People use tattoos to express themselves and their individuality, to show they belong to a group or as a form of cosmetics (permanent make up).
The design could be a memorial piece, one that shows interests or hobbies, a design around love themes, personalised symbols or significant words. Tatts can be done with just black ink or they can have many bright colours.
A tattoo is a puncture wound that’s made by penetrating the skin with a needle and injecting ink into the area. They are mostly done by a professionally trained tattooist using a Tattoo machine. Tattoos can also be done traditionally by old tribal methods.
Before getting a tattoo
Getting a tatt is a big deal so there are some important things to think about before getting it.
- Remember that this is a choice that will stay with you for a life time, so think carefully about the design, the place it will be and whether you are happy for it to be easily seen as this may affect your future job prospects. Although there are removal processes available, they are very expensive and depending on the size and design may not remove the tatt completely or leave an ugly scar.
- Get it done safely! A professional studio has to be registered and follow strict regulations about hygiene standards and sterilisation. These places get checked regularly by local health departments. If you attempt to do a tattoo yourself or have a friend do it for you and it is not a clean environment you could end up getting a viral infection like hepatitis B and C, HIV, bacterial skin infections, or a severe skin irritation (dermatitis).
- Getting a tattoo hurts and the level of pain can vary. Some people describe the tattoo sensation as a tingling feeling but it will depend on how much pain you can take, how good the person using the tattoo machine is and where you’re getting it on your body. Also it will probably bleed a little and be sore for a while.
- The Cost – is it something you can afford? Most places have a minimum charge ranging from $100 to $150 and an hourly rate between $100 – $200. Usually there is a consultation process which is free of charge that takes about 15 minutes and if you decide to go ahead you will be expected to pay a deposit of $50 – $100 to secure your first appointment.
- In New South Wales the legal age to get a tattoo is 18. If you are under 18 you need to have both of your parents permission and the permission must say the type of tattoo and where it’s going to be on your body. The permission can be in person or in writing and without this permission it is a criminal offence for someone to tattoo you or make a permanent mark or design on your skin.
Getting the tattoo
When you go to get your tattoo make sure you have followed the instructions the tattooist gave you in the consultation process. Being clean and wearing loose clean clothing is important especially around the area you are getting the tatt that way your clothes don’t get in the way or you don’t feel uncomfortable during it.
A tattooist will refuse to work on anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol and will not hesitate to turn them away and book for another day and time when they are sober.
While you’re getting the tatt, if it’s hurting too much or you feel like you may throw up tell the tattooist straight away and they will stop til it settles down.
After getting a tattoo
When the tattoo is done and you are ready to leave the studio always ask your tattooist what you need to do for after care.They know the most about your tattoo, the place where it’s on your body, the type of ink used and how to care for your tattoo to make sure it heals properly. If the tatt bleeds excessively, gets red around it like it’s infected or hurts really badly go and see your doctor.
It will most likely be covered in some form of ointment and wrapped in cling wrap which you need to leave on for 1-2 hours then wash your tattoo with warm water and a mild soap. Gently pat it dry with a clean soft towel (do not rub) and then let it get some air for 10 minutes to make sure it’s completely dry. Lightly apply a healing ointment that is also an antiseptic like Bempathen or an ointment that is recommended by your tattooist. Wear loose fitting clothing for the rest of the day and don’t plan a big night out.
While your tattoo is healing showers are fine but try not to soak the tattoo in water until it fully heals. Avoid swimming (salt water/chlorine), long hot baths, tanning beds, fake tanning lotions so that as new skin forms over your tattoo it doesn’t get infected or damaged.
Keep your tattoo out of the sun until it’s fully healed and even after always wear a sunscreen, this not only protects your skin, but keeps the tattoo from fading. DO NOT pick any scabs as you may cause scarring or pull off some of the colour. The tattoo will also become itchy during the healing process so gently pat your tattoo and DO NOT scratch! Take care of it and it will last a lifetime.
A temporary tattoo is a non-permanent image on the skin that looks like a real tattoo. Temporary tattoos can be drawn with ballpoint pen, painted or airbrushed with body paint and remain on the skin til the image fades away after 3–5 days or is removed.
Henna tattoos, also known as Mehndi, are another form of temporary tattoo that is all natural, safe and painless. The Henna paste is applied and left on the skin for several hours to stain and is a unique way to decorate your body with art symbols. The stain will gradually fade away as the skin sheds and can last up to a month depending on application and aftercare.