The New Trend of the Micro Tattoo May Fade Away — Literally

Delicate, fine tattoos are all the rage — but according to artists they won’t last long

micro tattoo of the word printemps on persons forearm
Whether or not this micro-tattoo will last, who's to say.
fpphotobank via Getty

The number of Americans with tattoos has been steadily rising for the past decade, and now there is a new trend in ink: the micro tattoo. These small, delicate tattoos on areas like the inside of fingers or ankles, has been popularized recently by celebrities like Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber, and is fueling even more general interest in skin art. 

In an article from Input discussing the fad, it was reported that the number of Americans with tattoos increased from 21% to 30% between 2012 and 2019. And micro tattoos are catching on primarily for the clean, minimal, aesthetic, and for the lower stakes and commitment of a smaller piece.

Tattoo artists are making one fact very known however: these tats might not be as permanent as what’s typically assumed when it comes to ink. The delicate details might blur or fade with time, while sometimes the placement of certain tattoos (like the inside of the finger, the inside of the arms or armpits, hands and feet) will cause the tattoo to blur faster.

One tattoo artist, Jon Mesa of No Idols NYC, said that the fate of some of the micro-tattoos he remembers from the 90’s didn’t age well.  “You can see how they have aged and what failed, what didn’t work. And this is done by somebody who’s an amazing tattoo artist using the best equipment.” He’s called micro-tattoos “snake oil” before, as he believes that “As a tattooer, I feel you should tattoo for, ‘I want a tattoo that looks good for 20 years,’ but that’s just my opinion.”

A good artist should always encourage proper tattoo after care, both for aesthetic reasons later on and for overall health and hygiene. Keeping the area moisturized with a thick moisturizer or balm and out of sun exposure is key to helping the tattoo heal. (But still, call us in 10 years with your micro-tattoos progress.)

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