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Do All Tattoos Need a Touch-up?
Tattoo touch-ups are a way to keep your tattoo looking as fresh and vibrant as it did on the day you got it.
It’s important to remember that tattoos don’t last forever, so you need to stay up-to-date with your tattoos for them to keep their appearance.
Generally, Not all tattoos need a touch-up unless they are very old and have faded significantly. Some tattoo artists may recommend a touch-up every year or so if they notice the color is starting to fade. Touch-ups help in maintaining the freshness of your ink and keep it looking fresh.
When considering what to do about your tattoo touch-up, it’s important to know:
- How old it is.
- How much has it faded.
- If it has undergone proper maintenance.
Tattoos on the head and neck should undergo a professional touch-up by a licensed tattoo artist whenever they begin to fade. You may only need a touch-up if the faded section is very small.
It’s best to avoid touch-ups of tattoos on other body parts since they fade rapidly and may not have a proper set-up.
Suppose you have a tattoo that’s faded significantly and has been well-maintained. In that case, you may achieve a satisfactory result by following some general guidelines for touch-up procedures.
Many tattoo artists will touch up your tattoo for a nominal fee if you bring it to them. The advantage of this is that they are familiar with the work and have all the proper equipment on hand.
It’s also true that a professional touch-up can look better than touch-ups attempted at home since someone who has practiced tattooing will probably do a better job than someone who is not.
How Do I Know If My Tattoo Needs a Touch-Up?
|Faded Tattoos||Tattoo colors fade as the skin ages, so older tattoos that may have looked sharp and clear when you first got inked may need extra love. |
If your tattoo feels lighter than it did a few years ago, it’s time to consider touch-ups.
|Watered-Down Tattoo||You need to consider touch-ups if your ink looks watered down. Watering down can result from sun exposure, damage from the shower or rubbing, or age.|
|Shading Issues||Tattoos are permanent; there’s no going back and redoing them. But sometimes, your original design doesn’t show up or is too dark. In these cases, shading issues mean you need to consider touch-ups.|
|Wash Off Loose Ink||Sometimes the adhesive that holds your tattoo together fails over time, and your tattoo becomes a bit disjointed. The tattoo artist can correct this with a touch-up.|
|More Skin Area||Your original tattoo might have been too small, and you now want more skin coverage. If this happens, consider getting a new tattoo because all old tattoos need a touch-up every few years.|
Are Tattoo Touch-Ups Cheaper?
Tattoo artist touch-up costs depend on the reason behind the touch-up and the work needed. Generally speaking, your touch-up will be cheaper if the tattoo you received is more recent and still has ink.
Tattoos that are older or faded will need more work and are generally pricier than newer tattoos. And you may have more options regarding what an artist can do.
For instance, you can usually request a shading touch-up, while a general design revision may cost more.
The type of tattoo also makes a difference in your costs and the time needed for your touch-up.
|Small Tattoo||$50 – $150|
|Medium Tattoo||-$100 – $300|
|Large Tattoo||$150 – $350|
|Full-Sleeve Tattoo||$150 – $300 per hour|
|Half-Sleeve Tattoo||-$125 – $300 per hour|
|Full Back Tattoo||$250 and up per hour based on design, ink colors, shading, etc.|
While you can get a tattoo touch-up without getting the entire thing redone or starting over, it may be less expensive to go ahead and get a new tattoo.
However, if you love your design, getting additional work done may still be worth it so that the piece is clearer, more vibrant, or enhanced.
Should A Tattoo Artist Charge for A Touch-Up?
Yes! Most professional tattoo artists will offer a free or low-cost touch-up for your new tattoo because it will help save them time and money.
Every artist has their strategy on how they want to run their business. They should be able to explain their strategy in simple terms.
If they want to avoid charging for a touch-up, they might need to offer other ways of managing people’s expectations. These include:
- Discuss the tattoo and style with the customer before. Consultations should never be an excuse to get more money out of people.
- The consultation is an opportunity for you to explain how your tattoo technique and style can best suit your taste and body type.
- Tell customers that they should not expect a tattooist to be able to fix everything that is wrong with their tattoo. Tattoos can take many years to develop, and a simple touch-up can make a poor tattoo look like an old one.
