Tattoo Prep Instructions

While tattoo aftercare is pretty straightforward, there’s a lot that goes into preparing for your tattoo beforehand. Some steps aren’t necessarily required, but they can go a long way into making your tattoo experience that much more comfortable. Learn more about preparing for your next tattoo from Aftershock Skin Care, and don’t forget to shop our full line of tattoo care products to make sure you’re ready to give your fresh ink and tender skin the TLC it will need after your session.

Stay Hydrated

While it’s important to keep your body hydrated for optimal health, it’s especially important before getting a tattoo. About a week before your appointment, make a goal to drink two liters of water every day. This helps improve your skin’s hydration levels, making it more supple and resilient to the needle’s pressure. This will make the experience that much more comfortable, especially if you have a long session scheduled.

Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine

Within 48 hours of getting your new tattoo, cut out the alcohol and high levels of caffeine. Not only are these beverages diuretics that can cause dehydration, but they are also blood thinners. Excess consumption can lead to increased bleeding during your tattoo session, which isn’t exactly the high point of the tattooing experience.

This also means no spontaneous tattoo sessions during your bar crawl with friends. As much as you want that Grim Reaper on your calf, it’ll be a better experience if you schedule it while you’re sober. Also, any good tattoo artist won’t even see you as a walk-in if they suspect you’ve been drinking.

Shave the Area

Even if the area you’re getting tattooed only has a little peach fuzz, you’ll still need to shave or at least dermaplane your skin. This step is especially important if you inherited some hairy genes from your ancestors. Take the time to gently and carefully shave as much hair as possible from the area you’re getting tattooed. Not doing so will add an extra step to your tattoo session and prolong your appointment, so be respectful of your and your artist’s time.

Note: When shaving, be careful not to cut yourself or break the skin. Unfortunately, you’ll need to reschedule your appointment if this happens.

Clean, Exfoliate, and Moisturize

This one is kind of a no-brainer, but your skin should at least be clean when you show up for your appointment. We recommend stocking up on your tattoo care products beforehand and trying them out when preparing for your appointment. That’s because tattoo aftercare soap, like our Foam Soap, is gentle and won’t irritate your skin.

We also recommend exfoliating, but only 24 hours or more before your appointment. This will help slough off any dead skin, but doing so in advance will give the fresh layer of skin time to calm down. The last thing you want when walking into a tattoo session is irritated or damaged skin. We recommend our Exfoliating Gel. Its formula is gentle and refreshing for your skin. After cleaning your skin, make sure you keep it moisturized. Like hydration, moisturizing your skin will keep it supple and resistant to needle pressure. Like your soap and exfoliant, you want the lotion you use to be gentle and free from synthetic fragrances. Try out Aftershock Skin Lotion, a moisturizer formulated with natural oils that offer deep hydration, which also makes it a great tattoo care product once your session is complete.

Simplify Your Skin Routine

Outside of washing, exfoliating, and moisturizing your skin, you really shouldn’t be applying any other products to the area you’re getting tattooed. To avoid uneven distribution of ink, cut out the makeup, tanners, and any other creams or lotions you usually apply to your skin. As a rule of thumb, don’t use anything other than tattoo care products before your appointment. Make sure your skin is clean and product-free the morning of your session to ensure the highest quality artwork.

Avoid Getting Sunburned

If you can help it, stay out of the sun for a few days leading up to your tattoo session. If you’re trying to soak up some last-minute rays before you have to stay out of direct sunlight for a while, do not get sunburned. Apply sunscreen diligently, and then reapply often. If you get sunburned, the tattooing process is going to be horribly painful. That or your artist may even refuse to tattoo you. If you do get sunburned, err on the side of caution and reschedule your appointment.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Do parts of this list just sound like tips for living a healthy lifestyle? That’s because you want to feel as healthy and comfortable as possible when you’re going to be sitting for hours experiencing pricks, stings, and burning from being tattooed. It wouldn’t be fair to you to sugar-coat the experience, but it is as exhilarating as it is uncomfortable. That said, you want to take good care of your body and make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before your tattoo session. You’re cutting out high levels of caffeine, remember? So avoid feeling exhausted by going to bed early to give yourself plenty of time to wind down and rest.

Don’t Take Aspirin

We do recommend taking a pain reliever before your tattoo appointment, but make sure it’s not Aspirin. In fact, avoid taking this OTC pain reliever within 24 to 48 hours of getting tattooed. Aspirin, like alcohol and caffeine, is a blood thinner that can cause increased bleeding and discomfort during your session.

If you do want to take a pain reliever, we recommend Acetaminophen or NSAIDs. Common OTC Acetaminophen drugs include Tylenol, while NSAIDs include Advil, Motrin, and Aleve. Aspirin is a type of NSAID though, so double-check the label before taking.

Go In With a Full Stomach

No, you don’t need to feast like it’s your Last Supper before getting tattooed, but you shouldn’t walk into your tattoo session with an empty stomach. Feeling hungry is uncomfortable, which will only add to the discomfort of getting tattooed. Make sure you’re satiated and have enough water to drink.

If you have a long tattoo session scheduled, we recommend bringing a snack that’s easy to eat and a bottle of water. This will help curb any hunger pains you may feel a few hours into your appointment.

Dress For Success (and Comfort)

When getting ready for your tattoo session, dress in comfortable, breathable clothing. Choose articles of clothing that will make the area of skin you’re having tattooed easy to access. Consider wearing something that you won’t mind getting ink on either. While this isn’t something that’s likely to happen, it’s possible.

For example, if you’re getting an arm tattoo, wear a tank top. Remember to bring a long-sleeve or sweater to cover up afterward though so your tattoo isn’t exposed to the sunlight.

Order Tattoo Care Products in Advance

After getting your tattoo, you’ll want to head home and rest. You don’t want to be shopping for tattoo care products while your skin is freshly inked and sore. Instead, order your tattoo care products in advance so that you can try them out and have them ready for when your aftercare starts.

At Aftershock Skin Care, we offer tattoo care products individually or in two different box sets. Order our AfterShock Value Box to receive our three best tattoo care products: our Foam Soap, Body Balm, and Hydrating Spray. For our full line of tattoo care products, order our Ultimate Tattoo Skin Care box. Not only does it include our soap, balm, and hydrating spray, it also includes our Aftershock Skin Lotion and Exfoliating Gel. This box has everything you need for tattoo prep, aftercare, and ongoing tattoo maintenance. Shop now and order your tattoo care products in advance of your next tattoo!