Why are Tattoos Permanent?

Why are Tattoos Permanent?

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If you don’t have a tattoo, you probably at least know someone who does — but what’s the chemistry behind tattoos? In this Reactions video we explore what tattoo ink is made of, why this body art is permanent (whether you like it or not) and other cool facts.

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For more information on tattoos, check out Claudia Aguirre’s article: www.doctorclaudia.com/tattoos-and-skin-health

Petite Viking by Old School

Elaine Seward

Executive Producer:
Adam Dylewski

Scientific consultants:
Claudia Aguirre, Ph.D.
Darcy Gentleman, Ph.D.

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20 Responses

  1. C0d0ps says:

    Congratulations on 100k subscribers! :-)

  2. C0d0ps says:

    +Reactions Np, Reactions.
    Thanks for interesting videos :=)

  3. ProfSangheili says:

    smartereverday made a great video with astonishing views of how the
    tattooing works.

  4. singerboy3012 says:

    +Reactions If you guys could team up, that would be freaking awesome *-*

  5. lmpeters says:

    +Reactions You should ask him yourself.

  6. Reactions says:

    +ProfSangheili Can you ask him if we can borrow his high speed camera?
    We’ve got some cool chemistry we can record at 10,000 fps…

  7. Craig Bettenhausen says:

    Is cinnabar a common pigment in modern tattoo ink? What about the mercury?

  8. Cole H says:

    +Craig Bettenhausen Not only Mercury, but there are lots of heavy metals
    used in tattoo ink. It really shouldn’t worry you too much as people have
    been using these for decades without many known side-effects.

  9. Reactions says:

    +Craig Bettenhausen It’s hard to say how common it is, as artists use
    different inks all over the place. But it has been known to cause allergic
    reactions because of the mercury inside, though it seems major mercury
    poisoning has never been reported, at least not in this century.

  10. zidus67 says:

    Tattoos are a good sign to me that I have business with a mentally unstable
    person, keep them coming.

  11. Riz2336 says:

    My girlfriend has tattoos. I’m not that into them myself so I don’t have
    any. Good video.

  12. phxtonash says:

    No like tats

  13. Invalid name says:

    Now I would love to see how tattoo removal works!

  14. Jane Walker says:

    Smarter Every Day has a video on the removal. It includes slow motion video
    of the tatoo process. Very cool

  15. UlithiumDragon says:

    1:13 Isn’t cinnabar toxic though, due to the mercury in it…? How is it
    safe to use as a pigment?

    EDIT: I missed that this was asked below, but it’s not like there was a
    real answer – why doesn’t the mercury cause any issues…?
    EDIT2: Wait, lead, too!? Really? Heh. Or is is that particular lead
    compound not toxic or something?

  16. Reactions says:

    +UlithiumDragon +Craig Bettenhausen To clarify my earlier point, cinnabar
    has been reported to cause allergic reactions, but it seems the amount of
    mercuric sulfide (which is 95% of cinnabar) in red ink is below a toxic
    dose in humans. So assuming you get a tattoo using red ink made from
    cinnabar (say, gigantic red angel wings across your back) that might give
    you a reaction and/or poisoning. But a small amount, especially since it is
    not being taken orally, wouldn’t cause that kind of response.

    In a small study in guinea pigs given an oral dose of cinnabar for seven
    days, all of the guinea pigs given the pure cinnabar showed signs of
    toxicity. This was administered, however, at 12 times the human therapeutic
    dose (yes, cinnabar has been used in eastern medicine as a sedative for
    thousands of years, apparently), which would be even greater than the
    amount contained in a small amount of tattoo ink. Cinnabar is less toxic
    than methyl mercury and less bioavailable than mercuric chloride, so it
    seems to be relatively safe. But feel free to ask the artist to skip the
    red altogether.

    Source: http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/67/2/256.full

  17. Link Kelly says:

    Check out this video on YouTube:

  18. sirawesome hat says:

    I wanna get the Schödinger wave equation on my left arm.

  19. fun911s says:

    Why are Tattoos Permanent?