General Tattooing FAQ's
How deep does the ink sit? What layer of the skin does the ink go to?
Fig 1: Ink Location: soon after the tattoo is received, one month after, and two to three months after. Note the reformation of the epithelial-dermal junction over time and the concentration of ink just underneath it.
The following information was provided by:
Disclaimer:All images here are rough representations. Please read the text, not just the caption, for a full explanation. Also, the information presented here is in no way guaranteed to be complete, however I have tried to piece together as much of the puzzle as possible. Feel free to contact me if errors or omissions are found.
The skin is made up an outermost layer named the epidermis, followed by the dermis and the hypodermis.
Epidermis: composed mostly of keratinocytes, cells that contain keratin, the protein that gives skin its toughness (not to be confused with collagen which gives skin its resiliency).
Dermis: a network of elastic dense connective tissue containing collagen as well as sweat glands, hair follicles, sebaceous ("oil") glands, nerve endings and blood vessels.
Hypodermis: loose connective tissue containing mostly adipose (fat) tissue.
The epidermis is separated from the dermis by a basement membrane (an extracellular network of collagen fibers that serves as a support framework for cells) that strengthens the interface between the epidermis and dermis to prevent tearing from excessive stretching.
There are five layers of the epidermis, where the surface layers are regenerated from stem cells in the deepest layer that differentiate as they move outwards:
Stratum basale (deepest)
Stratum corneum (surface)
Briefly, the stratum basale contains keratinocyte stem cells ("basal cells") that are continually dividing to create new cells. These cells differentiate, or in other words change, as they migrate through the layers to the surface. The stratum granulosum is the "waterproofing" layer of cells, and cells no longer divide at this level. The outermost surface layer is composed of dead keratinocytes which are essentially cells filled with keratin.
The dermis, a connective tissue made up of collagen and networks of elastic fibers which give skin its resiliency, is the layer in which tattoo ink is deposited. The dermis (papillary layer) immediately below the epidermis is made of loose connective tissue and contains small blood vessels and nerve endings. The rest of the dermis (reticular layer) is made of dense connective tissue and contains blood vessels, hair follicles, sweat glands, lymphatics, nerves, and sebaceous glands.
The majority cell type in the dermis is fibrocyte (or fibroblast). These cells secrete the proteins that make up the connective tissue network. Other cells that are important in relation to tattoo ink are resident immune cells. These include dendritic cells, macrophages, and mast cells.
Tattoo Ink Placement
The tattooing process causes damage to the epidermis, epidermal-dermal junction, and the papillary layer (topmost layer) of the dermis. These layers appear homogenized (or in other words, like mush) right after the tattooing process. The ink itself is initially dispersed as fine granules in the upper dermis, but aggregate into more concentrated areas at 7-13 days.
Like any injury, the initial response is to stop bleeding, followed by tissue swelling, and the migration of non-resident immune cells into the area. The "automatic response" immune cells are mostly neutrophils, and macrophages later on. They are phagocytic cells that "swallow" debris to clean up the area and then leave via the lymphatics. This is the extent of an immune response unless an allergic reaction occurs or an infection sets in. The tissue is then repaired and/or regenerated by fibroblasts. Initially the tissue formed is known as granulation tissue (think fresh scar, pinkish and soft), which later matures into fibrous tissue (think old scar).
Stages of Ink Dispersal
Initially ink is taken up by keratinocytes, and phagocytic cells (including fibroblasts, macrophages and mast cells).
At one month the basement membrane of the epidermis (epidermal-dermal junction) is reforming and the basal cells contain ink. In the dermis, ink containing phagocytic cells are concentrated along the epidermal-dermal junction below a layer of granulation tissue that is surrounded by collagen. Ink is still being eliminated through the epidermis with ink present in keratinocytes, macrophages and fibroblasts.
At two to three months the basement membrane of the epidermis is fully reformed, preventing any further loss of ink through the epidermis. Ink is now present in dermal fibroblasts. Most of these ink containing fibroblasts are located beneath a layer of fibrous tissue which has replaced the granulation tissue. A network of connective tissue surrounds and effectively traps these fibroblasts. It is assumed that these fibroblasts are the cells that give tattoos their lifespan.
How much does it hurt to get a tattoo?
