Woman with tattoo

Mistakes To Avoid When Getting A Tattoo

There’s no denying that getting a new tattoo is super exciting, but this should not be a process that you rush through. Everybody knows that tattoos are permanent, so make sure that you avoid these common mistakes, to ensure that your tattoo is one that you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

Choosing Price Over Skill

A tattoo is something that will remain on your body forever, so this is not the time to be trying to bag yourself a bargain.

If you have set yourself quite a tight budget, it may be worth waiting until you are able to save up enough to afford a quality artist with a good reputation.

No idea where to start your search for a tattoo artist?

Here are a few tips:

  • Ask for recommendations from friends and family
  • Visit different tattoo shops and take a look at cleanliness, health certificates, friendliness and the general vibe that you get from there
  • Take a look at portfolios from different artists, so that you get an idea of each artist’s style
  • Search for your shortlisted artists online, and read any reviews or comments 

Think of your tattoo as being a one-of-a-kind work of art. This is an investment, and is something that cost should not play into, at least not too much.

Picking the Wrong Size

The size of your tattoo is so important, and can really make or break the design that you have chosen.


Because some designs will lose their detail when they are scaled down too small, while others may just be too overwhelming when done too big.

The best way to decide on a tattoo size is…

By having a tattoo stencil done, and then wearing this in various sizes on your skin before you actually have your tattoo done.

If this is your first tattoo…

You may be tempted to opt for something small, but this could only lead to more touch-ups in the future, so do not be afraid to give your first tattoo the space that it deserves.

Not Paying Enough Attention to Placement

In addition to focussing on size, you also need to pay special attention to the placement of your tattoo.

You will need to take the following into consideration:

  • The size of the limb you are placing the tattoo on
  • The way in which the muscles curve beneath the skin
  • The visibility of the tattoo from afar

Dismissing Inner Doubt

Are you 100% certain that you want the tattoo you have in mind?

If not, then you need to listen to these doubts. You should be completely committed to your tattoo before having it done, because you definitely do not want to have any regrets.

Wondering how to tell whether or not you are completely committed to your tattoo?

A good way to tell is by taking a look at your response when someone criticizes your idea. Rather than trying to get their validation, you should be happy with your choice no matter what anyone else thinks.

Going for DIY Tattoos

Are you tempted to draw your tattoo yourself?

If so, this is likely because you are quite an artistic person, whether you happen to be a painter, graphic designer or illustrator.

There is no denying that drawing your own tattoo makes it more personal, but having your own work tattooed on your body is likely to be something that you will end up regretting.


Because the majority of artists out there are perfectionists, and have a style that will evolve over the years. After a decade, you are likely to be far more skilled than you are now, and will probably end up being quite critical of your own work from earlier years.

On the other hand, if you pick an artist whose style you really like, you will likely not be quite as critical of their work, and will be able to really appreciate the artistic nature of your tattoo forever.

Not Having A Say in the Design

While you are best off avoiding drawing your actual tattoo yourself, you should still have plenty of say when it comes to your tattoo’s design.

This basically means giving your tattoo artist enough to work with, by sharing all of your ideas. Whether this means that you save screenshots on your phone of images or styles that you like, or cut out pictures from magazines to put together a few ideas, the design of your tattoo should definitely have some of your personality in it.

Once you have put your ideas and inspiration together, you can then take this to your tattoo artist so that they can then sketch something out.

Being in the Wrong Frame of Mind

The frame of mind that you are in when choosing and getting a tattoo is so important, because this will have a huge impact over the final outcome of the ink on your body.

Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Do not get a tattoo on a whim
  • Do not get a tattoo if you have been drinking or taking drugs
  • Do not get a tattoo if you have been feeling depressed
  • Do not get a tattoo inspired by a first date you’ve just had

A tattoo is a long-term decision, so you really need to be in the right frame of mind when deciding to get one.

Using a Cliche

A tattoo is something that you never want to regret, meaning that the design you choose needs to be something that will be relevant in a few decades time.

Sadly, many people end up opting for cliches when it comes to their tattoo design, and this only makes their tattoo look quite dated as time goes on.

Wondering which cliches you should try to avoid?

Here are a few:

  • Feathers and dreamcatchers
  • Anchors
  • Infinity symbols
  • Compasses
  • Arrows
  • Roman numerals

Neglecting the Aftercare

You may think that the hard part is over once you have gotten your tattoo inked, but the aftercare needs just as much attention as the planning stages of your tattoo.

