While tattooing may be an art form, it's also a science. Unlike creating a painting on a canvas, a tattooer is making art on a living person by penetrating their skin with a needle and depositing ink into the dermis layer. The reason why tattoos last is because they are strategically placed into the skin—and if they are not finessed properly, they have the potential of rapidly fading or blowing out due to poor application. In past articles discussing the science of tattooing skin, we've shown the different layers of skin and how pigments are placed through illustrations. However, a photograph was recently released that blows these medical diagrams out of the water.
Yesterday, a picture of a tattoo went viral on social media and had the tattoo community a buzz in the comments. The photo features a tattooed hand which has been burnt in just the right way to expose the dermis layer of the skin. The dermis is the layer of skin that holds tattoo pigment and over time, tattoos fade as new layers of translucent skin are piled on top. However, never before have we seen a photo that clearly shows the juxtaposing layers in such a spectacular fashion. And for reference, here is a shot of the fresh tattoo—which was done in early 2017 according to the publish dates on Instagram.
On a post published on @monday_malarkey, an Instagram user called @space.caked explains the science behind tattooing and the layers of skin perfectly, using the metaphor of car paint to illustrate her point.
In addition to users like @space.caked explaining the science of skin, several artists also added to the thread by sharing personal experiences. One of those artists was Ink Master's own Cleen Rock One, who admits to experiencing the same thing with his own ink!
We had the chance to speak with Cleen one-on-one to learn how exactly this happens and what your tattoo will look like once the scab heals.
How did this happen to you?
Cleen: I was working on my car and burnt myself on the headlight.
What happened to your tattoo when you burnt yourself?
It looked super bright like lotion on one spot of dry skin and the first few seconds after was just me shaking my hand and cussing. Then once I ran it under cold water, you could see a huge color difference between the burnt and the non-burnt.
Does the tattoo look different today?
No, but after a few days it look crusty as fuck. It looks fine now. I have a few other similar burns where the tattoo is completely gone.
We certainly don't recommend that someone tries to burn off their skin in order to reveal the bright pigments underneath, however, this could be a safe and viable practice done in the future. We've already begun seeing tattoo products that exfoliate the skin, so who knows where the technology will be in a couple of years. What do you think about this fascinating photograph? Are you shocked to see what your tattoos look like under the skin? Let us know your thoughts, opinions and questions in the comments section on Facebook.