How To Prepare For A Tattoo

No matter you’re going for your first or latest tattoo session, you should not leave anything that could help to prepare yourself.

Getting a tattoo is not only an art but also a big commitment, and without the necessary preparation, this can be nerve-wracking.

There are many steps and precautions that work together as a whole to make your tattooing experience smoother. However, many people tend to neglect this fact and suffer later.

Therefore we have come up with our complete guideline about how to prepare for a tattoo. So, without further ado, let’s start. Before getting a tattoo, make sure you have taken all the necessary steps mentioned below.

How To Prepare For A Tattoo Session

How To Prepare For A Tattoo
Tattooing is almost like a medical process, where sharp needles will ink skin. Your body art will stay forever with you, and you’re going to spend a considerable amount of money from your wallet.

Hence you have to make sure you’re prepared enough to keep your tattoo and skin safe. However, preparing yourself for a tattoo session consists of several facts that work as a whole for your betterment during and after the tattooing process. These facts include

  • Preparing your skin,
  • Bringing things that you need
  • Considering your dress-up
  • Tackle the pain

Here, we will discuss all the facts that’ll make sure you’re fully prepared for your tattoo session.

How to Prepare Your Skin for a Tattoo

Preparing your skin for a tattoo session includes several activities, and these are the most important parts that can determine your whole tattooing experience. Let’s have a look at how to prepare your skin for a tattoo.


If you have dry and flakey skin, this is necessarily not an ideal condition to sit for a tattoo. So, make sure your skin is moisturized before your tattoo session. In case you have skin drying issues persistently, try to use proper moisturizer.

However, don’t pick anything as a moisturizer; rather, you should confirm whether that moisturizer contains proven ingredients to prevent skin drying issues.

Most well-known moisturizers comprise certain ingredients, including aloe vera, glycolic acid, ceramides, lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, and some occlusive agent like petrolatum, dimethicone, lanolin, and paraffin.

You can try various moisturizers to find a particular one that suits your unique skin. If your skin becomes extremely dry in winter, it’s better to wait until the summer or spring comes.

Get Hydrated

Just like you’re using a moisturizer to make sure your skin is hydrated from the outside, you should also keep your skin hydrated from the inside. This can only happen by drinking plenty of water.

The more your skin is hydrated means you have healthier skin which is crucial for a better tattooing experience. Drink water as much as you can. When you’re appropriately hydrated, your skin will be more resilient. As a result, you can endure perfectly in a long tattoo session, and the healing process will be faster.


Before going for a tattoo session, make sure the area where you’ll be inked is the smoothest surface to work on. For this, shave the area smartly to avoid irritations. However, this is applicable when you usually shave the area you intend to be tattooed on.

Well, if it’s the shaving area, don’t shave until the day of your tattoo session. Be extremely careful while shaving to avoid uncertain cuts and nicks.

Most importantly, moisturize the area after shaving to ensure your skin is healthy enough or isn’t dried. Try to avoid a moisturizer that uses alcohol in it; otherwise, it can make your skin dry.


Exfoliating means removing all impurities stored in your skin pores. This is another way to make the tattooing process more comfortable both for your and your artist.

Before starting your session, just gently exfoliate without irritating the skin. You can use a loofah or any other dependable exfoliant. Exfoliating your skin also facilitates the effectiveness of moisturizers.

Eat Healthy Foods

Eat Healthy Foods
Never ever go for a tattoo session when you’re hungry. During the tattooing process, your body will experience severe trauma. To tackle that trauma and tackle the pain, your body requires the necessary energy and stamina.

No matter how fine you feel, don’t go on an empty stomach. When you’re hungry, your blood sugar level can drop, leading to increased pain while needling. Otherwise, your body won’t be able to exert enough energy to suppress the pain.

Avoid Burning or Even Tanning

Cover up the area that’s going to be tattooed. You may not want to start your tattooing session with a sun-damaged or burned epidermis. In case you have already burned or tanned excessively, try to reschedule.

Forget about laying out at the beach, tanning beds, and even sitting on sunny patios with protection. You can use sunscreen with higher SPF to avoid extreme exposure.

What to Bring to Your Tattoo Appointment

What to Bring to Your Tattoo Appointment
When you’re preparing for a tattoo session, you’ll need to bring a few things gathered up that will make sure you’re prepared. These things include:

Medical Release forms

Certain health conditions can make the tattooing process more difficult. If you’re experiencing such a condition, make sure you have brought your doctor’s medical release form to the artist.

