What To Do If You Have An Overworked Tattoo

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

An overworked tattoo can be a significant concern. It’s understandable to have feelings of anxiety and stress surrounding this issue. You want your tattoo to look great and the skin to be healthy, so the idea of things going wrong will undoubtedly cause some worry.

Here’s what to do if you have an overworked tattoo:

  • Get your tattoo evaluated and reworked
  • Practice excellent aftercare

Signs of an Overworked Tattoo

It’s essential to correctly identify the tattoo as being overworked. This will enable you to take the necessary measures to get it fixed.

Common signs of an overworked tattoo are:

  • A change in appearance
  • Excessive excretion of ink and fluids
  • A change in the tattoo’s physicality
  • Scarring

Tattoo Appearance

The color of an overworked tattoo is a good indicator. It can appear:

  • Cloudy
  • Faded and pale
  • Distorted
  • Blurry


A tattoo will usually excrete small amounts of blood and plasma one to two days post-inking. This will then give way to the scabbing process, which will create a barrier and stop the bleeding, and prevent any external dirt or bacteria from entering the wound. 

If the tattoo has been overworked, deep tissue damage may have occurred. This will halt the natural healing process. Is your tattoo still excreting blood and plasma after several days with no scab formation? It could be overworked. You may also see severe flaking and peeling containing excess amounts of ink.

Tattoo Physicality

An overworked tattoo can also be noticeable by its physical attributes. Are there deep pits in the design? You may also see raised lines or scarring where the area has become inflamed and damaged.

Ink distortion and blurring

Tattoo artists have to be very careful with the depth they go to with the needle. Too shallow and ink will seep out. Too deep and the ink will disperse into surrounding areas. It’s this dispersing that leads to ink looking smudged or blurry. This is also known as a blowout.

Why Is the Tattoo Overworked? 

An overworked tattoo can often be the result of poor tattoo practice by the tattoo artist. It could also mean that the needle pierced the epidermis layer of skin too roughly. The machine power could be set too high resulting in excessive speed.

Alternatively, the needle used could be blunt or bent so it can’t pierce the skin properly, which can cause long-lasting damage. You may see ink secretion, pits, fading in the design, and damage to skin tissue. 

Rectifying an Overworked Tattoo

All hope isn’t lost! It may take time and effort, but the following methods can be worth it to get your tattoo back into good condition:

  • Rework the tattoo
  • Cleanse the tattoo
  • Keep the moisture levels high
  • Use kind products

Rework the Tattoo

If your tattoo is looking overworked, reworking the tattoo could solve your problems. This method is typically used if the original tattoo has faded, or is light enough in color to be worked over. Reworking is when a tattoo artist will go back over previous work to cover any fading, blemishes or unintentional mistakes. It can also be used to modify the tattoo design and develop the structure of it into something else. 

Bear in mind that this is a complex process and will require more time and money. It’s also more painful!

The process is very similar to that of getting a new tattoo. It will, however, require a particularly proficient tattoo artist. But if you’re willing to make the investment, this method will help to combat the signs of an overworked tattoo.

Excellent Aftercare

To minimize any post-tattoo complications, it’s strongly advisable to perform excellent aftercare on the tattooed area:

Cleansing: The Pharmaceutical Journal advises that the fresh ink be cleansed as many as five times a day. This will rid the area of bacteria and airborne particles. We, however, believe that two to three times a day is a reasonable amount of cleaning.

Moisturize: Clinical evidence suggests that hydrating the wound will quicken recovery time. So be sure to maintain the body’s hydration levels by using a good tattoo healing lotion on the area.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing.​ Click here to buy from Amazon.

How to Prevent an Overworked Tattoo

You’ll often hear that the key to a good tattooing experience is seeking a seasoned and reliable tattoo artist. The tattoo shop should boast excellent reviews and a strong portfolio. The staff and tattoo artists should be trained appropriately, with a reputable record. You should trust them implicitly.

Check out their website and designs to get an idea of the kind of work they do and the previous outcomes. Seek independent reviews from people you know and trust first, before resorting to reviews from strangers.

The equipment and environment used should be adequately sterilized and of high quality to prevent overworking and reduce the risk of bacterial and microbial contamination

Don’t Lose Hope!

Getting a tattoo can be a particularly special time in your life, a moment to be creative and meaningful. Yet, an overworked tattoo could leave you feeling anxious, stressed and confused. The critical thing to remember is that, more often than not, the overworked tattoo can be combated. 

Invest in a good, experienced tattoo artist to rework the design. It may be more painful and costly, but the result will be worth it. You should also invest in an excellent aftercare regime to maximize the healthiness and vibrance of the tattoo. Seek out unscented soaps and specialized ointments to counteract any issues you may be having with your ink.

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