Getting a tattoo is not very painful nowadays because modern tattoo equipment is such that the needles go in and out of your skin very quickly. There will be some discomfort experienced, though, how much, will depend entierly on the individual due to pain thresholds, tattoo size and placement. Generally, you’ll be able to carry on a normal conversation while getting your tattoo.Depending on your tattoo designs and location, the amount of discomfort can vary to some degree. Generally speaking, tattooing over bone – where there’s little flesh or fat – hurts a bit more. So getting a tattoo on the fleshy part of your arm probably won’t hurt much at all, but directly over your ankle bone or collar bone may be more painful – though still quite bearable.
Tattoo designs can also make a difference with regard to how it feels. Tattooing lines produces a different sensation from ‘filling in’, or tattooing blocks of color or shading.
Is it safe to get a tattoo?
Generally speaking... Yes! If you go to a professional tattoo artist, where the proper tattoo equipment is used by a professional, than getting a tattoo is relatively safe. Decades ago there was concern about getting hepatitis C, AIDS and other blood born pathogens from tattoos, but this is something all professionals are very conscious of nowadays. Infact, most Tattoo Artists get regular check-ups with a doctor themselves to enure their own safety. At Flesh and Colour, we use only disposables to ensure the safety of not only our clients but also the artist. All needles are disposed of in a sharpes container. We also keep a record of all the colours used in your tattoo as well as brand and batch numbers as well as expiry dates, including needles. rest assured, we are looking out for your best interests as well as ours.
While tattooing has become common in modern society, there are a surprising amount of tattoo health risks that lie under their surface. The most common method of tattooing is an electric tattoo machine that pierces the skin repeatedly and slowly injects ink into the skin. These tattoos are usually done without anesthetics and cause small amounts of bleeding. Due to the fact that tattoos pierce the skin and emit bleeding they are susceptible to harbor disease.
Both unsterile environments and equipment increase the chance of transferring diseases like HIV, hepatitis, and tuberculosis. This is why it is important to consider tattoo health risks. Also, since dyes are not regulated by the FDA, all of the ingredients vary by brand and may include metal deposits, anti-freeze, methanol, ethanol, and other harmful chemicals. Some of the following will shed light on many tattoo health risks.
Tattooing equipment that is unsterile can harbor and carry pathogens from one person to another.
Infections are characterized by redness, swollen and broken skin, pain, and pus secretions.
Metallic pigments may cause allergic reaction and can worsen with exposure to sunlight.
Contaminated equipment can transfer blood-borne diseases. Some diseases are Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, tetanus, and HIV. Most of these viruses have no cure.
There are reports of people experiencing pain, burning and swelling in the tattooed areas after undergoing MRI. Some tattoo pigments also distort MRI images because of certain metals present in the ink. While none of the MRI rashes or reactions are permanent, they should be noted and taken into consideration.
Allergic reactions to tattoos are common due to the various chemicals present in the ink. Some of the more common reactions are to nickel and red ink. Allergic reactions are problematic with tattooing because pigments are hard, if not impossible, to remove. There are some cases of people developing allergic reactions to tattoos they have had for many years.
Keloids are scars that grow beyond normal boundaries. If one is prone to keloids they are likely to develop one from a tattoo. Any form of trauma to the skin can trigger keloids, and micro-pigmentation is traumatic to the skin.
REMEMBER: THE MOST COMMON RISK IS DISSATISFACTION
• Do your research about your artist and think long and hard before choosing a tattoo.
• Check gloves for tears before tattooing and make sure the artist changes gloves.
• See that ink nozzles do not touch contaminated surfaces.
Please keep in mind that we are not trying to deter you from getting a tattoo. We strive to emphasize the importance of safe tattooing while reducing potential health risks. By taking simple and necessary precautions we can minimize health risks and negative body art stigmas.
Keep on Inking!!
How much does it cost?
Tattoo prices vary according to the size and tattoo designs. Of course, a larger and more complex design will cost more than a smaller, simpler one – that stands to reason. To give you an idea, relatively simple tattoo designs that are quite small (about the size of a 50 cent coin) will usually cost about $70 or $80. This is known as the "shop minimum". Prices vary though, so the best thing to do is to ask. Bring your design to your artist and most tattoo shops will be able to quote you a price right then and there. Although you may feel nervous making it about the money, don’t be afraid to talk about the cost of your proposed tattoo with your artist, as he will probably require a deposit, which is standard and applied toward the final project. You may contact tattoo artist about pricing by phone, email or even more quickly and easily by filling out a tattoo estimate request. Figure out any payment issues and questions you may have before moving forward. Start saving your pennies if need be. Some of the most beautiful tattoos cost thousands of dollars, and beauty is reflected in their price. Cheap tattoos look cheap and that’s all there is to it. There is a saying in the tattoo industry, that is very relevant to everybody adorning a tattoo. "Cheap tattoo's ain't good; And great tattoo's ain't cheap". Remind yourself of that saying when selecting your artist.
