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Ask Guy Aitchison

Ask Guy 9

Q) I'm fifty and want another tattoo. I went to a shop on the Islands and the artist I spoke with made a negative reference to older skin. I decided not to work with her. I am not a sun worshipper, but I do see a difference in my skin texture. If tattooing on more mature skin is not a good idea, I'm okay with that. What are the pros and cons, and the realities of dealing with older skin?

A) It's true that as we get older, our skin changes, but only in the cases of severely sun-damaged skin do we not recommend tattooing it. I can understand why a tattooist in the islands might feel a certain frustration when working on sun damaged skin, since it's common for clients to walk in off the beach with a sunburn with the intention of getting tattooed and then walking back to the beach to burn their skin some more. Island tattooers tend to see their walk-in clients through this lens... but you should feel welcomed by your artist, not put off. If your skin does have any sun damage (which persists for life, although a decade later it will improve some) you should expect to have at least 2 sessions done to the piece to give it the best smoothness and saturation. Even if you had flawless skin, you'll get a better tattoo from 2 healed passes than you can with one, simply because of the skin's limitations. With some sun damage, these limitations are greater but are not any big deal in the long run. Bottom line: If an artist doesn't seem happy to be working on you, find another one.