Heard of blowouts in tattoos? Here’s what it means if your ink looks blown out

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The term blowout is a tattoo terminology. However, before I get into in-depth, I’d like to start by discussing skin. Now, a lot of people know that your skin has 7 different layers. But a lot of people don’t know about which layer is your tattoo deposited into.

During the process of tattooing, the ink should ideally get deposited into the epidermal-dermal junction; which is sort of the sweet spot for where the ink should be deposited. Now, in the effort of making your tattoo stay, the artist might defer from only penetrating the papillary layer (top most layer) as the tattoo will flake away or heal really light to where once healed, the permanency of the tattoo would be questionable.

While tattooing, if the needle penetrates the dermis, which is the layer of skin, which contains nerves/blood vessels, or the subcutaneous layer of your skin (the layer of fat) which ends up having the ink not settle properly, and this usually heals being cloudy or you’ll find a blueish haze around the tattoo. This tends to happen more on outlines more so than tattoos with shading as the configuration on liners are much tighter and more concentrated in terms of how close the needles are grouped together. I believe it tends to happen more with black than with colour, as the black ink has a much lower viscosity and tectorial staining ability, on average, more so than coloured ink. Of course, with some brands there are exceptions, which is probably why blowouts are more visible under the skin with black ink.

It’s also important to mention there are many degrees to this, minor blowouts that happen on a larger tattoo which could be caused due to the skin’s irregularity. And a more severe case where this happens is with some artists who are inexperienced, and don’t understand different skin textures very well.

It could even happen if the artist is running the machine too fast. With tattooing, the point is for the needle to slide in and out of the skin with as less trauma as possible so if the machine is running really hard the impact of it slapping the skin could induce a blowout as well.

Most of the times, a blowout is noticeable while the artist is tattooing you or sometimes when the tattoo has time to settle after you get home and wash it off. There are also times a blowout can only be noticed a couple of months after the tattoo is healed, this has a lot to do with the elasticity and diameter of thickness of the skin and skin types on different individuals which cannot be controlled by your artist.

Different parts of the body require different ranges of voltage pressure and needle depths to avoid blowouts, however some areas are just more prone to blowouts than others. Usually, areas that have more capillaries than others such as the hand, wrists, calves, collar bone, face, feet, behind the ear, areas like that is where the skin’s thinner, and blood can flush to those areas easily through capillaries.

It’s also worth mentioning that by just moving a tattoo that’s fresh is another cause to where blowouts can occur. Think of it this way; if you pour ink under two sheets of plastic and move it around by bending it while it’s together, the ink’s going to smudge. So the best advice I can give you is to be a little more conscious about the area that got tattooed by moving the area minimally as just a bit of motion that’s constant and regular can open up channels underneath the skin to make the ink disperse in an irregular fashion.


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