Tattoos 101: How to get inked and tips on how to conceal or remove them

What you should know before getting body art – and advice on tattoo removals and makeup concealers

black and white photo, woman looking at her tattoo in the mirror

William Vanderson/ Getty Images

Getting a tattoo is as easy as getting up the nerve, locating a reputable studio and choosing a design — either a creation by the tattoo artist or something you’ve found or drawn yourself. Via a photocopier-like machine, the design is reproduced on special paper that when moistened and applied to the skin leaves a faint purple outline. The artist then uses a machine with ink-filled needles to deliver the pigment. The pain is sometimes described as a slow cat scratch.

Post-tattoo care starts at the studio with a final alcohol cleansing, application of a topical ointment and a bandage that’s to be left on for four to 12 hours. When the bandage comes off, the tattoo should be gently washed with non-scented soap and warm water, then patted dry. Then begins the ritual application of a non-oily, fragrance-free cream whenever the site feels tight, dry or itchy, usually lasting a few days. there will be peeling and flaking, but the tattoo should heal within two to three weeks.

Once it’s healed, the biggest threat to body art is the sun. to reduce fading, a high-SPF sunscreen must cover the tattoo whenever it’s exposed to daylight—forever.

Prices start at about $150 per hour, with the total cost depending on the size and intricacy of your chosen design and how fast the artist works.

How to have one removed
Getting rid of a tattoo is more everything: more expensive, more time-consuming and more painful than getting one in the first place.

Laser tattoo removal involves several $100-to-$500 sessions when the laser is used to break down the pigment particles. but even state-of-the-art lasering isn’t a perfect eraser. “Factors that make some tattoos more resistant to laser therapy include the presence of orange/red colours or metallic fragments and darker skin types,” says Dr. sunil Kalia, a dermatologist at the Lions Laser skin centre at Vancouver General hospital. and pierre Quirion, who’s had 25 years’ experience at the Future skin tattoo parlour in ottawa, likens the pain of laser removal to an elastic slapping your skin repeatedly accompanied by a burning sensation.

How to cover a tattoo with makeup
Covering a tattoo with makeup is a less painful, temporary option. Many women turn to very dense concealers designed to cover stretch marks and scars, like Dermablend. But now there are tattoo-specific lines, too, such as ink aficionado Kat Von D’s light pink tattoo eraser pencil and eight shades of her “heavy-duty, highly pigmented” tattoo concealer.

Lori taylor, makeup artist for the red-carpet-and-runway cosmetic brand smashbox, says successful tattoo coverage is a three-step process. She first softens a tattoo’s colours with smashbox color correcting primer — using the green shade, for instance, to tone down red ink. To camouflage, she likes the full-coverage studio skin 15 hour Wear hydrating Foundation spF 10, “built up slowly in thin layers and blended well at the edges,” and she finishes with halo hydrating perfecting powder, for the most natural look.

To read about the tattoo trend, click here.

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