If you’re considering a tattoo but are still weighing your options, you’ve come to the right place. We consulted Shaughnessy Otsuji, founder of Studio Sashiko in Los Angeles about what you should consider before getting inked. We also asked five of our staffers about their tattoos—how they feel about them years later and if there is anything they would have done differently knowing what they know now.
“When deciding to get your first tattoo, it’s a good idea to take a look at many different artists’ portfolios. Most artists will offer a consultation to discuss your tattoo idea and placement beforehand. I also recommended bringing detailed reference photos to your consultation to help kickstart the design process with your artist,” says Otsuji.
Are there any specific tips you have around the size, color or placement of first tattoos?
According to Otsuji, “There are definitely certain areas of the body that tend to heal better and hold up longer over time. For example, hands are made up of rougher, more exposed skin, which can cause some blurring or fading over time. Since our hands are constantly used and washed throughout the day, a hand tattoo is subject to being bumped or scratched during the healing process, which can lead to pulling out ink before it has settled into the skin. This can cause gaps in the tattoo, which is why touch-ups are commonly required for hand tattoos,” she explains.
Another thing to consider: “Many tattooers will avoid tattooing certain areas like the hands, neck, and face, especially on people who are new to getting tattoos,” she says. “These areas are highly visible and harder to conceal with clothing, so we want to make sure before proceeding. Unfortunately, there are still many careers that don’t allow their employees to be visibly tattooed, so tattoo artists will approach these requests with caution,” she adds.
What are the best ways to prep for your appointment?
“It’s important to eat a good meal before your appointment and stay hydrated before and after getting your tattoo,” advises Otsuji. “Avoid drinking alcohol and consuming too much caffeine before your appointment, too, as both can cause thinning of the blood. You also want to avoid getting too much sun exposure before and after your tattoo appointment.”
What are the best ways to care for your tattoo afterwards?
After getting tattooed, you may shower normally, but it is important to avoid prolonged sweating or submerging your tattoo under water for too long. This means avoiding swimming, baths, hot tubs, and steam rooms/saunas, as well as intense exercise or activities that cause excessive perspiration. If the area gets wet, be sure to dry it off as soon as possible.
“When the tattoo begins to peel (which is normal), do not pick or scratch at the dry skin; let the flakes fall off naturally. Picking can cause scarring and premature loss of ink,” cautions Otsuji.
Exposure to the sun can cause fading and discoloration of the ink over time. “Once your tattoo has completely healed, you can and should apply sunscreen over the tattoo to further protect it from the sun and keep it looking as vibrant …….