It would help if you also discussed with your artist whether you’re able to get inked. In most cases, artists won’t allow a person to be inked if his/her blood is thinned. So, if you have any medical concern that needs blood thinners, better go for a rescheduled time.


Many people tend to neglect to bring their government-issued photo ID during a tattoo session. However, most shops have already formulated their procedure, and your photo ID or driving license might be checked before starting your session.

The most important reason behind this is checking your age. If you’re aged below 18 years, an artist will not allow you to be inked.


No matter if you’re prepared at the highest level, that’ll be meaningless if you don’t bring enough money to bear your tattooing charge. You might not want to be humiliated by the authority or leave the session half-completed. So, don’t forget about the money.


While the tattooing process is going on, you should keep yourself hydrated all the time. Just like you have hydrated yourself before the session, you need to maintain it. Simply bring a bottle of water with you.

However, many people prefer electrolyte drinks like Powerade or Gatorade to keep themselves hydrated. You can have one of them as well. Bringing any drink is most important, especially for a long tattoo session.


high protein Snacks
If you’re going for a longer session, don’t forget to bring snacks with you. Your artist may advise you to avoid eating, but having snacks like a power bar or crackers isn’t bad.

Rather, a snack can help you to minimize your hunger or distract yourself from a highly uncomfortable phase while tattooing. However, be cautious about choosing a snack and ensuring you can eat the snack with one hand.

Comfort Item

Bringing a pillow is a good idea if you want to lay down while tattooing. It’s more effective when you’re on a long tattoo session. In a session, you may be prone to lay down at a particular time.


Getting a tattoo might be one of the most exciting matters in your life. Believe me or not, getting tattooed can be boring. Unless you want to be bored in your tattoo session, make sure you have something with you to entertain yourself.

Bring a source of entertainment such as an mp3 player, laptop, tablet with you. This is not only effective to avoid dullness but also to distract yourself from the pain. Watching Tv is fairly good, but engaging with something that requires body movement won’t be granted.

A Support Person

A support person can play a huge role in your tattooing session. This person can be your friend or relative. You can pass your time gossiping that may help you remain jolly and overlook the pain.

However, a parlor may not allow bringing a friend with you. You can convenience your artist by assuring your friend won’t disturb your artist during the session.

What to Wear to Your Tattoo Session

What to Wear to Your Tattoo Session
What to wear to your tattoo session is mostly a matter of common sense. Of course, you may not want to wear something that makes you feel uncomfortable or hinders accessing the body part you intend to be tattooed.

So, try to wear loose-fitting clothing that ensures your comfort as well as easy access while tattooing. You can also include some items to wear, including

  • Jacket in case the weather is cold
  • Extra pair of clean socks

A jacket is essential when you’re on a long tattoo session the weather is cold. Here also, avoid tight items. Make sure your tattoo is free from any abrasive material.

What to Take for Tattoo Pain

Taking a couple of paracetamol before your tattoo session may help you to endure pain. However, pain is a part of the tattooing process, and you can’t ignore it.

In case you’re too afraid of that, you can go for over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen as well. These drugs are effective in easing your pain while tattooing.

Some tattoo artists may recommend you to use skin-numbing products that usually contain 5% lidocaine. Try to take ibuprofen or aspirin at least 24 hours before your session. Otherwise, these can thin your blood and prolong the process.

Can I Use Numbing Cream Before a Tattoo?

No doubt, pain is the biggest concern for many people while intending to get a tattoo. That is why many medications or alternatives have been formulated to ease the pain. Numbing cream is one of them.

Putting on numbing cream is not a bad idea, but you have to make sure how to do it right and you’re buying a specifically designed formula. Don’t leave your numbing cream on for over an hour.

How Should A Tattoo Artist Prepare Before Applying A Tattoo?

Being prepared for tattoo is not only essential for customers but also for artists. Before starting the session, artists should prepare themselves as well. For this, they should

  • Disinfect the workspace with an EPA-approved viricide.
  • Place plastic bags on spray bottles to keep them free from cross-contamination.
  • Explain the sterilization process to the client
  • Remove sterile packaging
  • Shave and disinfect the area going to be tattooed.

Also read: When is the Best Time to Get a Tattoo?

Final Words

Hopefully, you might have earned decent knowledge about how to prepare for a tattoo. We just tried to make you aware of specific facts to make your tattooing experience better. Do avoid any of your preparation work. Your safety is your responsibility.

About the author

I’m S.R Bhuiyan, a proud Tattoo artist. I will share the body art journey with you here in PrettyJust. I have 10+ years of experience in the field of tattoo, piercing, nail art, and skincare. Check out my bio which has my tattoo studio/cat/travel pics!

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