The body art of tattooing mainly involves the procedure of injecting one or more pigments into the dermis, the layer of connective tissue that lies just below the epidermis. After the pigment is injected into the skin, the immune system's phagocytes get activated in the epidermis and upper dermis, swallowing up the pigment particles. The result is that the pigment goes down, throughout a homogenized damaged layer. As the particular body part undergoes healing process, the damaged epidermis starts flaking away.
With the flaking of epidermis, the pigment on the surface of the skin starts fading away. However, the deeper layers of skin experience the formation of granulation tissue. In time, owing to collagen growth, they get converted into connective tissues, mending the upper dermis. Since the upper dermis has pigment trapped within fibroblasts, its healing leads to the pigment in the layer just below the dermis/epidermis boundary. Soon, the pigment becomes stable and with the passing time, engrains pigment deeper into the dermis, forming the tattoo.
In the earlier times, all the societies and cultures made use of different procedures for tattooing purposes. Some of these traditional procedures continue till date. For instance, in some tribal societies, tattoos are created by cutting designs into the skin and putting ink, ashes or other coloring agents into the wounds. In other cultures, tattoo making involves beating ink into the skin, using sharpened sticks or animal bones. Another tattooing method, mainly used in Japan, is called tebori. In this method, tattooing involves hand poking i.e. inserting the ink under the skin, with the help of non-electrical tools, which are handmade and handheld and have needles made of honed bamboo or steel.
In the primitive times tattoos were also used as potential love charms. Therefore, the dye used in engraving these tattoos was fabricated with supposedly magical materials. The dye for a love charm tattoo in Burma was made out of vermilion, tout skin and a spotted lizard. These types of tattoos were concealed so that other people cannot identify it and it could work its magic. There are also documented examples of the primitive soldiers from Britain and Scotland who used to tattoo themselves before going on a war. This was their way to show themselves as fierce and brave people. The dye used in these tattoos was the blue dye made out of woad. This pre-Celtic race used to puncture their skin with this woad dye to create formations and outline shapes of animals on their skin.
The Modern Method
Today, the most common method of tattooing comprises of the use of electric tattooing machines. Apart from making the tattooing procedure much simpler, the machines have also increased its ease. The machine comprises of a group of needles that are soldered onto a bar. The bar has an oscillating unit attached to it. In the modern method, the ink is inserted into the skin, through the needles, which are repeatedly driven and out of the skin, somewhere between 80 and 150 times in a second.
The modern method of tattooing is much more hygienic as well as sterile as compared to the traditional methods. The needles used for the purpose are disposable in nature and come in individual packages. In the present times, almost all the tattoo artists take care to wash their hands as well as the 'area to be tattooed'. At the same time, they wear gloves and wipe the wound frequently, to prevent any infection or allergy. Still, one cannot completely do away with the risks involved with tattooing.
You have to understand a basic aspect about tattooing, it is going to hurt. It is a painful procedure. But there are areas on the body that hurt the most when getting a tattoo on it and there are other regions that do not hurt that much. If you are a man and you want to experience less pain then go for a tattoo on the buttocks, arms and back. And if you are a woman and you do not want to go through the hell of tattoo pain then go for a tattoo on stomach, buttocks, thighs and shoulder.
Once you have made up your mind as to what kind of tattoo you want to get and on which part of your body then you must schedule your appointment with your chosen tattooist and discuss it with him/her. Remember to not take any painkillers before your procedure because it will thin your blood and your tattoo will start to bleed more while you are in the tattooing procedure.
When everything has been settled and you are sitting in the tattooing chair then the area where you want a tattoo will be cleaned and shaved for hygiene purposes. This is the time when the outline of the tattoo will be made and then the shading and color will be added.