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If you're new to the tattoo world, you might have a few questions about how to prepare for your tattoo. If you've had a bit of experience already, you probably know that shop etiquette can vary from studio to studio. While most "rules" are pretty general, we have put together a Q&A page for our clientele to help answer any questions you may have.

Preparing for your tattoo appointment:

Below are some Q&A's in preparing for your tattoo appointment. If you have any other questions that are not covered below, please do not hesitate to contact us or your artist directly.

What should I wear for my appointment?

You should wear clothing that is comfortable, especially if you have a multi-hour tattoo session booked. Depending on body location for the tattoo, your artist may recommend certain clothing options (such as wearing a bikini top if you are receiving a sternum tattoo) to make the process a bit easier. Tattoo pigment can sometimes get onto clothing during the procedure and this is almost always a permanent stain, so be sure to wear clothing that will not be ruined should tattoo pigment accidentally get on it.

Can I bring food/snacks with me?

Absolutely, especially if you have a long session booked. It is highly recommended to eat a decent meal before your appointment so that you are not receiving a tattoo on an empty stomach, but also to bring snacks with you (especially sugary ones) that can help keep you sustained throughout your session. You should also bring something to drink, such as water, gatorade, tea, etc. We also have water and tea available and keep juice and pop on hand at our studio if needed and we have candy dishes scattered throughout the studio. Sugar helps a lot during the tattoo process!

Can I bring a friend/partner/relative with me to my appointment?

Preferably, no. If the studio is a full house on the day of your appointment, bringing spectators with you causes overcrowding and can make other clients/artists uncomfortable during their sessions. In some cases there can be exceptions, such as a non-busy day at the studio. Check in with your artist directly to ask about how busy the studio might be on the day you are scheduled so they can touch base with other artists. If the studio isn't busy, having an extra person around isn't as big of an issue. However, in most cases it is recommended to arrive solo to your appointment.

What if there are two or more of us getting tattoos together?

Again, please check in with your artist prior to your appointment. If the studio is busy, each person may have to take turns receiving their tattoos while others wait in reception or leave the studio and come back for their appointments separately. Oliver Square is only a couple of blocks away for clients to shop or grab a snack/coffee while they wait their turn.

I don't have childcare, can my child/ren come with me to my appointment?

Unfortunately, no. Children can be an extra and unnecessary distraction while receiving a tattoo and if other artists/clients are present, this can create unwanted discomfort for others. Even if your child is a teenager and/or well-behaved, we would still like to maintain that humans under the age of 18 not be present during tattoo sessions, as we are an 18+ only studio.

The only exception to this rule is for our dreadlock loctician who does have some underage clients. She is located in an area separate from all tattoo artists in order to prevent any disruption or hair/dander contamination to our tattoo artist's work spaces.

I am nervous about my tattoo appointment, can I consume alcohol before my appointment or bring any with me?

While having an alcoholic beverage right before your appointment shouldn't affect the procedure too much, it is highly recommended to avoid alcohol consumption (and caffeine, if you are able) within 24 hours of your scheduled appointment. However, having a drink day-of will do less damage than drinking the night before. If you drink alcohol the night before your tattoo, your body will be in recovery mode by the next day, leaving your body less hydrated with your immune system fighting off the effects. This not only can make the tattoo procedure more painful, but can push your immune system into overdrive, potentially causing your tattoo to not heal properly and/or crashing your system resulting in flu-like symptoms. It is best to save your alcohol consumption for after your appointment:)

What kind of pain medication can I take to help alleviate the pain?

You can take tylenol (acetaminophen) prior to and during your appointment to aid in some pain releif. It does not numb the pain but it definitely helps with tolerance.

Painkillers that may thin your blood (Ibuprofin or aspirin) are not recommended prior to your appointment as this may cause more bleeding than necessary during the procedure. However, these can be taken after the tattoo is completed, if needed.

Can I bring my dog/pet with me to my appointment?

No, you must leave your dog/pet at home or with someone else during your tattoo appointment. The only exception to this rule is if you have a certified service animal that must accompany you at all times. If this is the case, you must inform your artist of the situation so that they can check with other artists and their clients in the event that someone has an allergy.

Can I use numbing cream or spray before or during my appointment?

