A Guide to Getting a TattooDid you know, the word tattoo comes from the Polynesian word tatau, meaning to write, and was brought to Europe by the explorer James Cook when he returned in 1769 from his first voyage to Tahiti and New Zealand.

Are you tempted to be “inked”? If so, you probably have a million questions about the process, not least of them being whether it will hurt! In this guide, we endeavour to cover everything you need to know before, during and after you submit to body art in the form of a tattoo. When you’re fully informed and decide you definitely want to take the plunge, search out the best tattoo parlours on dentons.net.


There are a large number of reasons why people opt to be inked, and any number of psychological studies into why what many still consider to be self-mutilation is so popular. Basically, you don’t have to have a reason at all to want a tattoo – you are entitled to just have one if you feel the urge! If you want a noble reason though, how about thinking about one of the following:

Whatever the reason for your decision to mark your skin – probably for life – you should not go ahead without careful consideration of what’s involved, and make sure you plan the process so you end up with the best result possible.


There is no absolutely definitive answer to this question because the degree of pain the individual experiences when being tattooed depends on two main variables: your own pain threshold, and the skill of the tattooist.

From personal experience, I would say the pain was akin to being scorched with a hot iron. Others have described it as an ongoing bee-sting. One person told me he was able to doze off during the process of having his back tattooed with a rather large design. If you are afraid that you won’t be able to tolerate the pain, it is logically better to start with a small tattoo so that you can gauge how the pain affects you. If it’s bad, don’t go back for a bigger one or an add-on.

As the customer you can, of course, stop the tattoo process at any point and ask for a break, or decide to leave before the tattoo is complete and return another day. If you opt for this course of action, though, remember you are perhaps just prolonging the agony. You will probably find that the pain of the tattooing is most intense at the outset because you are tense and apprehensive as the artist sets to work. Once you become attuned to the sensation, the pain will become more bearable.

A Guide to Getting a Tattoo

The skill of the tattooist has a bearing on the pain intensity simply because the deeper he/she penetrates the skin, the more you are likely to feel pain. The outline of the tattoo, at the beginning of the process, is more likely to hurt more than the inner shading, simply because the ink has to penetrate more deeply. If the tattooist is careless or inexpert, he/she may use too heavy a touch and inflict unnecessary pain. Believe it or not, the tattoo needle only penetrates about 1/16th inch.

When the tattoo is “coloured in” during the shading process there is no guarantee this may be less painful, and it takes a lot longer than the outlining process, with the same area often having to be inked several times over. If you don’t fancy that, make sure you have an outline only tattoo. If you are worried about suffering for your tattoo, best avoid the known body areas which are notoriously prone to pain. These are anywhere that is boney with only a thin covering of skin, such as the hands (especially the knuckles), the top of your feet, the elbow, behind the knees, the inner arm and armpit, the sternum and ribs.

Here’s an overriding thought to comfort you during your first tattoo experience: “No pain, no gain!”. Many people find it easier to tolerate the pain of a tattoo if they can’t see the needle at work. If you’re afraid of the pain, have the tattoo in a spot where you can’t see the artist working.


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