How Tattoos Work

This article explains how tattoo ink is injected into the skin and why it will not wash away.

Tattoos can be placed anywhere on the human body. Some people prefer large, detailed artworks while others may choose a small picture or word. Some tattoos are simple and quick while others are complex artworks that take hours to complete. People get tattoos for many different reasons. Some people get them to express their individuality and others get them to identify themselves as part of a group. Some get them to mark an event or special time in their life or to pay tribute to a person or memory. Tattoos are highly personal and say something about the person wearing them. Tattoos have been around for thousands of years and are still popular in modern times.

The process of getting a tattoo is essentially the same as it has always been, though the technology has evolved over the centuries. It is believed that early tattoo inks were injected into the skin with sharpened pieces of bone. Tattoo guns of today can puncture the skin up to 30,000 times a minute. These guns are all relatively simple and can be made at home. A tattoo gun has a small motor that powers a needle in a vertical motion to deposit ink underneath the epidermis.

The inks used today can come in almost any shade you wish to use. Intensity of color will depend highly on the skill of the tattoo artist and the shade of your skin. Those with darker skin tones will have a harder time achieving true and vivid color. The ink is placed into the dermis by the needle. The dermis is located underneath the epidermis. The epidermis is the layer of skin that protects us. Humans shed many layers of epidermis each day. If the ink were injected into this layer, it would quickly wear away. The dermis is a more stable layer of skin that will remain throughout your lifetime. When ink is injected into this layer it remains were it is injected. The tattoo may show some fading throughout your lifetime, but is considered permanent.



The needle rapidly goes in and out of the skin depositing little dots of ink. The ink is stored above the needle. It catches a bit of ink on each upward motion and then deposits the ink underneath the skin upon injection of the needle. These dots come together to form the tattoo image. The skin should be help taunt while the process is underway or the image may be skewed and the ink may pool too much in one spot. Tattoos can be put on skin that has scars or stretch marks with varying results. However new scars or stretch marks will mar your tattoo after it has been applied.

Though the ink will stay in your skin, you must heal properly or some of the ink may bleed out. For best results, do not drink before you go in for a tattoo. Alcohol will thin your blood and you will bleed more during the process. Avoid sunlight beforehand and drink plenty of fluids. After you have gotten your tattoo, pay close attention to what your tattoo artist tells you about proper care of your new artwork. Leave your bandage on for at least six hours, but not much longer than that. Clean the tattoo carefully and pat dry. Do not rub. Use small amounts of fragrance-free lotion to keep the area moist for up to two weeks. This will help the skin stay moist and healthy. Keep the tattoo exposed to the air while it is still healing. Do not go swimming or submerge your tattoo in water. Use the shower instead of the tub. Keep your new tattoo out of direct sunlight to prevent fading. This is good advice for the life of your tattoo. Any sun exposure will cause fading over time. Do not itch or pick at your tattoo as it heals. This can cause scarring that will ruin the look of your new tattoo.

Remember that tattoos are permanent and they will be with you for life. There are methods available for removal but they can be expensive. Most techniques for tattoo removal will leave some amount of scarring. Always be sure of your decision before getting any artwork done on your body.

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