Avoid Tattoo Regret: Here's How

Are you really ready?-
Before you get a tattoo, you should be 100 percent sure you want one. They're permanent (I know, duh) and can only be removed by laser, which is pricey and "hurts way more than ... more 
Are you really ready?-
Before you get a tattoo, you should be 100 percent sure you want one. They're permanent (I know, duh) and can only be removed by laser, which is pricey and "hurts way more than getting the tattoo in the first place," says tattoo artist Paul Oafenhammer.

So how do you know you're ready? "It should feel like the tattoo is already there, and it just needs to make its way to the surface," says tattoo artist Kim Saigh. If you're still unsure of whether you want one or not, then you're probably better off not getting it ... for now. less 
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Tue, Nov 8, 2011 4:32 PM EST

When I was 20, I found myself in a dirty apartment watching my then-boyfriend get tattooed on a kitchen table. The tattoo artist -- if you can call him that -- didn't even bring the right needles, and was extremely jittery. (I think this had to do with the constant drug references throughout the tattoo process.) Looking back, I realize what a terrible idea that situation was, but at the time we were young, poor, and stupid. We thought we were invincible, and tattoo safety rules didn't apply to us.

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These days, the only tattoos my friends get are from legit tattoo parlors by trained professionals, like the ones featured in this tattoo checklist. But even so, the whole tattoo process can be tricky. How do you know which tattoo parlor or artist does the best work? Should you tip the artist, and if so, how much? And for newbies, preparation, pain, and aftercare are (or should be) major concerns.

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While nothing will take the place of actual experience, getting first-hand advice from top tattoo artists does help. I posed these questions to Kim Saigh, tattoo artist and co-owner of Memoir Tattoo in L.A. (you may also recognize her from a little show called "LA Ink"), and Paul Oafenhammer, tattoo artist at Black Diamond Tattoo in Venice Beach. Together, we created this checklist of tattoo dos and don'ts, which you must read before you commit to some ink. After all, do you really want a misspelled "mother" tattoo or a rose that looks more like a blob? Didn't think so.