Book Ink
for artists

How Tattoos Work: An Insider's Look Into The Ink Injections

How Tattoos Work: An Insider's Look Into The Ink Injections
10 Oct, 2023

How Tattoos Work: An Insider's Look Into The Ink Injections


The process of getting a tattoo is not something you've probably thought much about when you got your tattoo but it's something you should know! Tattoos are permanent works of art that are inked into the skin, but how exactly?

In this blog article, we're going to explain how tattoos are injected into the skin and other details people might not know, such as where ink is exactly injected and where it settles.

The ink is injected INTO the skin

Artists create your tattoo by injecting ink into your skin using an electrically powered tattoo machine. This machine looks and sounds like a dental drill, with a needle that moves up and down to puncture the skin between 50 and 3,000 times per minute. It administrates the ink into the body’s skin cells through an open wound caused by the needle piercing the skin and depositing a tiny amount of ink with each poke.

The moment a needle punctures your skin, the artist has started what is called "single-pass" tattooing. This process revolves around the design being drawn in one uninterrupted movement of the needle and ink charged with electricity from the ink reservoir to the needle. What this means is that each time an electric current passes through the needle head, liquid ink gets driven deep into your dermal skin layer (beneath your skin's surface level). This occurs over and over again until all of your body art has been delivered.


How is a tattoo injected? Is it under the skin or on top of it?

Ever wonder where the ink goes in your body? If you're seeking an insider's look into this process untainted by rumor, distortion, or hearsay from others, then allow us to enlighten you. We’re breaking down the tattoo needle to give a bird’s eye view of exactly what happens.

Modern tattoo machines have several basic components:

  • A sterilized needle moves up and down in accordance with the design of the tattoo.
  • A tube system draws ink through the machine and into the needle.
  • An electric motor powers the machine.
  • Finally, a foot pedal controls the vertical movement of the needle - just like on a sewing machine!


Here are all the steps that happen when you get your first/next/100th tattoo:

A tattoo design is seen in the epidermis (the outer layer of skin). However, the ink actually resides in the dermis (the deeper layer that's mottled with nerves and blood vessels), also called the second layer of the skin. The dermis cells are more stable than epidermal cells, so the tattoo's ink is likely to stay in place with only minor fading and dispersion.

Whenever a tattoo machine injects ink into the skin, it creates a puncture wound. Since puncture wounds have the potential to transmit infection and disease, safety is one of the guiding factors during application. Artists safeguard themselves and their clients by sterilizing materials, disposing of them, and keeping their hands clean. To minimize the chance of contamination, most tattoo materials are single-use, including inks, ink cups, gloves, and needles. Many of these items arrive in sterile packaging that the artist opens before working. A sterilization device, such as an autoclave- which is a heat/steam/pressure unit used in hospitals, is the only acceptable method for sterilizing reusable materials, such as the needle bar and tube.


The Ink is dispersed throughout the tattooed area 

Whenever a needle penetrates the skin, an inflammatory reaction is triggered by the wound. At first, ink is dispersed as small granules in the upper dermis, but it aggregates into more concentrated areas after about seven to thirteen days of getting the tattoo.

This inflammatory reaction signal sends immune system cells to the site where the wound is. The immune system reacts when the tattoo needle pricks the second layer of your skin. Cells are rushed to the area of your new tattoo, and ink is absorbed by them. This is how tattoos disperse and last. If you've had your new tattoo for a month, the base layer of skin will start to reform with new cells. Those new cells contain ink and after two to three months, the base layer is completely reformed. The ink is permanently fixed in place when macrophages - types of blood cells that remain in the dermis - take up residence there.


Congrats! You are now a tattoo expert. You know the journey that the ink takes from the needle to your skin cells. A great tip is that you might think that they process your skin cells but don’t worry because when you go to your local artist, he/she will take the necessary measures so you don’t feel a pinch!

Location for : Listing Title