Let’s face it, once you get inked–there’s no turning back. Getting a tattoo is not just a huge commitment, it’s also life-changing. So if you’re considering breaking skin for the first time or finally completing that sleeve, you should start educating yourself so you won’t have any regrets.
Realize that the experience of getting a tattoo doesn’t need to be overwhelming. You just need to politely ask about certain things, observe, and research your chosen shop or a tattoo artist. This will not only ensure that you are free from developing allergies to life-threatening infections (like HIV and Hepatitis C), it will also help your tattoo last longer.
Selecting a shop that can make your dream tattoo art a reality is very important and you should not take it lightly. Bear in mind that, while there are many good tattoo artists, there are also some really bad ones. If you don’t ask questions, it won’t come out right, or it may end up becoming infected.
So before going under the needle, try to consider asking these seven questions:
Do you use a sterilization machine?
The process of getting a tattoo involves needles puncturing your skin. These needles are punctured repeatedly so as to insert ink pigment into the dermis layer of your skin. Needles used in practices like this are associated with health risks such as HIV, Hepatitis B, and C, as well as mild to severe allergies.
Hence, tattoo shops should follow strict sterilization and other sanitation techniques. Unfortunately, a number of individual artists and tattoo shops are uneducated or too lazy to properly sanitize their equipment.
This is why it is very important to ask whether the shop uses an autoclave (a sterilization machine) to sterilize their equipment so as to prevent contamination of bloodborne diseases. Moreover, visit the shop and observe the tattoo artist if they are really using the autoclave or if it’s functional at all. See also if they really dispose items covered in blood or body fluids in the correct manner; and if the artist uses sharps box to get rid of the old needles.
Are you a licensed tattoo artist?
Making sure your tattoo artist is qualified and knows how to do a safe, sterile, and professional job is very essential too.
A licensed tattoo artist has been trained and passed an exam on various aspects of responsible tattooing. They must be trained to prevent bloodborne infections, sterilize their equipment, and knows how to provide first aid.
Licensing varies on location, so you can also try doing some extra research to find out your local regulations.
May I know the ingredients of the ink?
The inks used in tattoos are made up of colorants and carriers or diluents. The colorants are pigments that provide color, while carriers or diluents are liquids that assist in transferring the colorants from the needle to your skin.
There is a variety of colorants and carriers, some of which are completely unfit for injection. Asking your tattoo artist for a breakdown of the ingredients in the ink will definitely save you from developing an allergic reaction or infection.
Be wary of shops or tattoo artists who cannot give a solid overview of the ingredients in their ink as well as the brand they’re going to use. Write down the ingredients and do your own research. It is also a good idea to ask your dermatologist about the potential risks.
Can I have a patch test?
Whether or not you suspect an allergy to the ink, doing a patch test should be included in your list. This is because the process of getting a tattoo can aggravate your skin thus making it prone to an allergic reaction.
Scheduling a patch test a month in advance will help see if you’re going to develop a reaction. However, a patch test should only be a guide, you should remember that symptoms can occur after your tattoo is completely healed. Consulting a doctor will be a wise thing to do too.
Can I look through your portfolio?
This is a good question to ask when you want to know how skillful the tattoo artist is in doing his craft. The portfolio should give you an idea of whether the artist can bring to life the design that you want.
There are different styles of tattooing and seeing the previous tattoos the artist has done will give you a hint of his personal style. Many tattoo shops offer customer financing in case you want multiple tattoos or larger styles.
Can you give me aftercare recommendations?
Another question to consider asking your tattoo artist is if they can send you aftercare recommendations.
Aftercare is also paramount to keeping yourself safe from developing an infection as well as keeping your tattoo at its best. So don’t hesitate to ask questions about how NOT to mess up with your newly inked skin.
Ask yourself: Do you feel a connection with the tattoo artist?
You don’t need to be super close friends with your tattoo artist, but at least you should feel comfortable enough to trust him. You shouldn’t feel unsafe, pressured, or disrespected.
Your artist will be creating art that will be on your body forever, so you should at least have some sort of personal connection.