Sunday, 17 January 2016

LIFESTYLE | MY FIRST TATTOO (EXPERIENCE & HEALING PROCESS)

I never thought I'd get a tattoo. That's not to say I was against them, I'd always wanted one but being the most indecisive person ever I'd never thought I'd see the day where I could actually settle on a single design and commitment is the key when you're getting something that will be on you forever and ever and ever. So imagine my own absolute surprise when the day after I woke up from the IAMX show last year, I suddenly knew that it was the right time to get my X tattoo. I'd been contemplating one for a few years now but just kept on dissuading myself and it didn't help that my parents were both such anti-tattoo people (alas that's Asian parents for you). I thought about it for a few more weeks before I made my appointment and then I knew my mind was set. The way I looked at it was that, if I wanted something that I was capable of getting, why not just go for it? I had such a huge fear of regretting it but in the end, you only live once and I knew I'd regret it more if I never plucked up the courage .

Choosing a tattoo place is apparently very important but seeing as I had no previous experience and that tattoo design I wanted was pretty simple, I just located one that was accessible by public transport and that had good reviews, which ended up being Extreme Needle in West London. I'd emailed back and forth with them about my design and on the day all four of my flat mates tagged along to give me moral support which I thought was really nice of them. I wasn't nervous about the prospect of getting tattooed at all, I knew I had a really high pain threshold and needles never bothered me in the slightest. I was more worried about whether I was making the right decision to get a tattoo but I thought if I did end up regretting it, it's not the end of the world, I could always cover it up or opt for laser removal. Stepping through the door of Extreme Needle, first impression was that the place is quite tiny and the atmosphere not as intimidating as I thought it would be, perhaps because the staff seemed pretty friendly and there were a few other customers there already waiting. I was introduced to my tattooist Ronnie who was super lovely but told me that none of my friends could actually come into the tattooing room with me, which I thought was a bit strange but I didn't really mind, in fact the only qualm I had about this was that there would be no one to take photos to document the process on my blog haha. Sorry about that guys! I did manage to take a phone photo myself during the tattoo process though as seen above. Ronnie took me to the tattooing room and proceeded to scale my X to the correct size and positioning it on my arm to determine the correct placement. This took longer than we both anticipated because I was extremely picky and adamant on getting the size and position exactly right to my liking, which to be honest, was probably starting to annoy Ronnie a bit, haha sorry. When I finally agreed, he pressed the transfer sheet with the tattoo outline down on my skin before peeling it off to leave the purple outline, much like a temporary tattoo. He then pulled out the needle and asked me if I was ready. He knew it was my first tattoo experience and he tried to explain about the sensation and pain but in the end it's different for everyone. It's difficult for me to put into words what the needle feels like against your skin. Many people say it's like a hot cat scratch but since I'd never been scratched by a cat, I couldn't possibly tell you if that's accurate. For me it was a constant stinging, and unfortunately it hurt a whole lot more than I had anticipated but I could bear it. After a minute, my skin started to go numb or maybe I was just used to the sensation so I felt it didn't hurt as bad. Ronnie was quite chatty and attentive during the whole session which definitely put me at ease and my mind off the fact that I was getting repeatedly scratched with a large needle. Before I knew it, the tattoo was finished (thinking back it most likely took about ten minutes) and Ronnie was wiping away all the excess ink and blood and showing me to a mirror. He then wrapped it with some cling wrap and taped it up before leaving me with aftercare instructions and the promise that I could just email him with any questions if they should arise. He'd also been curious about what the X stood for and said he would look up IAMX's music which if you're reading this Ronnie, I hope you did!

On the bus ride home, my arm stung like crazy. Almost my entire lower arm felt sore and tender and I just didn't want to move it around too much. A couple of hours later and before I went to bed, I unwrapped the plastic and washed the tattoo with Dettol anti-bacterial soap, careful not to scrub or put too much pressure on it, in a gentle rubbing motion with my fingers to get rid of any excess ink. I then let it dry before smoothing a thin layer of Lush's Dream Cream over it. My skin didn't bleed at all after the tattoo session, there were only a couple of faint red marks around the edges of the tattoo where the skin was slightly more aggravated. I repeated the process of cleaning and moisturising my tattoo twice a day for the next 14 days until it was fully healed. On the second day, the stinging had decreased to a dull ache and I went out and about without anything covering my tattoo but I kept an eye so that nothing would get in contact with it, including any clothing sleeves. During the next couple of days, the pain gradually disappeared and the tattoo started to dry out and raise, kind of like a scab. I made sure it was moisturised at all times so I carried a small tub of Dream Cream around with me in my bag. By the seventh day, the scabbed area which had cracked in a few places, started to flake off. It's important not to physically pick and peel at it, however tempting it may be, and just let it do so in its own time. When you wash it, more bits will gradually flake off. Around the ten day mark my tattoo started itching. It's important not to scratch it directly though so I just tapped lightly around the area to alleviate the urge to. It was exactly two weeks until my tattoo fully healed and the entire surface of dead skin peeled off.

Until now, almost two months since I got it, I've not experienced any complications. The one thing I've noticed though, is a tiny area in the middle that isn't as dark as the rest. This might just mean that too much off the ink lifted in the healing process and I might get it retouched one day but it's probably not noticeable unless you're me. So that was my first tattoo experience in a nutshell, I'm super pleased with it. I'd heard that tattoos are addictive and now I have to whole-heartedly agree, I'm already itching to get more. The question is, what next?

Have you got any tattoos?

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