What To Expect When You Get Your First Tattoo


So, you’ve decided to get a tattoo! Congratulations – welcome to the land of the inked.

It’s hard to know exactly what getting a tattoo is like until you actually experience it for yourself. You can ask your friends – or the Internet – but until you’re lying down (or bending over, or extending your foot in the air, or twisting yourself into whatever contortion you need to) on that table, you won’t really know.

That said, we’re going to try to help you out a little bit.

We’re going to assume that, if you’re reading this, you’ve decided on a design, or at least have an idea in your head of what you’re going to get done. And don’t worry about answering those questions of “Are you sure you’re going to want that when you’re 50?” We don’t believe in asking those questions. First of all, not everyone lives until they’re 50. We know that’s a morbid thing to say, but if we made all decisions based on what our middle-aged selves would think, we’d be living a life of constant second-guessing. Second of all, heck yes your 50-year-old self will like it. Your 50-year-old self is not going to be magically against tattoos or “above” whatever design your 20’something year-old self is contemplating. To get #deep for a second, your heart is always your heart. Things that mean a lot to you now will probably mean a lot, in some way, in a few decades. Or, you’ll at least be fond of the things that meant a lot to you in your twenties. Truth be told, we expect to be binge-watching Gilmore Girls and listening to NSync when we’re 50, so….

Anyway, that was a sidebar.

Here are some things that you definitely can expect when you go for your first tattoo appointment.

You might have to be flexible.


We don’t mean flexible as in twisting your feet over your head (although, hey, depending upon the location of your tattoo, you never know.) We mean in terms of your design. Those super tiny tatts are super trendy right now, but most tattoo artists will tell you that it’s really hard to get tiny text tattoos. The smaller it is, the more likely that it will look blurry over time. You might end up with a tatt that is a little bigger than you originally imagined it.

You might worry that you’re making a mistake.


There’s a lot of paperwork to sign, it can get a little scary. In those moments of signing your name to all of those waivers, there’s bound to be a little voice that pops up that says, “Wait do I really want to do this?!” You should always trust your gut but know that that little voice doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re making a mistake. Chances are, you’ve thought about this a lot. You’ve got this.

Everyone will want to give you advice.


In some ways, the fewer people you tell before you get the tattoo, the better. Everyone will want to share his or her war stories or highlight reels if they have tattoos of their own, and if not, don’t worry, they know someone who does. Plus, if your entire Facebook news feed knows that you’re getting inked because you checked in at the tattoo parlor, be prepared for a slew of texts and DMs demanding to see pics. (You know you’ll want to wait until the redness dies down before you get your amaro filter on.)

It *will* hurt…


I mean, someone is going to be dragging a needle along a certain part of your body. It’s not going to be fun. What did you think, it’s going to feel like a massage?


…It won’t hurt nearly as much as you probably expect.


It’s your first tattoo, so you probably have nothing else to compare it to. By now, everyone has told you how painful their tattoo experience was (see number three) so you’re probably expecting some level of excruciating pain – along the same lines of when the doctor tells you, “You’re going to feel some pressure.” I guess it’s good if you get your hopes up (or down) this high. You will probably build up your expectations so much in your mind that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the fact that the pain is relatively tolerable – and in some cases, completely negligible.

You will become obsessed with your new tattoo.


Probably for the next week or so, you’ll want to do nothing else but look at it, take pictures of it, post said pictures to Instagram, and look at it some more. This is normal. (It’s harder when your tatt is in a place that’s covered by most clothing.)

You will want another one. Or five.


Tattoo addiction is real, and one will not be enough. You’ll have barely healed before you’re starting to plan your second one. So be prepared, and start brainstorming those designs.

Happy inking!

Tell Us: Do you have a tattoo? What was your experience like? If you don’t have a tattoo, would you ever get one?

{Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash}

One thought on “What To Expect When You Get Your First Tattoo

  1. megabrooke says:

    Good tips for first timers here! I have two… one on my back and one on my foot. I had good experiences both times. They hurt, but didn’t KILL, and I think who you go with makes a difference too! Though my husband went solo for his first (and only), and that’s probably a dude thing, because really, are they going to go with a group of dude’s and hold hands? Not so much. I went with a bunch of girlfriends for my second, and we all got the same thing, so it was fun and exciting and we all kind of supported one another’s freak outs. I’ve been thinking about another for a while… it’s fun to brainstorm… just gotta pull the trigger on it… eventually (and probably not with a babe in my belly? might be frowned upon?)


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