Tattoos Aren't Diamonds: How Permanent Ink Works, And Why Forever Isn't Always So

Tattoos Aren’t Diamonds: How Permanent Ink Works, And Why Forever Isn’t Always So

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Tattoos Aren't Diamonds: How Permanent Ink Works, And Why Forever Isn't Always So

How Do Tattoos Work? Tattoos decorate arms, legs, backs, and fronts of people from all different cultures and can be traced throughout human history as a symbol of rank, memory, or reflection of personal belief or group relation. Claudia Aguirre , the CEO of English language learners at the NYC Department of Education, created a video for Ted-Ed to teach exactly how tattoos are permanent and the history of their place on our skin today.

Decorative skin markings are older than the idea of tattoos themselves, dating back to 6,000 B.C. where a Peruvian mummy was found with skin markings of his own. Now we have tattoo fads that come in and out of style and express our love for those who’ve passed, and others use them as a form of artwork, but all are a form of permanent self-expression. Unlike jewelry or clothing, they’re permanent pieces we carry with us day after day. We shed about a million skin cells every day, so how are tattoos permanent throughout the entirety of our lives? Tattoos are drawn onto the skin by an electrically-powered machine, so to say tattoos are drawn on is to say it delicately and under-evaluates the seriousness of the procedure. The machine moves a solid needle up and down between 50 to 3,000 times per minute. The needle penetrates a millimeter into the skin’s dermis, which is the second, deeper layer of the skin. No ink is deposited into the uppermost layer of skin, known as the epidermis. This is the layer you scrub every day in the shower and sheds 40,000 cells per hour.

Not only does the tattoo’s placement make it permanently locked beneath the skin’s layer, but it also inflicts damage into the dermis, which includes collagen, pigment, glands, and of course, nerves. The body reacts to the perceived pain by sending immune system cells to the wound site to begin repair and decrease inflammation.

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