Once you get a tattoo, your tattoo journey will last forever. A tattoo is a permanent body art that becomes literally a part of you. So, just like the rest of the body, you need to take care of it to keep it in good shape over the years.
Many think that once their tattoo is healed, they’re done with it. However, just like the skin, the tattoo changes due to external or internal factors as well. Maybe the tattoo will fade due to sun exposure, or it might lose pigment or shape due to skin conditions, or even just due to skin aging. Tattoos are susceptible to change and deterioration just like anything else in our bodies.
That is why one may need to touch up their tattoo(s) once or twice in the tattoo’s lifetime. But, how do you know that your tattoo really needs to be corrected and improved?
In the following paragraphs we’ll tackle the signs your tattoo requires some adjusting and touching-up, and other important aspects of tattoo touch-up every tattoo enthusiast should know.
Tattoo Touch-Up: When Is It Required?
- The tattoo has lost the initial color and pigment
- Tattoo is placed in high-friction, stretch- and sweat-prone area
- The tattoo was infected
- The ink was placed too deep into the skin so it has spread out
- The tattoo is old
The Tattoo Is Fading
If you’ve noticed that you’re tattoo has lost its initial color, vividness, and brightness, chances are it has started to fade or has already faded significantly. This is generally a pretty straightforward sign that your tattoo needs a touch-up.
In a case of a faded tattoo, your tattoo artist will probably go in with the same ink pigment in the most affected tattoo areas, to brighten it up. This doesn’t mean they will do the whole tattoo again, just the most faded parts. Just a few touch-ups will bring your tattoo back to its initial vividness and brightness.
To prevent such significant fading, you can make sure to apply sunscreen whenever the tattoo is exposed to the sun or UV rays. You can also take care of the tattoo by keeping it hydrated with a gentle lotion, or just by keeping yourself healthy and hydrated.
The Tattoo Has a Specific Body Placement
When a tattoo is placed on the body where there is a lot of friction and sweating going on, chances are it will start to lose the initial pigment and shape.
For example, if a tattoo is placed on the hand, the ankle, the foot, inner thigh, and other visible, friction-prone, stretch-prone, and sweat-prone areas, it will lose its initial shape, vividness, lines, and overall pigment.
The reason for this is that tattoos don’t like excess friction, moisture and skin stretching. With all of these ‘bodily changes,’ the tattoo also reacts by changing. It is simply inevitable. But, by touching up the tattoo(s), you can bring back the ink vibrancy or the shape of the tattoo.
Even after a touch-up, however, you can expect the tattoo to look fresh for a bit longer, but if not taken care of properly, it will start to lose brightness and shape again. So, make sure to apply sunscreen, keep the tattoo clean (especially in case of sweating), and wear loose clothes to avoid contact friction.
The Tattoo Was Infected
It is no lie that people tend to experience tattoo infections for a number of reasons. From contaminated tattoo equipment to touching and peeling the tattoo while it was healing, tattoo infection can occur whenever pathogens are introduced to it in the healing stage.
Tattoo infections are painful and they affect the tattooed skin heavily. The skin becomes swollen, red, sometimes it even starts to bleed and ooze ink, so, you can imagine the damage all of this can have on the actual tattoo.
Luckily, infections can be treated and they generally don’t escalate thanks to antibiotics and immediate reaction. But, what after the tattoo-remainings have healed.
Chances are you’d be a perfect candidate for a tattoo touch-up. However, before the actual touch-up, you need to talk to a dermatologist to see whether your skin can handle the tattoo needle and get some advice on how to avoid the tattoo from getting infected again.
Tattoo Blowout and Ink Spreading
When the tattoo is done properly, the ink is placed into the skin layer known as the dermis. However, when a tattoo is done by an amateur, unprofessional tattoo artist, the ink is generally placed deeper into the skin layers, where it cannot stay in place.
As a result, during the healing process, the ink spread out beyond the tattoo lines, which makes it looks messed up. This is known as a tattoo blowout.
Luckily, a touch-up can fix a blowout by adding a new design and by extending the lines of the tattoo. In many cases, a tattoo blowout can be fixed by partial tattoo fading or even a tattoo cover-up. But, if you don’t want to be extreme with your tattoo, a simple touch-up could make it look proper.
Make sure to get your touch-up done by a professional, experienced and reliable tattoo artist.
The Tattoo Is Pretty Old
Tattoos are known to change with age pretty significantly. Some tattoos start changing ad+fter several years, while other change when you enter old age when the skin starts to lose elasticity and becomes stretched.
Tattoo aging is completely normal and generally inevitable. Sure, there are some ways you can prevent tattoo aging from occurring too early, but at one point, the power of time will simply win.
However, tattoo touch-ups aren’t impossible even in this situation. Though much harder to execute on aging skin, touch-ups can be properly by a professional tattoo artist who knows how to work around skin texture and stretched skin.
It would be best to find the original tattoo artist who has inked you, but in many cases that is generally not possible. Considering how many years have passed, a lot could have happened with your tattooist. So, ask around and simply find a new, professional and experienced tattooist. Discuss your touch-up options and see what can be done.
Tattoo Touch-Up: More FAQs
Is Tattoo Touch-Up Expensive?
If you get to do the tattoo touch-up at the original tattoo artist, you may get it for free. The reason for this is that every tattoo artist guarantees their work.
But, don’t go in there thinking people won’t bill their work if it requires more than initially thought. If the touch-ups are demanding and hard to execute, you can expect the price to skyrocket. Moreover, if the touch-up is done by a new tattoo artist, you can expect to pay for the service.
The price for tattoo touch-ups starts at $50 for a small tattoo and moves up depending on the size and severity of the touch-up.
How Long Can I Wait Before a Tattoo Touch-Up?
Depending on the situation, you can get your first tattoo touch-up between 6 and 12 months after getting a new tattoo. Your tattoo can be retouched only when it is fully healed. In case of an infection or injury, you might have to wait for more than 12 months so that the skin can fully regenerate and the body can restore the immune system.
Other than this, you can get your first touch-up between 2 and 5 years after getting a tattoo. For brighter tattoos or odd-placed tattoos, the period in which you could go for retouching is surely 5 years. For black or dark tattoos the period would be longer, depending on how well you’ve taken care of your ink.
Do Touch-Ups Hurt?
Well, the touch-up process is the same as the regular tattooing process. So, depending on the number of touch-ups required and the placement of the tattoo, you might experience moderate to severe pain. But, no touch-up will be completely painless, unfortunately.
But, this also varies from one person to the other. Some people tend to experience significantly less pain compared to the actual tattooing, while others hurt much more during the touch-up session.
The most painful touch-up areas include knees, elbows, ribs/ribcage, feet, inner thighs, head, face, etc. Generally, body areas with thinner skin and more nerve endings tend to hurt the most.
Do Touch-Ups Heal Like a Regular Tattoo?
Yes! Touch-ups heal exactly like a tattoo and require the same aftercare. The ink is still being penetrated into your skin with a tattoo needle, so, the process of touch-up is actually the same as getting a regular tattoo.
Touch-ups are generally done just on small portions of a tattoo, so, some people may experience ‘faster healing’. That is because a smaller surface was affected so the body managed to deal with the healing much better. But, generally, the process of touch-ups requires the same process as a regular tattoo.
Tattoo touch-ups are a quick way to get back the original shine and vibrancy to your tattoo. It is also a great way to hide and fix small mistakes and mishaps on the tattoo. Retouching can be done on fully healed tattoos, whenever you want. For more tattoo touch-up information, make sure to talk to your tattoo artist and see what your options are.