Cosmetic tattooing

Permanent makeup, or cosmetic tattooing of the eyelids, eyebrows and lips has exploded in popularity in the nineties. More and more women, and some men, want to “Wake Up with Makeup”. The most common reasons women seek permanent makeup are for convenience, difficulty applying conventional makeup, allergies to makeup, visual impairment, arthritis, active outdoor lifestyles or demanding work schedules. Few want to look like Cleopatra… rather they want to look like themselves – only better. Camouflage helps many with unsightly scars and vitiligo and requires advanced training. Permanent makeup can give back what the years have taken away and save time and money for women who ordinarily spend 30-60 minutes every day applying makeup, only to have it smudge, smear and disappear with time.
The critical difference between traditional tattooing and cosmetic tattooing (micropigmentation) is the location of the tattoo. Special safety considerations need to be taken when working near the eye for eyeliner. Unlike traditional tattooing, control of pain, swelling and bleeding is vital for the successful practice of permanent makeup. Clients are not uncommonly baby-boomers and their mothers who may suffer from a variety of common and rare medical problems such as high blood pressure and multiple sclerosis. Others have a history of herpes simplex (lips) or other conditions which the practitioner must take into consideration prior to performing the procedure. Pregnancy and clients taking blood thinner medication are absolute contraindications for cosmetic tattooing.
The variation in skin thickness, elasticity and color on the face presents special challenges for the dermatechnician. Traditional black tattoo inks are not flattering when used on eyebrows due to the grey-blue hues that result as time passes. Streaking or migration of pigments and inks used around the eyes for eyeliner often needs laser or surgical removal. Lipcolors may “pull blue” even in the hands of experienced practitioners. A thorough understanding of color is needed to achieve the desired result in permanent makeup. Mixtures of pigments may look good in the bottle but result in bizarre brow and lipcolors when healed.

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Tattoo Business practices

Before even starting in the tattooing business, the material in this chapter should be given some serious thought. For example, how will you ever start tattooing if perhaps it is against the law in your community? Since it is a tattooing career that you wish to make it in, it would be smart to make sure no authorities will visit you and permanently shut you down. Whether doing business at home or at a shop (which will be the eventual goal), certain local and state ordinances should be looked into in depth.
The first step would be for you to investigate into the local laws at City Hall to see whether there are any conflicts with what you plan to do, and meet what they require on this subject. This also should involve a visit to the Sheriffs Department to check on other requirements and law stipulations. A trip there should be on your schedule regardless, just to clear things up like zoning and businesses.
Another important place to go see would be the Health Department to find out what they require. Be prepared to answer their questions like a pro. Knowing all the information in this site down pat would be an excellent start, and you should practice all the information in this book too, like a professional. Meet all the regulations that are required of you. You want to set up a respectable and permanent business and not be a gypsy outlaw. State, local and health laws vary greatly, so be sure to check them out and any other establishments that they point you to.
There are some other things to consider also, about other general business practices.
Before diving right into a shop, you better know exactly what makes up a legal shop and be prepared to meet those requirements. Also, some knowledge on real estate would help, so you don’t get stuck paying off a shop you can’t use. Look up zoning laws to be sure you can tattoo in the area. Once the shop is located and the deal is going through, it is wise to have business insurance on your shop and your equipment. In case of fire, theft or accident, you will be covered. If you are not covered, it could cost you the shop. An insurance policy is a small price to pay to be protected today.

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The space and location of the tattoo studio

Space and location have a large bearing on the amount of rent you’ll be paying. It’s nice to have a place with some elbow room. Some shops are too small to change your mind in. If you’re stuck with an arrangement like that, you can have a workshop at home and do sterilizing and many other chores there, as well. You’ll require a small toolbox for transporting items back and forth. It is not convenient, but it can be done in a pinch. Former barber shops make good tattoo studios. If you keep your eye open, you might find one that requires very little renovation.
You can also go on housecalls, that is, you go to the customer’s house instead of them going to you. House calls can bring you top dollar. But, you’ll have to assemble some sort of complete travelling kit for this. Try to keep them outside off regular business hours.
The ideal arrangement for a studio is to have it partitioned into three rooms.
The room adjacent to the street entrance will be the waiting room and should be the largest of the three. Have some chairs there, perhaps a coffee table and some magazines, a deck of cards or a chess board.
All your flash will be displayed on the walls of this room. If they’re in frames, they can be either hung up or screwed fast to the wall. It’s nice to have a place with high ceilings, but they’re becoming hard to find.
At the rear of the waiting room, or off to the side, there should be a fully equipped, clean, working restroom.

