Tattooing 101: Everything About Inking – Explained!

A traditional style tattoo of an antique gramophone

Most first-time inkers (and some pros!) tend to get nervous before getting inked. It’s normal to have difficulty staying calm before you get your tattoo as well as during your session.

You probably have many questions and concerns.

Some of you might even be holding off on booking your appointment because you’re worried about pain or are scared of needles or blood.

Well, we’re here to help! Let’s talk inking!

 

Understanding Tattooing

 

What is a Tattoo?

Tattoos are a form of body art or modification that involves poking ink into the surface layers of the skin.

Though often thought of as a modern invention, humans have actually been tattooing for centuries!

Want to know more about tattoo history? Check these blogs out:

 

How Does Tattooing Work?

Tattooing works by lightly damaging the outer layers of the skin and injecting ink into these layers.

A tattoo needle is used to poke ink into the second layer of the skin (called the dermis, which is just below the epidermis or the outer visible layer).

 

Why is a Tattoo Permanent?

As mentioned above, tattoo ink is placed in the dermis, so it doesn’t wash away easily.

This layer of skin doesn’t shed either, so it is unlikely that the tattoo ink will disappear once it is fully healed.

Tattoo ink itself is made up of particles that are larger than what your white blood cells (which target foreign ‘invaders’ in the body and protect us from infection and disease) can eat up.

So while your skin heals from being poked by a tattoo needle, the ink stays right where it was placed.

And that’s why tattoos are permanent!

 

What if I got a bad tattoo? Can it be fixed?

Luckily, even though tattoo ink is permanent it is definitely possible to fix or remove a bad tattoo!

If you want to simply fix it, you can get a cover-up tattoo done, which as the name implies involves getting a new tattoo done over the bad tattoo.

Check out this awesome cover-up tattoo from Verve Studio!

Cover up of an old faded tattoo with East Asian themed tattoo by Verve Tattoo Studio
Cover-up by Verve

If you want to get your tattoo removed, however, laser tattoo removal is an option.

 

How does laser tattoo removal work?

If tattoos are permanent, how is it possible to remove them – right?

Well, lasers emit a very powerful light that, without harming the skin, enters your body and is absorbed by the ink particles.

The light gets converted into heat as it is absorbed by the skin, and this sudden rise in temperature breaks down the tattoo ink making it easier for the white blood cells to eat them up.

Check out this video from Smarter Every Day that demonstrates why tattoos are permanent and how laser tattoo removal works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, this is not a simple process since it takes a few sessions to get all the ink to fully break down. The process is also quite expensive and notoriously painful.

Newer methods, however, are being researched that reduce both the pain and the number of sessions required, making it much more cost-effective to get a tattoo removed.

 

Does tattooing damage the skin permanently?

While our skin does get damaged during tattooing as a necessary part of the process, the damage should not be permanent. But this depends on certain factors.

Firstly, you have to follow proper tattoo care procedures.

This process starts at least 48 hours before you get inked, and continues for 2-4 weeks after – while your tattoo is healing.

If your tattoo heals correctly, you’re unlikely to face any issues in the future, including permanent skin damage.

Not sure how to care for your new tattoo? Check out The Jhaiho Tattoo Care Guide

Secondly, the skill and experience of your tattoo artist matter.

A good artist understands skin, and they know how to work their way around their canvas without scarring it for life.

Thirdly, the quality of the tattoo ink is important.

Ink of lower quality could lead to scarring and thus cause permanent damage to your skin. Good quality ink spreads less during inking, fades less after the tattoo heals, is less likely to cause patchy healing, and will decrease the risk of infections.

Additionally, top brands formulate inks with quality ingredients, usually organic, that encourage faster healing.

Want to know more about tattoo ink? Check out Tattooing 101: What’s in my Ink?

 

Can skin damage occur after the tattoo is healed?

Inking can sometimes result in bruising – which is when the skin swells and raises up a bit.

This is normal and expected for larger pieces with lots of detailing.

Bruising should subside within the first week of healing, but it might take another week or so for larger detailed pieces (as well as for people that heal a bit slower).

Generally, you won’t experience any issues after the tattoo is fully healed, but some people find the skin on their tattoo raises again from time to time.

This usually subsides within a few days, but it is recommended you follow the same aftercare procedures just for safety!

