My Tattoo Looks Cloudy and Dull
Getting a tattoo is a difficult decision for many people. It is a permanent mark which can receive various responses from other people, not all of which are positive. However, people keep getting tattoos because there is something special about them. They are something many of us want to show of with pride. This is why ensuring they are their best quality is important. The healing process is one of the most important factors in the outcome of a tattoo and its quality. At oneHOWTO, we look at what happens when my tattoo looks cloudy and dull. We explain why this happens and what you can do to protect the tattoo.
Reasons my tattoo looks cloudy
The aftercare process for a tattoo must be followed step by step to ensure that both the original color and luster are preserved. If you forget to follow your tattoo artist's recommendations for the care of a fresh tattoo, it is likely it will end up looking dull or change its tone.
If you see that your tattoo looks milky, it does so because it has lost its shine of fresh ink. It is expected that a too will not look quite as brilliant as after it is first inked. This is different than it looking permanently cloudy. The reasons why a tattoo looks cloudy and dull are as follows:
- Cloudy phase of the healing process
- Dryness of the skin
- Poor tattoo work
- Damage to tattoo during healing process
Part of the healing process
When you get a tattoo, it requires the tattoo artists to pierce and damage the skin. This essentially causes a wound where the ink settles and remains permanently. Since it is a wound, it will start to heal automatically. There are different phases of this healing process, during one of which the tattoo will look a little cloudy. Some people refer to it as milky.
The cloudy phase of tattoo healing appears before the dead skin starts to fall off. Once this does occur, the healed skin underneath will look more define and sometimes even a little brighter. The healing layer of skin is fine and translucent. This means we can see the tattoo underneath, but the dead skin obscures it a little to make it look like a milky film covers it. Often it looks bright after moisturizing, but becomes cloudy again when dry.
The process before the dead skin falls off takes a different length of time depending on various factors. These include the size of the tattoo, its placement, our health and other considerations. In general, the cloudy phase of the tattoo healing process should be done after two weeks. However, this will depend on individual circumstances. If you have any queries, you should speak to your tattoo artist.
A tattoo becoming cloudy in this case is normal. It shouldn't be something to worry about and will resolve itself naturally. However, there are times when this can be due to a problem as we explain below. Another problem occurs if you see the tattoo is swelling up abnormally.
Cloudy tattoo due to dry skin
After a tattoo is performed, the top layer of the skin dries out and falls off. This happens because this skin dies and a new layer appears that protects the area. Essentially, the skin regenerates at this outermost level, leaving the tattoo ink inside under a few more internal layers of the skin.
As long as you keep this new skin in good condition, the healing process will complete naturally and your tattoo will stop looking cloudy. The colors will return to similar to their original tones. However, if we don't moisturize properly, we can cause the skin to dry out too much. When this occurs, it can look cloudy once it heals.
Poor ink work
If you have a bad or inexperienced tattoo artist, their work can result in the tattoo looking cloudy. With novice tattooists, it often happens that they don't insert the ink sufficiently far down into the skin. They may have poor technique and the result is a cloudy tattoo. Always research your tattoo artist and look for recommendations from reliable sources.
Tattoo looks dull from scratching
Scratching a healing tattoo is a common mistake. Rubbing the skin of the tattoo will slow its healing and, in doing so, you can increase the chances of generating a bad scab, visible scar, bleeding and even contracting an infection. There are many consequences that can appear if you scratch a tattoo hard or frequently, but loss of color, opacity, distortion of the drawing and infections are some of them.
If you think this has happened to you, take a look at our article on how to know if a tattoo is infected.
How to care for a tattoo
After knowing why your tattoo looks dull, you will need to know more about how to care for it to keep it in good condition. At oneHOWTO we provide the following tips to ensure a tattoo is taken care of correctly. Fortunately, they are all simple and straight forward:
- Moisturize the tattoo: use the ointment your tattoo artist recommends. Moisturizing will help remove dead skin and regenerate the skin as the tattoo heals.
- Avoid sun exposure: until you have completed all the healing stages, protect the tattoo from the sun's rays so as not to harm its final state or your health. Our article on does the sun fade a new tattoo? reveals more.
- Avoid excess moisture: you should soak the tattoo area immediately after getting inked. Shower as you normally do, but protect the tattoo. To hydrate it, apply the specific lotion or cream mentioned above. You can only get it a little wet when you clean off any skin and ink during the healing process, but you will have to dry it quickly by blotting with a towel and then applying the cream immediately afterward.
- Appropriate clothing: tight-fitting clothing can be the detriment of your tattoo. Since the tattoo is a healing wound, it can get sticky and the clothes can adhere to the skin. When you peel it off, it can take some of the ink with it and make it look cloudy.
- Be careful of exercise: if you do not have patience and do intense exercise during healing, it will take longer for the wound to heal because the skin will suffer constant movements while doing sports, as long as the newly tattooed area is involved in the exercise. Take a look at can I exercise with a new tattoo to learn more.
- Follow protocol: the professional tattoo artist should know exactly how long you need to have the tattoo area covered, when to moisturize and anything else related to ensuring you tattoo heals properly. If they don't, you may not be going to a reputable tattoo parlour. This is why choosing the right tattoo artist is so important.
- Use mild soap: wash the tattooed area with warm water and a mild pH neutral soap. Don't scrub it and don't use sponges, loofahs or anything which might take off skin and make it peel.
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