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What to Know Before Getting a Sleeve or Half Sleeve Tattoo

Large tattoos like a sleeve or a half sleeve should be planned well, and for that, you need to pay attention to several things. Permanent ink on your arm goes hand in hand with a few preparatory segments below.

Picking out a tattoo is a fun activity, but not always easy at first. There are many things to consider before choosing a tattoo, more precisely, you need to know all aspects before you choose a large design for a full or half sleeve.

Of course, every new tattoo has its perks that come along, but it is a good idea to be prepared for the general basics if you want such a visible, large tattoo on your body.

What to Know Before Getting a Sleeve Tattoo

Before Getting a Sleeve or Half Sleeve Tattoo

There are a few basic factors to take into consideration before you choose to have a sleeve or half sleeve tattoo

First, be prepared for the pricing for a tattoo of this size. The half sleeve or the full-arm sleeve will most likely be a costly investment with price ranges of between $500 up to even $4000 depending on the salon and the exact design you choose.

Second, a sleeve or half sleeve is placed on a visible body part, and this could be an obstacle for certain areas of professionalism (work dress code).

Third, the time needed for making the sleeve or half sleeve can range from a few hours up to a few sessions. At one session, you could be tattooed for a minimum of 4 hours continuously, or if you make a full sleeve, the artist would recommend scheduling a few appointments for finishing up.

Fourth, sleeve or half sleeve designs should be planned in detail, to avoid any regrets in the future. It is not always easy to hide the tattooed arms, and coverup tattoos are not always a viable option that you would like. 

Lastly, it is generally known that you need to go to a salon with staff that has good expertise and experience. Sleeve or half sleeve tattoos should not be done with any mistakes or improper drawings. 

Do I need to wax my arm before the appointment?

Do I need to wax my arm before the appointment

If you want to do the hair removal yourself, at least do it with shaving or trimmers that do not pull the hair root from underneath. When we pluck or wax the skin, the hair root is removed and it appears under the skin within 1-2 weeks.

During this time, your tattoo will be healing, peeling, crusting, and so on, and an appearing root hair follicle could cause an ingrown hair or some minor (or major) breakout. It is easy for skin to get irritated from such tiny issues, so better not risk it. Shave at home, or just let the artist do that right before the exact placement of the stencil.

Can the artist tattoo my arm if I have bruises on it?

Not really. Any kind of bruise changes the color of the skin, and this could be an obstacle for the artist to see where the ink goes, whether the skin receives and retains the ink, and similar. Plus, you won’t be able to sit through the session – tattooing hurts by itself, let alone over a bruised, sensitive skin. Your artist will most likely tell you to wait a bit longer before the bruise is gone.

My arm has breakouts. Can I still get the tattoo?

If it’s just a spot or two, tiny ones, you are good to go. But, if you have a larger area with breakouts that resemble allergy or visible skin irritation of some kind, it is not a good idea to tattoo over it.

Some artists could agree to it, but most real professionals will tell you to wait until this resolves on its own. With tattooing over breakouts, the bacteria of the inflamed skin would spread more and to the surrounding skin too, making the whole process complicated for healing too.

How long will half a sleeve tattoo session last exactly?

Depending on the design, it could be somewhere from 2-3 hours to 4-5 hours. Again, the more details and bold colors, the longer it will take – this is a rule for any tattoo honestly. Fewer colors, thin lines, and a subtle, gentle tattoo will be done faster, always.

How long will a full sleeve tattoo session last?

Again, depends on the design overall. Most of the time, sleeves are not done in one day, because the body cannot stand long hours of pain, otherwise, it is possible. Usually, a full sleeve can be done in a few sessions, circa 3 to 5 (give or take), each with a few hours of active tattooing, and appointments scheduled after each section has healed.


As you see, getting a sleeve or half sleeve tattoo is not just fun, but also makes you think of possible precautions or factors that affect the overall process. 

Remember that this is not, nor should it be a cheap investment, because for such a large and visible extremity, you better not regret the artist or the design! It would hurt to some extent, but this is easily resolved with breaks or more appointments.

Plan well ahead, put some budget aside, and always pick a great artist with lots of flawless expertise. 

Good luck!

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