Though once taboo, tattoos have experienced a dramatic increase in popularity in recent years. As a result, they now serve as one of the best ways for people to express themselves. The variety of styles and techniques allow tattoo artists to create everything from small pieces of line art to beautiful backpiece murals. However, tattoos are still lifelong commitments. To avoid any regrets, think about these things before getting a tattoo.


One of the first and most obvious things to think about before getting a tattoo is the design. The many styles of tattooing come with many "rules." For example, American traditional tattoos have simple color palettes and vintage, classic designs while new school tattoos can have thick outlines, vivid colors, and exaggerated subjects. Most people pick an image and style that they identify with or have admired on others.

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Another key aspect of getting a tattoo is finding the perfect tattoo artist. With the boom in the popularity of tattoos, there are more tattoo artists and shops than ever before. While many artists choose to remain flexible and create most subjects and styles, they often have specializations. Most tattoo artists have examples of their work available online or in portfolios at their shop. Additionally, it’s nice to find an artist with whom you connect. Some tattoos take multiple sessions that are several hours long, and while most artists will remain professional even if you don't agree on everything, getting along with your tattoo artist makes the already painful time more enjoyable.

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Skin Color

Every person has a different skin tone. Different skin colors require different tattooing. Individuals with darker skin tones generally choose tattoos with bold and dark colors. Bright colors are generally less visible on darker skin. Choice of tattoo artist comes into play here, as well; choose an artist who has experience tattooing people with skin tones similar to your own. Lighter skin tones can exhibit a wide range of brighter colors. On the other hand, brighter colors tend to fade faster than dark, bold colors and greyscale tones.

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Choosing where on the body to get a tattoo is incredibly important. Some areas, such as the ribs or armpits, are extremely painful to have tattooed. You'll have to weigh the benefits of a tattoo in a certain location with the experience. Fading also varies depending on where a tattoo is placed. Areas that move frequently will generally fade faster. This includes the fingers, palms, elbows, and knees. If you're getting a tattoo on a famously tricky area -- such as the head or elbow -- consider an artist with experience tattooing this spot.

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Skin Type

An extension of placement is knowing how different types of skin handle tattoos. In addition to pigments, older individuals generally have thinner skin with more wrinkles, which can lead to poor linework, blowouts, or trauma. Scars don’t take ink as well as normal skin and may have textures that could impact linework. Despite this, some shops have artists who specialize in tattooing difficult skin. There are even organizations that source artists to cover up scars from injury or surgery.

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Many people find the cost of tattooing to be staggering. It is a common complaint among new clients that tattoos are simply too expensive. As a result, many people try and find low-cost tattoo artists. Though there are talented tattoo artists who work for less, artists in the industry often advise clients against choosing the cheapest option, as this can lead to an unsatisfactory tattoo. It may be best to save up to get the tattoo you want from the best artist for the job. Additionally, try to save for the cost of the complete tattoo, even if it will not be done in one session -- nobody wants to walk around with a half-finished tattoo because they chose a design and artist beyond their budget.

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Healing Time

Tattoos can have dramatically different healing times depending on the style, color, technique, placement, and design. Some artists tattoo more roughly than others, which may lead to longer healing times. Generally, it takes a few weeks for tattoos to heal enough for a person to take long baths or go swimming. The full healing process usually takes around four months. Be sure to follow the instructions of the artist regarding care and skin maintenance during this time.

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People with skin allergies should talk to a dermatologist before getting a tattoo. It is possible to be allergic to certain types of tattoo ink, though this is rare and affect fewer than one percent of people who get tattoos. Red and yellow ink often contain cadmium sulfide, which can cause an allergic reaction after exposure to sunlight. If a person suspects they might be having an allergic reaction to their tattoo, they should visit a physician or dermatologist immediately.

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Sun Exposure

Even if you don't have an allergy, the sun can affect your tattoo, and individuals who live in sunny areas should take steps to protect their artwork. Sun exposure can cause the pigments in tattoos to break down, affecting the crispness of the color. Over time, the sun can change the colors themselves in various ways. Subtle and brighter colors are more susceptible to this. Fresh tattoos are particularly prone to scarring, especially under the sun’s rays.

sun exposure getting a tattoo South_agency / Getty Images


Social Impact

Tattoos have become increasingly common over the years, and many businesses now accept and even embrace tattooed employees. However, there is still a stigma around tattoos and their owners. Whether or not it ultimately affects your decision, you may want to speak to your employer about your company's stance on visible tattoos in the workplace. Furthermore, those who do not understand tattoo culture often view tattoos as inappropriate or a sign of unprofessionalism and may make harsh remarks. This is something for which all tattoo owners should be prepared.

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