What you Consume Can Affect Your Next Tattoo Experience

Story by Ashley Schafer
Photo by Kelsey Wooten

Getting a tattoo may be an easier process than decades ago, but it still requires a good deal of planning, preparation and after care.

The process might seem relatively simple: you pick out a design and find the perfect artist.

Unfortunately, your body doesn’t process it that way. When you receive a tattoo, your body recognizes it as trauma. To help fight the constant pain, your body releases endorphins, as well as adrenaline. It can also affect your blood sugar levels. This is where nutrition comes into play.

The most important steps you can take to ensure a smooth experience and a quality product starts with good nutrition.

Tattoo Artist Denny Padgett from Evolved Artforms in Mount Pleasant has been tattooing for a little over 10 years. He provided us with details about how what you put into your body can effect your tattoo experience, and even the finished product.

Eat Before You Ink
The nerves that come before a tattoo appointment can kill an appetite, but it is imperative that you eat beforehand. Make sure you consume a solid meal right before you go under the needle, this is essential to a positive tattoo experience, especially for first-timers. Consuming a solid meal is essential to a positive tattoo experience, especially for first-timers.

The process affects your immune system and blood-sugar, and if your body is not fully-sustained, you may faint. Padgett recommends something of substance; a snack won’t suffice.

Meals like chicken parmesan or a tofu and veggie scramble with a side of diced potatoes are ideal  they are full of complex carbohydrates and protein.

Padgett says it’s a good idea to bring a soda or something sugary to snack on during the procedure, especially if your art session is going to be long.

Alcohol is a Problem
If you ink in a professional parlor, you most likely signed a form agreeing that you were not under the influence of alcohol. This is not only because alcohol can lead to altered decision making, but actually makes the tattoo process harder, if not impossible. Alcohol thins the blood causing bleeding.

Padgett explains that when an artist is trying to push ink into the skin, the thinned blood simultaneously forces it out, essentially, getting nowhere in the process.

He explains how this could lead to worse problems.

“You see, a lot of times where people will just keep going and going, trying to get the ink in, and they end up causing significant scar tissue on the skin.”

According to Padgett, the state recommends waiting six hours between drinking alcohol and getting a tattoo. However, Padgett personally believes 12 hours is a better minimum. In fact, he says he can tell the difference between someone who got a good night’s sleep compared to someone who stayed up all night drinking.

“You get somebody who’s dehydrated, they were up all night drinking. They get in the chair and they don’t sit very well. It makes the whole process harder.” Padgett said.You know, I’ve seen people with large ongoing pieces come in and sit four or five hours at a time no problem, but have a rough night the night before, and they’re tapping out within an hour.”

Afraid of Falling Asleep?
You should probably think twice before downing an energy drink to help make it through a long tattoo session.

While ingesting an energy drink won’t affect your blood like alcohol, it can make it much harder to sit still. Being relaxed will make for a much better finished product than someone who can’t sit still.

Water is a Good Idea
Guzzling plenty of water before, during and after getting inked will keep your skin at its best for the procedure.

“The more hydrated you are the happier your skin is and the easier everything is going to go.” Padgett said. “If you are willing to spend money on permanent ink, chances are, you’ll want it to look amazing.Who knew that putting in as little effort as staying hydrated and making healthy choices would make for a more positive experience, overall?