Be very detailed and informative about what you are envisioning for your design. Ask them about their guesstimated fees and inform them of your rough budget. Be willing to spend some money for a quality design. Remember, this is a "for the rest of your life" decision. So don't nickel and dime it!
I’ve heard that tattoos don’t look so good once you start to age. Is that true? Are there any places where you should avoid getting a tattoo?
The key to keeping a tattoo looking great, long after it was inked, it taking care of it and maintaing it. It’s true that skin and flesh may sag in some places as you age, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your tattoo will look bad. Just use your common sense or ask your tattoo artist for their professional opinion. You know roughly where skin tends to sag as you get older, so don’t get a large tattoo in those areas. A small one is usually okay, though, and there are several places where you can get a tattoo that won’t change substantially over the years – such as your ankle, shoulder or upper arm, back, etc. These are the most popular tattoo locations at any rate. Keep in mind that any tattoo may fade over time though, and you may need to get it re-coloured. Also, colours tend to fade faster than black.
On the other hand, if you plan on loosing weight, tattoo's will change shape with this too, though this is more obvious with text and vertical or horizontal lines. At Flesh and Colour, we will always advise you to the best of our knowledge for your best interests.
What can I do if I’m dissatisfied with a tattoo?
Unfortunately, your options are limited. Depending on the tattoo design, it’s possible that it can be added to and that might make the appearance of the tattoo more to your liking. Or you can look at tattoo cover -ups, extentions, refreshments or removal methods – they are rather costly, but the results tend to be much better than they used to be.
The key, however, is to make sure that you’re getting the tattoo you want before the inking process actually starts. That’s why the tattoo artist will apply an inked stencil to the surface of your skin before he starts tattooing – you’ll get to see what the tattoo will look like and to adjust the positioning of it if you need to. The artist will then use the stencil lines as a guide. At Flesh and Colour, we will always do our very best to accomodate you to the best of our abilities. We will not hesitate to recommend other tattoo artists, if we believe their skill set would be more suitable to your needs.
At Flesh and Colour, we have been using the highest quality body art inks since opening our business in 2013. We promise to continue to make good quality artwork because that is what you expect and deserve and that is whtat we expect of ourselves. If you have a comment about Flesh and Colour, please write, call or emaill to us. Thank You for choosing Flesh and Colour Body Art Studio.
How old do I have to be to get a tattoo?
Australian legislation states you must be a legal adult of at least 18 years of age. At Flesh and Colour, we require photographic ID as proof of identity. This may come in the form of a passport or drivers licence or similar, that meets the satisfaction of our tattoo artist.
When should I not get a tattoo?
At Flesh and Colour, it is company policy that we will not tattoo clients that are Pregenant or Breast-feeding, Drunk, Disorderly, High, on lots of Perscription Medication, Seriously Ill or Sick, with Incurable Diseases (AIDS, Hep C, Hemophelia, etc) or people we feel are mentally or emotionally 'un-fit' to make life changing decisions. Also, we will not tattoo clients with racially or sexually descriminative images out of sheer ethic and moral principal and in respect to the general public.
Will having a tattoo make it harder for me to get a good job?
At Flesh and Colour, it is company policy that we do not tattoo certain places of the body. This includes the face and genetalia. Tattoo's in todays society are more socailly acceptable and mainstream so should not cause future problems. However, it is always wise to consider your current company's employment policy before making any desicions. There are exceptions, of course; there are tattoos that are so prominent and controversial in terms of their appearance or content that they may cause problems for you, just as there are workplaces which are exceptionally conservative.
If you’re worried, why not get the tattoo in a place where office clothes will cover it?
As a courtesy reminder to all military personnell, Australian Defence Force policy states soliders and officers from Air Force, Army and Navy can not have tattoos on their face, hands and feet. Defence Force Policy also states, military personnel can not have sexually or racially descriminative tattoos.
Can I give myself a tattoo at home, or have my friend give me one?
If you are asking yourself this question, you are not serious about a tattoo. But, you are totally allowed to purchase tattoo kits off websites such as E-Bay, as the governement does not restrict this in any way. Just remember, when your tattoo does not 'work -out'....I will charge you double for your cover-up and for having to put up with your stupidity.
I’ve heard that getting tattoos can be addictive. Is that true?
