Tattoos are a way to express one’s creativity and story. They can also be for commemorating our experiences or our loved ones (maybe not your SO because who knows how long you’ll last?). In any case, getting inked is something that requires a lot of thought, because not only will it cost you money, it’s also pretty much permanent.
Here’s a guide to cover the basic things you need to know before getting inked.
How does it happen?
Your skin has several layers. The epidermis is the outermost layer, and it acts like a window over the tattoo.
The dermis, 1 or 2 millimeters below the epidermis, is the target area of the needle. The needle will inject the ink there, and your antibodies will trap it in place. (The ink will blur if the needle touches the subcutaneous fat.)
The needle can pierce the skin up to 3,000 times per minute. Usually three needles are used to draw the outline of the tattoo. For coloring or shading it, a bigger group of needles are used. The needles are spread in a row, like the ends of a paintbrush.
Does getting a tattoo hurt?
It depends on your pain tolerance. But generally:
1. Getting tattoos on areas with soft skin hurt a lot more.
2. The fewer the needles, the more it'll hurt.
Is it safe?
If it’s done by a certified tattoo artist in a sanitary studio (as clean as a doctor’s or dentist’s office), it’s safe. You should still check the place out before actually getting a tattoo there to make sure. Also, ask about the sterilization procedures.
What are some possible designs?
Photorealist. As the name suggests, this gives you realistic images.
Biomechanical. This involves machines or robot-like parts mixed with biological or natural elements.
Surrealist. This is usually your fantastical image. It’s very dreamlike or nightmarish.
Fine line black and gray. This is like your sketch with a lot of shading. You can think of it as having a non-colored comic book feel.
Tribal. It’s composed of geometrical patterns.
Asian. This usually has images particular to Asia, such as cherry or plum blossoms, dragons, and kois.
Does my tattoo have to be original?
Tattoo lovers who advocate self-expression would advise you to get something original. That means doing your own research of tattoo artists and styles. You can even collaborate with an artist to come up with a design that’s really “you”; just make sure you have an idea of what you want.
But if you don’t mind having that generic bird or feather design you see on Tumblr or Pinterest, you can go right ahead. It’s what your tattoo means to you that counts the most.
On which body part should I have the tattoo?
Sun exposure fades tattoos. If you want to prevent premature fading or color spreading, have them in an area that won’t be exposed too much. Under the sun a lot? Use sunscreen.
Tattoos can lose their shape as you age or bulk up. It might be better to have them on bonier areas than on fleshier ones. They can also become a bit distorted when they’re on parts you always use, like your hands.
Is getting a tattoo expensive?
The price varies from artist to artist and parlor to parlor. The starting price is around P1,000.00, and that’s usually for a small, non-colored tattoo.
Could I get an allergic reaction?
It’s rare. If you’re allergic to some makeup products like eyeshadow, ask your tattoo artist if an allergic reaction is likely to happen.
If you’re keloidal, you’re at risk of getting keloids from a tattoo. (It’s not advisable to get a tattoo if you are; you might just get scars where the ink is at.)
Do I have to do anything before getting one?
Once you’ve settled with a design and you’re getting a tattoo in a matter of days, abstain from alcohol at least 24 hours before your appointment. Make sure you’ve eaten well, but still bring a snack. Getting a tattoo takes a loooong time.
What do I do once I've gotten my tattoo?
Moisturize the area several times a day. Stay away from swimming pools and hot tubs for at least a month, and shield your tattoo from the sun. For other aftercare tips, ask your tattoo artist.
What if I want to remove it?
There are three ways to do it:
Surgery. The tattoo is cut from the skin.
Abrasion. The epidermis is sanded down until the dermis with salt or a rotating brush.
Lasers. High-intensity light breaks the ink apart to be absorbed by the body.
As of now, tattoo removal is expensive (at least P5,000) and still leaves some scars.
Follow Stephanie on Twitter.