Tattoos 101: How to plan and care for your first tattoo


Courtesy of Lucas Lenzi on Unsplash

Preparing for your first tattoo can be daunting. Use these tips to keep your tattoo experience positive and healthy.

Haley Thams

A tattoo can be a big decision for most of us. Knowing what to expect when it comes to the healing process and design can be significant in your decision. 

The process of getting a tattoo usually starts with a consultation. Look at an artist’s previous work and talk with them about what you want and where you want it. Research and communicate with potential artists who can execute what you want to get. 

Many artists have portfolios in-store to look at or Facebook/Instagram pages of their work. Find a tattoo artist you trust, and do not be afraid to tell them what you want. 


Before you get your tattoo, you’ll be given a release and consent form. Asylum in Ames has a consent form with questions such as:

  • Have you had any alcohol in the last eight hours?

  • Have you taken Aspirin, Antibiotics or Anticoagulants in the last eight hours?

  • Are you prone to heavy bleeding?

  • Have you eaten in the last four hours?

  • Are you pregnant and/or breastfeeding?

  • Etc.

In the state of Iowa, you must be 18 to consent to a tattoo. 

The price of individual tattoos varies based on size, quality, talent and detail. Many tattoo parlors have a minimum starting amount, and then the price increases as needed. 


After getting your new tattoo, many places have instructions for cleaning. The tattoo will be bandaged, which can usually be removed one to two hours later. 

The skin is sensitive, so wash with unscented antibacterial soap and gently rub it with warm water. Pat dry with a paper towel, do not rub or scrub the area.

Asylum provides clients with A&D ointment to be applied no longer than 48 hours after.

You should apply lotion with clean hands after the tattoo is clean. It is important to use unscented brands such as:

  • Lubriderm

  • Aveeno

  • Curel

  • Gold Bond

  • Aquaphor

Apply lotion two to five times a day, depending on the dryness of the area. 

Other areas of concern:

  • Avoid tanning beds and direct sunlight for at least two weeks

  • No underwater submersion for at least two weeks

  • No scented lotions/soaps

  • No pools, hot tubs or lakes

  • Don’t pick at it or scratch

  • Avoid oil-based products

Every tattoo is different and heals differently. Do what is best for your body, and tattoos will usually heal within a month. 

Find your inspiration and consult with a local artist when interested in getting a new tattoo!