Tattoos have been around for thousands of years. Whether plain or elaborate they have served as personal symbols, status symbols, declarations of love and signs of religious beliefs.
How does it work?
When you get a tattoo, dye is injected into your skin using small needles that puncture the skin at speed. The needles penetrate past the epidermis (outer layer of the skin) into the underlying dermis. This leaves behind pigment on the area.
Your dermis is made up of collagen fibres, nerves, sweat glands, sebaceous glands, blood vessels and basically everything that keeps skin connected to the rest of the body.
So every time the needle penetrates, it causes a wound in the skin and alerts the body to begin the inflammatory process which is the skin’s way to deal with ‘danger’. Cells of the immune system then travel to the wound site and begin to repair the skin.
What to expect
- Keep a good level of communication between you and the artist, that way everything is clear from the get-go.
- The artist will apply a stencil to the area you’re going to have tattooed to ensure the size and angle is exactly right.
- The first needlework will be the outline which is done with a loaded tattoo gun and a liner needle.
- Next, he’ll probably rinse your tattoo area and will then use broader needles to shade your tattoo.
- Once the tattoo is completely inked, it will be washed and covered with a sterile bandage. Expect some slight bleeding during and after the process.
After getting your tattoo, get precise instructions for aftercare. Follow these steps while your new tattoo heals.
Healing time can vary from person to person, but it generally takes about two weeks.
- Your artist should cover your new tattoo in a thin layer of petroleum jelly or unscented cream and a bandage.
- Remove the bandage after 24 hours. Use lukewarm water and mild, liquid antibacterial or antimicrobial soap to gently remove any ointment or blood to completely clean the area and pat dry.
- Apply a layer of antibacterial ointment twice a day, but don’t put on another bandage.
- Gently wash your tattoo area several times a day with soap and water and gently pat dry.
- Keep applying a moisturiser or ointment after you clean it to keep it moist. Repeat this process for two to four weeks.
- Avoid wearing clothes that will stick to your tattoo, as well as sleeping on it so you don’t agitate the healing process. Avoid swimming in the sun for about two weeks.
- Take cool showers. Scorching hot water will hurt and may fade the ink.
Good to know
If your tattoo develops hard layers or scabs, don’t stress. It’s normal. Never pick, scratch, or peel it as you could get an infection or remove the colour. If you think your tattoo is infected or isn’t healing properly, see your doctor.
Sun exposure can mess with your tattoo. Avoid the sun rays during the healing process. Soon after that, always use sunblock to protect it.
Keep your hands clean. This is as important as keeping your tattoo clean, as your hands can introduce bacteria to your tattoo. Remember; never touch your tattoo unless you have just washed your hands!