Tattooing over stretch marks means working with uneven skin texture and uneven skin tone.
While it’s not always the case, most clients will want a tattoo to hide their stretch marks. As a tattoo artist, you need to know how to create a design that camouflages those scars and how to work with delicate scar tissue.
By the end of this article, you’ll know how to create designs that disguise stretch marks, as well as how to tattoo over scar tissue without causing blowouts or extra trauma to the skin.
In this article, we’re breaking down:
Tattooing over stretch marks is an advanced technique. To do it successfully, you’ll need plenty of experience under your belt.
Deciding When to Tattoo Over Stretch Marks
Before you work with a client that wants their stretch marks tattooed, you’ll need to help them decide if now is the right time.
Wait Until the Stretch Marks are Healed
You need to wait until a client’s stretch marks are fully healed before tattooing. Full healing usually takes 1-2 years. Tattooing on top of fresh stretch marks that are trying to heal could risk the ability of the tattoo to heal correctly.
How to Tell if A Stretch Mark is Healed: Color
Do not tattoo on raised, pink or reddish-purple stretch marks. Fully-healed stretch marks are usually a white/silvery color and feel flat on the skin surface. If they are still raised, they will be harder to work with.
Even when they’re healed, stretch marks are still damaged skin, and damaged skin is more sensitive. If your client is worried about additional pain, check out our Complete Guide on Tattoo Numbing Cream to learn the best way to use anesthetic products during a tattoo.
Understand Your Client’s Goals
The client’s goals for the future can play a big part in whether they should wait to get tattooed.
For example, if your client might be pregnant in the future or is planning to lose significant weight, it would be best to wait because there could be more stretch marks to cover after those events. Additionally, new stretch marks where there’s already a tattoo could damage it and change the way the design looks.
Common reasons for stretch marks to discuss with your client:
How to Design Tattoos to Cover Stretch Marks
Anytime you’re covering scars or stretch marks, you’ll need to design a custom tattoo for that person’s body with their stretch marks in mind. Here’s a few things to consider:
Figure out the Size
Some clients will just want a tattoo in an area that happens to have stretch marks, so they might not mind seeing scarring outside the area the tattoo covers. But if they’re getting a tattoo because they want the scar tissue covered, you’ll need to create a design that’s large enough to do that.
Choose the Right Style
Some tattoo styles look better over stretch marks than others. Because you’re trying to hide the skin, a style with ultra-light shades and lots of skin breaks (like a realistic portrait) won’t do the job.
Design with Flow
If a tattoo design flows with the body’s muscles, it’s much harder to notice imperfections in the design and in the skin. A design that flows pulls the eye away from stretch marks by emphasizing the shape of the body.
If you’re not sure how to create custom designs that flow with the body, check out our article on How to Draw Tattoos.
Part of covering up stretch marks is camouflaging them. While it might seem like a good idea to black out an area with skin discoloration from scarring, the difference in the skin can still be visible.
The best way to camouflage the skin is to do a tattoo with lots of design elements (like skulls, flowers, etc.) and texture instead of using flat color. This is what makes Japanese great for stretch mark tattoos and coverups.
Some people use “tiger stripes” tattoos to emphasize stretch marks instead of hiding them. Others use nano color infusion and skin colored ink to make them disappear.
Tattooing Over Stretch Marks: From Stencil to Afterare
Applying a Stencil On Curved Surfaces
Usually, stretch marks occur around the hips and stomach, which means you’ll be tattooing on a curved surface of the body. To get a stencil to curve with the body, you’ll need to cut little slits in it to make it easier to bend. The more flexible the stencil is, the easier it will be apply, despite any curves or dips.
Know in Advance that Touch Ups are Likely
Scar tissue holds ink differently. This means that those areas will look less defined or slightly blurry, and it may not hold ink the first time around. If the tattoo is patchy or looks like it’s fading, you’ll need to touch it up.
You’ll want to tattoo lightly and keep your needle depth pretty shallow. This is especially important to keep in mind while you’re lining. Pulling a needle through damaged skin can cause the needle to cut right through it if you’re not careful.
It’s super easy to cause blowouts on scar tissue. If you’re unsure, stay shallow in the skin. That will be much easier to fix during a touch up than dealing with lots of blowouts.
Touch Up Appointments
Stretch marks tend to not hold ink well. If your client needs additional touch ups, make sure you still keep a shallow needle depth.