Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tattoos: The Science in Your Body Art



In Brooklyn, Obama fans partied in the streets and hugged random strangers until the weee hours of the morning on November 5. Not everyone spoke the same language: some sang out in Spanish, others in Chinese, English, Italian, etc.-- but it didn't matter, body language said it all. In fact, some fans were so enthusiastic that they sported permanent body language: Obama tattoos. And this tattoo artist even offered free Obama tattoos! Deciding whether or not to sport body art for the rest of your life is a tough decision, and then there's the question of what colors to use. Perhaps a bit of information on the science of how tattoos work will be helpful:

Have you ever wondered how tattoos can possibly be permanent since we are constantly shedding our skin cells?

Cells divide from the base layer of the epidermis (the top layer of our skin) and are constantly moving “up” to replace dead skin cells that are shed off from the surface. But the second layer of our skin, the dermis, does not shed and replace like the epidermis does. As you may have guessed by now, a tattoo needle punctures the dermis, and this is why your tattoo is fairly permanent.

Now, what about the tattoo ink?


Most tattoo inks contain metals, (which is why your body art may sting just a bit if you ever get an MRI). If you're allergic to any metals, you may want to consider your colors carefully before going under the needle, or ask about non-metallic options. Here's a list of what most of your standard color options will have in them:

Red: Mercury

Black: Carbon

Yellow: Cadmium

Blue: Cobalt

Green: Chromium

Purple/Violet: Manganese

Brown: Ferric Oxide

White: Titanium, Zinc Oxide, or Lead carbonates

This is not meant to frighten, just to inform. After all, about 95% of people will not experience any significant adverse reaction to the ink used in tattoos. Of the 5% who do, green and red are the most likely colors to cause allergic reactions.

If you're still not sure what to get and you want to be original, think about a TalkingScience tattoo. As far as I know, no one in the world has used this totally cool logo for body art yet, so you could be the first!

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