Think about how violent getting a tattoo really is. It’s a battering ram of needles filled with metal-laced pigments injecting past the layers of skin that will eventually slough off. Tattooing put like that sounds pretty rough, but the actual needling happens so quickly that you can’t see it or think about it. You get to enjoy a wonderful piece of permanent art without the fear that accompanies something like hypodermic needles.
Science YouTube channel Smarter Every Day is back with a new video showing the process of the tattoo up-close and in glorious slow motion. It’s like seeing a Xenomorph mouth deliver ink straight into your dermis. It’s the only part of the process cooler than the tattoo itself:
I was just as intrigued as Destin was to learn that a tattooing needle doesn’t come to one point — the end looks more like a bundle of arrows.
Even cooler is the fluid mechanics at work. The needles themselves aren’t like the hypodermic ones that would inject a vaccine into your arm, tattooing needles are there only to puncture skin. Once there are hundreds of tiny holes leading down to your dermis — the layer of skin between the epidermis (outer layer) and subcutaneous tissues — the ink between the needles is drawn into them by capillary action. In short, the surface tension and forces holding the ink together encourages the ink to seep into the holes left by the needles.
There’s a sort of violent beauty to the process of tattooing, which Destin’s incredible Phantom camera lets us see. In his next video, Destin promises to show us how tattoos are removed with lasers.
Editor’s Note: The title of this post has been changed to better reflect the content, and to not be so unintentionally anti-tatt.