Tattoo Blurring: Causes and Treatment

  • Written By Dan Hunter on December 8, 2019
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

Tattooing blurring isn’t the expected outcome for all tattoos, but unfortunately, it does happen to some. There are various ways to keep your tattoo looking good for as long as possible. We know that tattoos are made to last forever, but they don’t necessarily look good forever.

Some tattoos blur due to poor aftercare, low-quality ink and the placement of the tattoo. Preventing the blur effect is ultimately down to you, from the choice of the artist to the style and location, all the way through to a proper aftercare routine.

What is Tattoo Blurring?

Tattoo blurring refers to the gradual fading of the sharpness in the image of your tattoo. Basically, blurring happens anywhere between a few months to years after your initial sitting. While this happens at different rates for individuals, it can happen to any tattoo if you’re not careful.

What Causes Tattoo Blurring?

Some of the causes of a blurry tattoo are self-inflicted, but others are expected:

  • Tanning beds
  • Placement
  • Ink quality
  • Tattoo design
  • How well it healed
  • Skin cleansing

1. Sun / Tanning Beds

Tanning beds produce a huge amount of UV rays, which can affect your tattoo by fading the darker colors. These rays are absorbed by darker colors, causing your ink to fade faster than it would naturally.

As a general rule, if you must use tanning beds, slather on sunscreen, but only if your tattoo has healed. Then again, avoid sunbeds altogether if you want to keep your ink looking sharp for as long as possible.

While tanning beds blast out a huge amount of UV in a short space of time, staying out in the sun for too long without protection will also cause the same issues over time.

2. Placement of the Tattoo

Unfortunately, most of the body parts where tattoos fade are some of the most popular to have a tattoo put on them:

  • Hands
  • Tops of the feet
  • Legs
  • Shoulders

This is mainly due to friction and the heavy use of these areas. Additionally, areas of the body that are affected by weight gain or loss suffer tattoo blurring more.

3. Ink Quality

Not all tattoo ink is manufactured the same. If the ink you use is of low-quality, you’re bound to see some blurring eventually. Low-quality ink often has heavy metals and other chemical compounds in it that can affect the overall longevity and quality of your tattoo.

4. Tattoo Design

Tattoos that have fine lines and detail are likely to blur over time, given their intricate nature. Designs that are close together may end up blurring over, too, thanks to your skin’s natural cell regeneration.

If your tattoo has lots of small, negative spaces, these will tend to blur in time. This is because your skin’s elasticity will change over the years, which in turn will affect the boundaries of your tattoo.

5. Quality of the Healing

Pay attention to the tattoo post-care advice that’s recommended by your tattoo artist. Any spin that you add to it or shortcuts that you may use will negatively affect the quality of your tattoo during the healing process. 

Sometimes, you may be tempted to use healing lotions on your tattoo. This is highly discouraged — stick to the standard soap and water routine.

6. Cleansing Your Skin

A squeaky clean feeling after cleansing your skin is what most people prefer to have. However, this may affect the quality of your tattoo over time.

Some skin cleansers that may be a tad too abrasive will take away your skin’s natural moisture barrier. Dehydrated skin won’t protect the pigments in your tattoo from fading. 

In a Nutshell

Tattoos were made to last forever, but their quality is bound to change over the years. Remember to keep your skin hydrated and slap on some tattoo-friendly sunscreen before exposure to UV rays. Stay away from cheap tattoo shops and invest in an experienced tattoo artist’s expertise. 

While your tattoo may blur with time, you can slow this process down with these simple yet useful tips.

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