Mountain View

Burnt Mark Reveals Fresh Tattoo

What do you think about this fascinating photograph of a burn showing the dermis layer of a tattoo? Are you shocked to see what your tattoos look like under the skin?

Photo @ Will Jones

Inked skin never looks as crisp, as vibrant, as those first few months after it's healed. This is because the ink is mainly in the dermis layer of the skin, and the epidermis sits on top of the ink, giving it the illusion of the tattoo being a little faded as compared to the fresh tattoo.

The photograph on top belongs to Will Jones, and it got viral when a user posted it on Reddit, sparking a firestorm of debate on whether it was bullshit or a medical marvel. The image shows a section of damaged skin – a relatively minor injury caused by a kitchen burn – over an old tattoo of a blue rose, peeling away to show color so bright, it could have been injected moments ago. The tattoo was originally executed by Austin Hansen, a tattooer based on Haltom City.

A photo of the freshly made tattoo. Photo © Will Jones

The science behind tattooing might help point the way to how this phenomenon is even possible. Ink doesn't technically fade like people think it does. Think of painting a car. You put the base coat on, but instead skip the clear coat. Over time, every 30 days, you shea a layer of skin forming a new layer of flesh over the tattoo. Once the shininess goes away, it's healed and that's your first clear coat. Over time, it lays more clear coats over itself pushing the ink lower into the epidermis. So basically over time, it's like getting a clear coat added to your existing paint job over and over for years with out sanding and prepping the existing clear coat. It then becomes opaque and because it's so deep and the way light bounces off your skin, your retina sees lines in a pyramid shape, causing you to see the bottom of the pyramid. When it's cut open, that's the top of the pyramid, the original line which you literally cut through all the opaque layers that gave it the illusion of being faded and having fatter lines when in fact the pigment is almost as bright as it was when you got it and the lines are almost the original size.

A photo capturing the healing of the damaged skin. Photo © Will Jones.

This phenomenon is also the reason why white ink tattoos don't work well with darker skins. The melanin just gets in the way of seeing the white ink.

We certainly don't recommend that someone tries to burn off their skin in order to reveal the bright pigments underneath.

Check Austin Hansen's traditional work here.

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