If, however, it seems like more than bruising and you’re worried about an infection, get your tattoo looked at by a tattoo artist or a dermatologist.

 

Tattoo Equipment

Does tattooing use specific equipment?

Yes!

From ink to needles and tattoo machines, everything used in the inking process is specific to tattooing.

Materials and equipment used for tattooing

 

What kind of equipment and materials do tattoo artists use?

The standard equipment for tattooing is a tattoo machine within which the tattoo needle is placed.

Besides this, a good studio will also have proper tattoo chairs and beds, appropriate tattoo materials such as gels and ointments required during and after inking, and materials to ensure proper hygiene is maintained – including gloves, face masks, wrapping to ensure the tattoo equipment doesn’t get dirty, etc.

They will also use proper aftercare materials, including aftercare soap and lotion and a wrap to keep your tattoo safe right after you get inked.

 

How deep into the skin does a tattoo needle go?

Tattoo in session
Tattoo needles close up in slow motion

Most people imagine a tattoo needle going as deep into the skin as an injection. We’re here to tell you this is not at all what a tattoo needle is like!

Though they appear to be quite long, most of the needle sits within the tattoo machine itself. Only about 1-2 millimetres of it stick out of the end of the machine, which is exactly how deep the dermis layer of your skin is.

This is important because if the needle goes deeper than this it will cause damage and excess bleeding, while if it is too shallow the ink won’t penetrate and will “bleed out” while healing, resulting in a patchy tattoo.

An experienced artist will know exactly how deep the needle needs to go and will adjust their technique while tattooing.

If it’s the sight of needles that scares you – look away!

Keep yourself busy or distracted while getting inked and you probably won’t be too bothered by the needles after a while.

Listen to some music, read a book (if this is an option!), or bring a friend along to keep you company. After all, inking hurts a lot less when you’re relaxed!

 

How many needles are usually in a tattoo machine?

Machines are set up such that anything between 1 and 20 needles pokes your skin at an approximate rate of 10-15 needle drops per second.

Needles usually come in clusters.

Single needles are only used for very fine lining, while clusters are used for pretty much everything else. They come in 3s, 5s, 7s, all the way up to 35 and more, depending on what you are getting inked.

Needles also come in different shapes – flat, round, etc. – just like paintbrushes!

If the number of needles makes you anxious, don’t worry – you actually feel LESS discomfort when more needles are being used.

 

What is tattoo ink?

Tattoo inks are specially crafted inks used for cosmetic purposes.

These inks are subjected to rigorous testing and are approved for cosmetic use by bodies like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The top brands are also required to comply with quality standards and regulations local to where they are manufactured.

Want to know more about tattoo ink? Check out Tattooing 101: What’s in my Ink?

 

What is tattoo ink made of?

Tattoo inks are made of pigments, which give the ink its colour, and carriers, which keep the ink evenly dispersed and prevent contamination.

Originally, inks were made from organic ingredients, such as ochre.

Over time, the ingredients became more synthetic and recently more concerns have been raised about the more harmful ingredients, such as heavy metals.

Ink brands are well aware of this, though, and many of the top brands have begun shifting towards safer ingredients.

Read more about ink manufacturing and quality standards at Tattooing 101: What’s in my Ink?

 

Are tattoo inks harmful?

Inks are subjected to rigorous testing before being released into the market, but not all brands are top quality and not all regions regulate tattoo ink.

This is why it is important to ask your tattoo artist which inks they use, and ensure these inks are from a brand known from producing good quality inks.

Not sure which brands of ink are top quality? Find our list of top inks at Tattooing 101: What’s in my Ink?

 

Do vegan inks and tattoo parlours really exist?

Michelangelo Yellow tattoo ink by World Famous Tattoo Ink
WFTI’s Michelangelo Yellow

While brands do not reveal their exact formulations, most are moving towards organic inks with many brands opting for vegan ingredients.

As mentioned above, inks were originally made from organic pigments and these formulations were upgraded to make the inks safe for commercial sale and use.

With better advancements in the field, it has become easier to build stable organic formulations, and many top brands now sell vegan inks.

For many people with sensitive or allergy-prone skin, vegan inks are thought to be a great option.

But it is still advisable to check in with an artist or your doctor before you get inked to make sure your skin will not react to the ink.

