Why is my tattoo disappearing?

“Are you sure you want to get a tattoo, it’s going to stay on you forever?”.

That’s not always the case. Fading tattoos are a real concern, especially if you’re investing a lot of money into a big piece. 

In this post, resident tattoo artist, Monah, explains the process of fading tattoos and touch-ups, and whether your artist is the best because “their tattoos never need a touchup”.

1. It depends on the style of tattoo

Monah focuses more specifically on fine line tattoos, as that is what most of her clients have been leaning towards and she definitely considers it a trend. But this particular style is known for fading quicker compared to traditional, bolder styles.

Fine Line Tattoo Style
Bold Line Tattoo Style

To kick things off, she’s done 3 identical tattoos:

  • done with the same ink
  • on the same fake skin
  • but with different line widths (fine, standard and bold line)

At first glance it might seem like these are different shades, or at least that the fine line one is lighter. This is only because the line itself is so thin.

Because bolder tattoos have been the standard for so many years, people are more accustomed to seeing it compared to the new kid on the block, fine line tattoos. When getting a fine line tattoo you better prepare yourself for people asking “but why is it so light?” and “Oh no, your tattoo is fading“. 

Please note that this is not because your artist did not know what they were doing, but because fine line tattoos require a different approach to the norm and heal differently. 

2. How fine line tattoos are done

Imagine trying to break the skin of an orange with a straw and then with a needle. You’ll find that the thinner object can penetrate much easier. Same goes for tattoo needles. Your skin has much less resistance when a fine liner needle is used compared to a bolder liner. 

Freshly done

This unfortunately also means that blowouts are a much higher risk for fine line tattoos. Most artists have fallen victim to this terrible occurrence which unfortunately is unfixable.

A blowout happens when the needle has penetrated the skin too deep and then the ink enters the hypodermis (your artist should have stopped at the second floor but kept going to third) and then the fatty tissue cannot keep the ink particles in one place and it spreads all around, leaving you with a blotchy line and often a blue hue glowing under your new tattoo. 

To avoid the dreaded blowout, most fine line tattoo artists work a bit more conservatively than one would when doing bold thick lines. So yes, your tiny wildflower tattoo might fade a little quicker than your friend’s old school black anchor, but from experience, this is much better than having a blowout, because fading tattoos can be fixed with touch-ups.

Most artists who do fine line tattoos, or even micro realism, offer a complimentary touch-up because they want the best result for you in the long run. While other artists charge for touch-ups as it is an entire new setup (and they probably did not charge an arm and a leg for the small tattoo to begin with). 

We recommend asking your artist about their touch-up policy if you’re leaning towards getting a fine line tattoo.

3. The tattoo healing process

When a tattoo heals, the lines tend to fatten up a little as your body is trying to get rid of it. 

Freshly done

Don’t panic, you will be fine, but as the white blood cells attack the ink (and obviously fails) it causes the ink to soften around the edges a tiny little bit:

  • This is why your tattoo never looks as super crisp as the day it was done
  • It’s also why most tattoo artists would advise you not to get certain designs too small, because as the lines thicken out, and another line is too close to it, it could merge together. 

So the bolder the line, the larger space you need in between the lines to ensure that it still looks like two separate lines once it’s healed. 

For fine line tattoos, sometimes the white blood cells win and soften the ink too much, causing the tattoo to fade and look like it’s disappearing. But remember, a touch-up isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can have your piece looking good as new. 

The key is actually to choose your artist according to the result you want and trusting their process. We do want the best for you as you are a walking billboard for us, so I can almost promise you we want your tattoo to turn as many heads as you do 😉

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