When To Get A Tattoo Touch-Up: Things You Need To Know

Discover how your tattoo artist can bring your favorite inked designs back to life.

Written by , Integrated MA (English) Gazala Firdos Ansari Integrated MA (English) Experience: 2 years
Edited by , BA, MSc Eshna Das BA, MSc Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English) Shreya Mukherjee MA (English) linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years

A tattoo requires careful thought as you will carry it with you for the rest of your life. But sometimes, natural skin regeneration or poor ink quality can cause your tattoos to lose their vibrancy over time. But fret not, a tattoo touch-up will do the trick. Whether it is a new tattoo that got distorted during the healing process or an old tattoo that has lost its original charm, a tattoo touch-up can help you revive your precious ink and make it new again. While many people opt for a cover-up tattoo design or removal after the fading, you can choose to go for touch-up work if you are emotionally attached to that particular ink. This article will delve deep into everything you need to know about a tattoo touch-up. Scroll down and keep reading to learn more.

What Is A Tattoo Touch-Up?

Tattoo touch-up for hand tattoo
Image: Shutterstock

A tattoo touch-up revives your existing tattoo to make it clearer, brighter, and more attractive. So, if you are not quite happy with how your new tattoo turned out after healing or you want your old, beloved tattoo to come back to life, a tattoo touch-up can do wonders. It involves redefining tattoo lines, adding more color, redoing the shading, or covering up particular features of an existing tattoo.

protip_icon Did You Know?
Smaller tattoos require more frequent touch-ups than larger ones because they have a higher concentration of ink in a smaller area.

Tattoo touch-ups are a great way of bringing your old tattoos back to life. But you must be wondering if they hurt more or less than getting the original tattoos. Find out in the next section.

Do Tattoo Touch-Ups Hurt?

The process of original tattoos and tattoo touch-ups are very similar. The tattoo artist uses the needle and ink to deposit tattoo ink in the dermis, a deeper layer of skin. So, naturally, the pain would be almost the same as getting a new tattoo and it would depend on the individual’s pain tolerance. However, the time required for a tattoo touch-up is considerably less than the time taken during a new tattoo. So, you can get done sooner.

A tattoo touch-up does not take a lot of time. But when should you get one? Find out in the next section.

When To Get A Tattoo Touch-Up?

Tattoo ink for tattoo touch-up
Image: Shutterstock

First and foremost, make sure your tattoo has completed the proper healing time before booking a tattoo touch-up appointment. During the initial healing stages, the tattoo’s color and appearance may be affected by scabbing or the skin’s process of adjusting to the ink. Hence, it is recommended to wait at least 4 weeks for a small tattoo and a couple of months for larger tattoos.

Once your tattoo is fully healed, talk to your professional tattoo artist to help you decide if you want variations in boldness or some changes in the existing tattoo.

Here are the following reasons for getting a touch-up:

1. Fading

If the tattoo is not as clear and looks faded, a quick touch-up session can help freshen up its appearance.

2. Patchiness

A touch-up may solve patchy variations in color, brightness, and boldness.

3. Undefined Edges

When your tattoo lines become smudged or are not clearly defined, you may go for a tattoo touch-up.

4. Aging

Tattoos are one of the things that do not age better with time. Hence, a touch-up may help revive your aged tattoo.

protip_icon Fun Fact
Green and blue are tattoo colors that fade the most and require more frequent touch-ups than the others.

The healing process plays a critical role in deciding when you should go for that touch-up. But what happens if you go earlier than you should? Find out below.

What Happens If You Touch Up A Tattoo Too Soon?

Like all other organs, the skin remains in a dynamic state, especially during the healing period. It stretches, sags, and scabs during that time. Therefore, when you go for a touch-up too soon, it is difficult for the tattoo artist to figure out which lines, colors, or shaded areas need a touch-up and how they would look when fully healed. Hence, wait till your tattoos are healed completely before going for a touch-up.

A few tattoos require more frequent touch-ups than others. Scroll down to the next section for how often you should touch up your tattoo.

How Often Do Tattoos Need To Be Touched Up?

An experienced artist doing army tattoo touch-up
Image: Shutterstock

When you get your new ink, a professional tattoo artist may ask you to visit them within a year after your tattoo has healed to check for any imperfections or inconsistencies caused during the healing process. This service is usually included in most tattoo packages. However, you can also go separately. The tattoo artist just brushes up the art a little bit to make it clearer and brighter. After that, you can get your tattoos touched up if and when you see signs of fading, uneven color, or blurred lines.

Before getting your touch-up, it is important to know how much it will cost you. Check out the next section to know more.

How Much Does A Tattoo Touch-Up Cost?

