Tattoo Peeling: Is It Normal For Ink To Flake Away?

For many newbies to tattooing, watching their new tattoo peel off and peel off their skin can be an alarming sight. Do not worry. Your exfoliating tattoo is almost certainly nothing to worry about.

Very rarely are things as bad as they seem. What you are likely to go through with your flaky ink is just the perfectly normal and natural process that comes with getting a new tattoo.

Why do tattoos peel?

While being inked, the tattoo needles penetrate your skin thousands of times per minute, and over the course of a tattoo session, a potentially large area of ​​your skin becomes a large open wound.

For some time after getting your tattoo, it is prone to infection, and your skin’s natural response to it is to crust over the injured area.

tattoo peeling
tattoo peeling

When it comes to tattoo scabs, everyone is different depending on how their skin reacts to a tattoo and how rough their tattoo artist was.

As this scab forms, it essentially covers your skin with a protective layer of hardened skin that eventually has to peel off and peel off to reveal the new, healthy layer of skin underneath. This peeling is your skin’s natural flaking process.

When does a tattoo start to peel?

New tattoos peel off towards the end of the first week of healing, usually between the 5th and 7th day, although you can see signs of peeling after just three days.

Again, this will be a little different for everyone, but you should at least see the start of the exfoliating phase, which begins at the end of the first week.

Don’t worry if your tattoo hasn’t peeled off by this point. As mentioned earlier, all tattoos peel off and they all heal differently. As a result, your tattoo may last a little longer or just peel off much more easily and less visibly.

Your body sheds 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells every other day without you even realizing it. If your tattoo starts peeling, you will likely notice it because the skin cells are peeling off in noticeably larger flakes due to the damage in the area.

Smaller tattoos can be extremely easy to peel off and the area may have already started peeling without you even knowing. This is much more likely if you have moisturized the area well. This is because the often dried, flaky properties of the peeling skin are much less noticeable.

The 3 main stages of the tattoo healing process: </strong>

Is a peeling tattoo normal?

Exfoliating tattoos are completely normal during the tattoo healing process. Every single tattoo inked into an area of ​​skin creates an open wound that your body must protect until it heals.

You should be aware that the way your skin peeled off will always vary depending on the size of the tattoo, where the tattoo is, how well you have taken care of your tattoo, and how much the tattoo is has encrusted.

Larger tattoos keep peeling and peeling off due to the larger area of ​​skin disrupted by the needles.

Some areas of the skin are more resistant to peeling and peel off more slowly than others. For example, areas of skin that are constantly exposed to the elements and moved / used more often usually take longer to peel because the skin is inherently tougher and less likely to peel off.

If you haven’t moisturized your tattoo as much as you should during the aftercare phase, your skin can sometimes dry out and flake off more quickly.

This tattoo could definitely use an extra moisturizer

Of course, if your tattooed skin contains a fair amount of crust, it will be harder to exfoliate and larger flakes of skin will come off instantly.

This is in contrast to when the tattooed area contains only light crusts. If so, the peeling skin is likely quite light.

This tattoo is quite scratchy and likely to peel off in larger flakes

How long does a tattoo peel?

All tattoos peel for different lengths of time depending on the individual circumstances. However, most tattoos will still peel for about a week or so.

Tattoos on more stressed areas of skin (like wrists and elbows) will likely take a little longer to peel off completely. However, tattoos on softer and smoother areas can be peeled off after just a few days.

Sometimes tattoos actually peel twice. Usually in this case there is a relatively heavy peeling phase followed by a very light peeling that is sometimes barely noticeable.

This is normal too and nothing to worry about – just keep your skin well hydrated.

What if a tattoo doesn’t peel off?

Some tattoos, especially if they are small, peel so easily that they don’t look like they’re peeling at all. In most cases, this is nothing to worry about, and your tattoo is actually still healing the way it should.

Also note that not all tattoos peel off at exactly the same time, so your tattoos may only be delayed by a day or two.

Finally, it is imperative that you do not peel yourself by rubbing or scratching the skin itself, as this can lead to infection and permanent scars.

How to care for an exfoliating tattoo

Do not pick and pull the crusts

This is the worst thing you can do during tattoo peeling.

While the peeling skin looks like it’s ready to peel off, it is likely still lightly clinging to your “living” skin until it naturally falls off.

If you peck or pull on the skin before it’s completely done, there is a risk that you will pull out unclarified ink along with the flaking skin and cause stains in your tattoo.

It may be tempting to help peeling skin a little, but it’s best to play it safe and let it all happen naturally.

Those little pieces of skin look so tempting, but leave them alone!

Don’t scratch your tattoo if it itches

This, in turn, causes the skin to tear off prematurely, potentially leading to blotchy areas where ink has been pulled out.

