Tattoo Peeling with No Ink Underneath – Causes and What to Do

Should you worry if your tattoo starts to peel? What if it is peeling and there is no ink underneath? What are the causes of tattoo peeling, and what can I do about it?

Peeling skin is quite normal during the healing process of tattoos. After all, tattooing is deliberately causing an open wound in the skin to inject ink into. The peeling is a natural reaction of your body to protect itself. However, your tattoo has issues if it peels and has no ink underneath.

Read on to learn more about tattoo peeling with no ink underneath and how to prevent it from happening.

Why Is Your Tattoo Peeling with No Ink Underneath?

tattoo peeling no ink underneath

Peeling and Scabbing Is Natural

You should expect the skin to peel and scab if you recently had a tattoo. What do you do when you get a light to no ink tattoo after scabbing?

Possible That the Tattoo Artist Went Too Deep

A common reason for tattoo peeling is that the tattoo artist is still inexperienced, leading to a huge rookie mistake. Note that the human skin has three layers, namely:

  • Epidermis (the top layer),
  • Dermis (middle layer), and
  • Hypodermis (the bottom layer).

It could be that the tattoo artist went too deep. Ideally, it is necessary to have the ink deposited into the dermis layer.

If the tattoo artist went too deep, there would not be enough skin tissue. This is if the artist puts the ink into the hypodermis layer. The hypodermis is essentially a layer of fat.

When you inject ink, it will only blot out the fat. This means that most of the ink gets washed out. It will leave only a greyish-green blob after just a month or so.

Not Deep Enough Tattoo

The tattoo coming off also happens when the tattoo artist does not go deep enough. It may lead to the ink being deposited only in the epidermis. This usually happens with apprentice tattoo artists who are still too scared to hurt their clients.

This leads to the ink just getting deposited on the skin surface. It may look fine for a day or two, but it will be gone after one or two weeks.

This means that if you are hardly feeling any pain, there is a chance that your tattoo will not last. The same is true if you had to endure excruciatingly bad pain.

What Happens When the Tattoo Gets Too Deep?

Novice tattoo artists do not know how to gauge their needles’ depth. Some worry about not going deep enough, making them overwork their tattoos, which means going too deep. They thought that going deeper would make the tattoo stay.

1. Will Only Last for a Couple of Months

Aside from being painful, it will also result in a tattoo that will only last a couple of months. The hypodermis skin layer mostly consists of fat, so there is not much “meat” for the ink to hold onto. When you deposit ink into this skin layer, it will only blot.

2. Grey Smudge After a Month or Two

It will then leave a grey smudge behind after a month or two. You just sat through hours of excruciating pain to receive a temporary tattoo. It is one that only leaves a splotchy mark on your skin.

3. More Risk of Infection

Another issue about going too deep with your tattoo is that it becomes a real injury. Once the needle pierces the hypodermis, it has already breached the body’s natural defenses. This means that it will be more at risk of getting infected.

This is also why a new tattoo would scab over and not just have the top layer peel off. The tattoo artist just gave you a colorful wound with nothing to show for afterward.

What Happens When the Tattoo Is Not Deep Enough?

Now, some novice tattoo artists do not go deep enough and only pierce the epidermis layer of the skin. This may not hurt much as the tattoo artist that overworks the piece. However, going this shallow will only result in the tattoo peeling off with no ink underneath.

Laying the ink on the topmost layer is less effective than using a pen to write on your skin. When the needle puts the ink in the skin, it will also cause it to bleed. When the puncture wound bleeds, most of the ink deposited by the needle will also seep out.

This means that you might have a nice-looking tattoo after the session. However, it will only take a week before it will fade to nothingness.

How to Tell If Your Tattoo Was Overworked

tattoo peeling off no ink underneath

Aside from the tattooed area scabbing and peeling, other signs will tell if you have an overworked tattoo. Here are some of them:

1. Change in Appearance

The needle may have gone a little too deep into the skin. If that is the case, the ink will spread out too much in the fat layer of the skin. This will make the lines look cloudy, blurry, and distorted only after a few days.

