What you can expect from your first tattoo experience

What you can expect from your first tattoo experience

The tattooist should wear disposable gloves

IF you’re planning on getting your first tattoo but not sure what to expect, here is some information and recommendations which can help you be prepared for the experience.

Be sure

Tattoos come in many shapes and sizes and as they are permanent, it is important to get them done by a good tattoo artist and be sure about what you want, especially because although you can get cover-up tattoos, it is more painful to get skin tattooed a second time.

Different designs

Some of the main types of tattoos include the traditional or old school style, with bold lines and colourful designs; realistic tattoos of anything you can imagine; tribal tattoos which are the oldest existing type; Japanese style tattoos; blackwork tattoos, which as the name suggests are only in black ink; script tattoos, from names to quotes, these are very popular and come in a wide variety of styles… There are many more, and each artist has their own unique style, so before deciding, you should have a look at some of the work of tattooists near you. You may even have your own idea for a design, and a good tattoo artist will be able to help you work on it and perfect it before you decide on the definitive design.


You may also wonder about the prices, but keep this in mind, like for most things in life, if you want quality, you need to pay the price. If someone is offering tattoos for unusually cheap prices, then it’s probably not going to be all that good. Most places will have set prices and it’s best to find out the price beforehand rather than have any surprises.

Does it hurt?

You don’t need to be told that getting a tattoo hurts, but how much? Well, it depends on your pain tolerance levels and also on the location of the tattoo. Fatty areas hurt less than bonier parts of the body, and you should expect to feel other sensations such as itching, stinging, burning or tingling. Everybody experiences getting a tattoo in a different way, so you can ask several of your tattooed friends and will likely get different answers.

More or less pain

Consider this; some of the most painful areas to tattoo are: the neck, spine, hands and fingers, top of the foot, ankle, head or ribs. If you’re in pain, try to relax and breathe properly. Most artists will be fine with stopping for a bit so you can recompose yourself.

Less painful areas can be the wrist, shoulders, calves, outer thigh, buttocks, biceps, lower back and forearm. However, like the degree of pain, opinions about where tattoos hurt most more may differ.

Pinch test

Try pinching a part of skin with your fingers, notice how different areas hurt more, this is a good indication of which areas are more sensitive. In any case, it’s best not to use a numbing agent of any sort. Rest assured that the first few minutes are the worst, after that the natural adrenaline kicks in and will make the pain a little more bearable.

A real artist

Once you have made up your mind and found a reputable tattoo artist, talk to them about the best place to get your tattoo, how it will look on your skin colour, how big or visible you would like it to be and all the details.

Make sure that the tattoo artist or parlour are licensed and that they adhere to strict health and hygiene routines, especially the use of disposable needles and ink, as well as other utensils.

On the day

Make sure you arrive on time for your first tattoo experience, wear something which will allow you to easily expose the skin which is going to be tattooed and make sure you do not take aspirin or ibuprofen within the previous 24 hours, nor alcohol, as they thin the blood. Avoid caffeine too. Get plenty of rest, eat something before you get your tattoo and stay hydrated. If possible, bring distractions and snacks.

Getting started

Once any paperwork is filled out and the design is confirmed, the tattoo artist should disinfect the area and use a razor to remove hair if necessary before putting a stencil on your skin to make sure you are happy with where the tattoo is going to be placed. The outline will be done first and then, if applicable, it will be filled with colour.

What’s next?

Once it’s finished, the tattooist will clean the area, cover it and give you advice on how to care for it. Many will offer a free touch-up appointment in case there are any ink spots or blemishes to take care of.

It’s normal for it to be red, swollen and a bit tender afterwards, so try not to touch it and be aware of anything unusual. For about a week, it will feel like sunburn.

Your first tattoo experience should be something special and memorable, being prepared for it will help you to focus on the important things.

Brought to you by Jaganath Tattoos and Piercing, Calle Ramon y Cajal 42, Fuengirola. Telephone: 688 32 06 51

See designs by Jaganath Tattoos on Facebook and Instagram.

Jaganath Tattoo and Piercing, Fuengirola

Author badge placeholder
Written by

Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.