There are also many tattoo shops and parlours that claim to be fully vegan.

Virgin Voyages launched the first at-sea tattoo parlour, Squid Ink, which claims to be vegan and has partnered with World Famous Tattoo Ink, who are known for their vegan inks.

This is a great start and steers the industry towards much safer practices.

Veganism is not limited to inks alone, though! So the claim of being a ‘vegan studio’ must extend beyond the ingredients in the ink a studio uses.

Until such a time when studios shift to sustainable practices and healthier materials beyond ink, however, we’re on the right track!

Interested in vegan inks and tattoo shops? Check out Going Green: Eco-Friendly Tattoo Studios and Vegan Inks

 

Can I give myself a tattoo with other types of ink?

Absolutely not!

Inks that are approved for cosmetic use are subjected to rigorous testing to ensure they are safe for use on skin.

There is no official body that regulates tattoo ink for the purpose of tattooing, but the top brands are tested and FDA-approved for cosmetic use, and they all adhere to strict regulations for manufacturing these inks.

All other inks are dangerous for use on skin – which makes them significantly worse to use IN skin!

DO NOT give yourself a tattoo unless you are a trained professional, and definitely do not do so with inks that are not meant for tattooing!

 

What about at-home tattoo kits?

These are often a subject for debate for one very important reason – you still need a skilled artist to ink your tattoo for you.

Tattooing requires experience and precision, and even if you use the highest quality materials, you still risk giving yourself a very bad tattoo if you do it yourself.

Tattoo placements are also inaccessible if you do it yourself, and it is harder to feel the skin and measure how deep your tattoo needle should go when you work on yourself.

Most professional artists don’t even tattoo themselves! So if you were thinking of inking at home – we would advise you to reconsider.

 

Should I get a white ink tattoo?

Well, that depends! If you love it and want one, you should definitely get it. But there are some things to keep in mind.

White ink tattoos fade more than other inks, and eventually will look more yellow or beige. For most people, they look a bit more like a scar.

Healing stages of white ink tattoos
How white ink looks after the tattoo heals

Additionally, white ink tattoos tend to hurt more for many people. See Do some inks hurt more than others? for more details.

If you don’t mind the pain or the fading, then go ahead and get a white ink tattoo! They’re still beautiful to look at, and make for very interesting looking tattoos.

 

What are UV inks and how do they work?

UV inks are used to create tattoos that can only be seen under a blacklight – meaning they are invisible at all other times.

They have a ‘glow in the dark’ effect, and are becoming increasingly popular among party-goers because these tattoos light up when the blacklights come on!

UV glow in the dark tattoos thhat are visible under a black light
UV Tattoos

The issue with UV inks, however, is that they are not approved for cosmetic use and there have been many cases of people having a bad reaction to the ink.

UV inks might also fade with excessive exposure to sunlight.

Due to this, many artists avoid using UV inks, which means it’s not easy to find an artist to ink your UV tattoo for you.

The tattoo industry is consistently upgrading its formulations and products, though, so safer UV inks are probably just around the corner!

 

What is a barcode tattoo?

Another popular kind of tattoo is one that can be scanned and linked to websites, social media accounts, certain products, etc., such as this Instagram barcode tattoo from Radiant Tattoos!

 

 

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Barcodes are some of the most popular of this type of tattoo.

These tattoos require an artist with superior skills because they need to be extremely precise with their inking.

Once inked, you can use a scanner app on your phone to scan the tattoo – and you’ll land on whatever page your code is meant to link to!

 

Are soundwave tattoos the same as barcode tattoos?

Some types of soundwave tattoos are simply patterns that, when scanned, link to the audio clip that has been pre-loaded into the scanning app.

These tattoos are patented by the app Skin Motion – which means you actually have to pay a subscription fee to use this app and to get a soundwave tattoo so eventually, it might become expensive to have to keep paying just to ‘play’ your tattoo!

 

Do electronic tattoos exist?

Yes!

This is an area that is still being researched, but at present we do have ‘biometric tattoos’ which are essentially stick-on patches that monitor your health, aka ‘wearable technology’.

In more recent years, this technology has been upgraded significantly, and we now have inks that change colour based on your physiological functions!

After all, it makes sense that a world with smartphones and smart everything else would also have ‘smart ink’!

