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miley cyrus shows her tattoos

10 important things to consider before getting a tattoo or piercing

Have you ever been out in public and come across somebody with a truly horrendous tattoo or piercing? Something so ugly or illegible that you found yourself questioning how it even came to be a permanent feature of someone's body? It happens - and much more often than it should.

As somebody with a number of body modifications, I know a thing or two about tattoos and piercings. Some of them I had to learn the hard way, and some of them are really just common sense - but all of them are worth reading through if you're considering altering your body somehow.

1. Pain is inevitable 

Sticking needles in your skin is obviously going to smart a little bit, but as long as you know your own tolerance levels, you'll be fine. Just don't try to tough-out an eight-hour tattoo in a single session if it's going to cause you to pass out. It's not worth it.

woman cries out in pain as she gets a tattoo Credit: Getty Images

2. Placement is everything

A nipple piercing is going to sting more than an earlobe, and a large rib tattoo will hurt more than a little bit of tribal on your bicep. In a similar vein, certain designs will look better on particular body parts. Geometric designs typically look better on flatter areas of the body, for instance.

man with fully tattooed face shows split tongue Credit: Getty Images

3. Be sure of your design

If you're getting a tattoo, it's going to stay there forever, and if you're getting a piercing, it's likely to leave a scar even if you take it out. With this in mind, ask yourself: will I still like this in a year? What about 10 years? Would you be able to explain it to a stranger without being embarrassed? Oh, and most importantly - check your spelling, people!

baby with tattoo Credit: Getty Images

4. Listen to the person doing your body mod

Tattooers and body piercers have gone through a ton of training and practice to get to where they are. If they tell you that your piercing is going to look wonky, or your tattoo placement is a bad idea, take their advice. I'd recommend staying on their good side, too. It's not a wise idea to annoy someone whose job it is to stick pointy things in people.

tattooer puts ink on skin Credit: Getty Images

5. Look after your tattoos/piercings

Body modifications are essentially wounds, and they need caring for just like any other scratch or scrape. When the tattoo or piercing is healing, keep it clean and follow the artist's advice on how to take care of it. Even once they've healed up, body mods will need some upkeep to ensure they stay looking perfect - so take this into careful consideration when you make your decision.

back tattoo Credit: Getty Images

6. Be prepared to pay big bucks

Tattoos are like cars: the more you're willing to spend, the better the model you'll get. The same principle applies to piercings - you wouldn't go to a friend for surgery, so don't go to them for any other invasive procedure. It's not worth saving a few dollars if it results in you getting a design or a piercing that you hate. Good art comes at a price.

bad tattoo Credit: Imgur

7. Don't steal designs

This one applies more to tattoos than piercings, but it's useful to consider. When picking a tattoo, classic images like skulls or roses are obviously fair game, but don't ask for an exact copy of someone else's unique design. It's disrespectful to whoever has the original, and a decent tattooer would refuse to copy another artist's work anyway.

three people with the same tattoo Credit: Getty Images

8. Consider the consequences

Tattoos or piercings on your face, neck or hands may prevent you from working in certain industries - so think before you ink. You'll also need to accept the possibility that you might end up hating your design in 20 years. If you can do that, go ahead.

love tattoo on knuckles Credit: Getty Images

9. Have some common sense

Don't get your partner's name tattooed on your face if you've only been together for two weeks. Just don't.

man with bad face tattoos Credit: Imgur

10. Above all else, remember that your body belongs to you

Yes, this sort of contradicts some of the other points - but it still needs mentioning. Don't feel pressured into getting or not getting something because of somebody else's decision; the choice should be yours, and yours alone.

miley cyrus shows her tattoos Credit: Getty Images

So, if you've read through all this and you're still set on getting some work done, go for it! Just don't blame someone else if you end up hating what you get.