7 Essential Tips For Getting Your First Tattoo

Getting a tattoo is a huge, exciting, nerve-wracking decision. If you've finally decided to go for it, make sure you're prepared with these essential tips for getting your first tattoo. Arming yourself with some knowledge is the best way to make sure you get a tattoo you'll love just as much 40 years down the line as you do today. I don't mean to put on the pressure, but learn from my experience.

I have one tattoo, and there are definitely some lessons I had to learn after the fact. I've included all thing things I wish I'd known, and also consulted all my fabulously tatted friends for advice. Together, we came up with a pretty solid list.

Also, if you know you want a tattoo but have no idea where to start, inspiration is all over the internet! Check out these 11 subtle tattoos, 21 literature-inspired tattoos, and these 26 super clever ink ideas. Whatever you settle on, make sure you, not your best friend / partner / parents, like it and feel good about it. It's your skin, after all.

Here are seven essential tips you should know before getting inked for the first time.

1. Don't Be Drunk

This might seem obvious, but I have enough friends with random teddy bear ankle tattoos that it's necessary to mention. Be sober. Be sober. Be sober. Drunk tattoos are the ones you're most likely to regret.

2. Pick A Reputable Salon

If you're salon isn't certified and regulated, GET THE HECK OUT. Basically, don't get your tattoo done in someone's basement. Is saving money really worth getting a less-than-professional tattoo and risking infections? Doubt it.

3. Instagram Is Your Best Friend

Instagram is for tattoo artists what MySpace was for musicians in 2008. If you have a specific tattoo design or artist location in mind, search that hashtag (i.e., #ShellTattoo or #LosAngelesTattoo) to see what's out there. Just because an artist is really good at traditional sailor tats doesn't mean they're the right choice for your lavender bushel shoulder tat.

4. Go To The Bathroom Before

A minor but important note. I almost wet my pants while getting my first tattoo. This could've been easily avoided. At least it distracted me from the pain?

5. Tip Well

Being a tattoo artist is no easy job. It's respectful (and just basic common courtesy) to tip them well for their work. Oh, and give them a shout-out on social media while you're at it!

6. Take After Care Seriously

Your tattoo won't just magically heal itself. You've got to take care of them properly. After all, a tattoo is essentially just a very fancy wound. Slacking off could result in infections, misshaped tattoos, and faded colors. I promise proper care isn't that labor-intensive, and well worth it.

7. Sunscreen Everyday

Love the bold colors in your tattoo, or want to keep that black as jet black as possible? Slather on SPF every single day. It's a great habit to get into anyway, and you'll be so glad five years from now when your tattoo has barely faded.

Image Credit: Alice Carrier/Flickr; bamsefar.slikkepind, horseforest, josesancheztattoo, flashtattoo.msk/Instagram