A wearable health monitor

While not yet widely available, you might just see people walking around with these wearable health monitors and colour-changing inks pretty soon!

A biometric health-monitoring temporary tattoo
A colour-changing health-monitoring temporary tattoo

Want to learn more about biometric tattoos? Check out Biometric Tattoos: The future is now!

 

Can I have an allergic reaction to tattoo ink?

While not uncommon, you shouldn’t have a reaction if you went to a professional tattoo artist who uses good quality inks and sterilized equipment and maintains appropriate levels of hygiene in their studio.

Additionally, proper aftercare will ensure your tattoo heals correctly. Find out how to properly care for a healing tattoo at The Jhaiho Tattoo Care Guide.

If, however, you do have a reaction to the ink, it might be possible that you are allergic to some component in the ink formulation.

Visit your nearest dermatologist and get your tattoo checked immediately. They’ll prescribe antibiotics and after assessing your tattoo will advise you on the best course of treatment.

 

What are the best brands of tattoo ink?

There are many top brands in the market right now, all of which maintain the highest quality in their products.

Their inks are all FDA-approved for cosmetic use, and they maintain the highest standards when manufacturing their inks.

For a full list of top brands, visit Tattooing 101: What’s in my Ink?

 

Tattooing Styles and Specializations

How many kinds of tattoos exist?

Countless!

While the earliest styles of tattooing are now classified as ‘tribal’, the variations across the different cultures that inked these tattoos are very evident.

Even within a style as popular and widespread as tribal, there are countless variations.

Visit Tribal Tattoos: Traditional and modern inks to inspire you! for some tribal tattoo ideas!

Besides this, there are new styles of tattooing that continue to emerge, such as the more modern trash polka style.

In addition to this, placements that would have once been thought impossible are now becoming extremely popular!

Read more about tattoo styles at The Many Styles of Tattooing

 

What is the difference between traditional and neo-traditional tattoos?

Traditional styles of tattooing refer to the earlier styles popularized in the West, particularly America.

They were characterized by bold lines and bright colours, which drew from Polynesian tribal tattooing and Japanese traditional tattooing respectively.

These styles also often featured nautical symbols such as anchors, roses, and swallows. The reason for this was that traditional tattooing developed out of the love sailors had for inking, and they would get designs that were important to them and their profession.

Other popular designs, such as the Sailor Jerry pin-up girls also grew in popularity among sailors and eventually other groups in society.

A classic Sailor Jerry pin-up girl featuring a steering wheel and nautical phrase

These styles came to be collectively known as ‘classic‘ or ‘old-school American‘ tattooing.

Old-school American tattoo

For more on the histroy of tattooing, check out A Story of Ink: Where the art of tattooing began

Neo-traditional styles of tattooing draw on the same bold lines and bright colours but have evolved into something new with the addition of illustration, detailing, and grandeur.

These designs are much heavier than their predecessors, and often feature intricate floral patterns and animals.

Neo-traditional tattoo

From this style emerged another, called ‘new school‘ which uses similar elements as neo-traditional – combining traditional lines and colours with much grander imagery – but infuses it with more cartoon and animated elements, which reflects the 80s and early 90s when this style was born.

A new school tattoo of the Goddess Kali
Goddess Kali in a new school tattoo

 

What is the most popular style of tattooing?

There are a wide range of styles that are popular and many styles go in and out of fashion, only to come back again a few decades later.

And since styles are constantly being experimented with, we often get some stunning variations and combinations when tattoo styles come back into fashion!

Having said that, there are a few kinds of tattoos that never go out of style.

These include realism, blackwork, classic (or old-school), illustrative (or neo-traditional), tribal-inspired (specifically Maori), and traditional Japanese (or Irezumi).

A hyper-realism portrait tattoo of south Indian star Rajinikanth by tattoo artist Sanket Patel of Aliens Tattoos
Hyper-realism portrait of Rajinikanth by Sanket Patel (Aliens Tattoos)
A blackwork tattoo of a skull by Sculp Tattoo Studio
Blackwork Skull from Sculp Studio
A tribal blackwork tattoo featuring the elements as armbands by Birthmark Tattoo n' Customs
Tribal-inspired armbands featuring the elements from Birthmark Tattoo n’ Customs
A colourful realism tattoo by Birthmark Tattoo n' Customs
Irezumi-inspired tiger from Birthmark Tattoo n’ Customs

Currently, styles like brushstrokes, stippling (or dotwork), ornamental, and sketch-style are quite common, and some unique styles like sticker and trash polka are gaining in popularity.

