Does it Hurt to Get a Tattoo? Getting a New Tattoo and How to Be Prepared

“Did it hurt?” This is the age-old question when it comes to tattoos and one that you have probably been asked before if you wear tattoos…or one that you are curious about if you are still contemplating your first tattoo. The short answer is usually “yes,” but this is different for everyone and is dependent on several factors, including:

  • Your pain tolerance level
  • The place that you get tattooed
  • The tattoo artist’s technique and process
  • The types of needles used
  • The size of the tattoo

When it comes to pain tolerance, this varies from person to person and is probably something that you already have a good idea of when it comes to your threshold. Some tattoo collectors describe getting a tattoo as somewhat of a sting, burn, or scratch, while others experience it in a much more drastic way. Regardless of where you fall on the pain tolerance continuum, there are many things that you can do to help the experience to be as positive as possible.

  • Get in touch with your perception of pain: Studies show that when “purposeful pain” (like getting a tattoo) is inflicted, rather than pain resulting from an accident or some type of an illness, it may be easier to work through and bear. Remind yourself of how epic the end result of your tattoo will be, as well as how capable and strong you are during your session.
  • Nourishment is key: Be sure to have a nutritious meal an hour or so before your session and stay hydrated both before (and during) your tattoo appointment. This can have an impact on your ability to tolerate pain by attending to those foundational needs.
  • Get a good night’s sleep: Research shows that sleep deprivation increases sensitivity to pain by numbing the brain's painkilling response. So, being proactive and getting in those ZZZZs the night before your appointment will give you an upper hand in the pain department.
  • Remember that it’s okay to feel nervous: When you are in the middle of a tattoo session and the pain is kicking, it’s easy to feel as though nobody else in the room could possibly relate but remind yourself that feeling apprehensive and tired during the process is normal. Remember that you’re not alone and that your body is reacting in an appropriate manner.
  • Talk to your tattoo artist: Be sure to discuss skin-numbing products with your artist and ask if they recommend or use them. Also heed their advice as to how you care for your tattoo once it’s finished. We have several aftercare-focused blogs that you may find helpful (and which includes information about our super-convenient, soft, and sterilized MD WipeOutz Tattoo Towels).
  • Energy boosts: Having small snacks, candy, or mints to munch on during your tattoo session can not only boost your energy but may also help to take your mind off of any pain that you are experiencing.
  • The power of music: Many tattoo collectors find that listening to their favorite tunes or focusing on a podcast or video can help to distract their fixation on pain. Studies have shown that music can reduce anxiety, fear, depression, pain-related distress and blood pressure.
  • A positive attitude: Remember that having confidence and preparing mentally can help your tattooing experience to go more smoothly, which in turn results in a more enjoyable and memorable outcome. Studies have shown that a positive mindset can dictate the level of pain that you experience…so rev up that optimism before you head to the tattoo chair.

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