Tattoos transcend countries and cultures. But techniques and methods vary and can be influenced by traditions, religious beliefs, and rituals. In western culture, tattoo machines are by far the most popular method in western culture, although other techniques are still requested and practiced.
Every tattoo method gives a unique result, but ink is always inserted into the skin via one of three ways: pierce; puncture; or cut. Piercing the skin requires an object - such as a needle - to be pushed into the skin with little force. Puncturing is when an object is pushed through the surface with a relatively large amount of force. Finally, cutting the skin gives access to the underlying cells and ink is rubbed in to create a permanent marking.
Read about the different tattoo techniques and methods below.
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Electric tattoo machines
The most common tattoo method. Ink is driven into the skin via either a single needle or a group of needles, depending on the desired effect (single needles are best for fine line or intricate tattoos, for example). The needles are attached to a high-speed oscillating unit which operates at approximately 80-150 strokes per second.
This technique is primarily found in North American indigenous communities. A thread is soaked in ink and stitched into the skin. When the thread is removed, the trail of ink leaves a permanent mark.
Not one to consider if you’re squeamish! Using a knife, the design is cut into the skin and ink is rubbed into the wound.
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Stick and poke
A non-electric tattoo method where ink is inserted into the skin by hand via an ink-soaked needle. The process is slower than machine tattooing, but not necessarily more painful - just like tattoo removal, pain is subjective and down to the individual experience.
Image: A client's stick-and-poke tattoo before and after laser tattoo removal.
This puncturing method is traditionally used by the Australasian indigenous communities and Pacific Islanders, but has reached across the world. An L-shaped tool is dipped into ink and hammered into the skin repeatedly at a 90-degree angle.
There are a number of tattoo methods to choose from - each with its own history and effect - but should you need us, you'll be pleased to know we can safely and effectively remove tattoos created from a range of methods and techniques. Every tattoo is unique and with over 18,000 treatments completed (and counting!) we've had plenty of practice on a huge range of tattoos - from electric tattoo machines and stick-and-poke to cosmetic and more.