Frequently Asked Questions
The long history of tattooing is colorful (pun intended!) and steeped in mystery and mythology—yet the mechanics and biology of inking your skin are straightforward and practical. Here are some of the most frequently-asked questions of tattoo artists, but don’t ever be shy about asking your tattoo artist anything you want to know: You should feel safe, secure, and excited about the artwork you’re going to create together…
What is a tattoo, exactly? How does it work?
The ancient art of tattooing takes advantage of the particular way in which our skin repairs itself. If the skin is broken, the body will work to close over the break, even if there is a foreign particle in the cut. (This is why cleaning a wound is so important: If you don’t get foreign matter out of the wound, it will be trapped there.)
Perhaps you’ve had the experience of jabbing yourself with a sharp pencil. The graphite inserted in the puncture can remain as a dark spot under your skin for the rest of your life.
Tattooing is exactly the same: The tattoo artist uses small, sharp needles to scratch a tiny bit of ink into the top layer of your skin. As the skin heals, it covers over the ink, which remains lodged under the surface. When you see someone’s healed tattoo, you are actually seeing a layer of color underneath the skin. This is why tattoos are very hard to “remove” and why choosing your artwork is so important: The top layers of skin holding the ink must cut or burned away, which means that your skin must then replace them with scar tissue.
Is tattooing safe?
At Divine Image Ink, our tattoo artists have your physical safety and well-being as their top priority.
- The tattooing station and its chairs are regularly cleaned and disinfected.
- The part of your body that is to be tattooed will be isolated from the chair by plastic wrap.
- The work surface that holds the ink is covered with the same material as a dentist’s tray.
- All needles are medically sterilized and removed from their packaging, so that you can see them.
- The artist wears surgical gloves, which he changes regularly, to ensure that you are protected from bacteria on his hands.
- The inks are nontoxic, and allergic reactions to them, while possible, are extremely rare.
While no procedure that involves the breaking of the skin can be considered completely free of risk, every reasonable precaution will be taken to prevent infection or a poor reaction to the process. Please do raise any concern you may have with your artist before beginning your tattoo.
Does tattooing hurt?
Yes…a little. A tattoo is made by scraping a tiny amount of ink into the top layer of your skin. The needles must break the skin, but it usually doesn’t bleed. When positioned on sensitive areas of the body, such as the inner arm, the needle’s scraping will burn a little more than if it were on the outer arm, but clients generally consider the pain bearable, and your artist will give you breaks if you need it. But look at it this way: No pain, no art…
How do I take care of my new tattoo?
Aftercare is probably the most important step in the tattooing process, and your artist will give you detailed instructions at the end of your tattooing session. In general terms, however, here is what you should do:
- At the end of your session, your tattoo is likely to be a little bumpy, red, and perhaps a bit swollen. This is normal, quite temporary, and signifies the beginning of your healing process.
- Your artist will apply a dressing to protect your tattoo between the time you leave the studio and the time you return home. Leave the wrapping on for an hour or so, but after that, you can take it off.
- It is vital, however, that your skin be kept clean, but not be allowed to dry out. Wash the tattoo twice a day with a mild, fragrance-free soap, pat it dry with a clean towel, and spread a thin layer of first-aid ointment (but not antibiotic ointment).
- After the first few days of healing, you can continue to moisturize the tattooed area twice a day with a fragrance-free body lotion. Protect your new tattoo from abrasions.
- Sometimes your tattoo may develop a scab. Do not break the skin or try to remove the scab, as some of the tattoo ink can come away with it, leaving a hole in the middle of your artwork.
How long will it take for my tattoo to heal?
Everyone’s body and healing processes are different, and size and density of the tattoo also plays a part. If you are in good physical health, supported by good nutrition, then a tattoo can take as little as a few days to heal. Others can take longer.
Initially, your fresh tattoo may burn, a lot like a sunburn, especially when you bathe. It is critical that you follow your artist’s instructions for after-care closely: For the first day or so, clean your new tattoo with anti-bacterial soap and warm water, and cover it with a basic first-aid ointment.
As it heals, the top layer of skin will start to peel, also like a sunburn. This means the healing is almost complete. Even if you heal rapidly, however, make sure to moisturize your skin to ensure that the new skin over the tattoo ink heals smoothly and completely.
What if I’m allergic to my tattoo?
Allergic reactions to tattooing inks are extremely rare, but they can happen. Some pigments in the red range are more prone to cause a reaction than other colors. As with any chemicals one might use on one’s skin, like make-up or hair coloring, you can conduct a test in a tiny, inconspicuous spot on your body before your tattoo. This might be advisable if your skin is particularly sensitive to such things.
Will my tattoo fade? Why, and what can I do about it?
Tattoos fade over time. It’s sad, but there it is.
First, tattoos fade because of the body’s natural renewal processes. The ink residue that was trapped in the skin when your tattoo was originally drawn is gradually replaced by new cells, so look at it this way: If your tattoos are fading a little, it’s because your skin is healthy.
Tattoos also fade, however, because of exposure to light. All colors fade to one degree or another when exposed to bright sunlight over time. Even priceless oil paintings must be kept out of bright light in art museums to maintain their true colors.
SO…How can we keep those bright colors bright and those darks dark?
High-quality, colorfast inks
At Divine Image Ink, we always use the most colorfast pigments available, so you’ll be starting out with the best tattoo ink possible. After that, though, it’s up to you: Always follow your tattoo artist’s instructions to ensure that your tattoo heals smoothly and completely. Good after-care is the best way to make sure your art gives you a lifetime of satisfaction.
Always protect your skin from UV
After healing, though, always use high-protection sunscreen whenever your skin is exposed to sunlight. Not only will it keep your tattoos clear and strong, it will help prevent skin cancer, so that you can live longer to enjoy your body art. Love your skin; keep it protected from UV radiation.