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The Tattoo Studio

As we said earlier, it’s likely you will be starting out at home. Chances are, you will be most secure and have more confidence in your home setting, and develop a reluctance to move on. There are a lot of advantages working at home. If you are employed elsewhere, the overhead, after the initial outlay for equipment, is almost nil and whatever you take in, is spending money. If you are happy at home, you are ahead of the game. By using discretion and keeping a low profile, you may never run afoul of the zoning laws that exist in most communities. There are many instances of “kitchen tattooists” who do very well in their spare time and couldn’t be moved by flood or flame. If you’re a family person, keep equipment locked up, tattoo machines aren’t toys.
Others, like the “here today, gone tomorrow” call of the open road type, they setup shop in a van and can put the show on wheels at the drop of a hat. You have the choice of setting your own pace and schedule, stopping off wherever crowds gather for any number of reasons, or throwing in with a carnival or travelling show. Not everyone is thrilled with such a free-spirited life, but it does suit some folks. You may want to try it to see if that’s where you fit in.
Having a nice shop uptown, downtown or across the tracks is also hard to beat. It provides an atmosphere of stability that encourages people to put their faith and trust in you.

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The white color. A lighter color on tattoos

White is the last color you put in a tattoo. White pigment is lighter than human skin and it won’t stay pure white for long. It’s a fickle color and it is highly subjective to the sun, tanning and turning a skin tone. Use it sparingly by itself. It is particularly good though for lightening other colors. It looks good in eyeballs. Some pretty results can be obtained by tattooing an area white, wait until it’s entirely healed, and then put a tattoo over it in the regular fashion. It is also possible to do a more subtle work like using a dry shader, with no color in it (put a very light coat of Vaseline on the needles) and a very light coat of dry, powdered red (or other color) across the skin and then sweep across it with your shader for a pretty blush.
After having finished a tattoo, it should be washed off with green soap and sprayed with an alcohol solution. It would now be a good time to take a few photos for the portfolio and then carefully bandage the tattoo up. They look great when just finished. All glossy and sharp. Tattoo’s look their best when just finished and it’s a great time to photograph them, at their peak condition. Before taking a photo, be sure to blot the tattoo perfectly dry and don’t have any Vaseline on it or the results will be a poor photo.

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Brush Shading. A not familiar type of shading in the tattoo business.

This is a type of shading that is not familiar to everyone in the tattoo business as is common sweep shading. The reason is it’s quite a hard technique to master and requires a lot of practice. It also takes a super running tattoo machine. The effect you can get with brush shading on a tattoo is very outstanding and puts the artist in a separate class of his own. After you have accomplished this technique, other artists not so fortunate will look up to you with envy. Some will even want you to teach them how to do it. The most unique thing about brush shading is that you don’t have to stand on your head or get in a bent-out position to do it. You can work your shading forwards, backwards or to the side and get all the same effects with little effort. You can practice with a pencil on paper or if you want to be real technical, you can fasten a pencil to the tube on a tattoo machine. This way, you will have the weight of the machine in your hand the same as if you were actually tattooing. The technique is all in the movement of your wrist as is sweep shading, but the brush shading is done from a very slow movement to a very fast movement. As you pick up the needles from the skin, you must turn your machine sideways, moving slowly, and putting the black in solid to start with. As you want to feather out the shading, you pick up the speed of your wrist movement back and forth and at the same time, picking up on the machine while going away from the solid black area. This can be accomplished by going in a forward or reverse position but must be done fast to get the effect desired. Use a low power on your machine, and if you must go over it again, be very careful because you can get too much black into it and ruin the effect of the whole tattoo. Refer to diagrams.

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Shading Tips and Tricks

•   Black ink goes in much easier than colors.
•   You might have to run a shader a little faster than an outliner.
•   Grey shading a Japanese sky is gaining popularity. This is accomplished by having a cap filled with black ink diluted with distilled pure water. The more water, the weaker the tone, creating a light, washed out grey effect. Another way of achieving this grey effect is by using undiluted black in the machine, and using distilled water on the skin. You basically wet the area (using a soft brush) before you sweep across it. This is a good way on larger pieces such as the back. Practice this, like in any technique, elsewhere to perfection before doing it on a customer.
•   Single needle and outline needles are used to make fine hair and wispy effects. Dotting effects are also achieved by this method.

•   Shading or feathering also work well with some colors too, especially red and brown.
•   On human figures, use brown or tan shading to show form, curves or muscle bulges. Use the natural skin tone as a highlight and shade to enhance the natural skin.
•  Most of the commercial design sheets have designed shading on them. It is an individual matter to change shading by adding or subtracting to suit one’s artistic tastes. This should be done anyway to put an individual stamp on each tattoo.
•  Just like the outliner, the needle bar loop must be snug on the armature bar nipple. The shaft of the needle bar cannot come in contact with inside of the tube.
•  When you change shader needle bars, you will see a series of grooves in the tip. File these out before putting in a new set of needles. A good tool for this is a specially designed mini file available from Spaulding & Rogers Mfg., Inc. By doing this, it doubles the life of the shader tip.
•  When moving the needle bar shaft up and down manually, it should feel smooth and free. If you feel a rub, correct it. The needles may be off to one side and not parallel to the tip or not spread correctly. Another rubber band may also correct this problem. Needles may be bent slightly down to hug bottom of shader tip. Never bend the needle bar.
•   You may also wish to experiment with a round shader. These are also available from your supplier and hold as many as 14 needles. In appearance they resemble an outliner with a large tip. They have advantages in that they are not prone to cutting the skin up too bad and they can put in a lot of ink at a rapid pace. You will not get the shading effect with the round shader that you will get using a flat one.

