How Tattoos Work

How Tattoos Work

Handy Illustration Takes a “Stab” At How Tattoos Work

Tattoo history goes back to the beginning of time, and chances are there’re been some stellar tattoos and some that you might make you go running for tattoo makeup. All the same, it’s best to start with the basics. Check out how tattoos work with this handy illustration.


A tattoo is a permanent mark on the body that is created by inserting pigment (known as “ink”) into the skin. Modern tattoos are usually made with an electric “tattoo gun” that rapidly inserts the ink into the skin with needles. The needles prick the skin’s top layer—the epidermis—and inject ink into its underlying layer of connective tissue, the dermis.

Cells in the dermis are not regularly shed and replaced as they are in the epidermis. That’s why tattoos are permanent: Once the ink is in the dermis, it tends to stay there.

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