THE WHAT, HOW, AND WHY BEHIND THE SCIENCE
We all love the tattoos that we acquire (if you’re a tattoo collector) and create (if you’re a tattoo artist), but have you ever wondered just how tattooing actually works and how that ink stays in your skin to present the inked treasures that we wear?
Well, it’s first important to understand our skin and that we have three layers that come into play:
- The epidermis: this layer creates a barrier that helps to protect us from things like infections
- The dermis: this is the layer where you will find blood vessels, hair follicles, and sweat glands
- The subcutaneous fat layer: this is actually what connects the dermis layer to the muscles and bones that lay beneath that layer
So now that you know what the three layers are, imagine what it’s like when you get tattooed. When a tattoo needle punctures the skin, it starts by penetrating the epidermis and makes its way through to the dermis.
From there, the white blood cells move in and start playing their role. They come into play because when each new penetration happens and our body encounters the ink, the immune system thinks there’s a new intruder involved and something that shouldn’t be invading our body, so it sends out a group of white blood cells to counterattack and remove them.
However, because the particles of ink are more substantial in size than the white blood cells, most of the ink ends up unaffected by the white blood cells’ attempt to counterattack and it causes the ink to just sit there untouched, remaining in our skin, instead of being removed.
The ink that isn’t taken away by the white blood cells (macrophages), then remains in the dermis within trapped white blood cells and becomes absorbed by skin cells known as fibroblasts. The dye in the ink of the cells is what shows through and what keeps it settled in and permanent.
When the white blood cells play their part, the area that we were tattooed on will then in turn begin to swell and oftentimes turns red. This is also why tattoos eventually scab and need to flake off as they heal.
The healing process is different for everyone, and each person will react differently. What’s important is your diligence, care, and attention to the new tattoo and in remaining mindful that this is a wound that your body is trying to help heal. It will go through several stages, but patience and care are vital.
Stock up on MD WipeOutztattoo towels to help you to have a smooth, convenient, and sterile aftercare setup. The more knowledgeable and prepared you are, the more likely your healing experience will be a positive one.