Does Your Tattoo Need A Touch Up? Everything You Need To Know

Written by: Claudia
Updated:

Whether your first tattoo didn’t heal as you expected or your older tattoo is looking a bit dull, you may be wondering about tattoo touch ups. Touch ups for tattoos are very common and for a newly healed tattoo are often provided for free from the shop.

If you think you might need a tattoo touch up and need some more information about the process, this guide is right for you.

What Is a Tattoo Touch Up?

A touch up on a tattoo is essentially “upgrading” your tattoo. Tattoos fade over time, may heal with patches or missing ink, or might be less crisp after a few years. Sometimes people may also be disappointed in the tattoo that they got, or it doesn’t resonate with them after a certain amount of time. All of these reasons may lead someone to pursuing a tattoo touch up.

Touch ups on your tattoos help to eliminate any imperfections, inconsistencies, or fix any problems you may personally have with your new or old tattoo. They generally take less time than a standard session and cost significantly less. In some cases, such as after a new tattoo, the shop will offer a complimentary touch up.

For older tattoos, touch ups can become blastovers or cover ups, where you completely tattoo over the area and give it an entirely new appearance and a new life. A blastover might be considered for a new tattoo that experienced blowout, which is when the ink deposited in the skin doesn’t settle and causes the tattoo to look blurry or smudged.

Who Usually Needs a Tattoo Touch Up?

Absolutely anyone might consider a touch up for their tattoo, but there are a few specific reasons why someone might head into the chair for one.

  • Your tattoo is fading. If you have an old tattoo, a touch up will help brighten up the colors of an aging and fading tattoo. You likely won’t need to do much to the design itself, just go over the design with its original coloring.
  • You healed poorly. A poorly healed tattoo, where ink loss and patchiness occurs, will require a touch up.
  • Your placement experiences a lot of movement. Tattoos in regions such as fingers, feet, thighs, or ankles experience a lot of movement and rubbing up against clothing, causing the design to suffer from a lot of ink loss.
  • You experienced an infection or abrasion. If you encounter a situation that causes permanent damage to your tattoo, you may want to consider a touch up, cover up, or blastover.
  • You experienced tattoo blowout. Tattoo blowout will make itself known within the first two to three days of healing a new tattoo. It’s sole cause is inexperienced and unprofessional tattoo artists, and the only way to fix these permanent mistakes is through a total blastover on your tattoo.
  • Your ink is dated and you want something new. Perhaps you’ve grown tired of a tattoo but want to feel an attachment to it once again. The easiest way is through a consultation with an artist who can recommend the ideal plan for your touch up.

How Much Do Tattoo Touch Ups Cost?

For most shops, after the first few months of healing a new tattoo, you are offered a touch up session at no cost. If your touch up is free, you should still consider tipping your artist. In all other situations, the touch up cost will have to be discussed during a consultation with an artist.

Touch up costs can range due to the following factors:

  • Color used
  • Detail needed
  • Placement
  • Size
  • Age of the tattoo
  • Whether it’s a touch up, cover up, or blastover

You also need to consider that some artists do not like doing touch ups on art that isn’t their own, but may be fine to do cover up or blastover work.

What to Do If You Think Your Tattoo Needs Touching Up

If you’ve given your new tattoo at least two or three months to heal and it’s still not looking perfect, you may be considering a touch up. If you have an older tattoo that needs a bit of an upgrade or revamping, you may be wondering if a touch up is ideal for you.

Regardless of whether you have an old or new tattoo, you should discuss your touch up ideas with an artist you trust. They can give you the best suggestions and recommendations for your specific situation and let you know if that’s truly what you need for your tattoo.

Often, shops will not accept walk-ins for tattoo touch ups, so be sure to book your touch up in advance.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Tattoo Touch Ups

  • Do touch ups hurt?
    Don’t touch up a tattoo too soon or you may put yourself through a lot of pain! You are essentially tattooing over already vulnerable skin that experienced trauma and it will often hurt more than the tattoo itself if you rush to a touch up. Otherwise, for older tattoos, they generally feel like your standard tattoo.
  • Do touch-ups heal like a regular tattoo?
    In most cases, yes. Unless you are doing a blastover that is covering more skin than your first tattoo, they will generally heal like a regular tattoo.
  • How many years after can you get your tattoo touched up?
    There is no “limit” on how much later you get a touch up on your tattoo, since tattoos fade more over time and you may be drawn to get a touch up in ten years or even twenty.

Our Final Thoughts

Tattoo touch ups are pretty standard in the industry. Regardless of whether your issue is with a new tattoo or an old tattoo, your trusted artist can help determine what kind of touch up would be best for your design, placement, and needs. If you simply want to be invigorated by your old ink again, consider a touch up.

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