2. Excretion

There will also be small amounts of blood and plasma for a day or two after getting the tattoo. This is normal because this will cause a bit of scabbing to stop the bleeding. This can also help prevent dirt and bacteria from getting into the wound.

3. Scarring and Pitting

If the tattoo is overworked, it might have caused deep tissue damage. In that case, the tattoo might bleed for several days without scabbing. You may also notice excessive flaking and skin peeling with a lot of ink.

In addition, you will notice that there are raised lines or deep pitting in the tattoo. Those are also signs of the tattoo being overworked. There might even be some severe scarring due to the tattoos getting infected and damaged.

What Do Tattoo Artists Say If They Mess Up?

The tattoo artist might give you some lame excuses for why your tattoo peeled off without ink underneath. It is best to educate you about these misconceptions. That way, you will know when the tattoo artist is just trying to avoid being held accountable for their mistake:

1. “Your Skin Rejected the Ink”

This is a common excuse that seedy tattoo artists use when messing up a piece for their clients. This is not true since the skin does not reject ink. The artist either tattooed too shallow or too deep. This could be why there is no ink under the peeling skin.

2. “You Probably Scratched or Rubbed the Tattoo Too Hard.”

Although there is some truth about this, it is not enough to cause the ink to disappear somewhat. The problem with scratching or rubbing the new tattoo is the skin might get infected. If the ink was applied properly, no amount of scratching should pull it out from the dermis layer.

3. “You Did Not Provide Proper Aftercare.”

Some sketchy tattoo artists may not also take the blame for their mistakes. Instead, they will tell you that you did not take proper care of your new tattoo.

Even if you did only the bare basics of taking care of your new tattoo, it should still be there. There should be no reason for your new tattoo to get blurry and fade this quickly.

4. “It’s Only Natural for Tattoos to Blur and Fade.”

Yes, it is only natural for your tattoo to blur and fade. However, it should take years before that would happen. If it starts to fade before it fully heals, the tattoo artist may have made a mistake.

5. “My Cheap Machine Is to Blame.”

Although this is not a total avoidance of accountability, this shifts the blame to the equipment. Even if the tattoo artist uses cheap machines, that does not explain their lack of skill.

Many aboriginal tribes use bones, thorns, and other crude tattoo tools. Despite that, their tattoos are still at the correct depth. A true artist does not blame their tools for doing sub-par work.

Again, why is my tattoo peeling with no ink underneath? During the healing process, it is natural for tattoos to peel. Each tattoo causes an open wound that requires protection until fully healed.

How to Fix Overworked Tattoos

Luckily, if you had the unfortunate experience of getting an overworked tattoo, you can still get it fixed. One thing that you can do is to rework or cover up the old tattoo.

I suggest not going back to the tattoo artist who messed it up. The original artist might offer to fix your tattoo at no extra charge. However, it would be hard to trust them again after what they did to you first.

Search for a more reputable and experienced artist to help you fix your tattoo. Of course, the tattoo should be fully healed before you have it reworked or covered.

1. Have Another Artist Rework the Tattoo

Reworking a tattoo means a tattoo artist will be going over the original lines. This time, they must ensure that the ink reaches the correct depth under the skin. A skilled tattoo artist will have no trouble recreating the original concept. They may even be of help to improve it.

2. Cover Up

Covering up the tattoo means the new artist will cover up the old, ruined tattoo. They can do the cover-up with a slightly bigger tattoo. This is an option if the old tattoo is so distorted that it is impossible to rework them.

Be prepared, though. The reason is that cover-up tattoos often consist of solid blocks of color to hide the old ones. This means the process will take a longer time.