A blackwork graffiti-style tattoo of a brushstroke over Japanese script by InkOverMatter
Graffiti brushstroke from InkOverMatter
An abstract dotwork tattoo of David and Goliath by tattoo artist Allan Gois of Aliens Tattoos
Abstract dotwork of David and Goliath by Allan Gois (Aliens Tattoos)
An ornamental sleeve tattoo from Verve Tattoo Studio
Ornamental Sleeve from Verve Studio
A detailed sketch-style deer tattoo by Ancient Tattoos
Sketch-style deer by Ancient Tattoos

 

 

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Tattoo Placement, Size, and Pain

 

Is it possible to get a tattoo on all parts of the body?

Yes, but some parts are a little less recommended for getting inked on.

Of the more common tattoo placements, anything above the wrist (on the hands) and below the ankle (on the feet) are not recommended because in addition to hurting a lot, these tattoos are going to fade a lot more than tattoos on other parts of your body.

Of the more uncommon areas to get inked, places like the eyeballs – yes, you can actually get these inked! – are not recommended because of the higher likelihood of infection (and potential blindness that could be caused by it).

Other less common areas to get inked on include places like the ears and earlobes, which are a painful spot to get a tattoo on but as likely to get infected or fade!

 

What are cosmetic tattoos? Are they permanent?

Cosmetic tattoos are essentially ‘permanent make-up‘ done on places like the eyebrows, eyelids, lips, etc.

While earlier versions were using ink that was permanent, modern cosmetic tattooing has begun to use pigments that allow for semi-permanent tattooing.

Be sure to ask the artist working on you what kind of ink they are using as well as how long the tattoo will last!

 

What size tattoo should I get?

The size of your tattoo is important for four reasons – design, placement, pain, and price.

A small tattoo usually cannot contain too much detail, unless you go to an artist that specializes in micro-realism.

A large design cannot be placed on spots like the fingers.

Check out The Jhaiho Tattoo Sizing Guide to figure out the best size for your tattoo!

Where you get your tattoo affects pain levels, while larger tattoos will usually hurt more as the tattoo session progresses.

And finally, most artists charge per square inch, so the larger and more detailed the tattoo you want, the more it will cost you.

So how do you measure the size of the tattoo you want to get? By checking out our handy sizing guide, of course!

 

Does it hurt to get a tattoo?

Yes. Unfortunately, no tattoo is truly ‘painless’.

It is well known that getting a tattoo is going to hurt. But how and why it hurts is often misunderstood, and pain levels vary based on a wide range of factors – from your own threshold for pain to the artist’s skills, to the placement, size, and detailing of your tattoo.

Check out The Jhaiho Tattoo Pain Guidefor more on tattoo pain and placements!

It is important to note that pain levels vary from person to person. That means two people getting the same tattoo might experience it very differently.

Pain also varies from one body part to another, so you won’t feel the same level of pain for two tattoos placed on different spots on your body.

Be sure to check out our pain guide to know more about pain levels when getting inked!

 

Does it hurt less to get inked on fleshy regions of the body?

Brief guide to tattoo pain levels
Most and least painful places to get a tattoo (Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com)

The common belief is that tattoos on fleshy areas hurt less and tattoos over bony areas hurt more. This is only partly true.

The reason getting inked over a bone hurts more is that the vibration is felt more strongly near a bone where the skin is thinner and the pain is felt more strongly.

What really impacts pain, though, is the presence of nerve endings – the more nerve endings in a spot, the more likely it is to hurt.

A better way to check how sensitive an area of your body might be is to close your eyes and run your fingers over it. If you feel ticklish or a tingling sensation, that part is more sensitive and will likely hurt more.

Areas where this sensation is dulled or you don’t feel anything at all will generally hurt less to get inked on.

So if pain is a factor for you, choose where you get your tattoo wisely! Areas like the head, feet, hands, inner arms, and torso tend to hurt more for most people.

Discuss the placement with your tattoo artist if you’re not sure about what will hurt more.

 

Do some tattoos hurt more than others?

