Tattoo as a direction of cosmetology is relatively young. It was introduced to the masses by American makeup artist Patti Pavlik in the late 1970s. She used an electric tattoo machine patented back in 1891, slightly modifying its design for thinner needles. Patti Pavlik was also a good advertiser, so she quickly managed to make permanent makeup a trend. The service was so in demand that Pavlik stopped coloring and started doing only tattooing. In 1989, she founded the National Permanent Makeup Association. Her colleagues and rivals Susan Church and Susan Preston soon created two more non-profit associations of tattoo artists – the Society of Permanent Makeup Professionals and the American Academy of Micropigmentation. Since 2001, the world’s first permanent makeup almanac Cosmetics has been published.

Thus, the history of modern tattooing begins in the late seventies. However, they tried to bring the permanent into fashion much earlier. There is documented evidence that in the late 1800s, a certain Dr. Crowell Beard made a semblance of a tattoo of the eyes of a patient who had lost her eyelashes. Extensions were invented more than a hundred years later, so Beard’s experiment could have been a breakthrough in cosmetology of that time. However, he did not – puritanical mores interfered. Tattoos on women’s skin in any form were considered unacceptable, so the experiment was lost in the annals of history.

If you dig deeper, it turns out that the prototype of modern tattooing appeared in ancient Egypt. There is a hypothesis that Queen Cleopatra highlighted her eyes and eyebrows with a persistent pigment. If we talk about the closest “relative” of the permanent tattoo, then it appeared in the Stone Age. Primitive people applied persistent images to the face and body in a very severe way: they drew patterns on the skin with a knife and hammered the pigment into wounds. There was no question of any sterility in those days, so we can only imagine how dangerous such beauty was.

Tattoo in Ancient Egypt

History of the tattoo machine

It’s hard to believe, but the ancestor of this tool is the rotary motor copier invented by Thomas Edison. It was a miniature motor with a needle that made holes in the paper in place of letters or images. The stencil thus obtained was rolled with a paint roller, obtaining a copy of the source. In 1891, New York tattoo artist Sam O’Reilly screwed a tray of pigment onto this machine. This is how the world’s first tattoo machine appeared.

In the 50s of the last century, it was improved by replacing the rotary engine with an induction one. In general, almost nothing has changed in the design of tattoo machines since that moment, only materials and pigments have evolved.

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