The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday June 25th

What to know before you get a tattoo

<p>Tattoo artist Mike Wheeler begins shading the Alaskan tribal tattoo on Hayden Fitzgerald's forearm Monday&nbsp;at Glenn's Tattoo Service.</p>
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Tattoo artist Mike Wheeler begins shading the Alaskan tribal tattoo on Hayden Fitzgerald's forearm Monday at Glenn's Tattoo Service.

Over 40 percent of millennials have tattoos, according to the Pew Research Center, and we’re telling the stories of the UNC students and Chapel Hill/Carrboro residents who fall into that 40 percent. This is one of multiple stories in the Swerve Tattoo Impression series. Read the rest here.

Once you turn 18, you're technically a legal adult. You are given the freedom to make a plethora of decisions. You can legally vote in elections, buy random gadgets off of infomercials and join the  #teamtatted squad. College is a popular time to make reckless decisions, which sometimes include, but is not limited to, getting a tattoo.


We talked with Bruce White, current tattoo artist at Tattoo Asylum in Durham and former UNC student, about some lesser known facts about getting a tattoo. 

1. You should eat before

Make sure you grab something to eat before you get a tattoo. People who haven't eaten may get lightheaded during the process and are more likely to faint. 

2. You should be sober (easier said than followed)

You should not get a tattoo drunk for multiple reasons. It's not a good idea to make an impulsive decision about something being permanently written on your body. Also, White said if it's obvious you are drunk, Tattoo Asylum will turn you away — which they do often. Not only because alcohol thins your blood and makes it more difficult to clot, but also because you are probably annoying.

3. Moisturize while your tattoo is healing

It takes roughly four to six weeks for a new tattoo to heal completely, so during that time you should keep your tattoo out of the sun and away from chlorinated water. Overall, keep the tattoo clean and away from anything that could infect or irritate your skin, and don't forget to moisturize.

4. How long does it take to get a tattoo?

It depends. The actual time it takes to have your tattoo completed varies with the size. White said it ranges from a few minutes to four or five hours to multiple sessions depending on how large and intricate the design is. People will come in get a semicolon or a letter tattooed super quick, or people will come back multiple times to finish their design.

5. They do "tattoo cover-ups"

While most tattoo parlors do not offer tattoo removals, some do offer "tattoo cover-ups," in which they cover old or disfigured tattoos with new ones to improve the aesthetic. It's not easy to do and they do not do it very often. Usually, they do tattoo cover-ups for homemade tattoos, which tend to age faster and fade lighter. Homemade tattoos are done with the "stick and poke" method, which is taking a needle and ink and tattooing yourself. 0/10 not recommended. 

6. Tattoo parlors typically don't tattoo your face or hands

Old school tattoo shops generally don’t tattoo your face or hands because there is still a stigma around these tattoos in the professional workplace. Tattoo Asylum won't tattoo your hands or face unless you're already heavily tatted. Also, tattoos on your hands and feet do not heal well. The skin on those areas tend to age much faster than the rest of your body and are more likely to blur the tattoo. 

7. Do your research 

Bruce said you should have a solid idea of what you want when going to get a tattoo. It's better to go in with an idea of what you want and not an abstract concept. It is hard for tattoo artists to help you if you just say, "I want something that symbolizes hope."

If you're looking for some inspiration for tattoo ideas, White said the weirdest tattoo he has ever done is the Bojangles' logo on a guy's butt cheek. 

Here are some famous celebrity tattoos to spark your creativity:

Cara Delevingne's lion finger tattoo


Mike Tyson's face tattoo


Demi Lovato's wrist tattoos 


Kesha's "suck it" tattoo


If you are thinking about getting a tattoo, think about it long and hard before making your decision. Make sure you have #noragrets before you drizzle yourself in that permanent ink.


Source: giphy


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