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Alpha M

Tattoo Tactics | Should I Get a Tattoo?

Gone are the days when tattoos were only worn by motorcycle gang members, and soldiers or sailors who succumbed to the needle during a good weekend drunk.  No longer attached to the stigma they once had, tattoos know no bounds, for today’s tattoo fans span the spectrum; from teenage boys to suburban housewives.

Tattoo art is not only beautiful; it’s an expression of one’s self.  It is usually a life long commitment, which makes a statement about a person’s life in some way – who they love, which hobbies they have, which club they belong to, or often just beloved art that is worthy of being branded with forever.

Despite tattooing’s surge in popularity, yesterday’s concerns: permanency, professionalism and safety are still with us; making the decision to get a tattoo, and all its surrounding factors, important considerations, which need to be honestly evaluated… before permanently marking your body with something you may regret in the future.  So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the issues you should give lots of thought to before sitting down in the chair!

Think it Through

Don’t rush!  Before putting energy into finding an artist, take time – lots of time – like six months – to think about owning a tattoo.  Assuming you probably have a design in mind, display it on the wall, make it your screen saver, hang it in the shower… I don’t care.  Just have it in your face as much as possible, and see how you feel about it after the novelty has worn off.  Is it something you’re still willing to be married to after months of looking at?  Do you still get that rush and warm fuzzy feeling?  If not, take it down and rethink your plan.  Is it the idea of permanently marking your body that’s cooled things off, or is it the actual design?

I know how difficult it is to take your time and wait it out.  I currently have two tattoos that I would have rather pulled my finger nails out then wait even a day to be tattooed after I made the decision to get one.  In spite of my mother’s wise and unyielding attempts to talk me out of it… I sat in the chair.  Needless to say, I should have listened, and will now live the rest of my days with embarrassing tattoos that constantly remind me of my impulsiveness and poor judgment.  So, take your time, or you may find yourself with a bumblebee on your shoulder, too!


Do your homework!  Once you’ve decided you definitely want to be owned by a tattoo, put energy into finding the best artist and safest tattoo parlor you can.  The best way to choose a tattoo artist is through word of mouth and recommendations.  Take advantage of others who have gone before you, and if they have only good things to say about the artist and shop where they got theirs, and you love the artwork, you may have found your place.  Still, talk with as many people as possible about their experience, but don’t stop there – look parlors up online.  Read about them and see what people are saying.  Look into the artist’s credentials, and make sure he or she is worthy of working on you.  Visit as many shops as possible, and look through portfolios.  Ask questions – lots of questions about the artist’s career, years tattooing, the parlor’s safety practices, etc.

Making an educated decision is critical when getting a tattoo.  The more you know, the happier you’ll be with your tattoo.  Nothing’s much more disappointing than ending up with something you’re not proud to wear… well almost nothing.

Health Risks

I think it’s safe to say there is something worse than getting an ugly tattoo –    contracting a disease.  Unfortunately, along with the surge in tattoo popularity comes an increase in health risks.  Not only is it because the numbers of tattoos are climbing, but because there are more diseases in existence today than when grandpa got his tattoo during World War II.  And some of these diseases are deadly.  To make matters worse, the more tattoos you get, the greater your risk of contracting a disease is.  Sorry, but this applies to the size of the tattoo, as well – the larger the tattoo, the greater the risk.

Major risks include: Hepatitis C, HIV, Hepatitis B, fungal and bacterial infections.  It’s why the Red Cross and most blood banks won’t accept blood from anyone who’s gotten a tattoo within the previous year.  There are other problems associated with ink, since it’s not approved or regulated by the FDA.  It’s not uncommon for people to have allergic reactions to the ink; causing skin problems, which can flare up years later.  It’s not a joke.

I’m not telling you this to dissuade you from getting a tattoo.  Instead, I’m stressing the importance of you knowing the sterilization techniques and safety policies of the shop you get your tattoo at.

Safe Policies

These are the safety measures you want to be sure any tattoo parlor you’re considering using implements and enforces, in order to reduce the risk of spreading disease and infection.

  1. Tattoo artist MUST always use sterilized equipment
  2. Tattoo artist MUST always use new needles
  3. Tattoo artist MUST always wear disposable gloves.
  4. Tattoo artist MUST always wear a mask.
  5. Tattoo artist MUST always open a new container of ink for every tattoo.
  6. Tattoo parlor MUST be clean.


Tattoo Removal

So, you have a tattoo, and for whatever reason, you decide you have to have it removed.  There are several options and procedures you can try to remove or fade a tattoo.

  • Laser Tattoo Removal – It’s expensive and painful, and can damage the skin.
  • Tattoo Removal Cream – There are quite a few on the market, HOWEVER, research the different brands and chemicals ingredients.  Certain chemicals: Hydroquinone and Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) are very dangerous.  Hydroquinone has been linked to cancer, and has been banned in some countries, and TCA literally burns the layers of skin off.  There are other safer products, so, do your research before buying.  An advantage to using a removal cream is you can do it yourself at home.
  • Dermabrasion – This is sanding the skin off until the tattoo is faded; much like using sandpaper.
  • Salabrasion – This is rubbing the tattoo with a salt block until the tattoo is faded.
  • Excision – This is literally cutting out the tattoo and sewing the skin back together.  Please don’t try this yourself.  Seek the assistance of a professional.
  • Skin Grafts – Grafting or placing non-tattooed skin over the tattoo.


There are various methods to removing tattoos, but since it’s never an easy task, making a responsible decision about whether to get a tattoo or not is the smartest way to go.

Remember, take your time in making your decision.  Just because so many people have tattoos, doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for you.  They’re cool and trendy, but they certainly don’t go without their share of problems.  Bumblebee, anyone?!

by Aaron Marino

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