Tattooing F.requently A.sked Q.uestions
Is Tattooing Safe?
Yes, now there is increased awareness about infection control in the tattoo studio environment, both artists and consumers are
changing to adapt to today's standards of health and safety through education. There are a number of items to look for to ensure your peace of
mind and understanding that your chosen studio is performing basic standards. Is there an autoclave on site? Is single service of materials
and equipment provided? Are gloves being worn? Is the environment clean? Are contaminated materials properly disposed of? ASK QUESTIONS!
What is an autoclave?
An autoclave is a machine that will kill any known living organism. This is not to be confused with toaster ovens, dry heat units, boiling
of needles or soaking equipment in alcohol. Autoclaves use heat, steam and pressure at temperatures above 270 degrees Fahrenheit for at
least 55 minutes from a cold start. ASK TO SEE ONE!
What does the term "single service" mean?
This means that each needle and tube set is individually packaged, dated and sealed, then autoclaved. There is a small icon on the bag that
will change color when proper sterilization has occurred. The use of dated "spore indicators" as part of the sterilization routine ensures microbial
death and is an added measure of assurance.
What about the material?
Any ointment, pigments, gloves, ink, ink caps, needles etc. used in applying your new tattoo are discarded after use. NOTHING is re-used!
After the tattoo application, the artist will disinfect the work area with EPA approved virucidal that kill any surface bacteria or viruses.
Hepatitis B can live in dried blood for up to ten days!
Can I get AIDS?
It takes 100 microliter of blood and a deep intramuscular puncture to transmit the HIV virus. This is equivalent to 10 drops of blood.
Since needles used for tattooing are "solid core" (not hollow like syringe) and HIV does not live outside the human body too long, it is
unlikely. There has never been a documented case of "getting AIDS" from a tattoo.
The above information was provided by:
Alliance of Professional Tattooists
7477 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd, #205
Glen Burnie, MD 21061
Does it hurt?
Yes, but it's not as bad as you might think. The pain comes from the needle group in the tattoo machine hitting your skin very rapidly.
This sensation, however, doesn't feel like the pain of an injection it's more of a constant irritation. The pain will also vary according
to where on your body you get worked on. Areas of the body that have bones close to the surface (collarbone, anklebone, ribs, etc.)
tend to be more painful than other areas. Different types of needle groups tend to feel different. The needles used for outlining produce
a sharp, hot, and more noticeable pain, though the outlining is USUALLY the quickest part of the tattoo. The needles used for shading
usually produce an abrasive and hot feeling, which is more tolerable for most people.
Do not drink alcohol or take drugs for pain relief purposes prior to your tattoo sessions. Both aspirin and alcohol thin your blood
and promote excessive bleeding. Aspirin also decreases the clotting of blood, which will slow down your healing as well. In addition,
artists do not appreciate tattooing people who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
I personally view the pain part of tattooing as a challenge to be overcome. When I get tattooed and it hurts, and
I can still make myself sit there and allow the experience and not have it get the better of me; then I can leave with a bit more than a
tattoo. I can leave with the sense that I am stronger than a lot of things I once thought were stronger than me. My tattoos have then
become talisman if you will, to remind me of this lesson every day.
Why do people get tattoos?
People get tattoos for different reasons. Some want to look good, others
use tattooing as a symbolic mark of personal transformation. Either way
remember it is permanent and you will want to give it much thought BEFORE
you have it done. This is something you will live with for the rest of
your life you should be VERY happy to have it. Make sure it does not turn
into an embarrassment.
Where on my body can I get a tattoo?
You can get a tattoo anywhere on the body. You
may want to keep in mind a few things though. First, do you want your tattoo
to be seen when you go to work? You might want to make sure the tattoo
is in an area that you will not have to put extra thought into making sure
it is always covered up for work. Second, if you are planning to have more
tattoo work done later try to have at least a rough idea of the complete
plan for the area. This way you will prevent future design problems. Third,
larger tattoos are usually better as you will avoid having a lot of small
stuff that eventually will be a problem to incorporate into a larger theme.
Finally, hands and feet are unique as the ink tends to wear off these
areas easier. I do not tattoo faces.
What color can I get?
Tattoo ink comes in very color of the rainbow and can be custom mixed
to match the sample you bring the artist. However, remember the color of your skin will change
the color of the ink. The color matching of the ink can come close but usually
there is no perfect match. Things to keep in mind when choosing colors-
- White is the first color to revert to skin color if exposed to the sun.
It should be reserved for small things like highlights, teeth and eyes.
