By: Thao Le

Choose a design that screams YOU

The Artist Knows Best

The artist will check the application area for any bruises or scars that may interfere with the tattooing process. He/She will also bring out all the appropriate supplies for the job―sterilized tools and disposable materials. This is done to eliminate the possibility of contamination and to insure the safety of the artist and you.

Cleanliness is Key

The work space must be sanitized before the artist may begin. The application area is also disinfected (soap and water or rubbing alcohol) and shaved clean. Do no shave on your own before going to the tattoo studio.

Applying the Stencil and Letting it Dry

Your design is hand-drawn and placed into a thermal-fax machine where your future tattoo will be transferred to a thermal paper, ready to be applied. Soap and water or another special transfer solution is used to make that purple-ink stencil last longer.

Preparing the Machines and Equipments

Ink is poured into little ink caps and all other tools (needles and tubes) are removed from their packaging. Distilled water is poured into a cup for rinsing purposes, and paper towels are prepared to wipe the ink and blood during the procedure.

How Deep?

You have three layers of skin: the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous layer. The needle will pierce through the top layer and make its way to the dermis, making it permanent. If the tattoo is too high up, it will heal "patchy or light." If it is too deep, irreversible scarring is guaranteed, and the tattoo will fade.

Shading and Color

For shading, thicker needles will be installed on the tattoo machine. After cleaning the area, color is injected.

The Final Product

The tattoo artist will clean up the area, apply a protective ointment, and bandage the area up. He/She will instruct you on how long to keep the bandage on to insure that this giant flesh wound heals properly.

Risk Factors and Other Problems


  • Poor sanitation at the tattoo parlor (sanitation is very important)
  • Sharing of ink between patrons (blood-borne diseases)
  • Poor aftercare by the customer

Allergic reaction to dyes

Skin problems

  • Eczema/dermatitis
  • Granuloma
  • Keloid (raised areas from an overgrowth of scar tissue)
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Pus

Dissatisfaction may result in one wishing to remove the tattoo

  • People change, so styles change

Removal Problems

  • Painstaking (several treatments)
  • Costly
  • Hypopigmentation (loss of skin color)
  • Hyperpigmentation (darkening of skin)
  • Scarring


  • Discrepancy in image
  • Swelling/burning

Permanent makeup

  • Cover up scars or restore a natural look (surgical, ect.)
  • Enhance skin due to discoloration
  • Replace what is lost (eyebrows, ect.)
  • Clash with change in skin tone or facial/bodily shape
  • Altered during cosmetic surgery

Henna (mehndi) tattoos

  • Should only be used as a hair dye, not on skin


Tattoos are permanent, but if you are able to find a clean, safe, and professional tattoo studio and artist with a good reputation, then you reduce the chances of the possible risk factors. Permanent tattoos should only be done by professionals, not you and not your friends. Tattoos that are injected too high can be redone; it is better to be safe than sorry. Speak to your doctor before getting a tattoo for advice and after for any discomforts you may experience. If you do not like your tattoo, you can always get it covered up or removed (laser), but it is not guaranteed to go away. An alternative to a permanent tattoo is a temporary sticker tattoo.