Think before you ink. Things to consider before you get a tattoo.

At Skinlogic, we do a lot of laser tattoo removals for people who regret getting…

At Skinlogic, we do a lot of laser tattoo removals for people who regret getting inked in the first place. Even though we get good results with laser removal, the general rule of “prevention is better than cure” still definitely applies. So if you are thinking about getting a tattoo…here are a couple of things to keep in mind before you take the big step:

1. Why do you want to get a tattoo?

Are you doing it for yourself? Do you want to impress someone? Do you want to spite your parents? Are you proclaiming your eternal love for someone? Does your religion explicitly prohibit tattoos or encourage them?

In our experience, most tattoo removals stem from external motivations – like an ex’s initial on the ring finger, a massive skull on the chest gotten during rebellious teenage years, a biker gang logo on the back of the head…Sadly, not all relationships last forever (no matter how much you love the person at the moment). The self-image you would like to project may change; troublesome times will past and gang or club memberships can expire. Consider whether future-you really want to be reminded of that part of your life once you are not part of that life anymore.

As a teen, I went through a wannabe-Goth phase. It involved a whole lot of black. Blacker than the blackest black – times infinity. 20 years later; looking at my blonde, blue-eyed, bushy-tailed, generally pleasant demeanour – one could hardly image that I had such a dark side. Thank goodness all it took was taking off the black clothing, removing the black nail polish and bleaching my hair. But had there been a tattoo parlour in the small farming town I grew up in….I might have had some nasty reminders today of those times.

2. What design do you have in mind?

Ok, so once you are sure that your motive for getting a tattoo is pure, calculated and totally selfish – it’s time to decide on the design. Professional tattoo artists are creative and talented individuals. Ideally you shouldn’t pitch up to your tattoo session with a picture torn out of a magazine or printed from Google; asking for an exact replica thereof. Have your tattoo artist create a unique masterpiece with you, for you. There are definitely seasons where certain designs are trending and popular – remember the barbed wire around the upper arm in the 90’s (think Pamela Anderson); the tribal design; XXX after the movie came out; butterflies or dolphins on the hip or shoulder blade; I ♥ MUM on the bum; the full arm sleeve; Chinese signs that have pretentious meanings…

Speaking of which, I heard this horror story of a young lady getting a series of Chinese signs on her upper arm….thinking that they meant “love, prosperity, happiness, success” etc. – what it had said in the tattoo artist’s flip file. Walking past an Asian guy one day, she heard the person laughing. Turning around, she asked the near hysterical person what was so funny, and he replied: “Your tattoo says ‘Sweet and Sour Pork Five Dollar’”. Do your research people. And don’t be a cliché.

3. Decide on the size and location on your body

Not only will your tattoo’s design send out a message to the world, but also its location (think “Tramp Stamp”). Tattoos can definitely affect your ability to get and keep a job. Period. This will probably not change in the near future. Whether you want to be a police man, work on a Disney Cruise Liner, or waiter at a 5-star restaurant – you are not allowed to have any visible tattoos. In the private sector, if it came down to you and another tattoo-free candidate for a position; the majority of CEO’s will pick the tattoo-free candidate. Every time. Yes, obviously there may be some industries where having a tattoo can be an asset to your career. But they are few and far between. Like jobs, in general.

Whenever I go pick up my son from crèche, I always wonder where the hipster-dads, with the full arm sleeve tattoos, just visible under the carefully rolled-up, buttoned, crisp white work shirt; are employed. Good for them though (if they are employed).

For some, pain is a factor when considering tattoo placement. Generally, tattoos are more painful over bony than fleshy areas. Apparently, anywhere near the ribcage is excruciating. Please note – nothing will compare to the pain you will experience with laser tattoo removal. And you will need multiple sessions. Just saying.

4. Choosing your tattoo artist

Shop around. No – NOT for the cheapest; but for the BEST. Ask to see their previous work, ask to speak with previous clients, ask to see their qualifications. Good tattoos aren’t cheap. And cheap tattoos aren’t good. If you can’t afford a quality tattoo, don’t get one. Poorly executed tattoos may leave scar tissue, so even when we remove the ink with laser – you might end up with a nasty scar. This is also so true for permanent make-up tattoos. We see so many hideous eyebrows – the stuff nightmares are made of. Do your research people. Never get a tattoo on impulse; and never on special. NEVER.

5. Are you willing to settle maybe for a less-permanent alternative?

Consider maybe getting your tattoo design done with Henna first. It will last a couple of months and you can experience what life will be like living with the ink. Alternatively, get a piercing or a make-over from your local glam guru. It may be sufficient in giving you a new fresh look without the permanence or regret.

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