Few years ago it was impossible to scroll through Instagram and not see friends, influencers, or celebs showing off their latest fine-line tattoos. Celebrity tattoo artists such as Dr. Woo and Jonboy’s elegantly cool designs were seen on A-listers such as Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. However, not everyone who participated in this trend were happy with the results.
TikTok is full of videos showing people with faded fine-line tattoos. @thesnacmac posted a video asking for feedback on how people’s fine-line tattoos look after years. She says, “I keep seeing all of the fine line, intricate, minuscule, and beautiful tattoos on my page, and I love them so much, don’t get it wrong.” “But I want to see one like a year.”
This video was stitched by many users, showing their fine line tattoos. There are a variety of satisfied and unhappy customers. @fleshtattoos90 writes, “All tattoos bleed out over the course of time.” Fine line is a trend, but it won’t save your life. This is a huge deal IF the tattoo does not fade to blurry right away. The user also shows off several hand tattoos, including a small heart on one finger and a unidentified design on the thumb. This might have been once a candle.
There are also those who use this video to defend fine-line tattoos and show off their healing designs in excellent condition. Parker Midnight, a Portland-based tattoo artist, said that “this whole discredit on fine line tattoo culture comes only because a lot if tattooers can’t handle fine line and it’s done properly it will hold up just fine.”
What is the deal with fine-line tattoos? Is it a bad idea? Martin Holbech, a tattoo artist from Iron & Ink, says that most people don’t know anything about tattoos other than that they like the design and want one. They can help you if you need a little extra guidance, especially with [single-needle] fine line tattoos.
What is a single-needle tattoo?
This style of tattoo is also known as fine-line tattoos. It uses very thin lines to create intricate, sometimes delicate designs. JK Kim, a Queens-based fine-line tattoo specialist, says that “fine line” simply refers to the tattooing technique used by artists to create tattoos with very narrow lines. It wasn’t a distinct category until the last decade when celebrities like Dr. The style gained popularity thanks to Jonboy and Woo. The term “fine line” is now used to describe tattoos that use mostly, if not all, very thin lines. They are usually smaller in size.
These fine line tattoos are often created using a single point needle. However, this is not always true. Kim explains that tattoo artists can mimic a single needle design using larger needles with three, four or five point 3, 4, 5, 5 point points. There are no set guidelines for how to do a single-needle tattoo. As long as the lines are very fine, there are no rules.
Jason Schroeder (aka Mr. Incognito), a tattoo artist based in Austin and LA, says that “The single” term for a needle is technically incorrect 99 percent the time.” He also states that many people don’t use it because it’s difficult to master one need technique. It is not a gentle tool and can do a lot of damage if it isn’t used properly. It can cause bleeding, fading, and even complete disappearance.
How do fine line tattoos heal?
Fine line tattoos are often criticized for their healing.
Gabby Pignanelli, a single-needle tattoo artist from New York City, explains that fine line tattoos, particularly single needles have the potential to heal better on the dark side. This is not the same as fading. Fade is when ink appears inconsistent or almost invisible in some areas. However, they can often be confused.
Kim also points out that fine-line tattoos tend to fade faster because the ink isn’t as densely packed beneath the skin as other thicker tattoos. This makes it easier to get rid of the ink by your immune system.
Rachel Maiman MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Marmur Medical explains the healing process. The body sends macrophages, a group of blood cells, to the area where the tattoo is to remove ink particles. Some of these macrophages flush out the ink particles through the lymphatic system. Others remain in the dermis and allow the injected ink remain visible.
Maiman believes that tattoos heal in three stages, regardless of their style. The first stage, inflammation, lasts approximately 1-3 days. She explains that it is normal for tattoos to become reddened, swollen and tender at this stage. It is not uncommon for ink or blood to ooze from tattoos. There is the second stage, which can cause the skin’s top layer to peel, flake or scab. It can last for up to two weeks after the appointment. This stage is less obvious but is still ongoing about one month after treatment. She explains that the tattoo will typically remain dark and dull for a month before it changes to a more permanent, vibrant color. “The skin continues to change underneath the tattoo for three to six more months before it is considered fully healed.” A tattoo is usually considered to be fully healed three months after it was applied.
Pignanelli says, “We all love the bold and black look of a new tattoo. But, as the ink settles into skin, it will look a little differently.” Fine line or not.
Artists want to emphasize this point: it’s not only fine-line tattoos which heal differently. “All tattoos fade,” Holbech says. It’s all about how much or how little depends on many things. These include the skin, application and, most importantly, the aftercare.
Is there a way to stop fine-line tattoos fading?
There are some things you can do to reduce fading and spreading, as stated previously.
To ensure that your skin is healthy, moisturize it before and after the appointment. Moisturizing your skin after an appointment is important as it reduces the risk of cracking, drying out, and bleeding. Maiman states that a moisture sealant should be used 2-3 times daily until the scabs are fully healed. She points out that tattoo artists advise against using occlusive petroleum-based moisturizers because they can damage newly acquired ink.
There are many great products available on the market that preserve ink. Holbech’s favourite, Sorry Mom Original Tattoo Balm, is one of them.
A key step in preserving your tattoo is to stay out of the sun and water after your appointment. Sun exposure can be a tattoo’s greatest enemy. Maiman says that prolonged sun exposure can cause irreparable damage to your tattoo’s longevity. The sun’s UV rays will penetrate the skin, essentially destroying the tattoo’s pigments. The tattoo will appear lighter and less vibrant after the pigments have been damaged. After your tattoo has fully healed, you should apply sunscreen to protect it. Sunscreen is essential to protect your tattoo from the sun and preserve it.
You may also want to avoid high-motion areas like your feet or fingers if you want to keep your fine line tattoos in great shape. Although they look great, finger tats like Hailey Bieber are more susceptible to fading due to friction.
Do I need a fine-line tattoo?
There are some things you should remember before getting a fine-line tattoo. However, the main objective is to manage your expectations. Not all tattoos are suitable for fine-line tattoos. Kim says, “Just because something looks easy on paper doesn’t mean it’s possible on skin.” Trust your artist to show you what is possible.
This brings us to the next point. Finding the right artist is key to any type or fine-line tattoo’s success.
Pignanelli emphasizes that clients often assume that fine line tattoos are easy to tattoo because they can be so small and simple. The smaller the needle is, the more precise and careful you must be. Because you will see the results immediately, there is little to no margin for error. A single-needle tattoo artist can help reduce the chance of lines becoming scratchy, blotchy, or completely invisible.
Social media is a great place to start when it comes to finding these artists. It allows you to see their work and any comments or tags that clients may have left. Once you have narrowed down your candidates, ask for photos of the work they have done after it has healed. Schroeder says, “Ask for photos of healed tattoos and not just fresh Instagram shots with nine filters of contrast or sharpening.”
Fine-line tattoos, as well as all tattoos, change over time. But don’t let that stop you from getting the design that you want. Schroeder said that he has seen fine line work that was more than 30 years old. It is soft and gray, but it still has great definition.
You can find beautiful, sharp designs on Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok. They are all fine line designs that may look different one day, but it doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Kim says that your tattoo may become lighter or thicker depending upon how it is healed. Your artist will suggest the best placement, size and detail. They are the experts and will make your tattoo experience fun, informative, seamless.