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Before getting inked, use these tips for your tattoo research

If you're thinking of getting a tattoo, this advice may help you make your choice and avoid tattoo regret. – Photo by Lucas Lenzi / Unsplash

Tattoos are more popular than ever — almost a third of U.S. adults have at least one tattoo. If you want to get inked but don't know where to start, look no further! Here are some tips to make getting your first tattoo as simple a process as possible.

Research your artist

There are tons of tattoo artists and styles out there to choose from — from American traditional to fine line to realism. It's important to find an artist who specializes in the style you're looking for. Some artists tattoo people in a few different styles, while others focus on one specifically, so if your mind is set on a particular style, it's best to find an expert on it.

Many tattoo shops will post their artists' work on their website, but you could also look for the artist's Instagram to see if they do the kind of tattoo you want. This maximizes the chance that you'll end up liking the design of your tattoo — after all, it is permanent.

Another good thing to look for when researching an artist is what their work looks like when it's fresh compared to healed. This will help you get a baseline for how the artist's work will look after a few months. Sometimes, ink falls out after tattoos heal, or lines end up healing unevenly. That's why it's also a good idea to see what your tattoo artist and their shop’s touch-up policy is since some shops offer a discounted or free touch-up after a certain amount of time.

Choose custom vs. flash design

You may have heard of "flash tattoos" before but not have known exactly what that means. A flash design is a tattoo that has already been drawn by the artist and can be tattooed. These are often at a fixed size range and price, and often, an artist will have flash designs they'll only tattoo once. Flash pieces are great if you're looking to save money or don't have an extremely specific tattoo design in mind.

Custom designs, on the other hand, are drawn especially for you. These can be drawn at whatever size you want, and the artist will give you an estimated price for your tattoo. Custom pieces are great if you love an artist's work and have a specific idea in mind for what you want.

Preparing for your appointment

It's important to do a few things before your appointment to make sure that it goes as smoothly and comfortably as possible!

Eating something small before is a must to keep you from feeling shaky or lightheaded while being tattooed. Bringing water with you is also a great idea to stay hydrated.

Most tattoo artists will let you take breaks to get water or take a breather, so having water or a small snack with you can help keep you feeling fueled and comfortable during your appointment.

Some things to avoid doing before your appointment are drinking caffeine or alcohol and tanning excessively. These things can cause your skin to bleed more during the tattoo or make you more prone to feeling faint during the process.

Make sure you really want it

If you've told anyone you're interested in getting a tattoo, you've probably been constantly warned and reminded that "tattoos are permanent."

While this advice can become annoying to hear over and over again, it is true. So, it's worth taking the time to think about it if you really want your tattoo.

If you aren't sure, there are plenty of realistic-looking temporary tattoos you can try out to see if you're keen on having a tattoo of a certain size or on a certain part of your body. You can also see if the artist you're planning to go to does consultations with clients prior to the appointment so you can talk through your design idea and any concerns you may have!

Having tattoos are an amazing way to express yourself and put some of your personality onto your skin, but it's not always an easy, breezy process. I hope these tips help you if you’re looking for where to start on getting your first tattoo.

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