The tattoo evolution in Zim

MOST Zimbabweans regard tattoos as a form of open rebellion with some employers indicating they will not hire employees with visible ink or multiple piercings.

While the practice is limited in Zimbabwe, for the tattoo artists business is booming never mind the economic meltdown.
Many are now inking their memories permanently on their bodies.

From make-up purposes, to vaginal decorations and general body art, tattoos are evolving in Zimbabwe.

So widespread is the practice that professional women who can afford the ink have even opted to have their make-up tattooed on their faces to save time and money.

“I get a lot of clients and contrary to popular belief, most of my clients are not even rebels or anything like that.

“It’s just people who want to mark significant events in their lives. I get bankers, lawyers and all sorts of professionals coming to me,” Harare-based black ink tattoo artist Gavin Green told the Daily News on Sunday.

Green said while the economy had forced most tattoo artists to cut their prices, ink was gaining popularity with the lower back tattoo commonly referred to as the “tramp stamp” emerging as a local favourite for women.

Tattoos often represent something significant and meaningful to the bearer. But to others, it can represent an easy date, research has found.

But human resources expert Nyarai Mangwiro told the Daily News on Sunday that employers — in the country and abroad — were negatively biased on tattoos.

“It is just unprofessional in some fields. Say you are a corporate lawyer supposed to assist influential and powerful clients. There is always a discrimination and your professionalism is cast in a certain light, usually unflattering,” she said.

A study also revealed that men were more likely to perceive a woman with a tattoo as more sexually promiscuous than those without.

Swami and Furnham, a South African researcher conducted an experiment that tested how men regarded women with an inking, by making subjects spot a temporary tattoo on the beach.

And it would appear that men were more likely to approach those with a tattoo quicker than those without.

The survey also showed that men rated their chances of scoring a date with the tattooed women higher than if they had tattoo-free skin.

On, the researcher said: “Given that men interpret women’s sexual intent according to their physical appearance, we predicted that women with tattoos would be more favourably approached by men.

“The first experiment showed that more men approached the tattooed confederates and that the mean latency of their approach was quicker.

“A second experiment showed that men estimated to have more chances to have a date and to have sex on the first date with tattooed confederates,” the study noted.

But most women are unfazed, Amanda* a Harare-based lawyer who spots a “tramp stamp” says her ink art is a form of expression.

“People should not view a lower back tattoo as a sign of relaxed morals; it’s just a form of expression. Some people get body piercings. The only man who sees my tattoo is one I trust. This tattoo does not mean I sleep around,” she said.

Gareth Davies, another practising tattoo artist in Harare said most of the women opting for this type of art are between the ages of 15 and 28.

“Most of my clients for the lower back tattoo are mostly aged from 15-28, they are high-end girls who have been exposed to this type of life. No offenses but very few girls come from the high density areas to get this tattoo,” Davies said.

Davies said business was good throughout the year, with men opting for bigger pieces of ink to express themselves.

“It is not just the women coming for ink. In fact, while women opt for small simple designs. The men go in and we usually make our kill off male clients,” he said.

But sanitation concerns have been raised, with the risk of Hepatitis B widespread for those who opted for the procedure.

Another growing trend has also seen Zimbabwean women catching up with their global counterparts with the needle being used as a make-up application tool.

Because cosmetic tattoo is — in most circumstances facial — designed to be worn as permanent make-up — there is still quite a lot of fear and mystery surrounding it.

Permanent make-up is a cosmetic technique which is done on as eye-lining and other permanent enhancing colours to the skin of the face, lips, and eyelids.

“Lovely red lips, perfectly shaped eyebrows, and flattering eyeliner. Permanent make-up holds the promise you will work all day, go to the gym, dance all night, and wake up in the morning with make-up in place. Nothing, it seems, will erase these cosmetic tattoos,” Muchadei Kumbula, a local make-up artist said.

She also said in the hands of a skilled person, the procedures were generally safe.

“In other countries regulatory agencies keep pace with the growth of the permanent makeup industry, as there are lots of unqualified people wielding needles.

“I even feel government through the ministry of health must start looking into regulating the practice as I have learnt of botched jobs,” she said.

Permanent make-up, according to the industry experts, is considered micro-pigmentation, similar to tattoos.

Permanent makeup for eyeliner is the most popular cosmetic enhancement, followed by eyebrows and lip colour.

Some practitioners offer blush and eye shadow, but Zvirambi, says he is totally opposed to this.

“What I have seen has been very poorly done. You cannot be sure what the colour is going to do, and if you get an allergic reaction, you are dealing with a large surface area. You are talking about major reconstructive face surgery,” he said.

Practitioners include dermatologists, cosmetologists, aestheticians, nurses, and tattooists, but since the practice is fairly new, it is advisable to work through referrals to trusted practitioners as it is still an unregulated industry.

“Allergic reactions to pigments are reasonably rare, but it is difficult to remove the irritant,” a Harare-based make-up artist, Sandy* said, adding that anytime one implants a foreign body into the skin, it has the potential for results not anticipated.

The reaction could occur years later as a rash or an immune system allergic reaction.

But pigments, like iron oxide, used in the procedure, rarely cause allergic reactions.

“Iron oxide has been shown to be the safest pigment and anything that is vegetable based, organic, or natural is the most risky. It’s the natural products in vegetables and herbs that can cause horrible allergic reactions,” Sandy said.

According to Zvirambi, two more possible adverse reactions are granulomas, which are masses that form inside tissue around a foreign substance, and keloids, which are overgrowths of scar tissue or a raised scar.

Keloids appear more often with removal of permanent makeup than with its application.

However, there are also risks of sexually transmitted diseases. In December 2003, a jury in San Antonio, USA, found the owner of a permanent make-up salon guilty of infecting a woman with hepatitis C during a series of touch-ups to her lip colour.

The permanency in procedure varies from 12-36 months, with variations according to individual skin type.

Over time, some colours can migrate, and the result can be pretty creepy, most likely to happen if a practitioner uses black India ink, which should not be used in micro-pigmentation.

Comments (2)

if ones goes for these tatoos,say for make up and it doesnt come out right or maybe he ink simply disapears,can they claim a refund,do they have a remedy?

gugu - 12 May 2017

dear editor if you need more information on tattoes please send an e-mail i will gladly respond.

lovemore - 4 January 2018

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