When thinking about getting a tattoo, the main thing on most people’s minds is the pain. But there are some other factors to consider before getting inked.

Choosing your symbol or image

It’s great to have references for the type of tattoo you want to get, but remember that it’s a deeply personal thing and should be treated as such.

If you’re not creative, you can work with a designer to create an original artwork that will mean something to you forever. There’s nothing wrong with going for a universal symbol, but just make sure it has relevance for you.

READ MORE: Do tattoos impact your office image?

Not all tattoo parlours are created equal

It’s important to understand that not all tattoo parlours and artists offer the same levels of quality and safety, and it’s important to know you’re getting the best for the sake of your skin and your health.

It’s very important to research not only tattoo parlours, but tattoo artists as well and part of your research should include actually going to the different parlours and observing how they do things. You want someone who has a consistent portfolio of great work and who is experienced.

Don’t be afraid ask about the certifications – this is a choice that will impact you for the rest of your life.

Don’t shave

If you choose to have your tattoo inked on a hairy section of skin, don’t shave. You might cut the skin and put yourself at risk of infection. Rather have your artist do it for you when you get your tattoo.

The night before

Once you’re comfortable with the parlour and artist, make sure you’re in good physical shape. According to Fox News, a tattoo causes trauma to your body so for a quicker healing process, you want your immune system as strong as possible.

It’s very important that you don’t drink before getting a tattoo. First of all, alcohol can hinder your ability to sit still, and on an even more serious note, it affects healing and could cause excess bleeding

Sterilisation

Make sure your artist opens a new packet of needles in front of you. If this doesn’t happen it’s better to walk out and find another parlour. Used needles can carry serious infections including HIV and hepatitis.

And again, don’t be afraid to ask how the parlour sterilises their reusable tools. Men’s Health says that a reputable parlour should be using an autoclave sterilizer – one that uses steam, heat, and pressure to eliminate any germs and bacteria.

The sun

A new tattoo will always be super-sensitive to the sun – even after your tattoo has healed. The UV light can react with the tattoo ink and cause a sunburn-like reaction. In light of this, it’s usually suggested that one chooses an area of their body that’s not often exposed to the sun. Otherwise, take extra care of your exposed tattoo with sun screen every time you’re outside.

READ MORE: Jonathan Boynton-Lee’s grooming regimen

After-care

An artist should equip you with information on caring for your tattoo before they put the needle to your skin so that you can have everything you need ready when it’s done. Some tips include using an antibacterial ointment and an unscented lotion for your tattoo, and only use water-based lotions.

Sources: Fox News, Men’s Health, Houston Press