Why Does My Tattoo Look Shiny and Wrinkly? A Professional Tattoo Artist’s Insight

Why Does My Tattoo Look Shiny and Wrinkly

Hello, tattoo enthusiasts! I’m your friendly neighborhood tattoo artist, graced invaluable experience in the field of professional tattooing. Over the years, I’ve worked with an array of vivid colors, explored countless design themes, and made my mark (quite literally) on hundreds of individuals.

Today, I’d like to tackle a question I hear quite frequently from both first-timers and tattoo veterans alike: “Why is my tattoo shiny?”

Understanding what happens to your skin during and after getting inked is crucial. This article will not only explain the shine but also why this stage of the tattoo healing process is so significant. So, let’s dive in!

The Fresh Tattoo Phase

Every time you get a tattoo, your skin experiences trauma. Your body’s response is to initiate the healing process, which includes increased blood flow to the area, inflammation, and the creation of new skin cells.

  1. Tattoo Swelling and Redness: Immediately after the tattoo session, you’ll notice some swelling and redness. The skin becomes tender and might even feel slightly warm. This is normal. It’s your body responding to the trauma caused by the tattoo needle.
  2. Tattoo Shiny Stage: After a few days, the redness will start to fade, and you’ll notice your tattoo becoming shiny. This happens because your body is producing a new layer of skin to protect the tattoo. The fresh skin is initially transparent, making the ink underneath appear more vibrant and, yes, shiny!
  3. Tattoo Scabbing: Your body will continue to create this new skin layer, and scabs will form over your tattoo. The shiny stage usually comes before the scabbing stage. These scabs should not be picked at or forcibly removed, as this can lead to scarring and uneven ink distribution.

What To Do When Your Tattoo Becomes Shiny?

Let’s walk through the steps you should take to ensure a healthy healing process and ultimately, a vibrant, long-lasting tattoo.

Step 1: Understand the Healing Process

Before we get into the specifics, it’s essential to understand that the shiny phase is a normal part of the tattoo healing process. As your skin recovers from the tattoo session, it forms a new layer that initially appears transparent and gives the tattoo a shiny, almost glossy look. Don’t fret – it’s your body doing exactly what it’s supposed to do!

Step 2: Keep Your Tattoo Clean

Cleaning your tattoo is crucial during all stages of healing, including the shiny phase.

  1. Gently Cleanse: Use a mild, fragrance-free soap to cleanse your tattoo at least twice daily. Remember, gentle is key! Don’t scrub or rub your tattoo vigorously.
  2. Pat Dry: After washing, pat your tattoo dry with a clean towel. Don’t rub it – pat gently to avoid irritating the skin.

Step 3: Hydrate Your Tattoo

Moisturizing your tattoo will help maintain its appearance and aid in the healing process.

  1. Use Tattoo-Specific Moisturizers: Apply a thin layer of a tattoo-specific moisturizer or balm. These products are designed to hydrate your tattoo without clogging your pores or impacting the color of your tattoo.
  2. Avoid Petroleum-Based Products: Steer clear of petroleum-based products like Vaseline. They can be too heavy and suffocate your skin, slowing down the healing process.

Step 4: Protect Your Tattoo From Sun Exposure

The sun is your tattoo’s enemy during the healing phase, especially during the shiny stage. The fresh skin is sensitive and can easily burn or discolor under direct sunlight.

  1. Limit Sun Exposure: Try to keep your tattoo out of the sun as much as possible.
  2. Use Sunscreen: If you can’t avoid the sun, apply a sunscreen with a high SPF to your tattoo.

Step 5: Resist the Urge to Scratch or Pick

The shiny stage can sometimes be itchy. However, it’s essential to resist the urge to scratch or pick at your tattoo.

  1. Don’t Scratch or Pick: This can cause damage to your tattoo, leading to patchy or faded areas.
  2. Pat, Don’t Scratch: If your tattoo itches, try patting it gently instead.

Step 6: Monitor Your Tattoo

Keep an eye on your tattoo during the healing process. If you notice any signs of infection (such as pus, excessive redness, or swelling), consult a professional immediately.

Step 7: Stay Patient

Remember, healing is a process. It can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks for a tattoo to fully heal. The shiny phase is just one step on this journey. Stay patient and let your body do its work.


How Long Will My Tattoo Be Shiny?

The shiny phase of a tattoo usually starts a few days after the tattooing process and can last for several weeks. This stage varies from person to person and depends on factors like the size and location of the tattoo, as well as individual healing abilities.

Why is My Tattoo Shiny and Wrinkly?

Your tattoo can appear shiny because of the new layer of skin forming over it, a standard part of the healing process. The ‘wrinkly’ appearance could be due to the new skin’s delicate nature that has yet to fully mature. This phase is temporary and should smooth out as the tattoo heals.

What is the Silver Skin Stage of a Tattoo?

The ‘silver skin’ stage refers to the phase where the shiny new layer of skin over your tattoo starts to mature and blend with the rest of your skin. The tattoo might appear slightly less vibrant during this stage as it loses the shininess, and it might take on a silvery-gray appearance. This is a normal part of the healing process and a sign that your tattoo is nearing the end of its healing phase.

Why Does My Tattoo Look Like It Has a Film On It?

Your tattoo may appear to have a ‘film’ over it due to the new layer of skin that forms during the healing process. This new skin is initially transparent and gives your tattoo a shiny or glossy look, which can be interpreted as a ‘film’. This is normal and part of the healing process.

Is a Shiny Tattoo Healed?

A shiny tattoo isn’t completely healed. The shiny phase is part of the healing process, occurring as a new skin layer forms over your tattoo. After the shiny stage, your tattoo will enter the ‘peeling’ phase and then the ‘silver skin’ stage. Only after all these stages are completed can your tattoo be considered fully healed.

How Do I Know My Tattoo Is Healing Correctly?

Your tattoo is likely healing correctly if you see the following:
Shininess: A few days after getting your tattoo, it will become shiny as new skin begins to form.
Peeling: After the shiny phase, your tattoo will start to peel, similar to a sunburn. This is normal – just make sure not to pick at or scratch it!
Silver Skin: Your tattoo will enter the ‘silver skin’ stage, losing some of its shine and appearing slightly grayish.
Settling: After the ‘silver skin’ stage, your tattoo’s color should settle, looking less vibrant but more natural.
Remember, you should always follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare instructions and consult them if you’re unsure about anything during your tattoo’s healing process. Good aftercare is key to a well-healed tattoo.

Bottom Line

To wrap up, the shiny phase of your tattoo is a natural and expected stage of the healing process. It generally starts a week or so after getting your tattoo and can last for a few weeks. During this stage, your tattoo might appear shiny and slightly wrinkly due to a new layer of skin forming over it. This can give your tattoo a look like it has a film over it.

This shiny phase precedes the ‘silver skin’ stage, where the tattoo appears less vibrant and more like a silvery-gray – another typical part of healing.

However, a shiny tattoo is not fully healed. It’s only when your tattoo has completely lost its shine and the colors have settled into a more natural look that the healing process is considered complete.

If you have any doubts about how your tattoo is healing, do not hesitate to ask your tattoo artist or medical professional. Everyone heals at a different rate, and many factors can affect the healing process, including individual health, size and location of the tattoo. Being attentive to the changes that occur with the tattoo and following the care instructions from the tattoo artist will help ensure excellent healing and longevity of the new tattoo.