Tattoo 101: What is a tattoo and how does it work?

Permanent skin markings, that’s what tattoos are. In the old days, the only people you’d see wearing tattoos were those who were willing to risk society’s judgement. The old stereotype was that tattooed folks were more likely to do the devil’s bidding, or they were dumb and stupid, or they’re drug addicts and drunkards. Very, very negative image.

Tattoos become mainstream

Fortunately, things have started to look up in the last few decades. Tattoos are becoming more mainstream and you see more and more tattooed people out in the streets. They’re no longer hiding their ink, in fact, they flaunt it and post it on social media – so all the world can see!

We can thank athletes, movie stars, singers, and all celebrities who proudly pose with their tatts. They may have gotten it for one sentimental reason or another, or they got one just because. The point is that their followers are copying them, getting one tattoo after another. And that’s alright, because in the grand scheme of things, there’s nothing inherently wrong with choosing to get inked. It’s your skin and your body – you’re free to do whatever you want with it!

And you know what’s even more interesting about tattoo? 

Tattoos have been around for millennia. You can read up on Otzi the Iceman. He was discovered in 1991, carefully preserved in ice. He was so well preserved that scientists were able to ascertain that he had a total of 61 tattoos (61!!). Oh, and he lived between 3400 and 3100 BC, which makes him at least 5,000 years old! So, this essentially means tattooing has been going on for more than 5,000 years. Truly mind-blowing!

So how do tattoos work?

Well, in the old days, before the invention of the tattoo machine, people used whatever sharp-pointed implement they could get their hands on to prick their skin and deposit ash or pigment in. A small tattoo can take a couple of hours – one dot is one needle prick. Compare that to today’s efficiency – in one minute your skin is pricked hundreds of times! This makes the tattooing process much shorter than ever.

So, the way tattoos work is that once the pigment is deposited in the skin (the dermis layer, specifically) it lives there forever. But not everything will remain, however. Some will get broken down by the immune system and some will be broken down by the sun’s UV rays. This leads to tattoo fading over time. Moisturization and proper tattoo aftercare plays a key role in a tattoo’s longevity.

Conclusion

Now that you know what tattoos are, are you still planning on getting one? Don’t get a tattoo out of impulse. You need to think about it carefully. If possible, wait a week or a month, and see if you still want to get it by then. You don’t want to regret getting a tattoo. Removing it is going to be so much more painful, lengthy and expensive than getting a tattoo in the first place.s

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