“Blackout” Tattoos Are a Bad Idea—Here’s Why

Tattoos with blackouts have been growing lately due to the popularity of fashion-conscious images on social media and an increasing number of darker blackwork designs. Some also choose this type of ink to cover up an existing tattoo or many tattoos that are worn out, unfashionable, or just plain unpopular. However, are blackout tattoos safe on your skin? They also pose a risk of being a form that is a form of cultural denigration. Below, we talked to one tattoo artist to get their views.

What Is a Blackout Tattoo?

A blackout tattoo is one where an extensive portion of the body (typically legs or arms) is tattooed with an opaque, solid layer of black ink. These tattoos are made by filling an entire body area using only black ink, similar to coloring a complete coloring book with Black. Sometimes, blackout tattoos are utilized to cover older ink but have been gaining popularity as first-passed tattoos.

As the character of these tattoos might suggest, creating a blackout tattoo can be complicated and long-lasting. The more significant the area you want to fill in, the more sessions your tattoo artist will require, and the more needles must be used, contributing to more pain. Additionally, because blackout tattoos are intended to be solid, the tattoo artist may need to review the spots several times to ensure a uniform and reliable distribution of pigment. If even the tiniest bit of skin remains uncolored or even slightly transparent, it could cause a mess.

Cost & Healing Time

Due to the variety of dimensions and work involved in blackout tattoos, costs will likely differ significantly. The likelihood is that any artist who has agreed to perform a tattoo blackout will charge you by the hour rather than per piece, based on the length of time needed as well as any extra time. If you have a blackout tattoo by a skilled professional, well-known artist (as you ought to! ), Expect to spend between $100-$300 for an hour (though it may be higher depending on the artist and studio. To figure out the total estimated price, you should inquire with your artist). Generally, you can anticipate spending a minimum of $200 plus tip to have a tiny portion of your skin completely blacked out.

Although a blackout tattoo might take longer to heal, the process is the same as with any other tattoo. It will take about two weeks to recover in the majority. However, it can take up to six months to completely heal. In the process of healing, it’s suggested to clean the area twice per day with non-scented, antibacterial soap and then dry it using the help of a paper towel or allow it to air dry. Then, apply the tattooed areas with your favorite lotion (most tattooists suggest Aquaphor. However, there are several options to pick from). Also, you can expect the blackout tattoos you get to undergo a period of itching, and you should be sure that the tattoos will feel rougher than regular tattoos because of their dimensions and the amount of pigment. In essence, there are no differences in terms of healing for tattoos that are blackout compared to the healing process for “normal” ink–it’s just that the healing process is taking place in a greater area and more intensely.

Dangers & Downsides of Blackout Tattoos

Apart from the discomfort, There are some negatives associated with blackout tattoos. One of them is that by blasting the black ink across a considerable portion of skin, you will not be able to see the skin beneath. This makes identifying skin issues such as melanoma and skin anomalies hard. If you’re concerned about your skin’s health or have any history of skin conditions in your lineage, it might be better to steer clear from blackout tattoos.

Blackout tattoos aren’t the most enjoyable experience for the tattoo artist because they’d sit for hours, bouncing around and performing the same task. While the tattoo artist isn’t required to be enthusiastic about the tattoo (it’s yours at the end of the day), It’s helpful to ensure that they are, at a minimum, actively involved. “It’s also a very monotonous boring thing to tattoo for me,” says Elisheba Mrozik from Queen Bee Ink. “I’ve almost dozed off with that same repetitive motion and color and just solid black space.”

Elisheba Mrozik is a tattoo artist at Queen Bee Ink in Nashville. She was a former winner of Spike’s Ink Master and IndieVilleTV’s 2015 Tattoo Artist of the Year. She has won numerous prizes at conventions across the world.

Are Blackout Tattoos a Form of Cultural Appropriation?

One of the most significant negative aspects of tattoos that are blackout is that they’re generally regarded as a form of cultural as a form of cultural appropriation. In this way, the term appropriation refers to “the taking of something created or culturally relevant to Black people that was once a negative, shameful, sinful, ridiculed, and reprehensible thing that received a backlash of some sort in society” and then putting it as a positive thing even though you’re not Black as per Mrozik.

“I do think it is a form of cultural appropriation,” she elaborates. “It is also naive to believe that removing blackness from your skin to be an African-American is considered to be a “trendy” thing when, for centuries, being dark-skinned in this nation has been a curse and cause for pain, strife, economic slavery and injustice, stolen wealth and legacies, ruinous incarceration rates, violent death, and dreams deferred.”

Although blackout tattoos might not be the original idea of a method to make your skin darker intentionally, that is precisely their purpose. It’s not difficult to recognize that deciding to shade your skin in any way as an individual who is not Black is a problem, especially in the context of Black people being subject to daily discrimination based on their skin color. Ignoring the obvious implications of a blackout tattoo is a way to unconsciously promote the idea of white supremacy and perpetuate systemic racism.

“Ignorance of something does not excuse people from its consequences,” says Mrozik. “In the end, it is your body … but that doesn’t mean the societal affect/reaction will align with yours.”

Removing Blackout Tattoos

Similar to how the size and opaqueness of a blackout tattoo could make you think that the healing process will be more complex than conventional ink, you might think that this kind of ink will be more challenging to remove. However, it’s the same process as other tattoos, it’ll be more difficult to remove, but it will take longer.

Although a typical tattoo will take between three and eight sessions to go away and eventually be erased, blackout tattoos might require more than 15 sessions or more using an expert laser technician. Removal of a blackout tattoo will also cost more than a less intricate piece of ink. You can expect to pay twice or even triple the cost of the tattoo to have it removed.

The great thing is that black ink is the most straightforward for lasers to eliminate, and you don’t need to worry about the darkness of the ink. However, it would help if you talked with your medical professional or technician for specific information about the removal procedure. They’ll be able to take an inspection of your ink and customize the design to fit your tattoo’s blackout so you get the most effective treatment (and cost!) possible.

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