Do Tattoos Affect the Apple Watch?

Do you have some awesome ink on your wrist? Or are you thinking about getting some?

If so, then there are a few things that you might want to know about how the Apple Watch works when you have tattoos on your wrist. 

This certainly is not to knock tats (far from it; I love seeing beautiful wrist pieces), but there are some drawbacks to using the Apple Watch when you have tattoos on that area of your skin. 

As it happens, smartwatches aren’t always that smart.

Buyers with wrist tats report that they cannot use the Apple Watch as effectively as they had hoped. 

One user wrote in the Apple Discussion forums that they “Tried the epoxy bottle cap sticker trick and it doesn’t work unless my wrist is a bit damp (after showering, when working out, etc) anyone can figure out why?”

Do Tattoos Affect the Apple Watch?

As users and Apple alike report, wrist tattoos will affect the Apple Watch’s abilities. The Apple Watch might not be able to lock and unlock, track your heart rate, and not take certain activity measurements – among other things. Since tattoos change the surface of your skin, readings and measurements might not be all that accurate.

So, what exactly does Apple have to say about tattoos and the Apple Watch’s effectiveness? 

Here is the gist of what Apple claims: “Permanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can also impact heart rate sensor performance. 

The ink, pattern and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings.”

Why is it that ink from tattoos limits the Apple Watch’s abilities? Would turning off Wrist Detection help matters? 

Should you consider purchasing the Apple Watch Hand? Is it worth it to just get an external heart rate monitor with Bluetooth connectivity?

Read on to learn why a wrist tat will essentially render your Apple Watch useless.

Why does your ink interfere with the Apple Watch?

According to Apple – and probably also science – ink used in tattooing permanently changes the topmost layers of your epidermis (erm, that is, your skin). 

Lighter tattoos with less ink seem to cause less interference, so there is at least some good news in that regard. 

But if you have a sleeve that is heavy on the ink, you will likely get a lot more interference.

Here’s the deal when it comes to heart rate readings. 

The Apple Watch utilizes an optical heart-rate monitor that uses light to measure your heart rate. 

Changes in blood volume can be detected using photoplethysmography, with heart activity being detected in the top layers of the skin. 

Fluctuations in the levels of light are translated into a heart rate due to the fact that blood is able to absorb more light.

What can I do if I already have a wrist tattoo?

Do Tattoos Affect the Apple Watch 1 Do Tattoos Affect the Apple Watch?

If you only have a tattoo on one wrist, you can wear the Apple Watch on your other wrist. 

Even if it is not the wrist you’d normally wear your watch on. And it will take some getting used to, it can be done.

Just don’t put it on your ankle; you won’t get an accurate read-out that way either.

There are a few other ways you can mitigate this issue: wearing an external Bluetooth heart rate monitor, turning off wrist detection, getting laser hair removal (less than ideal, I know), and using epoxy stickers are four methods to try.

Wear an External Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor

There are Bluetooth-capable external heart rate monitors that work well enough with the Apple Watch. You can easily connect a strap or monitor by pairing it. 

You just need to ensure that the monitor you buy is compatible. 

This monitor should give you a pretty accurate reading regardless of tattoos.

Turn Wrist Detection Off

Turning off Wrist Detection might help, but it does limit functionality of the Apple Watch

For example, you will not be able to use Apple Pay from your watch if you turn off Wrist Detection. 

Get Laser Hair Removal

This is probably something that most tatt-ed folks will pass on, and I cannot say I’d blame them.

Laser hair removal isn’t cheap, and neither was that tattoo. However, if you regret getting that ink done, laser removal might be your best bet. 

This would allow you to use the Apple Watch more functionally, but, quite obviously, it isn’t the ideal solution.

Use Epoxy Stickers

The Apple Watch might actually work if you use epoxy stickers for bottle caps. 

These items are made from resin and are designed for crafting. 

But, according to one user, you can place these over your wrist tattoo and actually get an accurate heart rate readout from the watch.

This might not work for everyone, but it is a cheap “fix.”

Closing Thoughts

Tattoos can be wonderful works of art that stay with you throughout your lifetime. 

Unfortunately, the Apple Watch is not designed and calibrated to work with tattoos.

The darker and heavier your ink, the less well the watch will take readings. 

There are a few potential workarounds out there, but they might not be ideal or all that functional to begin with. 

Sad to say, but some of you will have to put up with the Apple Watch not giving you accurate readings.

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