Certain styles of tattooing hurt do more, but less because of the actual style of tattooing and more because of the type of design you’ve chosen.

Having said that, traditional styles of tattooing that use a stick-and-poke method will always hurt more regardless of design.

When it comes to design, styles like minimalism and geometric might hurt less than styles like realistic or blackwork.

Read more about tattoo styles at The Many Styles of Tattooing

The reason is simpler, smaller tattoos use more line work while larger more intricate pieces will also use detailing, shading, and a variety of inks and needles.

They also take much longer to complete, so your tolerance for the pain will decrease over the course of your tattoo session.

 

Do some inks hurt more than others?

Certain inks do increase the level of pain.

White inks, for instance, have a reputation of being way more painful than other inks.

There are two reasons for this – the first is that white ink doesn’t enter skin as easily as others, so it takes a few attempts to get the ink to show up on your skin.

The second is that white ink is usually used towards the end of a tattoo session while shading, by which point the endorphins your body released to help you cope with the pain are depleted and you’ll start to feel the pain a lot more.

Most artists also don’t recommend white inks because they discolour as they fade. Which means if you’re going to go through the pain to get one – be warned that it won’t look the same after it heals!

For more on white ink tattoos, see Should I get a white ink tattoo?

Red inks are also known to cause more allergic reactions than others, so if you are prone to allergic breakouts it’s best to avoid reds in your design.

 

How long does the pain last?

You might also be concerned about pain post-tattooing.

For most people, they will continue to feel a burning sensation and some amount of pain on the day they get inked. But this usually subsides over the first week.

If you get inked on a sensitive spot, get a large tattoo with extensive work done, or your artist is a bit heavy-handed, this pain might last up to two weeks or slightly more, depending on how fast your body heals.

It’s important to note, however, that the pain you feel post-inking should not be in any way debilitating. It should be more or less the same as healing from any other type of surface injury (such as a cut or burn).

If it hurts much more than this, you might need to check in with your artist or a dermatologist to make sure your tattoo is healing correctly.

For more on tattoo healing, check out The Jhaiho Tattoo Care Guide

 

Do we bleed when getting inked?

If you get squeamish at the sight of blood, that might be another reason you’re not ready to get inked yet.

Do we bleed during tattooing? Yes. A lot? Not usually.

Because of the way tattooing works, you will bleed a little – this is an important part of your aftercare process. Your body will rush blood and plasma to cover up your tattoo and encourage faster healing.

But how much you bleed depends on a few factors.

The first factor is how much you usually bleed from surface injuries. If you usually bleed more than the average person, it’s likely you’ll deal with a similar amount of bleeding while getting inked.

The second factor that affects bleeding is your artist’s skill. Generally, a good artist knows their way around tattoo needles and skin. This means they’ll know exactly how deep the needle should go and will adjust their technique accordingly.

The third factor is sobriety. Certain substances like alcohol, drugs, and some medications can thin your blood as well as lower your immunity.

This means you might bleed more than necessary and are more likely to feel tired or fall ill after getting inked, and your tattoo will also take longer to heal.

So stay sober before, during, and after a tattoo session!

If you’re on any medication or deal with any health issues that might impact how you bleed, make sure to let your artist know.

Visit The Jhaiho Tattoo Pain Guide to learn more about how tattoo needles and sobriety affect bleeding. For more on tattoo needles, check out Tattooing 101: Tattoo Machines & Materials.

 

Is it normal to feel tired or fall sick after getting a tattoo?

Because inking subjects your body to some amount of trauma, it’s very normal to feel a bit run down after a session, especially if it was a long one.

You might continue to feel tired for the rest of day one, which is why it is recommended you take it easy after getting a tattoo.

This is also why we don’t recommend getting inked right before or while you are travelling, unless you want to spend your vacation in your room or worse – at the hospital!

You’ll also likely experience a drop in your glucose levels since your body is sending blood to heal your wound.

Again, this is more likely if your tattoo is extensive and takes a long time to ink. Be sure to bring a snack and stay hydrated while getting inked.

Some people also experience mild fever symptoms after getting a tattoo. This is a normal reaction of the human body while it is healing from any kind of wound.

Take it easy, stay healthy and hydrated, and you should be fine! If you need to, though, be sure to visit a doctor.