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Blood at the time of tattooing

With all these small holes being made in the skin, some bleeding is quite natural and should be expected. If it is overly excessive, double check the needle depth and check the needle points. Try a slower power on the machine. Bleeding would be called excessive when it drips down the arm or when an area is finished and the only thing that can be seen when the tattoo is wiped off is blood.
As sections of the tattoo are completed and wiped, a thin coat of Vaseline might help the situation. Occasionally, carefully wipe away the bottom of the tube tip where excess ink and Vaseline tends to accumulate. Some customers bleed a lot regardless of how well the machine is tuned. Some body parts tend to bleed more than other parts due to differences in skin texture. Bleeding must be accepted and do the best possible job, wiping a lot.
To shade properly, make sure the bridge is set and stable (consult Chapter on Holding Machines) as should be always done. With the machine running, set the needles down gently in the skin along the outline. All four or six needles should be in line with skin surface at all times. No one side should be any deeper than the other side. With the machine running and the needles riding against the outline, make sure the tip of the tube is touching the skin before starting. Right at this point, the machine is swept away from you with a flick type wrist motion. This sweeping motion brings the needles up and away from the skin.
When this happens, the needles go from full depth in the skin to gradually getting shallower and finally out of the skin at the end of the motion. Hence, when at full depth, full strength black is inserted and while the needles are swept away, the black ink gets toward the surface of the skin and creates grey tones. That beautiful effect is called feathering or shading. If the shading is to be light, the sweeping motion should be quicker paced. Don’t let the machine dwell on the outline for any length of time. If it is to be dark, a slower motion is needed. How much shading is achieved or the quality of feathering is determined by the speed of the sweep and the angle of the machine which is being “whipped” out of the skin. It does require a certain feel or touch, and many hours of practice are needed to fully acquaint oneself with the results that are desired.

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Cleaning tubes and needle bars. Continuation

If a heat sealing system is not used, Red Fox bags, prelabeled for contents, can be substituted. However, they will not have the shelf life of the plastic bags, (1 year) and are not waterproof.
After autoclaving, remove the trash bag from the autoclave and dispose of it – it is now sterile. Place all bags in the clave and lock the door; start the cycle. 273° F, 15-17 PSI, for 30 minutes. At the end of the cool down cycle, remove the bad needle bars to the solder bench for destruction.
Heat the soldering iron and hold the needle end of the bar over the sharps box. Melt them off the bar, wipe the excess solder off the bar onto a wet towel and place it in the rebuild box.
The machine rack test tubes should be cleaned with a test tube brush and soapy water, rinsed under tap water, and rinsed again with distilled water. These tubes should be inverted and allowed to air dry before bagging and sterilizing them.
Though not required by regulation, the straight razor and bandage scissors can be cleansed, dried, bagged, and sterilized at the same time the bars and tubes go in; it’s just good practice.
Also remember, animals carry more bacteria and viruses than humans, some of which are transferable to man. To promote a sterile work environment it’s best to leave your pets at home.
A closing note of caution on the use of household bleach as a cleansing agent -never let it come in contact with ammonia, as chlorine gas will be liberated. This gas will KILL anything that breathes.  Bleach also corrodes aluminum.
Adhere to the laws of sterilization and you will be a survivor; fall short and you’ll be out of business.
To comply with current federal government regulations, regarding the sterilization of needle bars and tubes, we have obtained validation certificates from inde-pendant testing laboratories.
We have on file, quality assurance compliance reports verifmg that all of Spaulding & Rogers tubes and needle bars can be successfully sterilized using the autoclave or dry-clave sterilization methods described before on this tattoo site.

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After the tattoo

Place all machines used in a rack and set it in the ultrasonic cleaner for 30 minutes to be cleaned. Mix a 5.25% sodium hypochlorite solution and put on your plastic apron and rubber gloves. Fill 2 glass or stainless shallow pans with straight bleach (must be puncture proof) and begin to wipe down everything that was handled during the tattoo procedure (ink bottles, machine rack, transformer, clipper cord, sink faucet handles, table top, spray bottles, etc.). Turn off ultrasonic cleaner and break down machines. Remove needle bars and place them as a unit in one of the pans clearly marked “Sharps”. Pull the glass tubes from the machine rack and place them in the other pan marked “Glass Tubes”. Continue to clean the machines by throwing the rubber bands away and wiping each machine off with the bleach solution then place them in your drawer. Mop the floor and carry the 2 pans to the cleaning area. Wipe out the trash can and replace the liner. Staple the trash bag closed and autoclave it. Recover your table. Pour your bucket of used bleach solution down the drain, this is acceptable.

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