frequently asked questions
What is a bamboo tattoo?
A bamboo tattoo is one that is made by hand, using a bamboo stick with surgical steel needles attached to the end. This is also referred to as 'handmade', 'handpoked', or 'traditional' tattoos. The tattoo artist carefully uses the bamboo stick to poke the needle into the skin repeatedly, injecting ink underneath the layer of skin to make the tattoo. This is the most ancient form of tattooing and also can have spiritual connections.
What is the difference between bamboo and machine tattoos?
Because bamboo tattoos are applied by hand, slowly and precisely, they take longer to make than machine tattoos, which are done by using an automated machine to inject the ink into the skin very quickly while the tattoo artist draws the image. Applying bamboo tattoos cause less damage to the skin than tattooing by machine. Tattoo machines drag the needle through the skin, while bamboo tattoo artists carefully insert the needle into exactly the correct location. So, although the tattoo takes longer to apply with bamboo, the process is less painful and heals much more quickly.
Is It safe?
Yes! We take great care to make sure our studio is clean and our tattoos are sterile and safe. Your artist will wear disposable gloves throughout the tattoo, and change them whenever needed. The bamboo stick that is used to tap the needle into your skin is single use, and you will be given it as a souvenir after your tattoo. Of course, the needles that enter your skin are brand new and sterile. They will be removed from the package while you watch, then disposed of after your tattoo. We stick to Western standards of cleanliness to make sure our customers do not worry, and are safe while they get their tattoo.
Will my tattoo look good for a long time?
As long as you take good care of your skin, your tattoo will look great for years to come. Some people believe that bamboo tattoos do not last as long as tattoos applied by a machine. However, a good bamboo tattoo artist will inject the needle to the same layer of skin that the tattoo machines do. The ink is the same as well - so, the tattoo will last exactly as long as a tattoo applied by a machine. The colors stay vibrant, and the lines stay crisp.
How long until I can go swimming?
Because the bamboo tattoos heal very quickly, you can go swimming in the ocean, or in a pool, the day after you get your tattoo. Just clean the tattoo after you are done, and apply a small amount of antibiotic cream.
is it ok to expose my tattoo to the sun?
Yes, you can have your tattoo out in the sun. Your tattoo will continue to look good as long as you take good care of your skin. To keep your skin in good condition it is a good idea to wear sunscreen when you are in the sunlight. A high SPF sunscreen (30 or more) applied to your tattoos regularly will keep the colors vibrant. Sun damage to the skin does not affect the tattoo, as the ink is under the skin - but since you "see" the tattoo through your skin, your tattoo will look best when your skin is in good condition.
how long will it take to heal?
Bamboo tattoos heal very quickly - usually within a day or two. They do not peel and get scabby like tattoos done with a machine do. It might get a little bit flaky, but otherwise should look great right away.
can i get a color tattoo with bamboo?
Absolutely! Just like machine tattoos, bamboo tattoos can involve colors and/or black and grey shading. Because the artist is so precise with the bamboo tool, very fine lines and detail is possible, as well as precise shading, and dotwork made of individual points in the skin. We have a range of colored inks and can also blend colors to make specific shades.
What is the aftercare?
Your artist will clean the tattoo after it is finished. It will heal quickly, but for the first couple of days avoid wearing clothes that rub on it too much. Wash it gently a few times a day, especially after getting it dirty or going swimming. You can then apply a light coat of Dettol antibacterial cream, or something similar, to keep the tattoo moist. If you are traveling straight home after your tattoo, you may prefer not to use antibacterial cream and instead moisturize it with plain lotion. In Thailand, the tap water is not treated so can have germs and bacteria in it - that is why it is a good idea to use an antibacterial cream while traveling. After a few days you can switch to a normal lotion if you like. The tattoo will not peel or get very itchy like a tattoo done by a machine will. Still, you might notice a bit of flaking, or some itching. If this happens do not scratch the tattoo until all skin flakes have come off. Scratching can take off skin flakes and leave you with a small scab or missing ink. Your bamboo tattoo will heal quickly and easily, with only basic care needed.
Do I need to make an appointment?
Depending on how busy our artists are, we are happy to take walk-ins. Usually though, we need to have a few day's notice. Especially if you would like us to design you a custom piece, please come to the shop before you want your tattoo, to discuss it with the artists and make an appointment. If you want a very large piece done it may take more than one sitting - you can usually do these on consecutive days.
does it hurt?
The pain involved in a bamboo tattoo depends on the person being tattooed, and the location of the tattoo. Some people feel no pain, whereas other people find it uncomfortable or painful. The most sensitive areas are those such as feet, ribs, and stomach. Areas that hurt less are arms, thighs, and backs. Generally, the more flesh on a body part, the less painful it is to get tattooed. The pain does not last long though, and you should feel no pain once the tattoo is applied.
how much does it cost?
The cost of your tattoo will depend on its size, the detail involved, and how much time it takes your artist to do. Come in to the studio for a consultation and we can give you a quote.
can i drink/ do drugs before my tattoo?
No. We will not tattoo anyone who is clearly under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Please come to the shop when you are sober and healthy. We are professionals, and take our job seriously! We want you to be happy with your artwork, not wake up the next day with a hangover and a regret.