Can scars be camouflaged with skin tone tattoo ink?

Scars, regardless of how they are obtained (surgery, growth spirts, accidents), can be debilitating for some people and really affect self-confidence.  It may just be a small scar, or it may be stretch marks covering large parts of the body.  Many treatment options are available – when client’s visit us, it is usually their last resort, having tried laser etc.  Here at Ink Illusions, we will do our best to improve the appearance of your scar the best we can by tattooing your scars with skin tone tattoo ink.  There are many factors which affect whether (a) you are suitable and (b) how successful the treatment will be…

Is your scar suitable to tattooing?

Age of tattoo

Your scar needs to be at least 2 years before ink can be used.  This is because your skin is still healing, meaning it is still moving, so ink would continue to move with the repairing skin, leading to unknown and potentially undesirable results.  If the scar is at least 12 months old, you can have micro needling or MCA dry needling to help repair it first.

Colour of tattoo

Your scar(s) need to be lighter than the surrounding skin to be able to have tattooing.  This is because lighter ink will not satisfactorily cover the dark skin underneath.  Darker scars can first be treated with micro-needling and MCA dry needling to repair and lighten first, before adding in ink.

Keloid scarring

Keloid scars can not be treated at all, as any treatment could exacerbate the problem.  If have a history of keloid scarring, it is likely you cannot be treated, in case the scar gets worse with treatment.


If you suffer from hyperpigmentation (where you skin goes very dark after a cut etc for a very long time, usually around the edge of the injury), you may still be able to have treatment, but there is a risk of further hyperpigmentation with your skin healing and reaction an unknown entity.  Sometimes hyperpigmentation can be transient and return to normal, but this can take anywhere from 90 days upwards.  Hyperpigmentation is more prevalent in darker skin tones.

Medical conditions / pregnancy

You may be on medications which prevent you from having treatment.  This will be discussed with you at your consultation.  Conditions may include diabetes, blood disorders and allergies.  You can not have scar camouflage tattooing if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What factors affect the scar camouflage results and how long they last?


Older clients generally have thinner skin – the results will not necessarily be any less successful compared to someone younger, but we must be careful with the tattooing depth and pressure on older skin.  Usually older clients are less active, with slower cell renewal, meaning the ink will last longer.


Active clients will lose ink faster as the body is pumping blood around the body more, and renewing cells more quickly.  Actually,  a fit older client can lose ink faster than a less active younger client for this reason.  If someone is on holiday a lot, swimming, sauna etc, they will usually lose the ink faster.  Consumption of alcohol can affect ink retention.  Drinking lots of water can also help flush the ink out faster.  Obviously drinking water is a good thing, so would never ask someone to cut down on this purely for ink retention!

Products used on skin

This is related to the aftercare section below as well.  Different ingredients in lotions, oils etc, can affect the ink within the skin.  As an example, if a product has lactic acid in, this can lighten the pigment.  Other ingredients such as alcohol can also cause ink to be lost faster.  Keeping your skin hydrated and moisturised will mean your skin is healthy, leading to longer results.

Following aftercare advice

You will be given aftercare advise, including a sample product to use when you skin in healing.  You may also be asked to use a cold compress, which reduces swelling and inflammation – known to hinder healing.  The ingredients in the aftercare given are of utmost importance to your healing journey.  The ingredients provide nutrients and do not suffocate the skin after tattooing, allowing the healing process to be faster.  By following the aftercare advise, you will have the best chance of a successful result.

Skin retention / immune system

This point plays a massive part in tattoo ink retention and successful scar camouflage results.  We have no control over your body’s response to inserting tattoo ink into your skin.  From the moment ink enters your skin, your body knows it is a foreign object and does its best to remove as much as possible.  Because of this, 40-80% of ink is lost per session!  Eventually the body will calm down and remaining ink will be accepted to leave the final result which can take 60 days on average.

Skin scar texture

Depending on how tough your scar tissue is, will determine how easy it is to get tattoo ink into the skin and stay.  Scar tissue is compromised skin and does not behave in the same way as normal, healthy skin and it is unpredictable.  Usually at least 2-3 tattooing sessions are required to camouflage a scar, but this may be more – we simply do not know in advance.


What are the risks of scar tattoo camouflage?

Whilst we always try to minimise any adverse outcomes, the treatment is invasive, puncturing the skin the insert ink and does not go without associated risks.

Skin irritation

Your skin will most definitely be swollen and sore immediately after and in the subsequent days as it starts to heal.  You will be given aftercare advise to help minimise this and speed up the healing process.  As it heals, it is likely to start itching – you must avoid scratching at all costs!

Not achieving an exact colour match

A colour test is normally performed before tattooing larger areas of skin.  This gives some indication on how the chosen colour heals within the skin and then adjustments can be made before tattooing the entire area.  However, in not all cases is a colour match performed – we will match as closely as we can but bear in mind that your skin healing process, your overtones and undertones and your epidermis will change the ink colour slightly, so without a colour match test (left to heal completely) we can predict the final outcome and can only get as close as we can.  In the unlikely case that a colour has healed and is not satisfactory, we can remove it and possibly modify the colour.

Uneven pigment colour

Scar tissue is not even and is unpredictable.  For this reason, the ink retention can vary between areas leaving uneven pigment colour.

Fading of colour over time

This is exactly a risk, but it should be expected and reasons for fade are explained in the section above.


Using a needle to penetrate the skin is causing puncture wounds to the skin.  Having secondary scarring when treating a scar or stretch marks is extremely rare and it related to following aftercare mostly (as well as the practitioner making sure she does not apply too much pressure when tattooing).

Pigment migration or spreading

If scar tissue is still healing, there is a risk the skin is still moving and will move pigment along with it.  Pigment itself can also migrate but this is a lot down to the practitioner working at the correct depth, speed, and pressure.  The ink used can also be a reason for pigment migration.  With skin tone ink, this is not a massive issue since the colour is similar anyway to the surrounding skin.

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