Tattoo Blowout: What It Is & How To Fix It

A tattoo blowout can be disheartening, but not when you know how to fix it.

Reviewed by Scott Terry, Professional Tattoo Artist Scott Terry Scott TerryProfessional Tattoo Artist facebook_iconlinkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , Integrated MA (English) Gazala Firdos Ansari Integrated MA (English) linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
Edited by , MA (English) Subhrojyoti Mukherjee MA (English) linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English) Shreya Mukherjee MA (English) linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
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Imagine you got yourself a beautiful body art, and you couldn’t wait to flaunt it. But within a few days you start to notice that it has started to get blurry or at least does not look as clear as when you got it. When your tattoo starts to fade so early, it is natural to think that there is something wrong with it. However, if you are experiencing this, you might be experiencing a tattoo blowout.

While it is not a big issue, a tattoo blowout can significantly affect the appearance of your tattoo. But worry not, as you have reached the right spot. In this article, we will get into the details of what a tattoo blowout is and how you can fix it to ensure your tattoo remains as gorgeous as you wanted it to be. Continue reading.

What Is A Tattoo Blowout?

A young woman with a fading tattoo blowout on her back.
Image: IStock

If your tattoo appears blurry even after the healing process is complete, there is a good chance you are looking at a tattoo blowout. A tattoo blowout is a common issue that many tattoo artists (and clients) face from time to time. The mechanism of tattoo blowout is quite simple. What happens is the tattoo pigment gets injected beyond the top layer of the skin and gets into the fatty layer. When the ink gets into the fatty tissues underneath the skin, it starts to spread beneath the skin. This leads to an inaccurate or distorted, blurred appearance.

Victoria, a blogger, shared her experience of a tattoo blowout on her personal blog. Extremely sad about the experience, she writes, “There’s no way to hide my hands, and while I’m trying so hard to just own it, I’m in bits. I’m angry and frustrated that something that was supposed to be a positive thing has ended up being such a negative one (i).”

To understand a tattoo blowout better, it is essential to learn what factors cause a tattoo to get blown-out. Read about the causes in the next section.

What Causes A Tattoo Blowout?

A tattoo blowout is usually believed to be the reason a fresh tattoo appears blurry within a few days of getting it. Typically, it occurs when tattoo ink is accidentally injected further than the top layer of the skin. Once the tattoo pigment penetrates the epidermis or outermost layer of the skin and reaches the hypodermis, it spreads into the layer of fat beneath the skin and beyond the outlines of the tattoo.

This happens primarily due to two reasons: you have chosen an area prone to blowouts or negligence or lack of skill on the part of the tattoo artist. Of the two, the most common reason is incorrect injection technique during the tattooing process. It basically means that the tattoo artist allowed the needle to go too deep into the skin or did not apply it at the correct angle.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Choosing an area where the skin is thicker, such as arms and thighs, will reduce your chances of a blowout.

While we know how tattoo blowouts create distorted tattoos, we are yet to know what the skin actually looks like when they occur. Let us find out in the next section.

What Does A Tattoo Blowout Look Like?

A tattoo blowout may manifest in a variety of ways. Some people see a mild blowout with only a minor blurring of the tattoo lines, while others experience a massive blowout where their tattoos are almost entirely distorted with ink bleeding well outside the lines of the tattoo. The level of distortion depends on a few factors, such as skin thickness and the needle depth (that is, the depth of the penetration).

No matter the level of distortion, it does not look nice to have a tattoo blowout. So how does one fix it? The next section provides some answers.

How To Fix A Tattoo Blowout?

Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse a blown-out tattoo. Once the ink has gone too deep into the skin, it is very difficult to extract it. However, it does not mean that you cannot do anything about it. There are a lot of ways to “fix” a tattoo blowout so you don’t have to move around with a blurred tattoo.

1. A Fresh Tattoo

A tattoo artist holds the forearm of a client for a cover-up tattoo session in progress.
Image: Shutterstock

One of the most common ways to fix a tattoo blowout is to get a fresh tattoo done over the original tattoo to cover up the distortion or alter it to your liking. These kinds of cover-ups or additional tattooing are also one of the least expensive ways to fix a tattoo blowout. However, healing tattoos should not be touched up in any way. A tattoo coverup can only be done after the healing process is complete to avoid health risks. So, you have to wait for about 2 months before you can do it.

2. Laser Treatment

A tattoo artist holds the upper arm of a client who is undergoing a laser treatment session to help fix a blowout.
Image: Shutterstock

Laser therapy is generally used for tattoo removal and is also a good way to fix tattoo blowouts. Laser removal, when done right, leaves you with the tattoo design you actually wanted. However, it is more expensive than cover-ups and may not be suitable for everyone. Its efficiency and the number of sessions you may require depends on the tattoo and the reaction of your skin.

3. Surgical Method

A shot showing a client’s point of view of a doctor performing surgical tattoo removal.
Image: Shutterstock

Surgical tattoo removal is the most intense treatment for a tattoo blowout. It will completely remove the blowout. However, it also involves getting rid of the tattoo altogether. The surgeon will cut the tattooed skin out to remove it and sew the remaining skin back together. While it is a clean method, there is a risk of scarring. The bigger the tattoo, the more the risk of scarring.

While it is essential to know how to fix a tattoo blowout, prevention is always better than cure. Let us learn in the next section how to prevent a tattoo blowout.

