My First Tattoo Experience

A year ago, I had my first tattoo. The urge to get inked started three years ago after I watched Arci Muñoz’s movie Always Be My Maybe. In the movie, Arci had a really nice vine tattoo at her back. I wanted to have the same. It doesn’t really have any deep meaning for me. I just thought that it looked sexy. And so I started asking people I know if they know a tattoo artist. I was about 80% sure I wanted it and even included getting inked on my 40 Before 40 bucket list.

The tattoo design I wanted to have. (Screenshot from the movie Always Be My Maybe)

But it took me a very long time to decide if I will go for it. I wanted it so much but I’m scared. I knew that it’s going to be painful and I was afraid that I might not be able to handle the pain. So I procrastinated until I forgot about it.

Earlier last year, however, a friend whom I haven’t talked to in a long time suddenly got in touch again. We would chat almost every day and during one of our chats, he mentioned he was going to have another tattoo. That’s when I told him I wanted one too. He encouraged me to do it and told me not to be like his mom who wanted to have a tattoo when she was younger but until now hasn’t done it because she’s afraid of the pain. He told me it’s not that painful and it could actually get addicting. It wasn’t really that hard for him to convince me to do it.

Getting Inked

My friend Violet told me her brother has a friend who does his tattoos. I sent the design to her and asked if she could ask the tattoo artist how much it would cost. The artist’s estimate was Php 4,000.00 (around US$800). I also checked with other tattooists but his rate was the cheapest and he was recommended by my friend’s brother so I decided to go for him.

I got inked on April 9 last year, a national holiday in the Philippines- Araw ng Kagitingan or Philippines’ Day of Valor. It’s the day I had the courage to finally endure the pain of getting a tattoo.

Though we agreed on an earlier time, we started really late because the tattoo artist got stuck in traffic. I was really nervous prior. It also didn’t help that my brother who has a tattoo warned me that it would hurt a lot and I would cry. I thought of backing out while waiting. But then the tattooist arrived and when he saw the design he said it will only take two hours to finish. Then he started setting up his tools that I had no chance to back-out anymore.

How Does it Really Feel Getting Inked?

Does it really hurt to get a tattoo? Yes, definitely. But from my experience, it is tolerable. Maybe because I had it done on my back. I don’t know if my pain tolerance is just high, but for me getting a facial treatment is far more painful. I get teary-eyed every time I get a facial treatment, but when I got inked I never reached that point.

How does it feel? Imagine someone drawing something on your back using a needle. That’s how it is. It feels like a stinging, burning pain. Then you reach a point that you don’t feel the pain anymore, you just get numb.

Tattoo Aftercare

After the tattoo session, the tattoo artist wrapped my back with a cling wrap. This is to prevent bacteria from getting into my skin. Then he told me that when I get home, I need to wash it off with a germicidal soap (he recommended Safeguard) to remove all the blood. Since I had the tattoo done on my back, he knew that it’s going to be hard for me to wash it off on my own so he suggested that I ask a housemate to help me do it. But because I’m a strong, independent woman (hahaha just kidding) and I live alone, I had no one to do it for me. So I washed off my tattooed back all by myself.

After washing my back, I air dried it before applying a moisturizer. Many people use petroleum jelly but my tattoo artist doesn’t recommend it. I don’t remember the reason anymore but he said it isn’t good to use on tattooed skin. Instead, he recommended that I use rash cream. He said Drapolene might be a bit expensive but it’s a good one. While washing off my back has been really hard, applying the cream on the tattoo after taking a shower was even harder. I did it all by myself. The mirror was my best friend.

On my first night after getting inked, I slept on my stomach and I was topless. It was because my tattoo was still fresh, it’s an open wound. I had to make sure it doesn’t get in contact with anything, else that thing will stick to the wound. I used the rash cream for a week and when the wound dried up, I used mild lotion on my tattoo.

Some Tips for Those Who Are Planning to Get Inked

  • “Think before you ink.” Tattoos last a lifetime so make sure you will be able to stand by that decision of having one on your body.
  • Eat before having your tattoo done. This is because a solid meal will provide your body with the energy it needs to sit through the session. It will help you get through the pain.
  • For females, have it done after your period, not before. This has something to do with pain tolerance. I have read that we have higher pain tolerance after our period.
  • Make sure that your tattoo artist uses a new needle on you.
  • Avoid eating seafood, eggs, and chicken while the wound is still fresh. The wound will get itchy as it starts to dry up and eating these type of foods may make it feel worse.

I really love the tattoo on my back. It’s a perfect accessory, and I love showing it off every once in a while.

P.S. In case you are wondering, my tattoo artist is Alexander Guiam from Greenhouse Tattoo. You can reach out to him through his IG: @alex_guiam.

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