How to Prepare for a Tattoo Appointment – [10+ Must-Know Tips]

Everybody is excited the night before their tattoo session. It could be your hundredth tattoo or the very first time you’ve stepped inside a tattoo shop for an actual session. Regardless, there are some tips that you should know before your session starts. To help make the process easier for you, we have put together a complete guide on how to prepare for a tattoo appointment so you know exactly what to do.

What to do before getting a Tattoo

Knowing what to do before you get to your tattoo shop will help make the entire process a lot more comfortable for you and your artist. Not only will your artist be impressed, but they will be able to focus on creating the perfect piece for you. Let’s get started!

1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

The last thing you want is to come in and be completely exhausted for your tattoo session. It is incredibly important to be well-rested so that you can be alert and in-tune with your body. As you are getting tattooed you want to be able to read the signals your body is sending you and react appropriately. You don’t want to be falling asleep in the chair as your artist tries to put the care and detail into your tattoo. We recommend getting into bed earlier than you normally do. This will give you extra time to rest and fall asleep, especially if you’re super nervous about your appointment.

If you show up tired for your session, it is best to let your artist know that you didn’t get the best night’s sleep. Otherwise, your artist won’t know how you are truly feeling and it will make your appointment feel a lot longer and your body could become more sensitive to pain as you continuously yawn and stretch your way through your session.

Take the extra time and get that good night’s sleep; you will definitely thank yourself for it during your session.

2. Stay Hydrated

Before you get in that chair, you want to make sure that your body is hydrated. We have all been at the point where we haven’t been feeling the best and a glass of water feels like the most amazing thing ever. It is even more important before you get tattooed!

24 hours before your appointment you should be drinking a lot of water. A good goal is to aim to drink eight 8-oz glasses of water to fully ensure that your body is in the best shape possible. Not only is it good for your health, but it will make sure that your skin is hydrated and prepared for your tattoo session. Hydrated skin takes ink a lot better than dehydrated skin which will make the entire process a lot smoother for your artist. If you didn’t have a chance to drink a good amount of water before your appointment, we recommend keeping a water bottle with you during your session.

During all appointments at Playhouse, we highly encourage clients to ask for water and help themselves from our giant stack of water bottles.  After your tattoo is complete, you will want to continue your amazing hydration habit as it will help tremendously in the recovery and healing process. Your body has been through a lot and water is going to be your best friend.

3. Shave

If the area you will be getting tattooed has hair on it then it might be time to pull out the razor. We recommend shaving 2-3 times per week leading up to your tattoo. This will help prepare your skin for your tattoo session and it makes it a lot easier for your artist to work on the area.

If you aren’t comfortable shaving you should ask for assistance from someone who is. It is important to avoid irritating the area as any irritation will need to subside in order for your tattoo session to proceed. The same goes for any cuts or razor burns, your artist needs to have a clean and unopened surface to tattoo, so if you do experience cuts and burns often it is best to leave the area alone for at least a week. If you don’t have anyone to assist you then you should ask your tattoo artist to shave the area for you. It is best to give them a heads up that you will need their help to shave the area. If you decide that you are going to go down the waxing route then it is best to do so with enough time for your skin to heal.

Exfoliation is another aspect that people often forget. It will help your pores and your moisturizer by reducing the workload. Which brings us to our last point, moisturize! As you know, moisturizing will help to keep your skin hydrated and healthy. Remember that you want to generally avoid products with alcohol as they will dry your skin out.

4. Shower

This one might be obvious but we wanted to mention it just in case. You should be showering every day (hopefully), but please remember to do so before your appointment. You want to keep your skin as clean as possible since tattooing creates small cuts and opens the skin up. Do not show up after a hard gym session or after a game of basketball. Not only will your skin not be clean but your poor artist will have to sit through the smell of sweat and dirt as they get up and close to your skin.

5. Moisturize your Skin

Before we go any further, please do not moisturize your skin on the day of your tattoo. You don’t want any issues occurring with the needle, tattoo machine or ink, and your skin.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, moisturizing your skin days and even weeks in advance is something you should be doing. We recommend trying out a few moisturizers until you find one that works with your skin. Everybody’s skin reacts differently to lotions and moisturizers so take the time to find one that is compatible with yours. Leading up to your session we recommend that you moisturize your skin 1-2 times a day for 5-7 days before your tattoo. During the winter months, your skin can get more dry than usual. Which means if your tattoo appointment is anywhere from December-February you should be extra attentive to how your skin looks and feels.

