By Grace To


For some, it takes something special to have a symbol or a quote immortalized onto the skin. For others, they just like to have art on their body. For all, a tattoo is essentially permanent ink on the person.

As of 2016, two out of five millennials reported having at least one tattoo. They used to be associated with hard-core criminals, but have now been mainstreamed into a personal fashion statement.

Today, getting inked is a social norm—but how does it become permanent?

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The skin consists of the epidermis, which is the skin tissue’s surface, and the dermis, which is the layer beneath the epidermis. To inject into the skin, a mechanical needle, otherwise known as a tattoo machine, punctures the epidermis and injects ink into the dermis. Depending on the tattoo placement, this process varies in pain intensity.

Technically, the inking process involves damaging the tissue of the skin, which provokes the body to activate its immune system. In order to protect the body, white blood cells are released. The role of white blood cells is to attack foreign invaders by breaking down and disposing them from the body.

However, this does not occur when getting tattooed. The pigment particles in tattoo ink are very big in size—too big to be effectively targeted by white cells. After tattoo artists inject the ink under the skin, most of the pigment particles stay untouched, making the mark permanent.

Over time, tattoos tend to fade. If the ink is injected too deep into the skin, pigment particles can move to other areas. Body shape changes can also lead to fading and distortion.

Exposing the tattoo to the sun in the summer months is a big factor in tattoo fading. The harmful UV rays can wear down the ink. Using sunscreen with a high SPF can protect the tattoo while preventing wrinkles, which are more visible on inked skin.

Fading can also depend on the placement of the tattoo. Skin on the lips, feet, and fingers see ink fade fastest because these areas are used most often during the day. Although some may not mind the look of faded tattoos, regular touch-ups can be booked to keep tattoos looking bold and renewed.

The most important things to keep in mind to make sure your tattoos keep its appearance are aftercare and maintenance. Follow your tattoo artist’s instructions after leaving the parlour and make sure to keep the tattooed area moisturized.

No matter what kind of tattoo you choose to get, keep in mind that it will be permanent. Put some thought into it beforehand to avoid going through the painful process of tattoo laser removal.

And maybe rethink about getting your significant other’s name tattooed across your chest. Get mine instead.

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