ONE TO SIX MONTHS BEFORE:
Research your design.
Flip through designs on Internet.
This is also a good time to decide where you want to get it on your body.
Search tattoo studios and artists in your area. Read reviews and view the artist's personal website for portfolio images.
ONE WEEK BEFORE:
Call for a consultation. Meet with your tattoo artist to review your design.
Even if you bring in a design, your artist might want to add his/her own signature style to the design.
Schedule your appointment and pay your deposit. Many tattoo artists will ask that you leave a deposit before sitting down to get inked. Find out if you need a doctors note.
Some clients with blood disorders or heart issues will need to get an OK from a medical professional.
THE NIGHT BEFORE:
Lay off the liquor or any harmful toxins.
Shave the area around the design. The area for the ink has to be completely clear of hair.
THE DAY YOU GET INKED:
Skip your usual coffee. Caffeine thins the blood, making it harder to tattoo. It also makes you antsy — something you don't want before having to sit still for hours.
Shower. Two words: personal hygiene.
Eat a meal and drink lots of water. While you get inked, your blood sugar levels will move up and down.
Gather your ID. The tattoo parlor will want to verify that you are of legal age to get inked.
THE DAY AFTER:
Remove your bandage. Make sure to wash your hands before getting rid of the covering.
Wash the design. Use a mild soap and lukewarm water to thoroughly remove any ointment left on your new ink and do a final rinse with cold water.
If there is any soreness or swelling, apply ice to the area.
Moisturize. The tattoo might feel dry and tight as It heals. You want to wash and moisturize the area with the tattoo ointment three times a day.
FOR TWO WEEKS AFTER:
Apply sunscreen. Use an SPF 30+ sunscreen or better yet, keep out of the direct sunlight to keep your artwork from fading.
Some scabbing or peeling may occur, but never pick at the skin or scratch itchiness.
UP TO SIX MONTHS AFTER:
Schedule an appointment for touch-ups.
Once your ink has fully healed, your artist can go back in and fine-tune small details.