- If you charge for touch-ups, explain the nature of the problem (such as fading colors or ink stains).
- Tell customers to expect some changes to their color even from the first time they get their tattoo. A good artist will inform them of what their new tattoo will look like in a few weeks.
- If you are charging for your touch-ups, try to do it in a way that does not upset customers and does not seem like an attempt at getting more money out of them.
Can You Touch-Up Old Tattoos?
Yes! Old tattoos boast full healing and are ideal for touch-ups. A well-executed touch-up can be a great way to give your tattoo a new life and make it stand out.
Getting your old tattoo touched up will usually take three or four sessions, depending on the size and detail of the original design.
For example, if you have a small tattoo colored with black ink only, you can expect it to take one session for the coloring and another session for the shading.
You will then have to wait up to a week for the coloring to cure and another week for the shading.
Touching up an old tattoo is a lot of work, so it’s best to prepare and remember that you are investing your time and money in something that may turn out differently than desired. It would be best to have realistic expectations.
First, you must find a good artist. It doesn’t matter if you are working in a studio or having it done at home, as long as the person behind the needle is an experienced artist and can give you the look you want.
Check out the portfolio before agreeing to any work. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $200 for a small tattoo and anything over $300 for something large.
The typical cost for the touch-up session will be approximately the same as the original work, but there may be additional charges for coloring (which should be at most $50) if it gets done at another session.
Getting quotes from more than two artists before making your final decision is a good idea.
How Much Do You Tip for A Tattoo Touch-Up?
Tipping for tattoos works differently than tipping in most other industries, as the person performing your tattoo touch-up is technically a different employee from the one who created your original tattoo.
They have also spent less time with you, of an hourly wage rather than a salary (which can easily be upwards of $10, 000+ per year).
They are, in general, less invested both emotionally and financially into your experience.
It’s crucial to note that there is no set rule for what a shop should charge you in a private session, and most tattoo parlous will often try to talk you into bidding with them against other artists.
Often, the starting price is fairly low, and the artist makes more money off your hourly rate than they do off the original completion of your tattoo.
The minimum amount I would tip someone doing touch-ups at my shop is 20% of the original tattoo rate.
This goes for both bigger/larger and smaller tattoos, but be aware that if you get a small tattoo redone, you will likely be paying more per hour than someone getting a large tattoo done.
If your original artist has done something exceptional with their stencil or the shop rate was low, then feel free to tip slightly higher than 20% or even $50-$100.
This is not a paid session; it’s simply a touch-up, so your original artist should still get compensated for their work.
Does Every Tattoo Artist Do Cover-Ups?
No! Not all good tattoo artists are good cover-up artists. Cover-up tattoo art is a specialized skill; not all tattooists agree it’s worth their time.
If the tattooist sets up a cover-up appointment, that is one thing. Many places will have good options if you want to find someone who does cover-ups.
But when you’re shopping for a new artist to do your tattoo, be sure you know what kind of work they can do.
When you begin your search for a new tattoo artist, know that some experts generally don’t consider it worth their time or expertise.
If you want a cover-up or something new designed, ask your local artist if they consider that part of their repertoire.
The other option is to find an artist who specializes in cover-ups and has no interest in doing anything else.
If you find one who only does new work, then they should be able to recommend tattoo artists in your area who do good work on old tattoos.
Whether you’re covered in an old tattoo or want to be, it’s important to find an artist who you feel comfortable with.
If you’re only getting a cover-up, the artist can show you their portfolio. But if you want them to create something new, ask for examples of their work.
You can also check out pictures online and ask other people about the artists in your area.
When Do Tattoos Need Touch-Up? -Top 7
|Old Tattoo||Old tattoos need touch-ups because of the loss of ink from the body stretching over time. Keeping your tattoo clean, moist, inked, and safe from harm is important.|
|Tattoos That Have Changed Color or Faded||Tattoos that have changed colors or faded may need touch-ups to restore their vibrancy and shine. |
This is particularly true for black ink tattoos on light-skinned individuals.