How To Prevent A Tattoo Blowout?

A tattoo blowout is not a side effect or an aspect of tattooing. It is generally the result of carelessness or lack of skill on the part of the tattoo artist. However, keeping a few things in mind may help.

1. Pick The Right Artist

A closeup of a skilled tattoo artist inking a client’s upper arm during a tattoo session.
Image: Shutterstock

The most important factor when it comes to preventing a tattoo blowout is picking the right tattoo artist. Improper tattooing technique is the main reason for tattoo blowouts. A skilled and professional tattoo artist always makes sure that the tattoo needle is not too deep and can easily navigate any tattooing process without accidentally penetrating a deeper layer. Hence, it is important to inquire about their expertise and look through their designs in the tattoo shop to make sure they have the necessary skills to bring your original design to life.

2. Think Over The Placement

The placement of a tattoo is also an important factor to be considered due to varied skin thickness in different parts of the body. Body pieces done on thinner skin, such as the inner arm or around the ankle, hands, feet, and collarbones have more chances of resulting in blowouts than ones done on thicker skin, such as the biceps and legs.

3. Ensure Proper Aftercare

An individual uses one of her hands to moisturize the other forearm.
Image: Shutterstock

While proper aftercare may not prevent a tattoo blowout, this is the only step you can take from your end after the tattooing process is over to ensure that the tattooed area heals properly. Improper aftercare may still affect the skin and impact the final design. Therefore, pay close attention to the tattoo during the healing process. The tattoo needs to be cleaned twice a day and kept moisturized for at least 2 weeks after the tattooing session.

Even after all the precautions one can take, tattoo blowouts may occur regardless. In such a situation, one is bound to wonder how common they are. Scroll down to find out.

Are Tattoo Blowouts Common?

Tattoo blowouts are common in case of new tattoo artists. A new tattoo artist may find it difficult to keep the needle consistent and judge the required depth. On the other hand, skilled and experienced tattoo artists are familiar with skin thicknesses in different parts of the body and know the precise needle depth required to penetrate the skin and deposit the ink perfectly.

protip_icon Trivia
Celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Zayn Malik have been seen sporting a tattoo blowout and owning them with grace.

When you have a blurry tattoo that appears to be bleeding beyond the outline within a few days of getting it, it is probably a tattoo blowout. It happens when the tattoo pigment is injected deeper into the skin than required, and it reaches the epidermis and eventually the fatty layer of skin. A tattoo blowout can be fixed with cover-up tattoos, laser treatment, or surgical methods. It can also be prevented by choosing an experienced and skilled tattoo artist and following proper aftercare.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a tattoo blowout bad?

A tattoo blowout does not pose any major health risk. However, since it is irreversible, it ruins the tattoo and is bad for the aesthetic appeal of the ink.

What skin is prone to a tattoo blowout?

Thin skin in some parts of the body is more prone to a tattoo blowout. This includes skin on the inside of the elbows and knees, tops of the feet and hands, wrists and ankles, fingers and toes, and collarbones and hip bones.

Can over-moisturizing cause a tattoo blowout?

No. It is not a direct cause of a tattoo blowout. However, over-moisturization may prevent the inked area from breathing, increasing the risk of inflammation and infection, which may impact the tattoo as well. Therefore, follow your tattoo artist’s instructions to avoid this.

Can slapping a tattoo cause a blowout?

No. Slapping a tattoo does not cause a blowout. However, any trauma (including slapping) to your freshly inked tattoo may damage the healing skin, increasing the risk of other skin complications and may further delay the healing process.

What is the difference between ink drift and blowout?

Ink drift makes the edges of the tattoo hazy and discolored and may fade with time. On the other hand, blowout makes the tattoo blurry, can happen anywhere in the tattoo, and requires professional attention.

Does the sun cause a tattoo blowout?

Sun exposure does not cause a tattoo blowout. However, exposure to UVA rays can break down the ink pigment, further worsening a tattoo blowout.

Does a tattoo blowout continue to get worse?

Yes, the ink pigments that have reached the fatty layers continue to move around and make the tattoo appear messy.

Can pressure on a tattoo cause blowout?

Yes. In extreme cases, if the pressure is causing trauma to the skin and damaging the tissues underneath, it may cause a tattoo blowout.

Can I shower with a tattoo blowout?

Yes, you can shower with a tattoo blowout. But make sure you are not soaking it and not using any harsh chemicals to avoid reactions to the pigment.

Key Takeaways

  • A tattoo blowout usually refers to a new tattoo that appears blurry within a few days of getting it as the tattoo pigment is accidentally injected into the epidermis and fatty layer beneath the skin.
  • A blown-out tattoo can be managed with cover-up tattoos, laser treatment, or surgical methods.
  • You can choose an experienced artist, follow proper aftercare, and consider skin thickness when selecting the tattoo location to prevent a tattoo blowout.
tattoo blowout

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Tattoo blowouts can be distressing. The following YouTube video informs viewers how to recognize them as well as provides tips on how to deal with them. Check it out to learn more!

Personal Experience: Source

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Scott Terry
Scott TerryProfessional Tattoo Artist
Scott Terry is a distinguished tattoo artist and has over 20 years of experience in the field. He specializes in color and black-and-gray realism. Scott graduated from the Joe Blasco School of Professional Makeup Artistry.

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