaxed yet alert, which makes it a great accompaniment to your tattoo session.
Listen to tracks you love to help ease your nerves. If you’d like to listen to your own music while getting inked, be sure to bring headphones.
And don’t forget to keep wires secured so they don’t get in the tattoo artist’s way while they are working.
If instead of music you find reading calms you, be sure to bring a book to your session. If the tattoo you’re getting allows for it, you could try reading during your session. If not, maybe try some light reading before your session and during breaks. Alternatively, you could bring an audiobook.
Be sure to check in with your artist to make sure your book or reading doesn’t distract them in any way.
Use your phone
If your tattoo allows for you to, pick up your phone and play a game, chat with someone who helps you stay calm, or get on social media and browse.
Phones are one of the best distractions out there!
Bring a friend
While it is very distracting for artists if you bring too many people to your tattoo session, they’re usually fine with you bringing 1-2 people to keep you company while you get inked.
So feel free to bring along a friend to help you relax while your session is in progress!
Stay healthy and hydrated
Many people find comfort in food and drink. But it also helps to eat right and stay hydrated, as this impacts how much your tattoo will hurt as well as how much you might bleed.
It helps to bring a snack to keep your glucose levels up, but this is also helpful if certain foods help you stay calm. A bit of chocolate, for instance, works great for most customers!
Be sure to stay healthy and hydrated before, during, and after your tattoo session so you heal faster.
Try and avoid alcohol and drugs before, during, and after your session, as these thin your blood and hinder your ability to react appropriately. Some people also find it helpful to refrain from consuming caffeine as well as certain heaty foods, such as meat. It’s up to you to figure out what’s best for your body!
For some people, warm water is calming enough. For others, calming herbal teas work wonders!
Check in with your artist if they have any recommendations for non-caffeinated teas that you could sip on during your breaks to help keep you calm and relaxed.
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We hope that helps!
Ready to get your tattoo? Book your appointment now at Jhaiho!
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Don’t forget to check out our other posts!