- Red is another color that will fade rather quickly- so if you are
in the sun a lot you may want to skip red. Additionally, red is a color that not
everyone can hold well. Before having a large amount of red put into you, first you might try a
small amount and see how well you hold it.
- Black is the hardiest of the colors. It stands up to sun and wear
better than other colors- so if you are in the sun a lot you might opt for black.
What kind of design can I get?
You can get just about any kind of design tattooed on your body; the only
limitation is your imagination. You can find tattoo design ideas everywhere, clip art
sources on the WWW or in books, art books, comic books, yours your children's drawings,
tattoo magazines, etc. Tattoo designs fall basically into two categories: 1. Flash and 2.
Flash designs are the tattoo designs typically seen covering the walls of
tattoo studios. They are pre drawn designs that you choose and have tattooed on the spot.
The tattoo artist can usually change the design slightly to make it more unique for you.
Custom designs are designs that are original
one of a kind designs made in collaboration with your chosen artist. Usually a client will bring in some inspiration
such as- a record cover, T-shirt, card, panting reproduction, etc. and explain to the
artist what they would like to do with it such as- I want it on my shoulder,
smaller than the original, and the colors to be different. The artist will then
work on developing the drawing to the specifics of the client.
I do not tattoo names.
Can I get a tattoo while pregnant or nursing?
It is not advisable to get a tattoo while pregnant or nursing; though it
is unlikely getting a tattoo will hurt the fetus or nursing infant. The
problem will be in the quality of the tattoo. While pregnant the body
is working overtime and the tattoo will possibly heal harder and possibly
result in a light tattoo. Additionally, while pregnant many women put on
extra weight that will come off after the pregnancy. The extra weight will
cause the tattoo to be distorted once the weight is lost. While nursing a
woman's body produces antibodies that are to be passed to the infant.
If tattooed while these extra antibodies are in the system the tattoo may
heal harder and possibly result in a light tattoo. If your desire is to
get the best quality tattoo I suggest that you wait until the pregnancy
and nursing are completed and then get the tattoo. If you decide to go
ahead and get the tattoo while pregnant or nursing please consult your
tattoo friendly physician first.
Can I get tattoo over a scar?
Yes, though there are a few things to consider when getting a tattoo
over a scar. First, the scar must be at least 1 year old before you
get the tattoo. This will give the scar enough time to have completely
healed and regenerated before attempting to cover it. Second, to hide
a scar it is better to have a busy pattern covering the scar than
a solid color. For example, a wing design over a scar will hide the outline
of the scar by detracting the eye from the scar. However, a solid tribal
piece will let the scar show through and will not accomplish the goal to
hide the scar. Finally, a scar may not take the ink as well as normal skin. You might need to come
back for another session to get a solid fill over the scar. I do not
guarantee scar cover-up tattoos, any necessary touch-ups will be
at the client's expense.
Here is an example of a tattoo scar cover-up.
Tattoo Tummy Tuck Scar Cover-ups
It is the same idea for a tattoo tummy tuck scar cover-up as it is for any scar cover-up (see above).
The scar has to be at least 1 year old before you can get the tattoo. And a busy pattern is
a better choice to distract the eye. Here is an example of a tattoo tummy tuck cover-up.
How to old do I have to be to get a tattoo?
You must be at least 18 years old with valid identification
to be tattooed at Malu Tattoo. We ID everyone and make a copy of your ID to attach to
your consent form. No exceptions. We do not tattoo minors even with the consent and/ or presence
of the parent or legal guardian. We are very strict about this rule for two
reasons. First, a bill was passed in the California Senate called AB186 which makes the legal age 18 for all tattooing within the
state of California. This bill does not provide for the parent or legal guardian to
allow a minor child to be tattooed. Second, if your desire is to get the best quality
tattoo it is not advisable to get tattooed while still growing. A well placed tattoo
today my not be well placed once you stop growing. Your tattoos should
be a positive experience. If your desire is to get the best tattoo possible,
I recommend that you wait until you are 18 and use the time between to
plan your tattoos.
How to prepare for your tattoo appointment
The following is a list of suggestions to make your tattoo appointment
more comfortable and enjoyable experience.
- Make sure to eat a few hours before your appointment. Some people get
light headed or faint if they have NOT eaten before getting a tattoo.
- Make sure to drink plenty of water the day before and day of your application appointment.
- Give yourself enough time for your appointment plus some.
Feeling rushed tends to add to the anxiety.
- Wear clothing that can easily be removed from the part of the
body that is going to be tattooed. For example; you might want to wear sweat pants
for a lower back tattoo.
