Getting a new tattoo is one of the most exciting feelings, whether it is your first tattoo or tenth. However, one of the trickiest parts of getting a tattoo is a part that comes after the initial excitement calms down; tattoo aftercare can either make or break your tattoo adventure. So, when some discrepancies in your tattoo healing process arise, you cannot help but be worried.
One of those discrepancies, compared to the normal tattoo healing process, is tattoo peeling. Now, this is a completely normal part of the healing process; the ‘old’ skin peels off leaving room for the ‘new’ skin layer. But, what happens when your tattoo starts peeling, but as it peels it lifts the ink up, leaving no ink or color underneath?
In the following paragraphs, we’re going through all of the possible causes and consequences of tattoo peeling cases where there is no ink left behind. So, without any further ado, let’s get started!
Tattoos and Peeling – Everything You Need to Know
Why Do Tattoos Peel In The First Place?
As you may know, a fresh tattoo is basically an open wound that needs to close up and heal. Just like any wound, the tattoo healing process contains stages of scabbing, peeling, itching, and discomfort, as well as other stages of healing one may expect from a healing wound.
Peeling, as you see, is a completely normal and expected part of the healing process because the ‘old’ wounded skin is no longer needed and new skin layer forms instead. This is simply a part of the skin regeneration process and a way in which your body helps recover the wound.
So, why do tattoos peel in the first place? Simply put, the body is getting rid of the old, damaged skin cells, and forms a new skin layer that will be stronger in withstanding future skin damage. It is your body’s protection and regeneration mechanism.
Here are some other interesting facts about tattoo peeling you should definitely know (especially if you’re new to tattooing);
- Tattoo peeling depends on the size, placement, and color of your tattoo. Sure enough, the bigger the tattoo, the more it will peel.
- If you want to avoid all these peeling issues, go for fine-line tattoos instead of full-covered tattoos. The latter tend to peel more.
- Tattoos that are more exposed to the external elements, or are placed in areas that move a lot tend to peel at a slower rate or not at all.
- Your tattoo should be done peeling in between 3 to 7 days, depending on the size, placement, and color of the tattoo. Some people experience their tattoos peeling twice during the healing process.
- You should not peel your tattoo in any way or in any case. This will simply contribute to bacteria transfer and potentially lead to a tattoo infection. In fact, do not touch, scratch, or peel your tattoo under any circumstances.
My Tattoo’s Peeling, But There’s No Ink Left Behind – Why?
Tattoo ink is something your body recognizes as a foreign object. With all of its forces, it will keep trying to get rid of the ink by pushing it out of the skin. Ink excess leaking is completely normal, especially in the first 24 to 48 hours after getting tattooed. As the tattoo closes down, less of the ink leaks until it is completely closed down and the remaining ink will stay in the skin; this remaining ink represents your final tattoo form.
Now, as the ink leaks, some of it remains on the surface of the skin, where it dries down together with your tattooed skin. As the tattoo goes through the healing process, which includes scabbing and peeling, the ‘old skin’ simply merges with the excess ink, they dry down together and peel off together as the healing process moves through different stages.
That is why, when your tattoo starts peeling, you notice that underneath there is no ink left in the skin. Well, it never was there to start with; that is just the excess ink that remained on the skin surface and now is gone together with the old skin layer.
So, this is a completely normal occurrence. So long you follow the aftercare routine and you take care of your tattoo by following the proper guideline, you should be fine and there is no reason to be worried.
Will Tattoo Peeling Ruin My Tattoo?
So long you follow the aftercare routine and take good care of your tattoo, there is no reason to worry that tattoo peeling will ruin your tattoo. Tattoo peeling almost never leaves any damage to the actual tattoo, because when it happens, the skin underneath is already closed and there is no way for the peeling process to affect the tattoo inside the skin. Now, if you manually peel the tattoo, you can risk bacteria transfer and a potential tattoo infection. Now, will this ruin your tattoo? Most definitely it will.
How To Take Care of a Peeling Tattoo?
There are a few things you can do to help your tattoo peel quickly and smoothly;
- Keep your tattoo moisturized – moisturizing your tattoo up to two times a day will keep it hydrated and nourished, which is everything the new skin layer will need to fully regenerate. Hydration also helps with scabbing, leaving the skin smooth, soft, and supple. It will keep the scabs from drying out too much, which can otherwise lead to tattoo cracking.
- Keep your tattoo clean – cleaning your tattoo up to twice a day will ensure it stays bacteria-free, as well as free from any external pollutants. This can help your tattoo get rid of dead skin cells quicker, which can ultimately help with the tattoo peeling. Of course, before washing your tattoo, you need to wash your hands, and you should use a fragrance-free, hydrating cleanser that will not dry out the skin. You should not scrub your tattoo or put it under direct water pressure. Be gentle and take your time.
- Do NOT scratch or peel the tattoo yourself – this goes without saying, but we still need to emphasize how important it is not to scratch the tattoo or peel it off yourself. This can result in a bacteria transfer which can cause an infection and ultimately lead to a messed up tattoo design alongside potential health issues. Scratching can also cause premature skin peeling, in which case your tattoo will end up looking patchy.
Tattoo peeling is a completely normal process. If your tattoo peeling seems like it’s taking ink away, do not worry. This is just excess ink that had dried up on the surface of the skin and is not peeling off together with the dead skin cells. So long you take good care of your tattoo and follow the aftercare instructions, your tattoo should be just fine. As the tattoo heals, it will take its final form, and all of the peels or scabbing will go away. For more information, you can always talk to your tattoo artist or a dermatologist.