6. Eat and Bring Snacks

Showing up to your appointment starving is not a good move. You are going to need your energy especially if you are about to sit through a longer session. A balanced and healthy meal will help your body as it deals with the needle and it will help you mentally. By doing so, you will avoid getting light-headed and you won’t run the risk of passing out from exhaustion. If you show up hungry your artist will ask you to take more breaks to make sure your body is handling the session appropriately.

We also recommend bringing snacks to your appointments. It can be especially helpful if you are someone who deals with low blood sugar. Having a piece of fruit, granola bar or cookies can really help with those 6-8 hour sessions. At Playhouse, we like to go on Tim Horton’s, bubble tea and Starbucks runs so when we ask if you would like something please don’t be shy!

7. Dress for you Session

You want to be as comfortable as possible during your tattoo and that means wearing a comfortable outfit. You don’t want to be wearing restrictive jeans or a dress shirt while you’re getting tattooed. Loose clothing will help make sure that you aren’t randomly getting itchy, overheated and it will allow you to easily re-adjust your positioning in case you become uncomfortable. Lastly, it will allow your artist easy access to the area you are getting tattooed. Your artist won’t be too happy if you’re getting your lower leg tattooed and you show up wearing skinny jeans.

What not to do before getting a Tattoo

8. Do not show up Intoxicated

It is normal to be scared for your session, especially if it is your first tattoo. However, you will be turned away if you show up under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These are not the solutions to being scared of the pain or the needle or anything about the process that may frighten you. Furthermore, it is extremely dangerous to drink alcohol before your appointment as it thins your blood and puts you in danger for various complications.

Lastly, you should also avoid aspirin and any medication that thins your blood. If you are taking prescription medication please talk to your health care provider to find out if you should be getting tattooed.

9. Do not show up with Damaged Skin

If you have any cuts, bruises, burns, peeling or fresh tans your tattoo appointment may be postponed. The main reason is that your tattoo will have a difficult time healing because your skin is going through trauma. The damage caused will lead to complications as your body tries to take in the ink during the healing process.

10. Intensive Exercise

Exercising before your tattoo is fine but you should avoid activities that drain your muscles and make you super sore. Anything that strains your muscles will make your tattoo process a lot more painful as your muscles will already be aching.

11. Do not touch your tattoo or station

Your artist will have all their tools laid out to make sure they have a sanitary work station that is ready to help them give you the best tattoo possible. The last thing you want to do is infect your tattoo by touching the open wound or your artists’ work station and contaminate their gun, needle or ink. If you are not feeling well please let your artist know immediately and they will take the proper steps.

12. Cancel last minute

We understand that emergencies come up and that is completely fine. However, when you cancel at the last minute on your artist that entire time slot is gone for them. Any other projects they could have taken on are lost because the spot was reserved for you. Of course, things happen, but please let your artist know as soon as possible regarding any changes in your estimated arrival.

During your Tattoo

13. Entertainment

Often times you will find that you get bored as you sit around waiting for your artist to work their magic, in these situations, it helps to bring your phone and headphones to watch some Netflix or music videos. The only thing to avoid is bringing a form of entertainment that moves your body around or disrupts your artists’ workflow. We recommend bringing your laptop and putting on a movie or streaming sports while you wait for your artist to complete your masterpiece.

14. Bring a friend

Playhouse is an open environment and we always welcome friends and family to come and support you during your tattoo. If you would like to bring a friend or family member that is more than welcomed, but it is best to avoid bringing large groups of people. As your artist tries to work you don’t want to have 4-5 people crowding the area around you.

We also understand that you might have to bring your children and have them with you while you’re getting tattooed. In these situations, we completely understand but do not tolerate any disruption (e.g. running around, touching stations, playing on computers, etc.). There are a lot of ways a child can hurt themselves in a tattoo shop and we want to do everything possible to make sure that does not happen.

Lastly, these are the conditions that our tattoo studio operates by and you should make sure that you understand how the studio you are going to operates. Many tattoo shops do not allow friends, family or small children in their shops, in fact, many only allow the person getting tattooed.

15. Ask Questions

If you are unsure of what is happening or you are not comfortable with how the process is going you need to ask questions. Your artist should have no trouble answering any questions you ask and if they are hesitant to give you a straight answer you should reconsider your choice. It is natural to have questions and you want to pick a tattoo artist who is professional and informed about their work.

Wrapping it Up

Getting a tattoo is an exciting experience that everybody looks forward to. The more prepared you are the better the entire appointment will be for you and your artist. By following the tips listed above you will be ready to go and you will impress your artist with your tattoo etiquette. After your tattoo appointment will come one of the most important steps in your tattoo process, the aftercare. For a complete breakdown on how to take care of your tattoo check out our aftercare guide.