In addition, your skin is still very susceptible to infection while you exfoliate, and your fingernails contain thousands of germs, even if they look clean. Scratching your new tattoo can turn out to be disastrous if an infection is caused. Wait for the tattoo to heal completely before attempting to scratch it.

For more info on how to prevent / manage crazy tattoo itch, check out our itch guide here.

Moisture is essential

Moisturizing your new tattoo will not only relieve the itchiness you suffer from, but it may also help your tattoo heal faster thanks to the many beneficial vitamins and minerals found in most moisturizing lotions and ointments.

Not only that, but using a good moisturizing lotion on your tattoo can help make it look better when scabbed and exfoliated. The dried, flaky pieces of skin absorb moisture and look more like the surrounding areas of healthy skin, which camouflages them somewhat.

While preventing crusts from drying out and cracking too much, the extra moisture also helps keep the flaky pieces of skin flush with the body so that unsightly chunks of dead, dried skin don’t stick out.

This, in turn, prevents them from being accidentally torn off while brushing against various objects.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan-friendly aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; Not only by moisturizing your tattoo really well, but also by relieving annoying itching and irritation. When used from the start, this lotion will shorten tattoo healing times and help prevent prolonged dryness and scabbing.

Keep your tattoo clean

Keeping your tattoo clean during the healing and peeling process will prevent potential infection and speed healing by clearing the area of ​​dirt and oil that could clog the pores and slow down the repair process. Look here for my favorite tattoo soaps.

Be patient

There’s no other way to put it – your tattoo will look terrible for a week or two. It will look dull and dry, with pieces of skin drooping.

Unfortunately, this is only part of the process and there is nothing you can do until the phase is over and the skin is completely healed.

Peel concerns

Many tattoo newbies are right to be very concerned about their tattoo when it comes off. Below are some of their general thoughts as they start to see their tattoo flakes. and I tried to give some reassuring answers.

Why does my tattoo look like it’s peeling off and peeling?

Often times, when your tattoo is peeling off it looks like the tattoo is peeling off completely. This is due to the dead skin that contains small amounts of ink. It’s not that your whole tattoo is coming and you shouldn’t worry.

What happens is that when your artist was tattooing you, he tried to pack as much ink into your skin as possible to make sure that the color / contrast is kept alive and to make sure that due to the lack of ink in your Skin does not develop spots.

When the deeper layers of the skin are full of ink and run out of ink, the excess ink is pushed towards the upper layers. You can see that.

Sometimes the peeling skin looks completely colored, and you may wonder if too much ink is being squeezed out. This is rarely the case, and very light, colored flakes of skin are very common.

Very colorful peeling

Do not worry!

Occasionally, if your tattoo peeled off when you wash it, the peeling skin could become stained with ink. This is completely normal and your tattoo will not wash out.

All of the tattoos are peeling off along with excess ink at this point, and personally every single one of my tattoos has done so and every one has turned out to be absolutely perfect.

Follow the correct follow-up procedures and you shouldn’t have any problems.

Tattoos can peel a lot when washed.

My tattoo looks like it lost its color after peeling

Sometimes your tattoo will look flaky and dull after peeling. Again, this is completely normal.

Although the top layers of dead skin have flaked off, the tattooed area will still not fully heal, and therefore, for up to a few weeks after the peel is finished, your skin can look quite dull and cloudy while the bottom layers of damaged skin continue to fall off.

You also need to be aware that your tattoo will likely never look as bright and vibrant as it did the moment you left the tattoo parlor.

After healing, a layer of translucent skin has grown over your tattoo as protection. Hopefully, while your ink will still look good, that extra layer of skin usually makes it look a little lighter than when it was completely fresh before the healing process began.

This can cause some people to worry about their black tattoos turning gray. While the color of the ink has not changed during the healing process, the amount of skin over the ink has increased, making it look like the ink is lighter in color.

However, if you are generally concerned about how your tattoo is healing, it is always a good idea to reach out to your artist so they can give you their professional opinion on the situation.


Even with the greatest care during the healing phases, tattoos can sometimes heal poorly, resulting in loss of color and staining.

The vast majority of artists acknowledge that sometimes tattoos don’t heal 100% effectively and generally offer a free touch up to repair faded or blotchy areas.

After your tattoo finishes peeling

After your tattoo peeled off, you can sleep peacefully knowing that you no longer need to see a dry and flaky mess. However, it is important to understand that your tattoo will still heal beneath the surface for a few weeks. So keep paying close attention to the area.

Keep up to date with best practices such as: B. Keep your tattoo well protected from the sun and moisten it regularly. Your tattoo should look great for years to come too.

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