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Why Tattoos Render Your Apple Watch Useless & What You Can Do To Fix it

laser tattoo removal

The All New Apple Watch

Like all Apple products the Apple Watch is a thing of pure beauty. Not only does it look nice on your wrist but it has built in a retina display which is crisp, colourful and bright. It doesn’t matter whether you are reading a text message, checking out your friend’s latest Facebook update or browsing your pictures, the screen is very sharp and easily read. Oh and did I mention it is pressure sensitive? Unlike the iPhone that utilizes pinch gestures to zoom in and out the watch makes use of the winder called the digital crown. This digital crown has a whole bunch of additional uses including allowing the user to scroll through pages and such.

This ‘Swiss army’ watch has a long list of features and with its app store growing bigger by the day, there is no limits as to what can be done from the control of your wrist.  However there is massive problem that apple seemed to have overlooked…tattoos!

Some of the functions like the Apple Pay and push notifications only work when the watch senses that the watch is being worn however people with tattoos on their wrists have reported that the device seemingly is tricked into behaving as though the watch is not being used and therefore would turn dark and lock.


A Smart Watch That Apparently Isn’t So Smart

Like the Basis Peak and the Fitbit Surge fitness smart wearable technology the Apple Watch uses an optical heart-rate monitor that measures your heart rate using light. Using something called photoplethysmography, blood volume changes can be detected in the skin due to heart activity. Since blood absorbs more light, fluctuations in the levels of light are translated into a heart rate. The problem with this is that the ink in tattoos interfere with the reading and can either give inaccurate results or just not register at all.

The problem appears to have been first spotted on an Apple subreddit on Reddit when the user guinne55fan said “I just figured it out…my tattoo (i have a sleeve) is interfering with the sensor” when posting this message asking for the online communities help.

There is some good news however, iMore found that lighter tattoos seemed to cause no issues and patterned tattoos did not appear to cause problems either.

Apple Quietly Edit Support Document

Apple have quietly updated the watch’s support document which now reads,

“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.”


you can find the current document and previous versions by clicking the links respectively.

I Have a Wrist Tattoo What Can I Do?

There are four solutions available to you if you have a wrist tattoo:

  1. Wear An External Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor
  2. Turn Off Wrist Detection
  3. Laser Hair Removal
  4. Purchase The Apple Watch Hand

Wear An External Heart Rate Monitor

Luckily the Apple Watch supports connecting a Bluetooth enabled strap or monitor which can be easily paired to your device. Although the watch will support many Bluetooth devices just make sure the one you get is fully supported.

Turn Off Wrist Detection

You have the option of turning off the wrist detection option which causes the tattoo problem. However this would mean limited functionality such as not being able to use Apple Pay.

Laser Hair Removal

If you regret your tattoo or would just like to use your new shiny and cool gadget to the best of its ability there is always the option of Laser Hair Removal. Laser hair removal would remove your tattoo on your wrist allowing you to use all of the features of the watch.

Apple Watch Hand (It’s not a glitch if we can send you a fix)

For just $500 you can purchase the Apple Watch Hand which is the perfect companion for your watch. According to Gizmodo rumours have it that production of the hand are being held up due to faulty fingernails but Apple is doing everything it can to have them delivered to everyone how pre-order the Apple Watch.


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