Tattoos: The mystery behind the process

Does the thought of getting a tattoo make you a little nervous, but curious?

It seems like everyone has them. Tattoos. Ink. Artwork. Whatever you want to call them, they’re permanent and they’re drawn by poking inky, sharp needles into your skin – a lot! Does the thought of getting a tattoo make you a little nervous, but curious?

Choosing a tattoo

Before you make an appointment, or step into a tattoo parlor be very sure of what you want. Getting a tattoo shouldn’t be a spur of the moment activity. Research, browse, and think about your design for months before making the commitment. After all, either you’ll be admiring the artwork for the rest of your life, or you’ll be going for expensive laser removal when you begin to regret getting it.

Prepping the skin

Once you’ve fallen in love with a design, it’s time to go to the tattoo parlor and get down to business. The first step is cleansing your skin. The tattoo artist will prep the skin with antibacterial soap and water. Then, a final swipe or two with an isopropyl alcohol wipe sanitizes the area.

Next comes the razor. Since nearly every surface of your body grows at least a little hair, the area will be shaved. Finally, expect the tattoo artist to apply an outline transfer of your design on your skin. Make sure the positioning is perfect and you’re 100 percent happy with the design. Changes can still be made at this point in the tattoo process.

What’s it feel like to get a tattoo?

After giving the tattoo artist the thumbs on up on positioning and style of tattoo, the inking will begin. The tattoo gun uses a series of needles to push the ink down into your skin. At first the needles feel like a series of bee stings. As the process continues, the skin becomes slightly numb to the sensation, making it feel more like pressure than stinging. It’s normal to ask the artist to take a few breaks from working on the tattoo.

The healing process

Once the artwork is finished, take a good look and snap a few photos. It’s normal to see a few beads of blood in the design and red skin surrounding the inked area.

Before you leave the tattoo shop, the artwork will be coated with a thick salve to keep the skin moist and protected from infection. Finally, the area will be covered with a bandage so the healing can begin. Depending on the complexity, size, and number of tattoos, the bandage will stay on a few days to a week. The tattoo shop will give you follow up care instructions and tips on how to shower with the new body art.

After the skin has healed, it’s time to show off your new artwork! Remember when you’re on the beach that tattooed areas can sunburn, so use sunblock each time the area is exposed.