Total Tattoo Preparation and Hygiene


Total tattoo preparation and hygiene is an example of many things you can do to prepare for your big tattoo day.  These are just suggestions and in no way are required.  They may help to make the day go more smoothly.  I’ll be writing in first person because, if you’re anything like me, you don’t like to be told what to do.  This is just what I do when I get tattooed. 

Basically, I want to feel great when I get tattooed.  It hurts a bit to get tattooed so I don’t want anything else to hurt while it’s happening.  I want to feel 100% that day! 

I treat my tattoo day like a race day. 

I start the day before or even two or three days before. 

I don’t drink any alcohol.  (I don’t drink at all but when I did I would refrain a day or two before my tattoo day.) 

Limit caffeine before getting a tattoo and never drink alcohol beforehand.

Limit caffeine before getting a tattoo and never drink alcohol beforehand.

Alcohol is a blood thinner and can just generally not make me feel by absolute best.  I would never drink on the day of. 

I cut back on caffeine consumption.   I would never stop all caffeine as that can cause headaches and mild withdrawal symptoms so I just don’t overdo it the day before or the day of.  The last thing I want when I’m getting a tattoo is to be shaky! 

I get plenty of sleep.  Being tired can make my pain tolerance much lower and just make me feel less than my best. 

I eat very well the day before and the day of.  I try to cut back on refined sugars and processed foods.  Lots of vegetables, fruit and protein rich foods.  I don’t eat significantly more than other days though.  I treat tattoo day like a race day but it’s not a marathon. 

I eat a nice big health breakfast so I have lots of energy.  I always eat before the tattoo.  Lots of carbs and protein on the day of.  I’ve heard people say they were too nervous or didn’t want to have an upset stomach but we need fuel to get through anything that stresses the body.  I’ve almost passed out when getting a tattoo because I didn’t eat enough beforehand.  I learned my lesson.  I eat and eat well.

I shower as close to my appointment time as possible.  I don’t do any extensive exfoliating as I don’t want the skin to be irritated but I do wash very well with soap and I carefully shave a large area around the tattoo site.  I shave much more than I think I will need to so the bandaging material will have clean shaved skin to stick to.   I don’t want any cuts on the skin so I use a brand new razor and go slowly.  If I don’t feel like I can get to the area I leave it for the artist to shave.  Sometimes they can do a better job than I can if I can’t see it well.

I wear freshly washed clothing that I don’t mind getting stained.  Because tattoos are done with pigments and liquids used during the tattoo process clothes may get stained.   They may also get stained after the tattoo is done.  The tattoo is bandaged but sometimes there are leaks.  I also make sure that my clothes will be comfortable and easy to remove from the tattoo area.  I don’t want to be uncomfortable while I’m getting the tattoo and I don’t want to feel self-conscious because my clothes are not suitable for the area that is being tattooed. 

I don’t bring a lot of people with me.  Occasionally I’ll bring a friend with me.  I wouldn’t bring any kids with me because tattoos studios aren’t the best place for kids and it takes a lot of concentration to do tattoos.   If there are kids around it may distract the tattoo artist and make it hard to focus.

I bring snacks!  Just some peanuts or an energy bar.  Something that’s easy to eat.  Snacks are good to keep blood sugar at a healthy level. 

At home after the tattoo is done I take special measures as well.

Clean sheets and towels are a must when you have a fresh tattoo.

Clean sheets and towels are a must when you have a fresh tattoo.

Towels, sheets and clothes are always fresh and clean.  It’s good to make sure that everything that may come in contact with the tattoo at any point after it’s done is clean.  I gently clean my tattoo in the shower once or twice a day but I don’t actually towel dry it.  I let it air dry or use a paper towel to pat it dry.  Even clean towels can have bacteria on them.

I never touch my tattoo unless I’ve just washed my hands and I never let anyone else touch it.  If I need help getting aftercare balm on the area I have my husband scrub his hands first or put gloves on before he touches the area. 

I’m financially prepared.  Most studios now take cash and credit cards. I always do my best to pay for my whole tattoo session in cash but if I’m not able to pay for the whole session with cash, it’s a nice touch to bring a cash tip.  The artists are independent contractors at most studios so it’s always very lovely and greatly appreciated when they are tipped in cash.  This shows how much I appreciate the time that the artist has spent with me working on making this tattoo a reality.  (Please note that after the COVID-19 pandemic, we will ONLY be accepting credit card payments, even for tips. This is a temporary measure to minimize contact with potentially contaminated items like cash. We will resume cash payments and tips as soon as there is testing readily available and a vaccine. We appreciate your understanding.) 

I set aside a lot of time.  The tattoo itself may not take long to do but there are a lot of things that go into the tattoo process.  There is paperwork, set up, putting on the stencil, doing the tattoo, bandaging the tattoo, going over aftercare, and then the check out process.  I set aside plenty of time that day for all of these things and the unexpected.  I never want to rush the tattoo process.  

The whole tattoo process from days beforehand to weeks after is an exercise in exemplary hygiene and good health practices for me.  I eat well and pay extra special attention to cleanliness.  Following the aftercare instructions and using the aftercare products provided at the studio are just the beginning of good tattoo care. 

One other important detail, don’t forget your ID! We need legal, state, federal, or military issued identification to do your tattoo no matter what age you look. It’s state law. 

If you ever have any questions about tattoo care or preparation feel free to give us a call, email us at, or check out the FAQ’s page for detailed aftercare instructions.  (Damask merged with Laughing Buddha, our sister studio with the same owner in April of 2020.)