5 rules for your first tattoo

Tattoos have been around for thousands of years and have been present in many cultures around the world. For many cultures, this kind of permanent body art has a spiritual significance, but for many in modern society, they are a cosmetic choice that also carries some personal meaning to them.

Tattoos have been taboo in Western society for a long time and were typically associated with criminals and sailors. While tattoos have become much more mainstream and accepted since the turn of the century, there are still some occasions where they are seen as inappropriate or in poor taste.

Sometimes people need to attend weddings where they’ve been asked to conceal their tattoo, sometimes they might have a job interview and be nervous about how an employer will react, and sometimes people genuinely regret their tattoos and want to hide/remove them. This is why products like tattoo makeup concealers and dermatological tattoo removal treatments are able to find a market.

If you are interested in getting a tattoo for the first time, it’s both an exciting and scary decision. Tattoos are a big commitment, and removal is both expensive and imperfect – so it’s worth taking your time so you can be really sure about it.

The following will list 5 rules for getting your very first tattoo so that you don’t regret it.

1. Never tattoo a boyfriend or girlfriend’s name

Never tattoo a boyfriend or girlfriend’s name

This is somewhat of a golden rule amongst tattoo enthusiasts, and some artists will outright refuse to do these kinds of tattoos. Why? Because if the relationship doesn’t work out, you’ll be stuck with the name of your ex on you.

This does not mean getting the name of someone is off-limits, as many people get tattoos of their mother’s name or of the name’s of their children. It’s simply not very wise to tattoo the name of a lover, especially if you have not been together very long.

2. Get something that has personal meaning to who you are

tattoo artists making a tattoo

The best tattoos are those that have a significant meaning to you. It could be something from a movie you grew up with or some lyrics from a song that you really resonate with. These are tattoos of something that, regardless of where you end up in life, will always be relevant to who you are as a person.

You don’t always need to be able to explain the significance of the tattoo in words, it just needs to make sense to you personally. What a tattoo means to one person can have a totally different meaning to another, and this is the same for any other kind of artwork.

3. Start with something small

choosing a small tattoo

Like most things, starting small is a good idea, and this is true for tattoos. There are several reasons for this.

First of all, getting a tattoo is a painful process. While the pain of getting a tattoo is often exaggerated, it does hurt. The huge tattoos you see that cover someone’s whole back or thigh take many hours over multiple sessions as doing them in one go would be too painful for the recipient and too labour intensive for the artist. If you are someone who has a low tolerance for pain, it’s a good idea to start with a small tattoo.

Secondly, the larger and more complex a tattoo is, the more difficult it is to cover up and/or remove if you regret it. It’s much smarter to do a ‘test run’ with something small and easily concealed.

Thirdly, small tattoos are the cheapest and won’t represent a huge loss of money if you end up having regrets.

4. Don’t tattoo your face

tattoo your face

The reasons why you should not tattoo your face for your first time are pretty obvious – these tattoos are not concealed easily, and they hurt more than working on other areas of the body.

A facial tattoo is also generally less accepted than other kinds. While an employer might tolerate tattoos that can be concealed with clothing, they might not look favourably on a tattoo that is always present on your face.

Because of these issues, many tattoo artists will refuse to do face tattoos, or if they do, only with those who already have a lot of ink.

5. Don’t get anything political

Getting a new tattoo

Political beliefs change like the wind for many people, and people who start their adult life with one political viewpoint can change it as they grow and experience the world. Also, political tattoos really aren’t very fun and can be awkward for an artist to do if they don’t agree with them.


Ultimately tattoos are a personal choice and, despite some trends being taboo, there are artists who will tattoo whatever you are willing to pay for. However, considering how many people end up regretting certain tattoos, it’s a good idea for you to take heed of the points above when you go to a tattoo parlour for the first time.


Samantha Rigby
Samantha Rigby
Samantha is the head of content, lifestyle and entrepreneurial columnist for Best in Australia. She is also a contributor to Forbes and SH. Prior to joining the Best in Au, she was a reporter and business journalist for local newspapers.
Share this