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Breathing New Life Into a Tattoo: Touch Ups, Cover Ups & Aftercare


For many, tattoos are a source of personal pride and joy. They can be a way to commemorate a special event or time in our lives. But, over time, tattoo designs can fade and lose their original impact. Or, maybe you got a tattoo as an impulse buy without thinking about the long-term consequences. Perhaps your lifestyle has changed and you no longer want that tattoo on your skin anymore.

Whatever the reason, if you're looking to breathe new life into an old tattoo - there is hope! In this blog post we'll cover everything you need to know about tattoo touch ups, cover ups and aftercare. So read on and learn how you can give your tattoo a fresh start!

Geisha Queen tattoo

Vibrant Geisha Queen tattoo by Sponsored Artist, Dan Giles (@dgiles_tattoo)

There are a number of ways to breathe new life into a tattoo, but the option you pick depends on the condition of your tattoo and your budget. The easiest way to make your tattoos look that bit fresher is to lightly exfoliate away the dead skin. This should help to make the colours appear brighter and more vibrant, as the fresher skin below is revealed.

However, if your tattoo is more seriously faded, then it may require a touch up by a professional tattoo artist. It should be noted that tattoos on certain areas of the body are more susceptible to fading compared with others. These are usually in spots where the skin is forced to stretch a lot, such as the fingers, hands and elbows, or where tight clothing is likely to rub away at the tattoo, such as the feet. When getting a tattoo touched up, for the best results, it is recommended that you return to the artist that completed the original piece of artwork. Colours, which are usually first to fade, can be brought back to life during a tattoo touch up. Plus, lost detail can be reintroduced back into the design by adding a new solid crisp outline. 

Colourful tattoo sleeve

Colourful tarot tattoo sleeve by Sponsored Artist, Laura Ann (@lauraanntattoo)

If your ink is quite fresh, many artists will also offer a free or low-cost tattoo touch up for healed designs, to account for any unexpected changes that might occur throughout the healing process. For example, sometimes despite following the best aftercare tips, tattoos do not always heal as anticipated whether due to rubbing on clothing or other reasons. If this is the case for you, then a touch up for your new tattoo is usually the best solution.

Panda black and grey tattoo

Black and grey panda tattoo by Sponsored Artist, Dawid Dudek (@tattoos_by_dave_d

When it comes to tattoo cover ups, this is a more drastic measure but is a good solution for tattoo designs that are no longer wanted. Cover ups essentially involve getting a new piece of artwork tattooed over the original piece. The new tattoo will need to be big and bold enough to completely cover the old tattoo design. If you are considering a tattoo cover up, then it is best to book in for a consultation with an artist first to see whether your tattoo is suitable for a cover up.

Black and grey lion tattoo

Impressive lion tattoo by Sponsored Artist, Mitchell Saint (@saint_ink_)

After your artwork is complete, whether it is a tattoo touch up, cover up or a brand new design, it is important to take proper care of it to ensure your ink stays looking its best for as long as possible. For tattoo aftercare, the main thing you need to do is to keep it clean and moisturised by using a specific tattoo aftercare ointment or lotion. We stock a wide selection of different aftercare options, which you can check out here: tattoo aftercare collection. To keep your tattoo looking bright and vibrant you should also avoid exposing your tattoo to direct sunlight for long periods of time and wearing sun cream with a high SPF value.

It is impossible to totally prevent a tattoo fading over time, however, by following these tips you can help to ensure that your tattoo stays looking its best for as long as possible.

(Please note the tattoos featured above are taken from our Sponsored Artists and are not specific examples of a tattoo touch up or cover up).

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  • Sarah Crookes