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A Short History of Cosmetic Tattooing


Tattooing, which is the foundation for permanent cosmetics, has been around for a very long time. Research has shown that people have been tattooing various parts of their bodies since as far back as the Ice Age! Early body tattoos depicted many different symbols, practices, and beliefs from all over the world. From its very beginnings, it has been considered an art form.

The primitive custom of body painting was popular throughout many cultures and classes. The pictures signified nobility, bravery, sun worship, and other elements of the specific culture from which people belonged. Certain groups even branded their criminals with tattoos. In that way, they were able to tell how many times a person had been convicted and for what crime.

There is plenty of evidence that suggests that tattoos were popular with cultures everywhere. Some of the cultures where this early art form has flourished include Portugal, Romania, Scandinavia, Lybia, Greece, China, Japan, and Scotland. In addition, examples can be found throughout Asia, The Philippines, The islands of the South Pacific, and among Native American tribes and northern peoples.

Tattooing became recognized as an art form by the Japanese in the late 18th century. Most of the “cosmetic tattooing” at that time consisted of lines, dots and simple geometric patterns. They were generally drawn on the face, arms, and hands. Prior to the invention of the electric tattooing machine in 1891 all the work was done manually. Cosmetic Tattooing as we know it today evolved with the birth of this machine.

The first electric tattooing device was designed in New York by Samuel O’Reilly. This instrument is still the basis of the tattooing machines used today. Naturally, there have been modifications and advancements but the overall the foundation was so sound that it has stood the test of time.

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