The decision to get a tattoo should never be taken lightly. Even though there are now ways to get rid of a permanent tattoo, they are expensive, painful, and sometimes ineffective. When we choose to mark our body in permanent ink, we must assume that the design we have chosen will follow us until the end of our days.

Not only should you be psychologically prepared before going under the tattoo artist’s needle, but it is also important to prepare your body for the procedure.

Indeed, even if it is often considered harmless, tattooing remains an intrusive intervention that involves risks. This is why it is important to be well prepared before taking the plunge.

When you should not get a tattoo

When you decide to get a permanent tattoo, the ideal situation is to make your decision several weeks in advance. A tattoo is not the kind of thing you want to do on a whim! You have to choose a suitable location and tattoo artist, as well as a design that is genuinely meaningful to you, but you also have to make sure that tattooing is the right decision.

It is essential to be informed of the side effects of tattooing. No matter how psychologically convinced you are with your decision, this form of body art may just not be right for you, especially for health reasons.

Blood disease

So, if you have AIDS or hepatitis B or C, or if you have hemophilia or diabetes (diabetics are more prone to infections of all kinds), you should not get a tattoo, which can have serious consequences.

Allergies and skin reactions

People who have very sensitive skin and who are particularly prone to allergies and skin reactions should also refrain from getting a tattoo. People with a known allergy to pigments should not get a tattoo under any circumstances!


It is also preferable for pregnant women, because of the variation in weight, to wait until the pregnancy is over before getting a tattoo. They should also not take any risk (bad reactions, infections, or allergies) that could put the fetus in danger.

Weight variation

Finally, some people tend to gain or lose more weight than normal within a short period. If this is your case, think twice before getting a tattoo and choose your body spot wisely. The skin may be elastic, but the fact remains that significant variations in the shape of your body could distort the design.

Measures to take before your tattoo appointment

Avoid the sun

In the days leading up to your appointment with your tattoo artist, it is recommended that you pay attention to certain things that could interfere with the procedure. In the days or even weeks preceding the procedure, do not expose the area to be tattooed to the sun.

If you have no choice, protect your skin with a minimum SPF 30 protective screen. You definitely don’t want to get sunburned, which will make the tattoo more painful.

Rest well

Pain is felt more intensely when we are tired. It is, therefore, preferable to rest before the big day, in order to be in good shape and better able to face the needles! Also, avoid exercising too strenuously, as physical exertion causes blood vessels to dilate, which is not recommended when getting ready to get a tattoo.

Remove hair

In cases where the area to be tattooed is particularly hairy, it should ideally be shaved or waxed before going under the artist’s needle.

Most tattoo artists will shave the area themselves but you should nonetheless prepare yourself adequately. If you choose to wax the area, it is best to do it at least a week before your appointment. Indeed, waxing tends to leave the skin reddened and sensitive, which does not go well with a tattoo.

Also note that, when tattooing a hairy area, this in no way prevents the hair from growing back. Better think about it before taking action. Some will choose to have permanent hair removal (laser or electrolysis) before getting a tattoo. This option is completely legitimate. However, these hair removal methods sensitize the skin; it is better to take the time to complete the treatment and then wait a few more weeks before making an appointment with a tattoo artist.

Hydrate yourself

In the days leading up to your appointment, take care of your skin more than usual. Don’t skimp on hydration, as dry skin will obviously be more sensitive.

Use a rich body lotion and drink plenty of water for at least a week before tattooing; these are also good habits to keep for life!

The day before the appointment, take the time to exfoliate your body using a horsehair glove or a gentle exfoliant, in order to rid it of dead cells. Don’t forget to apply your moisturizer afterward.

Avoid drugs and alcohol

Some people, afraid of the pain of a tattoo, choose to drink alcohol or use drugs before the appointment. This is a very bad idea. Alcohol may be relaxing, but it also causes blood vessels to dilate.

As for illicit drugs sold on the black market, they sometimes contain components over which you have no control and which can cause unpleasant reactions, including rashes or seizures!

Anyway, when you get a tattoo, it’s really better to be in full control of your cognitive functions; this is definitely not the time to make a bad decision, the consequences of which could be felt for many years.

Moreover, almost all tattoo artists will refuse to proceed if they notice that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Take an analgesic if necessary

If you are worried about pain, you can take an analgesic tablet an hour before the session. Turn to ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but avoid salicylic acid (aspirin) at all costs, as it dilates the blood vessels and will cause you to bleed more.

Make sure the tools are sterilized

In the tattoo artist’s studio, there are a few more things to verify. Make sure they use a new, wrapped needle, otherwise there could be a risk of transmission of various diseases. It is also important that they disinfect your skin before tattooing.

If you are not comfortable or if you doubt the cleanliness of the place and the skills of the tattoo artist, run away! Even if you have paid part of the cost upfront, there is no point in saving a little money if you have to take risks with your health.

Note, however, that the vast majority of tattoo parlors are particularly medicinal when it comes to hygiene.

Jenny Zhang

Jenny holds a Master's degree in psychiatry from the University of Illinois and Bachelors's degree from the University of Texas in nutritional sciences. She works as a dietician for Austin Oaks Hospital in Austin, Texas. Jenney writes content on nutrition and mental health for the Scientific Origin.