Here are some things to do before you come in for your tattoo:
Keep your consumption of alcohol the night before to a minimum and get a good, full night's sleep. Stop drinking coffee/caffeine six hours before your session--because it is a stimulant and can make you bleed more-- this also includes energy drinks. Make sure you have eaten something substantial one to two hours ahead. Drink water and feel free to bring some snacks with you if you know that you're going to have a long session. You may also bring your own pillow, blanket and iPod to keep you comfortable. Sometimes it's nice to have a friend with you; my shop is pretty small, so please bring only one person with you.
Do NOT exercise beforehand that day and plan on not exercising afterwards for the rest of that day/evening; you need all of your endorphin reserves to get a tattoo and will probably be pretty tapped out after receiving it. (You may go workout/ride your bike/play basketball, etc. the next day but be careful not to get dirt or sweat in your new tattoo.)
Wear loose and comfortable clothing to your sessions because we may have to move it around to reach the area where you want to be tattooed. If you're female and you have very difficult, painful periods, don't schedule a session immediately before or on the first day of your period-- a week afterwards is usually better. Your hormone levels will be more even then and the tattooing process will not be as painful.
If you have or are coming down with or are just getting over a cold or flu, PLEASE reschedule-- never come in when you are sick or injured! Your immune system is already fighting to get rid of your illness or heal your injury and you may not have enough endorphins to get through your tattooing session. Also, the other people who might be in the shop don't want to be exposed to whatever it is that you have if you're sick.
Please be ON TIME for your appointments. If you're late, it may affect the other appointments I have scheduled after yours. My hours are by appointment, so I come into the shop for you. If you can't make it to your appointment, please call me at 503 807-7863 and let me know ASAP. When you cancel at the last minute, not only is it irresponsible, inconsiderate and wastes my time, but it also means that I can't get another client in to take your appointment, which affects my other clients, as well. If you make an appointment and then don't even show up, not only is it super rude, but then I wonder where you are and what happened to you.
Please give me at least 24 HOURS NOTICE if you have to cancel your appointment!
Do these things after you receive your tattoo:
After you're done with your session, please just take it easy-- go have some food, drink some liquids and relax. Do nothing strenuous for the rest of the day/evening, to help your body replenish itself. Don't work out or get your brand new tattoo sweaty or dirty.
Keep your bandage on for at least 3 hours. After that, take it off; you won't need to put another bandage on your new tat. Wash your hands and wash your tattoo thoroughly with warm water and mild soap-- something without perfumes or dyes. Liquid soap is best; bar soaps tend to sit in sinks collecting germs. Dr. Bronner's unscented liquid soap is good. If you can't find that, Dial's Antibacterial liquid soap is OK.
Towel your tattoo dry, then apply a very thin layer of A & D ointment to your new tattoo. Do this process of washing and then applying ointment at least twice a day. If your skin is dry, you can do this more often. Continue this process for 4-7 days, depending on how fast you heal. For those of you who are allergic to or don't want to use petroleum products, you can use calendula, coconut or olive oil for your healing, but be aware that you'll have to use more of it and apply more often, than if you were using ointment.
After about 4-7 days, apply unscented, non-perfumed skin lotion as needed. I recommend Curel or Cetaphil-- a lotion without too much alcohol is best, because alcohol will dry the skin out too fast. You want to keep your new tattoo clean, moist and protected. If you have to use perfumes or body sprays, don't put them on your new tattoo-- wait for two months before you use them on your new tat.
Always make sure your hands are clean before touching your new tattoo. Don't let anyone else touch it unless their hands are clean. Your tattoo may itch and peel; if this happens, take some ointment/oil and rub it in with the flat of your fingers. Never scratch or pick at your tattoo.
Do not soak your new tattoo (in lakes, oceans, hot tubs, pools, bath-- NO CHLORINE) for 3 weeks. Showers are fine.
Keep your tattoo out of direct sunlight and the tanning booth for 1 month. Direct sunlight and tanning will fade any tattoo over time, so use sunscreen on your healed tattoo every time you're in the sun or keep your tattoo covered.
If your tattoo somehow gets infected, you can use a tiny bit of Neosporin on it to remove infection. But I do not recommend it for general healing, as it is for wounds, not abrasions like tattoos and may cause you to scar.
Remember, your tattoo has been applied for you in a clean and professional manner. But for it to heal down correctly and look good, proper aftercare is crucial.