If you’re planning on showing off a lot of skin this summer (and why wouldn’t you? It’s hot out there!), you might be tempted to show off a new tattoo as well. But whether you’re feeling daring on vacation or just coming off a couple hours browsing minimalist line tattoos on Instagram, a tattoo probably shouldn’t be an impulse buy. We’re not saying your tattoo shop has to be vegan, but there are some other criteria you definitely want it to meet, along with a few questions you should ask yourself so you don’t wind up with body art regret. Here’s a list of things to consider — and red flags to watch out for — before you get inked.
1. You haven’t thought it through. Unless we’re talking temporary tattoos from a gumball machine, a tattoo is a big, permanent decision. It’s worth taking your time to choose a design you know you’ll always love, and think about how it might look years from now if you don’t maintain it.
2. You’re getting a couples tattoo — three weeks into your relationship. If it’s not your parent or child, getting a tattoo to symbolize your life with someone else is always a risk — some even think it’s bad luck for the relationship.
3. You haven’t done your research on the placement. Getting tattoos on certain body parts can be more painful than others, or more difficult for the artist. Rib and feet tattoos might be trendy, but if this is your first time, you might want to pick a less painful spot like your back or thigh (although note that no area is going to be totally pain-free — that’s just part of the process).
4. You don’t have the money to get what you really want. Sometimes you get all psyched about a new tattoo, only to find when you get to the shop that the design you wanted is going to cost way more than you can afford. But you’re already there, and you’re pumped up, so you think: “Well, this will be fine.” Rather than settle for “fine” with a less detailed version or generic art, hit pause and come back when you have the cash. You won’t be sorry that you did.
5. You figure, “I can always just get it removed.” You can, but a lot of people don’t realize that the removal process can be even more painful, costly and time-consuming than actually getting a tattoo. Besides, you shouldn’t go into something permanent with the idea that you can always “change your mind.” That’d be like if you were getting married, but had divorce papers drawn up “just in case.”
6. You have a health issue that might prevent it from healing properly. If you have diabetes, heart conditions or circulation issues or take medications that thin the blood, getting a tattoo could be dangerous for you. Do your own research, and consult a doctor.
7. The conditions aren’t sanitary. You’re about to get your skin punched with a tiny needle, over and over again. You need to know that the artist’s equipment is sterilized. Skin infections and allergic reactions to the ink are a risk whenever you get a tattoo, and if the equipment used to give it to you is contaminated with other blood, you could even be at risk for diseases like tetanus, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Make sure the artist is wearing gloves, removes needles, tubes and pigments from sealed packages and uses a heat sterilization machine to sterilize any non-disposable equipment between clients.
8. You haven’t vetted your tattoo artist. If you’ve never heard of your tattoo artist, that’s not a great sign. Do your research ahead of time: Ask around, meet them in-person, check out their portfolio online. You’re literally paying with your blood for this tattoo, and you want someone who will care about it as much as you do — or at least someone who won’t totally screw it up.
9. It’s summer. When a tattoo is healing, you want to keep it out of direct sunlight, and swimming is definitely a no-go. If you’re not willing to cover your new sleeve in sleeves when it’s 95 degrees outside, maybe hold off until the fall.
10. You’re drunk. When was the last time you made a good decision while drunk? Come on. You can’t even handle texting when you’re wasted — don’t get a tattoo.
What are your tips and red flags to look for when getting a tattoo? Tweet us (and show us your ink!) @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)