 

How does a tattoo heal?

After the inking process, your tattoo is like a raw, open wound and will need some time to heal.

The body will rush blood and plasma to cover up the wound, and you’ll deal with some amount of pain, redness, swelling, bruising, etc. during the first week as the tattoo heals.

Over the course of your healing process, the hardened plasma will scab and fall off naturally – do not pick at it or you risk pulling out ink that hasn’t settled yet!

Once it is fully healed, there will be no more scabbing or peeling on your tattoo.

For more on tattoo healing, check out The Jhaiho Tattoo Care Guide

 

How long does it take for a tattoo to heal?

For most people, the healing stage lasts for 2-4 weeks.

It could take less or more time depending on things like how quickly you usually heal, how good your artist was, the quality of materials used, and whether you follow proper aftercare procedures or not.

Additionally, staying hydrated and healthy and keeping your tattoo out of water and sun will encourage faster healing.

For more on tattoo healing, check out The Jhaiho Tattoo Care Guide

 

What can’t I do while my tattoo is healing?

You can more or less do most things after getting inked, but in order to ensure your tattoo heals correctly, certain procedures are recommended.

It is advisable that you take it easy on the day you get your tattoo so you don’t fall sick or feel tired. You’ll need to take care of your tattoo by not exposing it to water, sun, dust, etc.

When it comes to food and drink, it is important to stay hydrated and keep your body cool while it is healing.

This means you might want to refrain from eating meat or spicy foods and anything else that might heat up your body, and you’ll definitely want to stay away from anything you’re allergic to – you don’t want a reaction to ruin your healing tattoo!

For a full list of tattoo care procedures, visit The Jhaiho Tattoo Care Guide

 

Can I swim or exercise after getting a tattoo?

Most aftercare posts (including ours!) will tell you that you’re not supposed to exercise or swim after getting a tattoo. There’s a very simple reason for that – water.

When a tattoo is healing, it shouldn’t get wet except when you wash it, and even then it is advisable that you keep the washing process short and use room temperature water. As soon as you’re done, you dab off the water with a paper towel and apply your aftercare lotion.

Water from any source contains some amount of bacteria, which is bad for a healing tattoo. Besides that, keeping an open wound moist will lead to an infection.

This is why swimming after you get a tattoo is a bad idea. Not only do water bodies like pools or lakes usually contain more bacteria, but pools also contain chemicals like chlorine which can harm an open wound such as a healing tattoo.

Besides that, the friction on your skin from swimming – whether this be from your skin rubbing up against itself or from the tight swimsuit – can hinder your healing process.

So what about exercise? Same thing.

We sweat a lot during a workout, and will usually need to wash up when we’re done – both not the best for a healing tattoo. The chaffing from rubbing your healing tattoo will affect how it heals as well, and gym equipment are notoriously unhygienic.

You expose your tattoo to a lot of things that could cause an infection when you work out.

So how long after getting inked can you get back to swimming and exercising? It’s best to ask your artist to be sure, but we recommend waiting at least 4 weeks to allow your tattoo enough time to heal.

For more on tattoo care dos and don’ts, visit The Jhaiho Tattoo Care Guide

 

Perceptions About Tattooing: Socializing, Travelling, and Employment

Thinking about getting a tattoo before travelling or starting a new job? Or maybe you’re a social butterfly and are wondering how people will react to your new ink?

Read on to have some of these questions answered!

 

Is it normal to be asked about one’s tattoos?

Fortunately or unfortunately – depending on how comfortable you are with being approached! – this does tend to happen very often.

People are fascinated by art, especially when it might have an extremely deep or personal meaning behind it. It’s why we still have such intense and detailed debates about paintings from centuries ago!

If you are comfortable answering questions about your tattoos, then feel free to engage in what might turn out to be a very interesting conversation!

If it bothers you, however, you can simply let the person know your tattoo is a very intimate piece of art and you would rather not talk about it. Most people will understand!

Is it important for a tattoo to have meaning?

Not necessarily.

A tattoo should be something you love, but this could be anything from a very important memory to an ice cream cone!

With a tattoo, the important thing to remember is that it is permanent and is going to be on your body for life.

While a tattoo with deep meaning or story behind it might be less likely to turn into regret, that is not guaranteed – if it were, there would be no cover-up tattoos!

