When one is contemplating on getting a tattoo they should take the time to connect with a tattoo artist. A tattoo is a permanent work of art which takes several steps to achieve what you are desiring. Those several steps could include multiply visits and maybe even a touch up or two. Over time you may need to meet up with your tattoo artist again so they can brighten up the colors or just add-on to your tattoo. You will have a more enjoyable outcome from an over-time relationship then a quick “one-night stand” tattoo. It appears that most of the regretted tattoos are from an impromptu visit to a tattoo shop with no pre-thought on what is wanted. This results in a rushed pick from a tattoo flash book and no extra attention or detail is taken. Since no relationship was formed you might find it hard to ask for a touch up … everyone knows how awkward a one-night stand is 😉
So, “How far does the tattoo needle and ink go into the skin?” …. This question comes up quite often in conversations. It is hard to explain, unless you can see the breakdown of all the different layers. The above picture lays it out very clear and helps answer that question.
The skin has a total of 3 layers: Epidermis (composed of 5 sub-layers), Dermis, and Subcutaneous tissue. The tattoo needle and ink should penetrate into the Dermis layer. If the depth is too shallow, the tattoo ink will “bleed out”. This is due to the fact that the Epidermis layer is constantly growing outwards which would take any ink that was deposited into that layer with it. If the depth is too deep it will cause unnecessary pain and run the risk of infection.
The Dermis layer of skin is between 1mm and 2mm into the skin. The tattoo needles and machine are adjusted accordingly. Once the tattoo needles have been set and adjusted the tip of the needle should not be sticking out anymore than 2mm and no less than 1mm.
I am continually getting asked, “How do I take care of my new tattoo?”. I am glad that my clients continue to ask this very important question, because it is a key aspect in ensuring that your new tattoo heals fast and appropriately. The following is a copy of what each one of my clients receives in their aftercare packet. (It may seem like a lot of information all at once, but believe me it will come in handy once you head home from getting your new tattoo.)
Tattoo Aftercare Instructions:
If a bandage was applied remove it after one to two hours. All wounds need to breathe if they are to heal properly.
Wash the tattoo using a mild antibacterial soap (such as Dial) and warm water. Take care to remove all traces of blood and plasma as this will cause scabbing. Do not scrub the tattoo with a washcloth during the two week healing period. Pat it dry with a clean, soft cloth or paper towel and leave it alone for about 20 minutes, basically until it starts to feel like the skin is a little tight and dry. This allows for excess moisture from the swelling under the skin as well as moisture introduced by washing the tattoo to evaporate out. It’s very important to let your tattoo “breathe” like this any time you get it wet before it gets into the peeling stage.
Once dry, apply a very thin coat of ointment to the tattoo. We recommend using Vitamin A&D as ointment, or other such tattoo aftercare products. Only use enough to make it shine, a little goes a long way. Too much ointment traps germs into your new tattoo which can potentially lead to infection. Just a dab will do. Work it in well. Dab off all the excess with a paper towel. There should be just enough to keep the tattoo moist and to keep it from scabbing. Do not re-bandage the tattoo.
Repeat the cycle of washing, drying, and applying ointment to the tattoo about 3-4 times per day for the first 3 days (while the tattoo feels tender).
Ointment can be applied whenever the tattoo is feeling stiff or dry but beware of over-moisturizing. Your body will absorb what it needs where it needs it. Apply ointment twice a day for two to three days then switch to a regular unscented moisturizer like Tattoo Goo Lotions or something over the counter such as Eucerin, Lubriderm, Curel, or Jergens. Apply moisturizer twice a day for the remainder of two weeks. Do not use lotions that contain color or fragrance at all until the healing is complete. (Usually anywhere from ten days to two weeks; Possibly longer for slower healers.)
You must keep your tattoo moisturized! When the tattoo is kept moist it doesn’t have a chance to form a scab but does form a thin membrane to protect the tattoo while it heals. This layer peels off very similar to a sunburn (do not peel your tattoo, you will pull the ink out!) and it is perfectly normal to see small flakes of colored skin falling off during this stage of healing.
You must keep your tattoo clean! However, long showers or baths must be avoided for 2 weeks. Prolonged soaking can and will loosen scabs if any have formed, or will soak through the soft tissue turning it into a soggy mess and cause your ink to flow down the drain. This includes swimming in the Ocean or a Pool, Hot Tubs, and Saunas. Short showers are best, under ten minutes if possible.
Please refrain from scratching or picking at the tattoo. Scrubbing with a washcloth can be very harsh on a tattoo and will cause your colors to fade. Disrupting the tattoo while it’s healing can also cause scar tissue. It is normal for the tattoo to become very itchy during the healing time. Just remember not to pick or scratch no matter what!
Remember, the sun is BAD for your tattoo! Whether the tattoo is new or old, if you want it to look nice and heal properly, keep it out of the sun. A sunburn on a new tattoo can cause a lot of problems. It will dry out your tattoo and could cause it to form a horrendous scab resulting in fading before it is even healed. It will also take much longer to heal completely and promotes scarring in a new tattoo. Wait until it is fully healed to go back in the sun or a tanning bed and make sure you put on a high quality sunblock. Never put sunblock on a tattoo that is still healing. Wait until it is fully healed before going into the sun.
Following all of these simple steps will ensure that you end up with the best result with minimal complications and your tattoo will stay looking bright and beautiful for many years to come.
It is hard to put into words just how it feels right after you get your 1st tattoo. That overwhelming excitement and relief that you were brave enough. And not to mention the uncontrollable urge to keep looking at your new art piece that will be with you forever. It’s a great reminder of who you are and where you’ve been.
Most of my clients already have the next tattoo idea stirring in their minds before the new tattoo is even completed. There is something in the process, the smell, the sounds, the pain, and the commitment that make it addicting. Tattoos are not just for the younger generation. There are so many different styles of tattoos and tattooing that appeal to all ages. But remember once you start you can’t stop ….. Tattoo’s are highly addictive!
I am so blessed to have such wonderful clients. The tattoo process is a journey and should be taken seriously. It is a time for the client to express their thoughts/ideas on the tattoo they are wanting. Whether it is for fun, memorial, art, etc…. the tattoo artist and client will be working closely together to come up with the perfect design. During this time I have been blessed with a chance to establish a lifetime bond and friendship with my clients.
Ink Gypsy Tattoo Studio is located on The Big Island of Hawaii.
- Licensed in Hawaii (license#2819)
- Specializing in custom tattoos
- By appointment only