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The history and evolution of tattooing & permanent cosmetics

Humans all over the world have marked their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years. These permanent designs—sometimes plain, sometimes elaborate, have served as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment.

In the US, New York City is considered the birthplace of modern tattoos because it’s where the first professional tattoo artist Martin Hildebrandt set up shop in the mid-19th century to tattoo Civil War soldiers for identification purposes, and it’s where the first electric rotary tattoo machine was invented in 1891, inspired by Thomas Edison‘s electric pen.

The first modern application of permanent cosmetics was by Sutherland MacDonald, in 1902 at his tattoo parlor in London. Mr. MacDonald became well known for tattooing an 'all round delicate pink complexion' on the cheeks, and he was followed by George Burchett in the 1930's as a major developer of this technique.

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