- Wear clothing that you don't mind getting ink on. Tattoo ink
tends to stain so don't wear anything that you don't want spoiled with ink.
- Do not drink alcoholic beverages or take blood-thinning medications
as both will thin your blood and make you bleed more while getting your tattoo.
Increased bleeding interferes with the tattooing process by possibly cause loss of ink.
- Bring a valid photo ID.
What should I expect when getting tattooed?
You will be asked to complete a
Consent to be Tattooed form and to show a valid photo identification with your birth
date on it (driver's license, passport, school ID, etc.) You will be asked to complete
a health questionnaire, which is designed to determine if you are healthy
enough to have a tattoo applied.
The artist makes a stencil of the design. Then she will clean and might shave your skin where
the work will be done and, will swipe your skin with an "adhesive," which is
usually deodorant stick . The artist will then put the stencil design directly
on your skin and, when the paper is lifted a stencil line drawing of the design
will appear on your skin. She will let you look in a mirror to make sure you
are happy with the design and the placement. Once this is agreed upon, the artist
will then begin setting up the tattooing work station. The artist will be doing
things like dispensing various colors of ink into disposable ink caps, and putting
a sterile needle tube set into the tattoo machine.
At this time, you will want to try to relax and take a bathroom break. You will probably be somewhat nervous,
but excited at the same time. Your body is going through quite an adrenaline
rush. Your excited condition and your anxiety about the anticipated pain
may trigger a fainting spell. It will help if you are not there on
an empty stomach. Eat about an hour or two BEFORE you go in for your
The artist will let you know that she is ready
to start tattooing. The artist will start up the machine, dip the needle
into the ink and let you know that she will start to work on the stenciled
outline by starting on a small line that is not noticeable to let you know
how it will feel. Don't forget to breathe and relax. The outline is usually
the most painful part for most people. Remember that any move you make may
cause the artist to make a mistake, so BEFORE you try to move, ask the artist
Most people can sit through over an hour of
work, but if you get uncomfortable, just ask your artist if you can take a break.
If you feel light headed or dizzy, tell your artist IMMEDIATELY so they can give
you a break and get you some water. Once the tattoo is finished you will get to
look at it, then it will be bandaged up and after-care will be discussed.
You will be sent home with written after- care instructions. Follow the
after-care instruction as closely as possible. Good after-care will make
the difference in how your tattoo heals and ultimately how it will look.
Tattoo After Care
It is very important to care for your new tattoo properly during the healing
period. Never touch the tattoo or the area around the tattoo with dirty hands. Try to wear
clean, loose fitting clothes that allow the tattoo to breath and does NOT rub on the tattoo.
Do NOT swim or soak in any natural water source such as streams, rivers or ocean until your
tattoo is healed. Do NOT expose a new tattoo to direct sunlight it will fade the color.
Leave the bandage on for two (2) hours. Wash your hands before touching the tattoo.
Remove the bandage and wash your tattoo. The best place to wash your tattoo is in the shower.
Using your fingertips wash your tattoo thoroughly removing all surface
debris such as ink, plasma and blood. (Do NOT use a wash cloth on a healing tattoo; it is too
rough for the tender healing skin) Use a mild fragrance free soap such as glycerin soap.
When the tattooed skin feels like normal wet skin, pat dry with a fresh, clean paper towel.
Do not soak the tattoo while washing it. Apply a small amount of mild fragrance free lotion to your tattoo
whenever the tattoo feels dry. I recommend Curel Daily Moisture Therapy Lotion, Fragrance Free. Remember to
wash your hands before applying lotion. Rub the lotion
COMPLETELY into the tattoo; do NOT leave globs on the surface. Remember less is more.
Reapply lotion to your tattoo 3-4 times a day or when it feels dry. During the healing
process your tattoo will flake and peel. The lotion helps prevents drying and cracking
that can result in loss of ink. Continue to wash your tattoo daily and apply lotion
as needed until healed. Peeling skin is normal just do NOT pick or scratch it!
If your tattoo itches slap the skin around the tattoo to relieve itching. Healing time
varies, usually 1-3 weeks. If an infection occurs, contact your tattoo friendly physician.
While infections are unlikely, they do occur. It begins in a small area looking puffy and grayish.
Life time tattoo care:
Always use a sun screen or sun block on your tattoo. Direct sun will
eventually fade your tattoo. Consistent care and protection of your tattoo will keep
the lines sharp and colors bright!
© 1998- 2013 Malu Tattoo. All rights reserved. Design, layout, CSS, content and images may not be reproduced without written permission.