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The One Thing You Should Consider Before Getting A Tattoo

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Your friend shows up to meet for dinner and drinks, and you notice that she’s sporting a new tattoo. Maybe you’ve always toyed with the idea of getting inked yourself, but weren’t sure if you wanted to make that kind of commitment. But before you head on over to a tattoo parlor, here’s the one thing you should consider before getting a tattoo, according to the tattoo artists themselves.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Getting a tattoo is going to hurt. After all, you’re dealing with needles, and there’s a very small chance that it’s going to be a painless procedure. Depending on where you get it, though, some spots (like the fingers or the foot, according to Authority Tattoo) might hurt more than others.

But apart from the pain, the one thing you really should consider is the aftercare of your tattoo once you get it. Why? There’s a good chance you could damage the tattoo permanently if you don’t invest the time and energy into taking care of it. “You shouldn’t expose your tattoo to the sun for two to three weeks,” Jenna Bartello, a tattoo artist at Pure Ink Tattoo Studio, tells Romper. “Also, you should avoid submerging your tattoo in water for the same amount of time, since you don’t want it sitting in stagnant water.” So showers are fine, but long baths aren’t.

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That said, you’ll also have to take rethink your wardrobe after getting inked. “If you get a tattoo on your stomach, for example, you won’t be able to wear tight jeans for awhile,” Elektra Kirby, a tattoo artist at Danbury Tattoo, tells Romper. “You’ll need to wear loose pants or you could mess it up.” And if you thought about getting a beautiful little butterfly on your foot during the winter, think again. “You can’t wear tight closed shoes on your feet if you get tattooed there,” says Kirby.

You can remove the clear plastic wrap bandage that covers your tat after 48 hours, and be sure to clean your tattoo very well with lukewarm water and antibacterial soap, Authority Tattoo reported. “You should avoid using soap that has fragrances or alcohol since it can burn your skin,” advises Bartello. “You don’t want anything abrasive coming into contact with your skin.” And while it’s a good idea to apply ointment or lotion to your tattoo, try not to overdo it. “Your tattoo needs to breathe,” says Bartello.

Aftercare shouldn’t be your only concern when it comes to a tattoo. You should really do your research to know what kind of tat you want in the first place — and more specifically, where. And of course, there’s the permanence factor of it all. Even though you can invest in laser removal for that what-was-I-thinking ink, there are (again) more needles, and no guarantee that your tattoo will be completely gone, the American Academy of Dermatology reported. “You might be able to get it to the point where you can cover it up so you don’t see it, but you still might have some remnants of it,” says Kirby.

So when you’re thinking about getting your tattoo, just note how much time, effort, and care your newly inked skin is going to require. That way, you’ll have a beautiful tattoo that will last for a long time.