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A tattoo is a drawing on the skin. Most specifically the tattoo is done over the dermis with needles and indissoluble ink. The dermis is the second layer of the skin after the epidermis. As the dermis does not have the epidermis’ cell turnover, the drawing remains there forever, though it goes through a progressive discoloration. Tattooing is an art expression recently recognized as such. At the beginning and in different cultures, the tattoo was used as a symbol of belonging to a group, as a sign of mourning for someone beloved or as a symbol of hierarchy within a certain social organization. Nowadays, the tattoo’s meaning has been greatly modified: some people get a tattoo as a way to express rebellion, others just out of an esthetic or artistic interest. However, nowadays it is still used as a symbol of belonging to a group or to show our love for somebody.

Nowadays tattoos are done with disposable needles and pigments of various colors. This procedure tends to be painful; although it is not imperceptible, is not an unbearable pain. Depending on the part of the body being tattooed, the pain will increase or diminish, being the region of the ribs the most painful one. There are also tattoos that are done over the epidermis and not under it, and, thus, they do not need the use of a needle. These are the henna tattoos that are done with a brush and last for a few weeks.

There are five types of tattoos that are the most important ones and that will be discussed later on in their corresponding section. The traditional style is the oldest one of the western styles and in it we have several concepts: sailors, animals, etc. The American one refers to Cadillacs, pin-ups, dices, fire, etc. The Japanese one makes reference to dragons, flowers, water, smoke, kites, letters and other constituent elements of the Japanese tradition. The tribal type is drawn in black and refers to the design of different tribes; they are figures with trimmings, curves, points and tend to be symmetric. Finally, the personal style consists of the client asking for a design he has created ?the name of the person he loves, the picture of his family, etc.

The tattoo can be colorful or have only one color. And in order to keep it for a long time, the tattooed area must be properly taken care of. The tattoo will remain with us for the rest of our lives and that is its main feature: beyond its colors, style and quality, the tattoo acquires a special feature because it does not allow for regrets; it becomes a part of us. Getting a tattoo is stating something, it is a message we write upon ourselves and that we will repeat until the last day of our lives. So it’d better be a good one.

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