What is a Tattoo Blowout & what to do about it?
You might think of a tattoo blowout as something that rarely happens or that will completely destroy the look of your tattoo. But the reality is that blowouts are actually quite common and are mostly nothing to worry about. Even some of our tattoo artists here at the Black Hat have some.
Here we take a look at what a blowout is and what can be done about them.
What is a Tattoo Blowout?
A blowout happens when ink is applied too deeply into your skin, most commonly when artists are doing linework. Your skin is made up of layers and they each hold tattoo ink differently. If the ink doesn’t go deep enough, your tattoo will fade out. But if it goes too deep, it will bleed into more unstable fatty layers. And this is called a blowout.
What does a tattoo blowout look like?
Because the ink bleeds out deep under your skin, the lines used to bring definition to the design will have a hazy, blueish or greyish fuzz. Or, if the blowout is in an area where colours meet the inks used may bleed into each other instead of holding their shape.
So, it almost goes without saying that having a blowout is not going to look good. However, it will affect the overall look of your design to varying degrees. If you’re lucky, it might just be a fuzzy line in a more subtle part of the tattoo. But if you’re really unlucky, it means your tattoo might appear like a blotchy mess.
What causes a tattoo to blowout?
There could be lots of reasons for a blowout – from human error to poor quality ink.
Here are the most common reasons:
- Part of your body – Certain parts of the body like wrists, fingers, ribs, hips and elbows, knees and feet are slightly more susceptible to a blowout. That’s because they tend to move more during a tattoo session or during the healing process and cause friction on your skin. Or the layers of skin are thinner than in other places.
- Movements during the application or healing – Sometimes it can be a movement by the receiver of the tattoo that causes it, like reaching into your pocket to grab your phone, or some other kind of friction. So be sure to lie still at the time and avoid rubbing your tattoo afterwards.
- Tattoo artists going too deep – while most artists are highly skilled, they are also not perfect. So, from time to time a blowout can happen if they apply the ink too heavily, or from the wrong angle. This can happen when it’s a challenging position for the artist such as twisting around an elbow. Every tattoo offers unique challenges and it is a human to human application so mistakes can happen.
- The ink – Different ink brands and types react to different skin types and sometimes the ink can migrate in your skin or take time to settle. And what looks like a blowout might just be bruising or your body reacting to the ink. This means it’s important to do good aftercare and wait until the tattooed area has settled down before jumping to any conclusions.
Here’s an example of what may look like a blowout – but is it?
And this is the tattoo artist’s take on it:
This example of a blowout does fade more over time. It’s a result of the pigment having a carbon reaction to the water/witch-hazel mixed in it and not “the artist being heavy handed”. How can you tell? You do not have extensive scar tissue. So, the artist didn’t go too deep, which is awesome!
So, does that mean a blotchy new tattoo is not necessarily a blowout?
Yes, it’s always worth waiting for a few days to know for sure whether you have a blowout or not. Everyone’s skin is different and will react to the ink in different ways. In some cases, you might just have bruising, and you just need to wait until the skin heals. If it’s a blowout the colour can also fade in time, so it also might be less noticeable after a while.
And can a blowout happen during the healing process?
Yes, it can – and that’s why you need to listen carefully to your tattoo artist’s aftercare instructions.
Aftercare is not only about ensuring your tattoo heals properly. It also includes instructions on how to avoid stretching, pulling and twisting the skin to prevent blowouts. Because if you move the area too much, too soon, ink can bleed into nearby fatty tissue.
This can obviously be difficult for you to do, especially restricting the movement of frequently used body parts like a hand or wrist. But it’s worth the wait, especially as you chose to get that area of your body tattooed.
So, if you’re a physically active person, you’ll need to tone it down a bit during the tattoo healing process. And if your work requires you to pull and stretch freshly inked skin, then consider getting a tattoo whilst you’re on holiday. It’s always important to give your skin and body a rest after getting a tattoo. After all, it’s like getting a minor medical procedure.
What I can do if I definitely have a tattoo blowout?
Unfortunately, with a blowout there’s not much you can do. It’s just one of those things that can sometimes happen. However, in most cases it won’t be a massive issue for people. If it’s really bothering you, you can get laser removal of the tattoo. But that’s not an ideal fix as you will lose your whole tattoo.
Sometimes you will be able to get a tattoo artist to rework or redesign the look, so the blowout is no longer noticeable. So be sure to ask your artist just in case this is possible.
However, we’d also advise that preventing a problem is better than trying to fix one. So, you should always think carefully before getting complicated tattoo on the wrong part of the body. That way, there will be nothing to regret later.
Why it is important to share feedback or your Tattoo Blowout experience with your Tattoo Artist or Tattoo Shop?
It’s not only important to reach out in case something can be done. It’s also important for your tattoo studio to get an idea on why the blowout happened. One of the first things we will do is trace the ink used and how it might have reacted with your skin. This allows us to give feedback to the ink manufacturers and improve our processes by preventing the same thing happening with someone with a similar skin type.
Remember, as soon as you leave the shop, we won’t know how your skin will react. So, it’s important to keep in touch with us and let us know that you’re still happy with the result. We like to test and improve our products regularly – so it’s really important to us to hear about any issues like blowouts.
If you have any more questions about tattoo blowouts, we are always delighted to help.