Why does my tattoo look patchy?

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Why does my tattoo look patchy?

Tattoos, when fresh, normally look pretty solid and bright, especially colour pieces. Sometimes during the healing process, issues can occur which leave you with a lacklustre, patchy piece. There are lots of reasons why that might happen, and we’re here to shed some light on this for any of you wondering what happened to your new ink.

What causes patchiness?

Bad technique

A patchy tattoo could be the result of bad technique; if the artist hasn’t made sure the ink is deep enough to stay put. It could also be due to them not ‘packing’ the ink enough; certain ink colours, or areas of concentrated black, often need to be packed in quite a lot in order to create a solid area of colour. Without doing this, the tattoo could end up looking patchy or blotchy.

Body rejects the ink

It could also be the result of your body not liking a certain type of ink, and rejecting it from your body, similar to how piercings sometimes get rejected. Or, it could be down to your artist not using high-quality inks; not all ink is made equal, and formulations are always changing and improving. 

Skin injury

Patchiness could even be the result of injury or friction to the tattoo. Often, you may see hand or palm tattoos look quite patchy; these areas just receive a lot of movement and friction compared to most parts of the body, and it can almost erase your tattoo. The skin on your hands is regenerating more often, hence why the tattoo can look faded and patchy. Hands also generally get more sun exposure year-round, which makes them fade quicker!

Poor aftercare

Not taking proper aftercare precautions could also contribute to patchiness; picking scabs off your new tattoo, swimming or submerging it in the bath, exposing it to UV rays while it's still in the early stages of healing could all lead to ink loss and patchiness. Read our complete tattoo aftercare guide here!

Can tattoos look patchy while healing?

If you have a brand new piece, still in the healing stage, you might be concerned that it’s looking patchy. Fear not; during the healing process your tattoo will look weird. It may look cloudy, faded, patchy, or even blurred, and this can be concerning when you’ve just dropped a few hundred on it. At this stage, don’t worry. You need to let the tattoo completely heal and settle into your skin, which could take around a month. Once settled, if it still looks patchy, you might want to go back to your artist and get it touched up. Artists will often do touch ups for free, as long as it’s not a huge rework! 

Why does my healed tattoo look patchy?

If it is an older piece, it may actually just be kind of patchy. As we mentioned, this could be the result of many things: bad technique, cheap inks, placement, injury etc. If this is the case, there are a few things you can try to improve the look of your tattoo. Our vibrancy serum, daily moisturiser and highlighting body oil all work to make your tattoos look bolder and more hydrated (dry skin can make them look patchy too!). If you are actually missing ink, they of course won’t bring it back, but they will make the piece look better overall. 

It goes without saying, to avoid patchiness and losing any ink in your tattoos, proper aftercare is key! Read our ultimate guide to tattoo healing here, and take a look at our aftercare cream here.