Tattoos are cool and it seems that almost everyone has them nowadays.
But the ink is applied using needles.
Let’s face it, there’s nothing wrong with being scared of needles. They’re sharp and they literally get under your skin, which as we’ve evolved would be a good reason to avoid them. There are lots of plants with needles that do anything from hurt us to poison us. So if you’re afraid of sharp objects being put into you, you’re normal.
But that doesn’t help when you actually want needles to be used on you.
So how can you get a tattoo if you’re afraid of needles?
Tattoos are different from injections that you have for health reasons. Those are over in the blink of an eye and you can look the other way and pretend they’re not happening (that’s what I do and I usually have to be told the injection has happened).
But with a tattoo, the process lasts a lot longer.
Start small and simple
The size and complexity of your chosen tattoo will obviously affect how long it will take to create.
This is a standard method of overcoming any phobia – you build up your tolerance to it gradually. A bit like the cliche of feel the fear but do it anyway.
There’s nothing wrong with starting small and there are a lot of benefits.
You could also choose a design that works in both outline and full colour. That way, you could get the tattoo completed in more than one session. That won’t cut the overall time taken for the tattoo but it will reduce the time per session, giving you chance to build up your tolerance.
It’s not a medical needle
A tattoo needle is very different from the type of needle your doctor uses.
It doesn’t look the same – it’s closer to being a pen that an artist would use to draw on you, with the obvious difference that the ink doesn’t wash off and will be with you for the rest of your life.
If you’re uncertain, talk to your tattoo artist before booking an appointment – around one in every five people have a fear of needles, so it won’t be the first time they’ve dealt with this. And if they won’t have a chat with you to reassure you, choose a different artist.
It’s only skin deep
A tattoo needle doesn’t go anywhere near as deep as a medical needle.
The flip side to this is that it doesn’t just go into your skin once – in a lot of respects, it’s closer to an ink jet printer in that you’ll have thousands of tiny pin pricks during the course of the tattoo being drawn.
But you will feel some pain – there’s no logic as to how much (hopefully not much at all) and you can have different reactions to similar size tattoos on different occasions. But the pain doesn’t last long and it’s worth it when the design is finished, ready for the world to view.
Remember to breathe
If the idea of a needle coming anywhere near you causes you to clench your fists, turning your knuckles white and generally tense up, that’s normal.
Concentrating on your breathing is a good way to reduce that tension.
Take some nice, long, deep breaths in and out. And start to chill.
Talk to your artist
Talking helps distract us from things.
Hairdressers do it all the time and your tattoo artist will probably be more than happy to chat whilst they’re working on you.
The topic of the conversation is less important than the fact it’s happening because it will take your mind off the idea of needles.
Ask for the area to be numbed
In much the same way as a doctor will apply a numbing agent when they give you a jab, most tattoo parlours can do the same.
But you need to ask them to do this – they don’t always remember to ask if you want it, maybe because they’re so used to repeat customers who have built up their immunity to the process.
Hypnosis works well for fears – it helps your subconscious mind deal with the things that are concerning it.
It’s easy to do – just download an audio and play it to yourself.
If that sounds like a plan, check out this hypnosis audio that’s purpose written to help overcome your fear of needles.