My tattoo looked great after it healed, but now it looks... not great.
June 21, 2019 11:55 AM   Subscribe

My five-month old tattoo looks dry, puckered, and shiny. How do I get it to look better?

Got my first tattoo in late January on my upper thigh. In the early healing stages, the tattoo was doing very well. No scabbing or excessive flaking. Here's the tattoo after five weeks. From there... things went downhill.

Here's where I'm at now. The skin has looked pretty much the same (puckering and shiny) since April. Previously I was moisturizing with generic brand Aveeno lotion everyday, although in the past several weeks I've gotten heavier handed with moisturizing, using a combination of jojoba oil, vitamin E oil and lotion.

The original tattoo artist suggested it was my sunblock or lotion that caused this and to lay off moisturizing for now. Which makes absolutely no sense to me. I will probably need to contact a new artist to get this touched up/redone. There's also some blow-out near the cone but that's not even a huge concern of mine right now given the other issues. So... what should I do now? Continue with jojoba/Vitamin E oil? Switch to bio oil? Will a touch-up help and if so, when can I get one given the current condition of my skin?
posted by joeyjoejoejr to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You might be allergic / developing an allergy to something you are using. I'd switch to something hypoallergenic like CeraVe or Cetaphil. Keep moisturizing though.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:25 PM on June 21, 2019

Since you’re saying you have an area of blowout - and to my eye it looks like the puckering follows the work - it may be surface scarring.

Do you have sensitive or thin skin? Is this your first tattoo or did it seem extra painful? Did they go over the same area a lot? Did the machine sound really fast/buzzy/high pitched?

Sometimes thin scars can have that wrinkled appearance. Many scars are shiny. Often scar or texture things will reduce on their own. I would definitely check with another reputable artist and possibly a dermatologist plus keep an eye on it for a bit before a touch up. Patch test some some other moisturizers on your arm too and see if they may be an issue.

*source: over 20 tattoos. At least one has some bumpy shiny scar stuff from being overworked.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:42 PM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: @Crystalinne
It was my first tattoo so I can't really compare the pain. I would say yes, they seemed to be going over the same areas a lot. The machine did sound loud/fast and I think the tattoo artist actually remarked that they were done faster than usual. Unfortunately I did not have the experience to know anything amiss at the time. It's definitely not a reaction to the moisturizers as I have used them on other parts of my body with no ill effects.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 1:45 PM on June 21, 2019

I had some areas that looked like when my last tattoo was several months healed-- years later most of it is gone now. I did have it touched up once about a year after it was done the first time because I had a little bit where the color fell out.

I would keep moisturizing and wait before you get a touch up. A lot of it might go away on its own.
posted by inertia at 4:11 PM on June 21, 2019

Just keep in mind that your tattooed skin may be more sensitive than your not-tattooed skin, especially if it's still healing. The most emollient, non-smelly, hypoallergenic lotion is what should be used. Even "natural" stuff - especially oils, which I was warned specifically against using on tattoos - can cause a reaction with broken skin.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:08 PM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Agree about laying off the moisturizers in favor of cerave, specifically the daily moisturizing lotion, not the kind in the tub.

This looks a little like the eczema I get only on certain areas of my skin and I avoid anything but cerave and cool water or it flares up. If it does flare up I put a thin layer of corticosteroid cream on it ONCE!!! which tends to chill it out again; this is no more than once a month at most. Using steroid cream is not something I would do without talking to a dermatologist about it though, but it is something to keep in mind if you do determine that you're having some kind of reaction to a product.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:14 PM on June 21, 2019

Another tattoo artist probably won't want to touch this up until it's fully calmed down/healed, and honestly it looks like it's just still in the healing process and not permanently scarred or anything. I have annoying skin and a lot of tattoos and I've gotten this wrinkly/shiny skin thing on some of the full-black parts of my tattoos. It eventually (after 6ish months I think?) healed and stopped looking weird, now those parts are exactly the same texture as the parts around it. The colour fell out a bit on some of those spots but I haven't gotten them fixed yet. If you have ink fall out it probably won't be noticeable because it's not a solid colour.

The pattern of the wrinkly skin seems to follow only certain sections of the tattoo, maybe your skin was sensitive to one of the inks? Or the needle the artist used for that ink was different in a way that your skin didn't like? Or maybe the artist just pushed harder during that part. If you're also getting blowout it means either they pushed too hard or your skin is more sensitive/thin than most people. This is your first tattoo — everyone's body is different and heals on its own time. Have patience, don't worry, and wait for at least 6 months before deciding whether to get a touchup.
posted by 100kb at 5:57 PM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

That's totally within the spectrum of normal healing. Moisturize and be patient, it will settle in.
posted by TheCoug at 7:10 PM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

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