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How to Prepare Your Skin for a Tattoo

You’ve weighed the considerations, done your homework in regards choosing a studio and a tattooist, and you’re ready to get a tattoo in the very near future. Awesome. And now, given your nature for being a person who performs their due diligence, you’re wondering about how to best prepare the area on your body so that your ink comes through with shining success. Of course, a professional parlor known for upholding the strictest standards in health and safety will properly prep your epidermis minutes prior to putting ink to skin, but what about day weeks and days leading up to the big moment? That’s where you come in. Today, we’re here to provide some do-it-yourself guidance on this important topic.

5 DIY Tips to Preparing Your Skin Before Getting a Tattoo

1. Moisturize Weeks in Advance

Dry and flakey skin does not exactly set the table for an ideal tattoo. If you have a persistent issue, start using a moisturizer (after exfoliating) that includes some combination of ingredients proven to be effective against dry skin. These include glycolic acid, aloe vera, lactic acid, urea, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and occlusive agents such as dimethicone, petrolatum, paraffin, and lanolin. The more advance the better, as you’ll be able to try out different moisturizers until you find one that’s effective for your unique skin type. Just don’t go to town on the bottle of lotion (or use any for that matter) on the day of your tattoo, as that can leave a stubborn film that gets in the way of the needle and ink.

If you happen to suffer from extremely dry skin in the winter you may consider putting off your tattoo until the spring and summer. Again, this is only for extreme cases, and in such a case you may want to consult with a dermatologist to provide a solution, as you would with eczema and other skin conditions.

2. Smart Shaving

If you commonly shave (or wax) the area you intend on getting tattooed on, make sure that your skin does not get irritated. If it typically does, avoid shaving the area until the day of the tattoo, and do so with extreme care so as to avoid nicks and cuts. Alternatively you can leave this to your tattooist, but please do confirm with them beforehand. If you’ve never shaved the area before, or haven’t done so in quite some time, also wait until the day of.

Otherwise, maintain a shaving schedule (for the area) of about one to three times per week in the weeks/months leading up to your tattoo, as this will help your skin acclimatize (so to speak) to the process and heal faster after each shave. Regular shaving is an exfoliating process that will also make it easier to accept your updated moisturizing protocol.

3. Hydrate

Hydrated skin is healthy skin and the healthier your skin the better your tattoo will be. Drink plenty of water (eight 8-oz glasses per day) starting today. You may need to map out where the public restrooms are in relation to your daily travels, but it will be worth the minor inconvenience. Plus, frequent hydration is a big part of your tattoo aftercare regime so you may as well get used to the process earlier rather than later.

Also, avoid things that tend to dehydrate your skin. Cut back on caffeine and alcohol weeks prior to your session, or at the very least overcompensate with water consumption after you’ve had a cup of coffee or bottle of beer, and so forth.

4. Don’t Get Burned (or even tanned)

Lather up your exposed skin at the area of which you intend on getting tattooed with SPF-50+ on sunny days. The last thing you want is to enter a session with a burned and sun-damaged epidermis. If you’re already burned or excessively tanned, you will most likely have to reschedule. Avoid tanning beds, laying out at the beach, and even sitting defenseless on sunny patios weeks prior to your tattoo. In addition to SPF-50+, be sure to wear UV-protective clothing if going on a vacation to a hot spot known for strong sun (Mexico, Hawaii, etc.). Lastly, monitor the local weather for UV reports, and be especially diligent in this capacity when the forecast calls for it. It’s far better to be vampire-pale than a shade of crimson before getting inked.

5. Eat for Healthier Skin

Beyond beverages, many people don’t consider that what they consume and don’t consume has a big impact on skin health, which invariably will have an impact on your skin’s ability to properly accept a tattoo. Avoid foods that can dry out your skin, those that are salty, sugary, and contain refined carbohydrates.

Instead, consume fish (tuna, mackerel, and salmon in particular) that is high in the essential fatty acid (EFA) omega-3. Also add nuts to your diet, especially brazil nuts and almonds, those that are rich in Vitamin-E and selenium which is a powerful antioxidant that works alongside Vitamin-E and C (more on this below). Vitamin-E is also prevalent in avocado (which also boasts healthy fats) so feel free to ask for extra guacamole when heading out for tacos.

Lastly, consume plenty of Vitamin-C to support your immune system while promoting healthy skin through collagen production. While you can supplement accordingly (and for any of the above vitamins and minerals) there’s nothing like natural foods to deliver what you need and achieve healthier skin. Vitamin-C rich foods include dark green leafy veggies, sweet potatoes, red and green peppers, tomatoes, and more.

Eating for a better tattoo -who’d a thunk it!?

Given that some of the items above speak to your unique skin type and your reactions to certain elements, be sure to consult with your tattooist well beforehand so that you can receive some additional guidance from the very same expert who will be applying your tattoo. That’s why it’s a good idea to book an appointment for a consultation as soon as you know you’re ready to commit to getting inked. If you reside within (or are visiting) the Greater Vancouver or Toronto area, contact Adrenaline Studios (locations here) as soon as possible.