Friday, July 18, 2008

Summer Ink?

The summer is here! Summer and how it affects us all is a wonderful thing… fun in the sun, trim and fit bodies, and that perfectly placed new tattoo. Tattoos have come along way. What was once reserved for biker gangs and ex-convicts in movies has become a way for us to express who we are. Young people get tattoos for different reasons ranging from wanting to show their individuality, fitting in with a group, to just thinking they look cool. Before you decide to go under the needle to get that ink you have been thinking about, there are a couple of things you should consider.

Since I am not an expert on the subject and it has been a while since I got my first tattoo, I decided to ask my tattoo artist, Christian Masot, about what to do or not do before you tattoo. Christian, whose career spans over nine years, is an artist at “Silk City Tattoo” located in Hawthorne, NJ. I sat down with him in the shop recently for some “real talk”, while some Chinese sci-fi movie was playing in the background, and asked him to provide some advice for prospective first-timers before they get drilled.

What kind of tattoo should I get? My suggestion would be to get a tattoo that you have looked at and liked for a while or something that you can’t stop thinking about. If it is your first tattoo, which is the hardest to get, you definitely don’t want to go with some random or a trendy piece. Trends can go out of style but your tattoo lasts forever. Most important piece of advice would be to trust your artist. Make suggestions but you should relax and try to be open some of the elements that your artist may have. If you work together you will end up with an amazing piece.

What about the pain, will it hurt? It really depends on the area being tattooed and the person. The skin right above a bone usually tends to be a bit more painful than others. You can expect to feel a constant vibration making the sensation feel like a road rash or slight burn as opposed to a needle poking you over and over again. Everyone’s pain tolerance is different so I can’t say exactly what it will be like for you.

What about cheaper amateur tattoos? Cheap tattoos aren’t always good and good tattoos aren’t always cheap. I would stay away from those twenty dollar tattoos in your buddy’s basement with Indian ink. Never go to anyone who isn’t a professional tattoo artist. Besides the chances of the inexperienced artist making a mistake, you run the risk of infection if he/she doesn’t use a disposable needle or sterilized equipment.

What about getting a tattoo after a night of drinking? You should never drink before getting tattoo. The alcohol clouds your judgment and you may end up with a tattoo that you’ll regret (like the name of some ex). The alcohol also acts as a blood thinner and can lead to excessive bleeding during your session and affecting the way your tattoo heals.

What about aftercare for the summer? There are a few things you may want to think about before enjoy the summer with your tattoos. Sun and water can be harmful to a fresh tattoo. If you want your investment to last, you have to take care of your ink.
Definitely avoid swimming in the pool, ocean or soaking in a bathtub, jacuzzi or hot tub for at least two weeks after getting your tattoo. The healing process needs to take its course before you have any prolonged water exposure. Soaking a new tattoo in water will loosen that protective layer that is formed during the healing process and you'll most likely be watching your art and investment go right down the drain.
Sun exposure should be avoided or at least kept to a minimum for a good two weeks after the tattoo is done. Sun can burn a fresh tattoo pretty quickly because the skin is exposed and the ointment that you're using to cover the tattoo will act as a catalyst for burning the skin even quicker than normal.
Once the tattoo is healed you MUST use sunblock on the area. Make sure that the tattoo is fully healed before using sunblock. It can cause major damage if you apply it before the tattoo is completely healed. If you're thinking ... 'But I don’t want a big white line around my tattoo from the sunblock’, try these options. Smaller tattoos are easier to cover because sometimes you can get away with just putting a band-aid or sticker over them to block the exposure. With larger tattoos, trace the outline the tattoo with high SPF chapstick or specialized tattoo SPF stick and then you have the option to fill in the rest of the area with a strong sunblock (at least 30) or with the same stick you used to outline. Just remember that the ink you have is an investment that should be taken care of.

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