top of page

Tattoo Basics for First-Time Clients

So, you’re thinking about getting your first tattoo— that’s exciting! Whether you have a small design or a bold statement piece in mind, diving into the world of tattoos can be intimidating. You may be wondering "What makes a good tattoo" or "What should I consider before getting inked". Here are some tattoo basics that I like to share with first-time clients to ensure you end up with artwork you love for years to come.

Tattoos Change Over Time

Tattoos are not static; they evolve with your body. Over the years, sun exposure, aging skin, your health, and physical changes impact your tattoo's appearance. It's common for lines to slightly spread and details to soften over time. To mitigate this, opt for designs with plenty of negative space and a good detail-to-size ratio especially in areas prone to stretching like the stomach or chest.

Fading and Sun Exposure

Color tattoos will heal duller than when first applied. You can think of the skin as a tinted glass that lays over the tattoo determining the healed color. Colors will lose their intensity over time with lighter colors fading faster than darker ones. This is partly due to how pigments are absorbed by the skin and broken down by the body's immune system. Sunlight is a tattoo’s worst enemy. UV rays break down the pigments in your tattoo, causing colors to fade and lines to blur more quickly. Tattoos located on body parts frequently exposed to the sun, like the arms, legs, or shoulders, are more prone to fading. To protect your tattoos, apply sunscreen regularly and cover them up when spending extended time outdoors. 

Tattoo Placement

When considering tattoo placement for long-term satisfaction, it's important to anticipate how your body will change over time. As we age, skin elasticity decreases and muscle structure changes, which can affect the appearance of tattoos. Opting for areas with minimal stretching, such as the upper arm, back, or thigh, can help tattoos age more gracefully. Choosing a placement that complements your body's natural aging process can enhance the longevity and visual appeal of your tattoo. For guidance on placement ideas based on the size of your design, check out Tattooing 101's guide.

Pain Considerations

Pain tolerance varies greatly from person to person and depends on the body part. Generally, areas with more flesh and muscle—like the upper arm or thigh—are less painful, while areas with less padding—such as the ribs, wrists, and tops of feet —can be more intense. For those who menstruate, the body's response to pain can vary during different stages of your cycle, potentially making the tattooing process feel more uncomfortable. Some individuals prefer to schedule appointments outside of their period when hormone levels and pain sensitivity are more stable.

tattoo pain chart on biological male and biological female
Tattoo Pain Chart - image source: Healthline

Aftercare and Healing 

Proper healing and aftercare are crucial in determining how well a tattoo ages. Neglecting aftercare instructions can lead to uneven healing, scarring, or infection, which may impact the long-term appearance of your tattoo. For detailed guidance on how to care for your new tattoo during the healing process, including tips on cleaning, moisturizing, and avoiding potential irritants, read my dedicated post on tattoo aftercare here. Taking these steps seriously will support optimal healing and contribute to the longevity of your tattoo as it matures.

What to Avoid After Your Session

After your tattoo session, refrain from submerging your tattoo in water, whether it's in a bath, pool, or hot tub for two to three weeks. Avoid exposing your fresh tattoo to direct sunlight or tanning beds. Take it easy from vigorous exercise for several days to give your skin time to recover. Resist the urge to scratch or pick at the tattooed area, as this can disrupt the healing process and increase the risk of infection.

Touch-ups and Maintenance

As tattoos age, you may notice areas that require touch-ups to maintain their original vibrancy and clarity. Touch-ups can help refresh the appearance of your tattoo and ensure it continues to look its best over time. Natural differences in your skin pigment and texture (i.e. scars, freckles, milia) can absorb ink differently than other areas of skin and may be more prone to needing touchups. 

Getting a tattoo is a personal journey. Take your time (or don’t - that can be fun too), do your research, and trust your instincts. With careful consideration and the right guidance, your first tattoo experience can be a rewarding and transformative one. If you’re interested in getting tattooed by me and have any questions or reservations about getting your first tattoo, please feel free to reach out. 



Life will take a toll on you and your tattoos. You're not making it out of this world alive and neither are they, but at least you’ll look cool for your remaining earthly years.


bottom of page