Making mistakes with the aftercare can be just as bad as making a mistake with the tattoo itself…

Here are a few aftercare tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep the skin around your tattoo as clean as possible, treating it like a fresh injury 
  • Do not sleep on top of your tattoo, as this will slow down its healing time
  • Keep your tattoo moist, but not wet. Many are tempted to keep it completely dry, but this can lead to a thick scab forming, which will then slow down the healing time
  • Do not touch your tattoo unless your hands are completely clean, as you need to try to prevent any bacterial infections from occurring
  • Ease up on your workouts for a few days if your tattoo is over a major joint
  • Keep your tattoo out of direct sunlight 
  • Always ask your tattoo artist for advice if you have any aftercare questions 

A Lover’s Name

When you are in the depths of love, it can seem like such a good idea to have your partner’s name tattooed on your body.

You may think that you will be with that person forever, but, sadly, many relationships do not end up withstanding the test of time…

Having an ex’s name tattooed on your body is something that you will most likely end up regretting.

However, this does not mean that you and your partner cannot still have a romantic tattoo done. There are many ideas out there that do not involve a person’s name, such as matching tattoos of music lyrics to a song, or a symbol of an activity that you both enjoy doing.

Not Using a Numbing Cream

Do you have a low pain threshold?

If so, you may want to consider using a numbing cream when having your tattoo inked. As its name suggests, this cream will dull the pain receptors in your skin, meaning that you feel little to no pain while having your tattoo done.

Wondering how painful a tattoo actually is?

Well, it does involve a needle penetrating the skin, but certain areas of your body will be more painful to have tattooed than others:

  • Areas that do not get exposed to the sun, such as the inside of your arm or thigh, tend to have more nerves, and will therefore be more painful
  • Parts of your body where the bone is closer to the skin, such as your ribs, knees and ankles, can be more painful than meatier parts of your body
  • Overlapping areas, such as the inside of your wrist or your elbow, can be quite painful 

Wondering which are the least painful areas in which to get a tattoo?

These would be the places on your body that have taut skin, and are not near any bones, such as the outside of your arms or the top of your legs.

Don’t forget…

If you have a low pain threshold, it may be tempting to have a drink or two before getting your tattoo done, to help calm your nerves. However, this is something that should be avoided, because alcohol thins the blood, which then makes the pain feel more intense.

Forgetting About Safety

As mentioned above, health certificates are something that you should make sure you see when choosing a tattoo shop and artist.

However, there are many other aspects to safety that you need to keep in mind.

Here are a few points to ask questions about:

  • The ingredients in the tattoo ink
  • Sterilization methods
  • Aftercare procedure
  • All of the steps involved in getting inked

If you have any skin or health conditions, you would be best off speaking to a doctor first, just to ensure that a tattoo is advisable for you. After all, you do not want to end up permanently exacerbating any problems.

Tattooing at the Wrong Time of the Year

Many tattoo artists advise their customers to wait until the cooler months of the year, rather than the summertime, before getting their tattoo.


Because the summer months mean high heat, as well as frequent sun exposure, both of which will slow down your tattoo’s healing time. Many people also spend more time in the water during the summer months, forgetting that they are not meant to submerge their new tattoo for a couple of weeks.

Tattooing in Other Languages  

Tattoos that are written in Chinese characters are extremely popular, as are tattoos that are written in scripts from other languages around the world. There is no denying the intricate beauty that these symbols can create, but, unless you yourself are fluent in that language, it is so easy to make a mistake.

If you have your heart set on a tattoo in another language, here are a few points to consider:

  • Translation foreign language scripts are extremely complicated, and the tiniest mistake can translate to a completely different meaning, which can often be quite embarrassing
  • Poor quality designs many scripts are quite complicated, and even one missed stroke can drastically alter the meaning of the design
  • Misalignment many language scripts become meaningless if they have been mirrored or applied upside down, so you need to keep this in mind when designing your tattoo

While it may be tempting to opt for a Chinese character tattoo design that has been featured on the wall of a tattoo shop, you need to do so much research first. Make sure that you talk to a couple of native speakers of that language, not only when planning your tattoo but also showing them the final design. 

A study carried out in the USA found that around 30% of all Americans have a tattoo.

However, 23% of them also regretted one of their tattoos…

Make sure that this never happens to you, by avoiding all of the tattoo mistakes listed above.

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