A tattoo touch-up may not cost you as much as getting your original tattoo design. If you visit your original artist and tattoo studio within a year or two, you may even get the touch-up for free! You may be charged the hourly rate for an old tattoo, but that would still cost you less as it requires a shorter amount of time.

You may also visit some other skilled tattoo artists or a reputable studio where you are likely to be charged the hourly rate. But will they touch up another artist’s ink? Keep reading to find out.

Will A Tattoo Artist Touch Up Someone Else’s Work?

It is recommended that you visit the professional tattoo artist who gave you the original design. But if your original artist is unavailable, you can go to another artist.

It is highly unlikely that any tattoo artist would refuse to perform a touch-up on someone else’s ink. However, the following reasons may stop them from doing so:

1. It is against the artist’s policy.
2. If the existing tattoo is of poor quality.
3. It is a large design or major work that requires considerable effort and time.
4. The tattoo design does not fall into the artist’s forte.

A blogger shared their tattoo touch-up experience of going to another tattoo artist. They wrote, “If you are going in for a touch-up and you were unsatisfied with your original artist it’s worth the money to see a different artist (i).”

Once you get your tattoo touch-up, how long does it take to heal? Read the next section to know more.

Do Tattoo Touch-Ups Heal Faster?

The healing time of a tattoo as well as a tattoo touch-up highly depends on the individual’s healing capacity and the aftercare. While a tattoo touch-up takes less time and is comparatively less invasive, there is no evidence that it heals faster than a new tattoo.

The tattoo ink is still being deposited into the dermis. So, it may take as long to heal as the original tattoo did. This may range from 3-4 weeks to several months depending on the size, placement, and other factors.

However, proper care may help your tattoo touch-up heal faster. Learn about the tattoo touch-up aftercare process in the section below.

Tattoo Touch-Up Aftercare

A woman applying moisturizer to her tattoo touch-up
Image: Shutterstock

Taking care of your ink after the initial tattoo appointment is as important as taking care of your touched-up design. A tattoo touch-up is also a wound on your skin and the aftercare instructions given by your tattoo artist will help it heal better. Here are the following steps you can take during the aftercare period:

1. Clean it with a gentle antibacterial soap.
2. Keep it dry.
3. Avoid touching it unnecessarily.
4. Wear loose clothing that allows the skin to breathe.
5. Apply a light moisturizer a few times a day.
6. Limit sun exposure.
7. Avoid picking or scratching your skin.
8. Do not soak it in water.

A tattoo touch-up may be required but not necessary. Take a look at the next section to see if you can prevent one in the first place.

Can You Prevent A Tattoo Touch-Up?

Touch-ups can significantly enhance your tattoo’s appearance if there are any imperfections like fading or smudging. However, most of them happen as part of the tattoo’s natural healing process. There may be stretching, sagging, or accidents during the healing time that may affect the tattoo’s final look. Following the aftercare instructions given by your experienced artist may help you prevent a touch-up at all.

A tattoo touch-up is an excellent way to revive your old tattoos or freshen up a new one right after healing. While many choose to go for a cover-up tattoo design, you can simply get a touch-up if you do not want to modify your tattoo. You may decide to go for one due to a variety of reasons, such as fading, patches, or blurriness in your tattoo. It generally costs less and takes a shorter amount of time. However, consult your tattoo artist and ensure your tattoo is fully healed before going for that touch-up.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much to tip for a tattoo touch-up?

This depends on the complexity of the body art and how happy you are with the result. If your touch-up is a complementary service, you may tip 20% of the normal tattoo cost.

Are tattoo touch-ups worth it?

If you feel that your tattoo could use some work to look as amazing as before, then tattoo touch-ups are totally worth it.

Is it rude to ask for a tattoo touch-up?

No. In fact, a reputable artist would recommend touch-ups because they understand that the degradation in the tattoo’s appearance over time is natural.

Key Takeaways

  • A tattoo touch-up is the process of reviving a new or old tattoo by freshening up blurry lines, adding bright colors, and redoing the shading.
  • A faded, patchy, blurred, or washed up tattoo will require a touch-up.
  • Ensure the tattoo is fully healed before going for a touch-up.
  • Using a light moisturizer and limiting sun exposure will help speed up your tattoo touch-up’s healing process.
tattoo touch up

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team

Tattoo touch-ups need as much love, care, and attention as new tattoos for lasting vibrancy. Check out this interesting video for information on touch-ups and more.

Personal Experience: Source

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Gazala Firdos Ansari

Gazala Firdos AnsariBeauty & Lifestyle Writer

Gazala Ansari is a beauty and lifestyle writer with two years of experience. She writes on relationships, makeup, and lifestyle and has bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature from the Central University of Jharkhand. Gazala has previously worked for a content agency where she wrote articles on self-growth, fashion, beauty, and travel. She enjoys consuming and creating content that...read full bio

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