Below are some tips and advice on avoiding too much pain during tattooing, pain that would otherwise make you twitch, want to jump, or move quite a lot. It’s easy to stay still if you know basic, healthy tips for it.
There is nothing more fun and exciting than getting a new tattoo, or even a first tattoo for those that exquisitely plan it! Those that have already been tattooed, know that there is some pain felt, even a lot, depending on the body part, of course.
And, for those that have to yet be tattooed for the first time, a legitimate worry is this exact factor – the pain.
This sensation can make us wiggle and not stay put in place – but to be very calm, almost like a stone is important, both for you and the artist to make precise lines without room for mistakes! If your concern is how to stay calm while getting a tattoo, we have the answers and tips for you.
7 Tips How to Stay Calm While Getting a Tattoo
Several factors influence your mental and physical calmness and stillness during a tattoo.
1. Find distractions
First, you need to find distractions before or during the session. This means you can look at the TV screen (if the salon has one), or simply focus on the sounds you hear, even play some music, if the artist is alright with that. You can even go through magazines that the salon has. Letting the mind wander usually works well.
2. Hold something
If the physical sensations get too strong, you can always hold something in your hand (or the other hand that is not being tattooed, if this is the body part for the tattoo). Holding firm and tight, or squeezing an object makes you focus there, not on the pain.
3. Be sober
Be completely sober at least 24 hours before the session, and this applies to all sorts of substances, not just alcohol. Any chemical-induced relaxation thins the blood and puts you at risk for more bleeding and severe pain. Focus on water hydration, and do not go to the salon hungry.
4. Wear comfortable clothes
Wear appropriately comfortable clothes. Tight clothes will be a nuisance when the process starts and being uncomfortable will accentuate any painful sensation.
5. Get an early appointment
Make sure, if possible, to get an appointment in the morning or afternoon. In most cases, people are more sensitive to pain later during the day, or in the evening hours – that is when the body slowly prepares for rest, not for enduring physical stress.
6. Take small breaks
Also, asking for small breaks during the session is a good, proven way to endure the pain, and all artists practice this too.
7. Use numbing cream or gel
Lastly, but crucially important, is to ask the artist to use numbing cream or gel before or mid-tattooing. Artists often have these products and use them when the customers have a tattoo done on body parts that hurt severely during a session.
Read also: Best Tattoo Numbing Cream
Why you shouldn’t have a drink or ingest pain-relieving substances beforehand
It is a huge mistake to come into the salon tipsy or even worse! Many people mistakenly think that alcohol before a tattoo session will relax them and make them feel less pain. We cannot blame them for thinking this, because as we all know, large amounts of alcohol do make us incredibly relaxed, but this is completely wrong when it comes to tattooing! Alcohol thins the blood, and quite a lot too.
This increases the risk of more pain and even bleeding out during the tattooing. The artist will have to wipe off the skin all the time because lymph and blood will get in the way, so eventually, he will stop the session.
Besides the blood-thinning, even if the artist wants to continue, his visibility will be impaired, and ink will not stay in place – it will leak out along the blood and lymph as well. This can ruin your unfinished tattoo!
Another factor is that you as the customer, might start to behave erratic, emotional, or not stay still in place – which is crucial to do so. No artist can work with a grown adult that simply fidgets all the time, or distracts with improper conversations.
And, just because you did a tattoo while sober, it doesn’t mean that you can start drinking or binging in vices right after the tattoo. Remember, the tattoo will still ooze and release excess ink, lymph, blood in the first 24 hours after the session. Postpone until a few days have passed.
How to prepare for the upcoming pain of tattooing?
There is no magical solution to avoid pain, except maybe cosmetic products that the artist should have in his salon, such as creams or gels for numbing pain. It is not your obligation to have them, nor should you, and the artist himself knows what works best and what is good quality (covered in the section point below this).
What you can do is mentally anticipate and know that there will be some pain, depending on the body part you chose for the tattoo. Just do whatever you can while the session lasts, to distract yourself. Think ahead of possible ideas for this; maybe reschedule your days and thoughts in your head, have some fun apps installed on your phone or games, and similar.
Remember to not go on an empty stomach, and be hydrated with water. No drinking or some other vices whatsoever, at least not in those 24 hours before the tattoo. And, it doesn’t do any harm to have a small, sweet snack to avoid sugar dropping anyway.
And, if possible, ask the artist beforehand if he has numbing products in his salon, just to rest assured in case the pain gets too strong.
Can I reduce the pain while the tattooing takes place?
It is a great thing if your artist has numbing gels and creams because believe it or not, they can reduce the sensitivity and pain to a certain extent. They are not magical products of course, and the best they can do is numb the very first skin layer. Usually, when the pain gets too strong, we react to the first layer contact – when the needle movements puncture our skin and glide through it, as in harsh scratching to the point of pain, right?
Well, if the artist uses a, you will certainly feel a big difference regarding pain tolerance. These gels immediately cool off the skin because as we know, every gel formula feels coldish upon application. The effect of the gels can last up to 2 hours, and this one is also without harsh ingredients, plus, it’s vegan too. Safety and nurturing can be combined in one.
Or perhaps, the artist has a, or in this case, a cream that contains the potent painkiller Lidocaine. Such a cream will also nourish your skin at the same time, because it contains skin-friendly ingredients like Aloe and vitamin E, among others. No allergy reactions, no harmful ingredients, just supple, numbed skin.
I do not feel comfortable yelling or making noises due to pain
It is not a big deal if you make noise while it hurts, however, we understand why some of you could feel a tad embarrassed about it. Really, most artists don’t mind and they focus on your skin – even if this looks insensitive to you, it is not! They just need the focus and exclude all outer sounds and distractions.
But, silly as it may sound, there have been many cases when the customer grabs on something to squeeze hard such as a pillow, a cushion, a piece of clothing like the jacket, up to the extent of some biting into a ball of sanitary napkins the artist gives to them!
What if I do involuntary twitches or movements that I cannot control?
This is not unheard of, so don’t worry or beat yourself up over this. It happens mostly when you get tattoos in body parts that cannot be fully controlled, such as the ribs (you breathe and the chest expands and shrinks), or maybe the feet (it won’t feel like tickling, but some movement could happen), and similar.
Most customers jokingly apologize for any unexpected movements, regardless of how much they try to control it – and artists know this, of course, expect it, and continue with the work as normal.
In conclusion, there is nothing major to worry about, pain is normal and expected in tattooing, and in most cases, even some movements and fidgeting are expected and not fully controlled.
To reduce any chances of too much moving due to pain, you need to prepare your body and know ahead that it could hurt (sometimes a lot). No alcohol or vices before or during the session, enough food and water and maybe something sugary too, comfy clothes, phone battery charged in case you want online distractions, and numbing cream or gel is a nice addition too.
Talk with your artist about using numbing products, and follow our advice from above – you’re set for the appointment. Good luck!