Do’s and Taboo’s of Tattoos

Everything you need to know for your first ink experience

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Grace Kirkley

Made with Canva

Tattooing – the art of ink and needles staining the skin permanently with an image of choice- an act once seen as taboo and now widely accepted. Upon my first day of high school, I saw a young man with a sleeve of tattoos and my jaw fell to the floor. Tattoos? As a minor? Is this even legal? Is this not against the dress code?

Considering tattoos are permanent, it’s assumed that a potential tattoo receiver would take ample time to plan their tattoo. This is not the case. Tattooing is a huge commitment, and while many have meaning, they’re not always planned thoroughly.

And of course there are piercings and the dreaded dinner topic of whether or not it is appropriate for a teenager to acquire such, and what region of piercings is acceptable. While it is a right of passage for young girls to get their ears pierced at the local Claire’s, there is skepticism around any further piercings and a stigma against young boys getting any.

As teenagers age and look for forms of expression, they often turn to piercings and tattoos, which come with safety concerns from teens attempting to perform said procedures themselves often in an unsanitary manner. You must consider not only the design but color, tattoo artist, location of tattoo, cost and your pain tolerance. Here are a few things to keep in mind before getting your next piercing and/or tattoo.

Go to a pro
This applies for both tattooing and piercing- please for the love of antiseptics. If you take any advice, please let it be this. Going to a licensed professional is the most important part, and though this may be more expensive, you pay for what you get. If you opt for the cheaper homemade or get someone who “totally knows what they’re doing”, Murphy’s Law will come for you and you’ll end up paying more in medical payments to heal or recover the botched appearance. You will be much more satisfied and safe if you just get it done right in the first place.

Inspiration is everywhere
While most tattoo parlors will have a photo album for inspiration, you don’t want to have a tattoo everyone else gets. The very appeal to a tattoo is showing your personality. Find something that is true to your personal style, this is especially important when choosing your first tattoo which will set the mood on your canvas of a body. Instead of finding tattoos on Pinterest by searching “tattoo inspo”, you can look up artsy doodles for unique tattoos.

Clean or catch a keloid
Now onto piercings, you absolutely have to clean them and clean them thoroughly. By using an antiseptic on a q-tip daily, you can save yourself months and even years of agony following tissue scarring and skin infections. Keloids are especially easy to get with sensitive piercings such as belly button rings and nose piercings. The nose piercing is the absolute most important to clean, as well as eyebrow piercings, because these are most susceptible to keloid adaptation. Another way to avoid keloids is minimal abrasion – which is simple to avoid – is to allow the piercing to heal properly before changing, taking out your piercing or excessive twisting within the hole.

Parent permission or no admission
Technically, Texas licensed tattoo artists are not allowed to practice on a minor even with a parent, unless they are getting an obscene tattoo covered. This law is often broken, and more parents are comfortable with their kid getting tattoos than ever. So for those who decide to cross state lines with their parents and get a tattoo completely legally it is important to make sure your parents are on board before getting a tattoo. Being an edgy angsty teen is cool and all and who doesn’t love a nice stick and poke? However, if you’re getting it done by a licensed professional and do not have your parents consent, they can be sued and have their license revoked. Don’t let the nice fella who inked you up have to quit what he loves because you just couldn’t wait two more years for an infinity sign on your wrist.

Forever… or lasers?
Remember, tattoos are forever (and if mistreated, scarring from a piercing is as well) so choose something you know you’ll be content with for years to come. If you end up hating it later on, you can keep it as a reminder of your absent-minded youth or remove it with costly and painful laser procedures.