Getting a tattoo is a fascinating process. However, as it involves a needle, you might feel slightly nervous about getting your first tattoo, or you may be interested to know how the process works. For example, how many times does a tattoo needle puncture per minute?
A tattoo needle can puncture the skin between 50 and 3000 times per minute. The tattoo artist can control how fast the needle punctures, depending on what type of tattoo you are receiving. Different cultures use different tattooing methods, but tattoo machines are the most popular method recently.
Understanding more about the physics of a tattoo is a great way to broaden your general knowledge and better value and care for your tattoo. First, we will explain how many times a tattoo needle punctures per minute. In addition, we will discuss how tattoo ink works and what makes a tattoo permanent. Finally, we will briefly consider different methods of getting a tattoo worldwide.
How Many Times Does A Tattoo Needle Puncture Your Skin?
A tattoo needle machine is a modern way to apply a tattoo. Modern tattoo machines have various settings to use. For example, depending on your tattoo and the ink used to create it, a tattoo artist can adjust the tattoo machine to puncture your skin between 50 and 3000 times per minute.
This allows the tattoo artist to determine how fast they want the needles to move. For example, when tattooing a large area in a single color, the tattoo artist can set the tattoo machine to a higher setting. This makes the needle puncture the skin much faster, allowing the artist to cover a larger area in less time.
However, suppose the tattooist is working on an outline, shading, or fine details. In that case, they can set the tattoo machine to a lower setting, making the needle puncture the skin much slower. This allows the artist to work more gradually and precisely.
The earliest tattoo device dates back to the 1800s when the tattoo machine patent was first obtained. The tattoo machine is based on the stencil pen machine patented by Thomas Edison. Since the early days of tattoo machines, the device has gone through some development.
Today, tattoo machines can be used to create various designs. However, despite the many technological advancements since the 1800s, tattoo machines have remained relatively similar to their original format.
However, what has changed quite significantly is the ink used in tattoo machines. Today, we primarily use artificial ink, whereas early tattoos were created with wood ash and graphite materials. So, how does a tattoo machine work, and what makes it permanent?
How Does Tattoo Ink Work?
A tattoo machine deposits a small amount of ink 0.04 inches deep into the deepest layer of the skin, called the dermis. Once deposited, your body’s immune system will attack the ink as it recognizes it as a foreign object. Your body’s immune cells absorb the ink, then get trapped in the dermis where they remain. This process is what causes your tattoo to be permanent.
Over time, your tattoo will fade. This, too, is the result of your body’s immune system slowly removing the ink from the dermis. For this reason, you may require a touch-up from time to time to ensure your tattoo keeps looking fresh.
There is a wide variety of substances used for tattoo ink. Therefore, it’s common to find that the tattoos on your body don’t contain the same substances, even if they are the same color. Today, tattoo ink consists of two components, a carrier, and a pigment.
Carriers are the fluid in which the pigment is suspended. Some untrustworthy tattoo parlors use dangerous carriers. However, the most common carries in tattoo ink include witch hazel, water, isopropyl alcohol, and glycerin. These substances are safe for the human body. They shouldn’t cause severe reactions unless you are allergic to the ingredients.
The pigment ingredients used in tattoos also differ quite a lot. However, the most common pigments used in modern tattoos are artificial (red 210 or orange 13), titanium dioxide, titanium oxide, and plant-based dyes.
While these are the components used to make tattoos nowadays, they weren’t always used for tattooing. The tattooing tradition dates back to the ancient Vikings or possibly even older. They had a much different way of making a tattoo possible. You might be interested in knowing how tattoos were created in various cultures.
How Were Tattoos Made Before The Tattoo Machine?
Tattoos have a fascinating history. Although they are now used to express your individuality, their cultural significance is much more profound. For many cultures, traditional tattoos are a link to their heritage and ancestors.
The tattooing styles and techniques differ across the world. Although the tattoo machine is now the most popular and convenient way to get a tattoo, it might be worth looking at other tattooing methods.
Traditional tattoos take much longer, as a tattoo machine doesn’t control the needles. Instead, they are controlled by the tattooist’s hand. As you can imagine, this results in a much longer tattooing process. Here are four traditional tattooing styles from across the world.
1. Hand-Tapped Tattoos
Hand-tapped tattoos originate from Hawaii and other Indo-pacific islands. For a hand-tapped tattoo, the tattooist uses traditional tattooing tools. One tool is L-shaped, and the needles are made of albatross bones. First, the needles are dipped in ink. Then a tiny hammer is tapped on the needles to push the ink into the skin.
2. Ink Rubbed Tattoos
Ink-rubbed tattoos originated in New Zeeland and Borneo. However, this tattooing technique isn’t often used today, as it is painful and time-consuming. A sharp knife is used to cut the desired tattoo design into the skin for the ink rubbing method. After that, the pigment is rubbed into the skin to create the design.
3. Skin Stitched Tattoos
Skin stitching originated in North America among the indigenous tribes. For skin stitching, a needle and thread are dipped into some ink. The needle is then stitched into the skin, and the ink from the thread remains in the skin, creating the tattoo. This method is also quite painful, but some Native American tribes still use it.
4. Bamboo Tattoos
The bamboo tattooing method comes from Japan and Korea and is a variation of the hand poke tattooing method. For this method, a needle is fashioned from wood. This needle can have up to 24 points. The needle is dipped into the tattoo ink and then tapped into the skin to create the tattoo. This tattooing method takes a lot of skill to master.
With a tattoo machine, the needle can puncture the skin between 50 and 3000 times per minute. The tattoo machine was created in the late 1800s and has remained mostly unchanged. Various pigments are used to make tattoo ink. While most pigments are safe, they can cause an allergic reaction.
Tattoo machines are the most common method to get a tattoo today. However, tattoos have a long history and strong cultural significance. Hand tapping, skin rubbing, skin stitching, and bamboo needles are some tattooing methods worldwide. So which method will you use for your next tattoo?
Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you
Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.
Design and tattoo ideas
For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):
- Great Book of Tattoo Designs, Revised Edition: More than 500 Body Art Designs (Fox Chapel Publishing) Fantasy, Celtic, Floral, Wildlife, and Symbol Designs for the Skin by Lora Irish
- The Big Book of Small Tattoos – Vol.1: 400 small original tattoos for women and men by Roberto Gemori
- Tiny Tattoos: Over 1,000 Small Inspirational Artworks by Rebecca Vincent.
If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).
The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):