How Long to Wait Before Getting a Tattoo Touch Up?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on October 1, 2021
    Last Updated: February 18, 2022

A tattoo is an open wound that should be treated in the same way that you would treat a cut or a burn. The aftercare process of a tattoo is just as important as the actual inking procedure.

Many tattoos may need touching up if you notice that there are some imperfections. This could be that the shading is uneven or that the colors aren’t quite as vibrant as you expected. 

This is not the fault of the tattoo artist or yourself if looked after properly. The ink in the skin can look slightly different once your tattoo has healed and it may just need a slight touch up.

We’ll share with you the details of why you may need your tattoo touched up and how long you should wait before getting this done.

Why Would You Need To Touch up Your Tattoo?

The aftercare of your tattoo is important and you should make sure that it’s moisturized regularly. Whatever you do, don’t pick any scabs that may form or scratch your itchy tattoo. This will only end in disappointment as your tattoo is damaged.

After your skin has healed and the peeling process is completed, you may notice that the colors in your tattoo have faded slightly. This can be quite normal and is easily rectified with a touch up.

You must make sure that your tattoo is completely healed before even thinking about getting a touch up. 

How Long to Wait Before Getting a Tattoo Touch Up?

A new tattoo can look different as it heals. Your skin is going through the healing process and this needs to be completed before you can see the final result.

You should never touch up a tattoo on skin that hasn’t healed from the initial tattoo procedure. This could do more damage than good and you could end up with something completely different than what you asked for. 

Any reputable tattoo artist will advise you to wait until your tattoo has completely healed before getting a touch up. However, we would advise that touch ups for an imperfect tattoo are completed within 12 months of the initial tattoo.

How Do You Know if Your Tattoo Needs Touching Up?

Once your tattoo has healed you will be able to see the end result. Make sure that you take a good look to see if there are any imperfections. It could be that the colors are duller than expected, the lines are slightly blurred or the shading is uneven.

If you’re not sure about the tattoo or can’t see any imperfections at first glance, you should go and see your tattoo artist. They will be able to advise best about what may be needed and how it can be done. In the end you’re advertising their work so they want it to be as perfect as you do.

Is a Touch up More Painful Than a Full Tattoo?

If it’s your first tattoo a touch up may hurt less as you know what to expect. However, this could also work against you as you will be tensing yourself, waiting for the expected pain.

As the area has already been worked on it may be slightly more painful. It will depend on the size of the area to be touched up and also the location.

Does a Touch up Heal Quicker Than a Full Tattoo?

The healing process of a touch up should be treated in the same way as a new tattoo. The aftercare is just as important and it should be cared for just as much, if not more. It could be that poor aftercare of your initial tattoo was part of the problem why you needed a touch up. 

You wouldn’t want to go through the pain of getting a touch up only to need another as it wasn’t cared for properly

How Much Will It Cost for a Touch Up?

Many tattoo artists will guarantee their work and will complete a touch up free of charge. However, this will depend on the size and detail of the touch up required.

They want you to have the best tattoo possible as this is a reflection on their work. You are a walking advertisement for them.


The details of a tattoo are important. This could be the vibrancy of the colors or the precise linework in the tattoo. Everyone wants their tattoo to be perfect but sometimes this isn’t the case, and it’s nobody’s fault.

No one wants to be disappointed with their tattoo and that includes the artist who completed the tattoo. As soon as your tattoo is healed you should speak to them about any imperfections and get their advice.

We hope that we’ve answered your question and you now know that you should always wait for your tattoo to completely heal before even thinking about a touch up.

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