The same goes for any tattoos you get when you are young (within your first ten years). This is when your skin is at its most supple and you have the least sun damage.
|Tattoos That Lost Definition||Tattoos that lose their definition may look different from the original piece. |
You must test the skills of both the tattoo artist and tattooist during your first or second session (this will vary from place to place).
|Changing Life Circumstances||Tattoo touch-ups may be necessary if you no longer like a certain tattoo or want something different.|
|Deep Skin Tattoos||Tattoos inked over deep skin (deep scars, the space between fingers, the nape of the neck) may require touch-ups for the viewer to see.|
When Should I Stop Using Aquaphor on My Tattoo?
You should stop using Aquaphor on your tattoo after 2-3 days.
It is a myth that you should use Aquaphor on your tattoo for days or weeks at a time. After the second or third day, you should stop applying it.
Your body’s natural healing process will take over and do its job.
These apologists repeat this myth because they want to sell their lotion, but actually, it could be harming than doing good, as in some cases, it can cause the colors of your tattoo to fade.
The best thing you can do for your new tattoo is to leave it and let it heal naturally. Here are a few tips on what you should never do and how to care for your new ink appropriately.
- Do not let the tattooed area get wet for 2-3 days. The healing process will start on the first day, and like all wounds, you don’t want to irritate it by putting water on it. Just pat it dry with a clean towel if you get it wet.
- Do not expose your new tattoo to the sun. This is a big one, and it is the number one cause of fading and discoloration in tattoos.
- Therefore, you want to ensure you wear high-SPF sunscreen every time you go out in the sun, even if it’s just for a short period.
- Wear a large hat over your tattoo if you must be outside with no shirt. Also, never place your tattoo in direct sunlight.
- Do not get your tattoo wet. As stated above, DO NOT get the area around your tattoo wet, even if it is in an area that gets lots of sweat, like knuckles or elbows. First, this is a no-brainer. Well, most people do it anyway.
Who Needs a Tattoo Touch-Up?
Anyone with a tattoo needs a touch-up from time to time. Not only is it important to prep your skin in advance, but a tattoo artist can help ensure the tattoo will continue to look stunning for years to come.
If you have a small tattoo, get it touched up 1-2 months after your original session and yearly after that.
Touching up between 1-6 months after the initial session will provide you with the best option for the longevity and maintenance of your fresh ink.
Touch-up sessions are usually defined as those done on the same day as your original tattoo session; however, tattoo artists can make exceptions in certain situations.
You should do a touch-up session when you are at least two months post-session and once annually after that; this schedule gives your ink the option to heal properly and is appropriate for larger tattoos that take longer to heal.
You should always consult a tattoo artist before you decide on the size, color, or location of your next tattoo. Tattooing over an old tattoo is often difficult to remove.
Additionally, there are different rules regarding what you can tattoo over another tattoo. Consult a reputable tattoo artist to maintain your fresh ink to continue to look good and last a long time.
How to Care for a Tattoo That Needs Touching Up
Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Then:-
- Gently pat the area with clean, dry paper towels so that no excess water gets under your skin.
- Apply tattoo aftercare lotion or ointment to the tattoo in a thin, even layer and leave it on for at least 20 minutes before washing it off.
- Some people prefer to leave it on overnight for maximum results but don’t leave the tattoo sitting out in the sun, as this can cause an allergic reaction or burn your skin.
- After 20 minutes have passed, gently massage the skin around the tattoo with a bit of a gentle cleanser. Think of it as a deep-tissue massage, and ensure you don’t press too hard, or you may pick up ink on your fingers.
- Rinse off the cleanser and pat dry with clean, dry paper towels again.
- Apply lotion or ointment to the tattoo in a thin, even layer and leave it on for 15 minutes (or longer if desired).
- Wash off the tattoo and repeat steps 2-6 until it looks exactly as you would like it to look.
By now, you should have a general idea of how to care for your new tattoo. Basic hygiene is one important thing that doesn’t change when you get a new tattoo.
Care for your new tattoo just like you care for any other part of your body, and even though the area may seem small, it’s an area that will be in constant contact with dirt and germs.
Tattoo touch-ups are a great idea if you want to maintain the freshness of your ink and keep it looking fresh.
There may be a few things to do at home, but you will have to revisit the tattoo shop most of the time.
Most artists can do either a small touch-up or even a full-color session, depending on what you want and your original design.