Everything You Need to Know About Fine Line Tattoos, According to Pros

Including why some of them bleed over time.

Everything You Need to Know About Getting — and Maintaining — Fine Line Tattoos
Photo: Getty Images/ Instagram @_dr_woo_

Unlike fashion and beauty trends that you can test-drive before fully committing to, tattoos are a whole other story. Sure, your trendy balayage with bottleneck bangs may require time to grow out and fade, but permanent ink will stay on your skin forever. As such, it's really important to know exactly what you're getting into before you get a tattoo.

Recently, we've noticed the rise of fine line tattoos — in fact, there are over 150 million views on TikTok videos about them. And even celebrities such as Hailey Bieber and Cara Delevingne keep getting them.

Iron & Ink, an international tattoo studio, even told InStyle that fine line tattoos are the biggest tattoo trend right now.

To better understand exactly what fine line tattoos are, we tapped two tattoo artists to everything you need to know. Their answers, below.

What Are Fine Line Tattoos?

Essentially, they're exactly what they sound like. "A fine line tattoo is a subtle, delicate, and thin tattoo," explains Iron & Ink Tattoo Artist, Wiwi. Furthermore, Foreverist Skincare Founder, Robert Boyle says that in appearance, fine line tattoos are often softer in shading as well as more delicate in their linework than other types of tattoos.

To get a fine line tattoo, both experts say that the tattoo artist will either use a single needle or combinations of small needles.

What Are the Benefits Of Fine Line Tattoos?

It depends on what you're looking to get out of it, but there are several upsides to getting a fine line tattoo. For starters, Wiwi says that because they're so discreet, everyone can get one without having to make a bold statement on their body. In fact, Boyle thinks that because of an increase in workplace tattoo acceptance, fine lines have grown in popularity. Plus, if you want to join the tattoo community without getting a thicker and bolder type of tattoo, fine lines offer a beginner-friendly entry point into it.

Then, there's the factor of pain. While no tattoo will be completely painless, Wiwi points out that fine line tattoos hurt less as they use small needles. However, Boyle points out that placement can greatly affect how much getting a tattoo hurts, not to mention the skill level of the artist.

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What Are the Risks of Fine Line Tattoos?

If you're reading this article, you've likely seen photos of fine line tattoos and are intrigued by the artistry and attention to details. As such, you've likely realized that it takes a very skilled hand to achieve an intricate, well-detailed fine line tattoo.

"They're more difficult to execute perfectly than many traditional styles of tattooing because the lines are thin, and in turn, less forgiving with mistakes," explains Boyle. "For it to be perfect, the artist needs the lines to be straight, continuous, and with the ink inserted all at the same depth. This can be difficult depending on the placement of the tattoo itself, along with the artist's skills." Wiwi adds that because there's little to no room for mistakes, even the slightest mishap will be noticed.

Boyle further explains that the risk of not going to an artist who is highly skilled in fine line tattoos is getting ink that becomes a blowout — where lines end up being thicker and thinner in different places — or a fallout — where the ink falls out of the skin during the healing process — as the design itself is more difficult to execute and heal.

The risks don't stop once the tattoo is is done — after care is extremely important. "Even the smallest scratches can cause missing ink on the healed tattoo," says Wiwi. "So, when you get a fine line tattoo, you really have to be very mindful of how you treat your tattoo while it is healing and make sure you are using the correct moisturizer." But more on that in a minute.

What's the Best Way to Make a Fine Line Tattoo Last?

For starters, placement is key. "You have to make sure the skin in this specific area is good for making fine line tattoos," says Wiwi. "If the placement is not great, the tattoo will run out with the elasticity of the skin or you risk that the tattoo will fade too quickly when exposed to too much sun or movement." Some big-risk areas are fingers, hands, and the neck.

Once that's settled, proper aftercare is a must to expedite the healing process. Foreverist Skincare was formulated specifically for tattoo aftercare in mind, and Boyle highly recommends using the brand's complete tattoo kit which includes the Foreverist Healing Cream, Hydrating Cream, and Brightening Day Protection SPF. And yes, you need to use SPF to prevent your tattoo from fading.

Lastly, when — not if — your tattoo begins to fade, going in for touch-ups can help keep fine line tattoos looking clean and sharp. Wiwi says that one of the things that can speed up fading is having dry skin, so keep it moisturized.

Below, find a few examples of fine line tattoos to save and show to your tattoo artist.

01 of 05

Collarbone Fine Line Tattoo

fine line tattoos celebrities rihanna
Barry King/Getty Images

Rihanna is no stranger to tattoos, and the delicate one she has below her collarbone is one of our favorites. It reads, "Never a failure, always a lesson."

02 of 05

Saturn Fine Line Tattoo

Katy Perry has the most delicate, Saturn-inspired fine line tattoo on her wrist.

03 of 05

Constellation Fine Line Tattoo

We love an astrology moment, and Solange's dainty constellation is no exception.

04 of 05

Initial Fine Line Tattoo

Hailey Bieber dedicated a dainty tattoo to her husband Justin by permanently inking his initial on her ring finger. Lenny Kravitz did the same for his daughter, Zoë.

05 of 05

Calligraphy Fine Line Tattoo

Zoë Kravitz has a fine collection of tattoos that range from bold to dainty. Of those, we love the fine line "baby" on her neck and the detailed dragonfly on her back.

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