It isn’t true in the sense of a real addiction, but it is a fact that people who already have one tattoo are more likely to get another one … or so. It is possible to get ‘hooked’ on the excitement of getting a tattoo, just as some people get ‘hooked’ on shopping, but that’s not a real addiction. Most people who end up with multiple tattoos do so simply because they like them or are working towards a completed masterpiece (eg. full sleeve or full back piece) or have tattoo's to cover physical or emotional scars.
Why does the tattoo fade over time?
It is debated whether all the ink particles are in fibroblasts, or if some remain as extracellular aggregations of ink. Also, the lifespan of the ink containing fibroblasts is not known. Presumably, ink particles are moved into the deeper dermis over time due to the action of mobile phagocytic cells (think immune cells), causing the tattoo to look bluish, faded and blurry. Examination of older tattoos (e.g. 40 years) show that the ink is in the deep dermis, and also found in local lymph nodes. Since some types of phagocytic immune cells migrate to lymph nodes to "present their goods", the discovery of ink in lymph nodes is consistent with the theory of phagocytic cells being the cause of ink movement.
What about the sun?
Sun exposure equals sun damage, whether you realize it or not. Langerhans cells, a type of dendritic cell, are present throughout the epidermis, but mostly located in the stratum spinosum. During sun exposure, many Langerhans cells will undergo apoptosis (a type of cell death where the cell breaks apart into many small fragments) while others migrate into the dermis and a minor inflammatory reaction occurs. The inflammatory reaction is not restricted to the epidermis, but also involves the dermis. Such a reaction causes the recruitment of more phagocytic immune cells to the area.
With the presence of larger than normal amounts of migrating phagocytic cells, the chances of ink movement increases, thus accelerating the fading of the tattoo.
Do I need a booking?
YES! We do take appointments. We are by appointment only.
Do you have a studio?
Of course! We have a home based business with a dedicated sterile studio in Cairns. We also run a mobile tattoo business where we come to you. This helps us keep our costs down and are therefore able to pass on the savings to you. Plus, most people feel more comfortable in their own home.
What ink brand do you use?
We use Eternal Ink. They offer a wide variety of colours and have great opacity, saturation, hue, and coverage. As an added bones, Eternali Ink is FDA approved and offer a vegan friendly inks.
Can I bring my own design?
Of course! Although we have many great designs available, we welcome your individual requests. Simply bring us your design for an obligation free quote.
What if it’s just an idea?
"An Idea is just a daydream, unless you do something about it". Chinese proverb, I came across while searching the universe for something to give me direction.
Ideas are just the beginning to bring your tattoo idea to frutitation. Bring along your idea, the roughest sketch from you is a good start. We require a cash deposit before we can start drafting. Please be aware that NO artwork is released from the studio under any circumstance, and that your drafting deposit is non-refundable.
How much will my tattoo cost?
All artwork on the walls is clearly priced. If you have your own design or idea, simply pop into the studio for a quote. For any custom artwork which needs to be drafted, a quote will be available when the artwork is produced.
How much will it hurt?
Tattooing is achieved by placing a small amount of pigment under the top layers of skin which is injected by small, electrically powered pins. Naturally, it causes some discomfort. The amount of pain experienced varies with design placement, and your own level of tolerance. The vast majority of ‘first-timers’ find tattooing much less painful than expected. Whilst tattooing has its own unique sensation, many people compare it to waxing or a cat scratch.
How do I look after my new tattoo?
Your new tattoo will be applied to the highest standards of hygiene. It will take approximately two weeks to completely heal, in which time it requires some simple but important care on your part. At Flesh and Colour, we provide all clients with full written instructions on after care, as well as a verbal explanation of what is required. We also supply all clients with after care products complimentary. Our after care instructions are also available for download on our website.
Are there any designs I CAN NOT have?
In the interests of social harmony, we DO Not apply designs of an offensive nature at Flesh and Colour. These include profanities, obscene images, or designs of a racist or sectarian nature. We respect the right of the individual to have such designs applied elsewhere.
Can any part of the body be tattooed?
It is our policy NOT to perform tattooing on the hands, face or genitals under any circumstances. This is based on a long history of seeing people who regret existing tattoos in these areas. Whilst we agree it is the right of the individual to be tattooed in these areas, we reserve our own right not to provide the service. In other words, please don’t ask us to make exceptions, we welcome you to find a studio that will oblige you.
Do you offer a body piercing service?
Yes! We only pierce ear lobes. This is by choice.