Yes, the use of a pre-numb cream and spray during the procedure is allowed, but please check with your artist directly prior to your appointment to make sure. Numbing creams all work differently and last differently from person to person, so results are mixed. It may work very well for one person or one part of the body, but then not work well for another person or another part of the body. You should still prepare yourself for experiencing some pain, even with the use of numbing agents.

Why doesn't numbing always work?

There are many different reasons why numbing may have varying results. Some people have a higher or lower tolerance than others. Some brands don't work as well as others. Sometimes the numbing is taken off too soon or left on too long. Typically, parts of the body that are less meaty (chest, shin, tops of feet/hands) tend to lose numbing more quickly than others. In our personal experience, once the skin is broken open the numbing from pre-numb creams wears off quicker in those spots than unbroken skin areas. 

Numbing sprays are typically only used once the skin is broken open, relieving the stinging sensation of the tattoo and making the tattoo procedure easier to tolerate as it is completed. However, excessive use of numbing sprays can affect how the tattoo heals, so our rule of thumb is to try to wait as long as possible before using any numbing spray. Usually this would be for towards the end of the tattoo and/or the white highlights (if any are added).

What brands of numbing cream do you recommend?

Armocaine is a really great numbing agent made locally in Edmonton through Armorclad Labs. Their product is a favourite of ours and in our experience, works the best. You can order from them online directly through their website, or you can purchase in person through one of the distributor tattoo shops in Edmonton (listed on their site).

We also recommend Zensa numbing, which is made in Vancouver, Canada and made specifically for body modification procedures (including microblading and piercing procedures in addition to tattoos). It can be ordered online through their website or purchased over the counter in some pharmacies. Dr Numb and Emla creams are also available in pharmacies at more affordable costs but we find that they have mixed results.

What kind of bandaging do your artists offer?

We have a few different bandaging options available. Our most used and best option is second skin adhesive bandaging. Our artists use a few different brands but the most common is 3M Tegaderm. While this bandaging is hypoallergenic, occasionally clientele will react to it. However, this is rare.

In addition, we also have absorbant pads and self-adherent wrap (similar to what is used in vet offices on your pets) and/or paper medical tape available.

What kind of aftercare do you offer or suggest?

At the moment we do not currently carry any aftercare items for purchase (we are working on it, though!). We have an aftercare pamphlet available and you can ask your artist any questions you may have during or after your appointment.

Once you remove your bandage, wash/clean the tattoo with a gentle anti-bacterial soap (like Pears) to remove any excess blood/plasma that may have dried to the area. Once cleaned, apply a light layer of unscented lotion (such as Aveeno) or vitamin A&E ointment.

Please remember that the tattooed area is still considered a wound until it is healed so please do not allow other people to touch the area or allow your pets to lick the area!

How soon before I can swim/bath/hot tub/suntan?

Most tattoos take a minimum of 3-4 weeks to heal on the surface, but tattoos actually take several months to fully heal.

Water: It is highly recommended to avoid soaking your new tattoo until at least 3 weeks have passed, especially in pools, lakes, rivers, ocean, etc. While it is okay to get your tattoo wet (as in when you shower, for example) you want to do your best to avoid prolonged exposure to water and to try to avoid soaking it. Baths are okay only if you are able to soak without submerging your new tattoo (for example, an arm or lower leg where that limb can be out of the water). The longer you can put off soaking your tattoo, the better.

Sun: Even when tattoos are fully healed, exposure to sun without sunblock can fade or lift pigment in the skin. You should wait the minimum of 3-4 weeks until your tattoo has finished peeling before applying sunblock for exposure to sun. The tattooed skin will be more sensitive to sun so when possible, keep covered until fully healed, and then always remember to keep your tattoo protected with sunblock to prevent fading or sun damage to your tattoo.

Can I get tattooed if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

While technically you can be tattooed while pregnant or breastfeeding, it is highly recommended to wait until you are no longer pregnant and/or no longer breastfeeding. Sometimes a person may not be aware that they are pregnant when they receive a tattoo, and typically there is little to no issue from the procedure. The danger lies with the possibility that the tattoo *may* become infected and then that would affect the bloodstream, which could then cause concern for the fetus or infant. In addition, the body responds to tattoos as trauma and that can also have a negative impact. It's just best to wait until you are no longer pregnant or breastfeeding to book for your tattoo.

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