My New Tattoo Is Shiny: Is This Normal?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on October 12, 2019
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

Yes, it’s normal for your new tattoo to be shiny. This is a completely normal part of the healing process, though. The color of your tattoo will be more vibrant at this point. Your skin is building itself back up again, so it’s new skin that you’re seeing.

Your shiny new skin is called “onion skin.” It will go away from anywhere between 2–8 weeks. Your skin will be itchy, dry and cracked, which isn’t too fun. To get past this phase, we recommend that you care for your tattoo correctly.

What Happens To Your Skin

Tattoos are pretty much a big fat injury to your skin. If you’re healthy, your immune system will prioritize healing your damaged skin. The first phase you’ll go through is dry, cracked skin that will peel off.

The shine that you see from your skin is essentially a new layer of skin that’s growing underneath all the scabbing. A couple of weeks after this, your skin will reveal a beautiful layer that has the tattoo.

When you see your shiny layer of skin, be aware that you’re still in the healing process. It’ll take a couple more weeks before your skin is back to normal. When this happens, your skin will have a matte finish and naturally start exfoliating again.

What To Do When Your Tattoo Becomes Shiny

Looking after your new skin is important to protect your tattoo. If the skin’s damaged, you may end up with a distorted piece of art and have to pay for a touch-up.

Here’s what you should do when your tattoo gets shiny:

  1. Wash your skin with warm water
  2. Use a neutral-pH soap
  3. Use your hand only — no scrubbers or fabric
  4. Make sure the water pressure isn’t directly on your tattoo
  5. Wash off all the ointment used by the artist
  6. Pat off the remaining moisture

You’ll need to exfoliate next, but don’t overdo it. Your pores will clog, and you’ll be covered in scabs all over again. A good rule of thumb we like to follow is to keep the tattoo as moist as the other areas of my skin.

We also recommend a better diet while you’re healing. Bet you didn’t expect that one, huh? Healthy fats like avocado and natural oils can do wonders for your skin.

Your tattoo will look cloudy and faded once your shiny skin is gone, which isn’t something to worry about. The healing process will take weeks, but it can take months before your skin is fully back to normal.

After The Healing

Once your tattoo builds another layer of skin over your healed skin, it should still be just as vivid. If there’s any additional pain or discomfort, make sure you ask your artist what to do.

Okay, so you’re probably itching to get back to your regular life by now — no pun intended — but knowing when you’re fully healed can be tricky.

Here are some telltale signs that your tattoo is fully healed:

  • No scabs
  • Consistent skin texture — no shininess
  • No faded tattoo colors

Even after observing these signs, if you don’t know your tattooed skin has healed, ask your artist.

You should also assess the look of your tattoo at this point. Make sure you’re happy with it because this is how it’ll look for many years to come. If you had any complications during healing, you might need to go back to your artist for a touch-up.


When it comes to a shiny tattoo, it’s an indicator that your skin needs time and care to heal. For the most part, your body knows exactly what to do, but you’ll need to give it a hand. You can do this by moisturizing frequently and keeping it away from the sun.

Keep in mind that everyone heals differently. It’ll also depend on which area of the body you’ve been tattooed. Shininess on a new tattoo can last a while based on where you’re tattooed.