Instead, focus on getting a tattoo that you truly love, no matter what your love might be directed towards.

No, we’re not kidding! Get an ice cream cone tattoo if you want to!

Need some inspiration? Check out Tattoo Designs: How to Choose the Right One for You!

 

I’m under 18, can I get a tattoo?

Generally, there are regulations that prohibit a minor from legally getting a tattoo. In India, no such laws exist, however most tattoo artists would not tattoo a minor on principle alone.

Some artists who do tattoo minors only do it after attaining parental consent and with the legal guardian of the minor present during the tattoo session.

 

Can I travel after I get a tattoo?

It is unsafe to travel after getting inked for several reasons.

The most obvious is that your tattoo might be exposed to unsafe or unhygienic surfaces along the way and won’t heal properly, or worse, might get infected.

Other reasons include feeling run down, tired, or feverish after getting inked – which will get worse if you’re travelling right after you get your tattoo.

This is also why it is not advisable to get inked while you’re on a vacation! Extend your stay, go back when you have more time, or look for an artist closer to home if possible.

Another reason to avoid travelling is, as previously mentioned, water. You’re likely to expose yourself to heat and sweat while travelling, especially if you are going to a place with a hotter climate.

If you absolutely must travel, try going somewhere where the weather is colder or you’ll have access to cool spaces.

 

Can I travel to the Middle East if I have a tattoo?

Absolutely!

While it is illegal to GET a tattoo in the Middle East, it is not illegal to HAVE a tattoo while in these countries.

Additionally, there are many freelance tattoo artists in the Middle East, but it is not advisable to get inked from them – you could get in trouble because it is illegal, but it is also harder to determine the quality of their work unless you can find their clients and hear about their experience directly from them.

 

Can I join the army if I have a tattoo?

Yes, but there are some very important rules around being inked while in the Indian army.

The first rule is around what you get tattooed.

The army prohibits offensive tattoo designs, including any extremist ones. Religious tattoos that are considered offensive would also not be allowed.

If you were tattooed as a child or come from a tribal community where tattooing is practised, these are exempt from the rules.

The second rule is where your tattoo is placed.

If it is on a visible spot, such as arms, legs, or anything above the neck, you will not be allowed to enter the army.

For more specific details, check out this article from Defencelover.

 

What about corporate jobs?

This depends on where you work and who you work with.

While attitudes towards tattoos have changed dramatically over time and they are now widely accepted as a form of body art and personal expression – not everyone is on board with them.

Denying someone employment because of a tattoo is not illegal, because companies are allowed to enforce requirements around appearance. This means you could face issues if a company is not comfortable with you having tattoos.

This does not mean you cannot get a tattoo at all, though.

You’ll just have to make sure to get one on a spot that is easy to hide, such as your midriff (the area between your chest and hips) or thighs.

If you have longer hair, you could get a tattoo on the back of your neck and keep it covered. If you wear long sleeves, you could get tattoos on your arms.

The bottom line is – be smart about where you place a tattoo if you think it might affect your employment!

 

Can a medical student have a tattoo?

Yes, they can.

While most hospitals do enforce a very specific dress code that includes rules around appearance, it’s very rare that the healthcare industry explicitly forbids tattoos.

In most cases, healthcare institutions only prohibit extensive or offensive tattoos.

But in areas where the perceptions around tattooing might not be as liberal, you might find some resistance to your having tattoos or wanting to get inked.

While employers cannot discriminate or deny employment on the basis of many factors, including gender, religion, nationality, etc., they do have the legal right to enforce rules around appearance.

Perceptions around tattooing are also going to impact how your patients view you. To that end, it might be safer to follow a similar code as mentioned above – opt for designs that are not offensive, and get your ink on a spot that is not easily visible when you are in your professional attire.

And to make sure it won’t affect your educational or employment opportunities, be sure to check with your supervisor before getting inked!

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So now that you have all the info, are you still worried?

You can be totally ready, have an appointment booked, met your artist and had a design customized, maybe even put down a deposit – and still get cold feet.

After all, it’s normal to be a bit worried – ink is permanent so it’s a good idea to take your time to think it over thoroughly.

Check out our post on calming strategies to help you deal with your pre-ink jitters!

* * *

Not sure what to get? Check out our other posts!

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