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What is it like to get your first Tattoo?

Updated: May 25

Since I was a teenager, getting a tattoo was something that ranked on my bucket list. But with a looming phobia of skin infections and deformation, getting a tattoo seemed like an impossible dream. Still, my curiosity remained and I never failed to ask any tattoo owner “What is it like?” “Does it hurt a lot?” “Was it easy to come up with an idea of what to get tattooed?” well, I never received any satisfactory answers until I met my friend who had then recently gotten a huge tattoo done on his arm and that gave me the courage to get one myself.

It was my curiosity about tattoos that took me toward him and we landed together but the best part was that he told me a lot about his experience, such as-

  • The area gets swollen and red after getting the tattoo.

  • The skin starts to peel off after a few days when the tattoo reaches a level of healing.

  • The pain is bearable but feels like something is pinching your skin thousand times in a second.

  • After some time, you would stop feeling the pain while getting the tattoo but it comes back after a few hours.

  • Applying coconut oil is magical and can heal the skin fast/enrich the tattoo’s color.

  • The tattoo gets itchy when healing so coconut oil also helps in keeping the skin hydrated.

  • If you are not getting the tattoo covered with plastic wrap then putting lots of Vaseline on it can help to keep the water off of it.

These suggestions were like a boon to my overthinking brain and gave me a lot of courage to finally get my first tattoo in May 2021 which is a semicolon that symbolizes-

A gesture to honor someone—whether that's a friend, a relative, or themselves—or to raise awareness of the mental illness, suicide, addiction, or self-harm.

Starting From Top Left: 1st Day, Before Tattoo Peeling, After Tattoo Peeling, Final Look.

My experience of getting a tattoo

So before going to the tattoo parlor, I went through some suggestions online that mainly said-

  • Do not drink before getting a tattoo.

  • Avoid bony areas of the body as they are more painful as compared to areas that deposit fat.

  • For girls, do not go before or while you are on your periods as it automatically makes the experience more painful.

  • Do not go when you are tired or haven’t slept properly.

Keeping all of these suggestions and many more in view, I went to the parlor with complete rest, nowhere around my periods and the part of the skin I chose to get tattooed was my arm (not close to any bony area).

Now the difficult part is that my anxiety level is usually high and hurting my body intentionally didn’t seem to be a practical idea and even till the very last moment (the guy is sitting with the tattoo machine, all ready to start) my mind was thinking thousands of things and on priority was 'if I should still back off'.

But obviously, I didn’t and he started! It was nothing big, NOTHING AT ALL! Honestly, the pain I imagined was a thousand times more than the real thing. Now maybe the reason was that my tattoo is really small or I was already expecting the worst pain on this earth, which turned out to be just little annoying pricks.

Throughout, I was more concerned that the design should be exact and my friend was constantly making sure that no gaps should be left as it looks odd once the tattoo heals.

So, what was my learning?

  • Tattoo parlors have got a really strange vibe just like the dreadlock parlors.

  • The person making the tattoo gets equally nervous when you show a lot of pain or discomfort.

  • It isn’t such a BIG DEAL, until and unless you are getting a huge tattoo that leads to taking painkiller shots.

  • The tattoo looks dark in the starting few days but the ink fades a little when it gets healed and the skin peels off.

  • The temporary plastic wraps are of no use as the water gets inside it and that can be more concerning than getting the tattoo in contact with running water.

  • I went swimming within two days of getting the tattoo, but I read that swimming pools can contaminate the area leading to infection or ink spread. I was lucky to not face any such issues.

Very soon, I believe I will get a new tattoo of a four-leaf clover and will probably update this blog with its pictures too.

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