When Do Tattoos Start Peeling?

There's a lot to think about when deciding to get a tattoo, and one of the most important things to realize is that there's a lot you have to do after getting inked. The aftercare regime is something you must perfect if you want your tattoo to be as vivid as it was when the last line was drawn (via Cosmopolitan), and it's all about keeping it clean and away from anything that might interfere with the ink deposit.

During this process, it's completely normal for your tattoo to start peeling. As a wound has been created in order for the ink to sit under the dermis (the middle layer of your skin), when it heals it's only natural for skin to start peeling away as new skin grows in its place, perĀ Medical News Today. But when can you expect this process to start, and what can you do to help keep your tattoo healthy as it goes through this stage?

The peeling process depends on how big your tattoo is

According to Sorry Mom Shop, your tattoo should start peeling four to five days after you've had it done. During this time, you should continue to clean it with warm, soapy water as instructed. You can also expect to see some scabbing too as the skin begins to regenerate and heal itself. Healthline notes that prior to peeling, your tattoo may look "dull" due to the dead skin cells that have collected over the ink. Once the peeling process has finished, your tattoo should look as vibrant as it was after your session ended.

"After the skin has shed, the underlying skin will reveal the sharp and true colours of the initial tattoo," dermatologist Matthew Lin, MD told Refinery29. "This is because the tattoo ink is placed in the dermis, and it's only the epidermis which peels." So, as the wounds from the needle heal on the epidermis, the ink deposited within the dermis stays protected and intact.

As for how long a tattoo can peel for, this depends solely on the size of what you've had done. Sorry Mom Shop estimates that for small tattoos, this process can least within a week. But for bigger pieces, it can take up to two weeks to fully peel. During this time, it's important to keep the area moisturised to prevent the "itchy uncomfortable feeling" you'll experience as it heals.