How to Take Care of Your New Tattoo

tattoo peeling but no ink underneath

Whether you have a reworked or covered tattoo, you must take good care of it during the healing process. If you take good care of your tattoo, you can lower the likelihood of scabbing and peeling:

1. Clean and Moisturize Regularly

You will need to perform excellent aftercare on the newly tattooed skin to prevent complications later. This includes cleaning the tattooed area at least three times daily to keep dirt and bacteria out.

Also, consider using a hydrating lotion to help the tattoo heal faster. Moisturizing the tattooed area will make the healing process faster. It can also prevent excessive scarring and peeling of the skin. In addition, moisturizing will prevent the tattooed area from getting itchy and inflamed:

2. Don’t Pick at Your Scabs

It will be inevitable that your tattoo will scab and peel. However, never pick at the scabs or pull at the loose skin. Let your tattoo heal on its own. Picking at the scabs may cause the wounds to get infected, thereby prolonging the healing process.

3. Don’t Scratch Your Tattoo Even If It Itches

Just like picking at your scabs, scratching your tattoo will only get the skin ripped off too early. This can potentially cause some patchy areas in your tattoo.

When you pull out loose skin or scabs due to scratching, you will only cause them to bleed. This will further lead to the ink seeping out.

4. Keep the Tattooed Area Away from Direct Sunlight Until It Heals

If you had a full sleeve made, wear long-sleeved shirts everywhere you go for the time being. Your skin is incredibly sensitive after getting tattooed, reworked or not. You should prevent sun exposure for at least a week or two.

5. Wear Loose Clothes

If you have to go out, which is inevitable, wear loose-fitting clothes. Even if you bandage your tattoo, wear clothes that are loose enough. That way, you can prevent them from contacting the tattooed area.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why Does My Tattoo Appear Dull?

After a couple of days, your tattoo might look a bit dull. However, this is not due to the quality of the ink used. Instead, this is your body’s response to the tattoo. The dulling effect is due to the dead skin cells lifting off the surface of your skin.

This usually happens when you get injured. The only difference is that now, a pigment is underneath the skin, making it more noticeable.

Is It Normal for The Ink to Come Out of the Tattooed Area?

Do not be alarmed when a bit of ink seeps out of the tattooed area during the healing period. It is quite normal during the first day or two. A bit of ink may seep out of the hundreds of thousands of holes made by the tattoo artist.

The tattoo artist would deliberately put a bit more ink than needed into a tattoo. This is to ensure that the end product will have good pigmentation. Even if some ink comes out, more will still be inside the skin.

Why Do I Feel Feverish After Getting Tattooed?

Do you feel chills and have a slight to moderate fever a day or so after getting a tattoo? It could signify that your tattoo got infected or you are allergic to the ink.

Both are signs of an incompetent tattoo artist because the truly good ones keep their workplace and tools clean. They will also test if you are allergic to the ink they use.

How Much Skin Peeling Should I Expect?

After the first week, this is when you should expect the skin on the tattooed area to peel off gradually. Normally, most of the tattooed surface will peel off as it starts to heal. Note, though, that there will also be parts that will not peel.

Is It Normal to Not See Any Peeling After the First Week?

A tattoo not peeling after the first week is not necessarily a bad sign. Everybody heals at a different rate, and yours might be healing longer than normal.

However, not seeing any peeling during a large tattoo’s recovery process is not normal. In that case, consult with a dermatologist to get an explanation of what is happening.

In Closing – Tattoo Peeling Without Ink Underneath

It is usual for the skin on top of a new tattoo to peel. Note that it is part of the healing process. A fresh tattoo is a self-inflicted wound that injects ink into the skin.

The skin peeling is just a natural reaction of the body to protect itself from infection. However, if your skin peels and there is no ink underneath, it could be the fault of the tattoo artist.

If the tattoo peels without any sign of ink underneath, it may have poked too deep into the skin. Professional tattoo artists call this “overworking,” and novice tattoo artists often do this.

If this ever happens to you, don’t worry, as you can still fix the tattoo. Just remember to pick a reputable tattoo artist next time.