When you said permanent, you meant it. Well, the truth is that while tattoos are lifelong, they may not always keep that fresh, vibrant look. But we surely would like them to.
Why don’t tattoos stay looking good forever? Well, a few factors contribute to fading; one is the ink the artist uses.
The color of tattoo ink can determine the greater lifespan of your tattoo, but it’s not the only thing that determines how long a tattoo stays looking good.
What Is Tattoo Ink Made Of?
So what’s in this stuff that’s living in your skin?
Tattoo ink is made of a pigment and combined with a carrier to create a liquid ink that can be deposited into the skin.
The pigment is what gives the ink its color. Different colors are made from different ingredients to make up a pigment, and not all tattoo inks are the same!
Two tomatoes might look the same and taste similar but how they are grown depends on the farms they came from. The same goes for tattoo ink (except ink isn’t grown on a farm).
Depending on the color of the ink, the quality of the ink, and how your artist uses and mixes the ink, your tattoo might have a shorter or longer life span.
What Makes a Tattoo Fade?
The number one cause of tattoo fading is age; the same stuff that gives you wrinkles and saggy skin: time. We can’t stop time, but we can support our aging skin through the process. Treating your skin right and keeping it healthy will help your tattoos last as long as possible.
The second tattoo destroyer that is mostly avoidable is the sun! Those UV rays will blast the ink from your skin with enough exposure. So it’s important to cover up your tattoos of any color with broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Extreme and quick weight fluctuations can also cause tattoo fading because it can warp the skin the ink is sitting in.
And other common causes of a fading tattoo are poor craftsmanship, bad ink, or placement where the skin gets worn down. Finding a good tattoo artist who invests in good ink is important.
Tattoo Colors and How Long They Last
Speaking of ink, which color of ink lasts the longest and why? Typically we expect tattoos to stay in good condition for at least a decade or two. It’s hard to tell how long a tattoo will last. Everything from the color to the type of ink to what your skin is like factors into the lifespan of a tattoo.
Generally, black ink takes the cake for lasting the longest. Black ink tends to outlast any other color because it is super pigmented. Other darker colors like dark blue, dark green, gray, and dark purple will have a similar lifespan to black ink.
Lighter inks like yellows, reds, oranges, whites, and any pastel tones tend to fade a bit more quickly than darker inks. Some white inks and pastel inks have trouble lasting longer than five years. Watercolor tattoos also tend to fade faster as the ink is lightly colored and very fine.
Overall, all good tattoo ink properly placed in the skin should stay in good condition for at least five to 10 years. The deal is that lighter inks are more likely to fade before tattoos with darker inks, but it doesn’t mean they will.
If you see your ink starting to fade away, reach out to a tattoo artist and see if they can do some touch-ups to keep your tattoo looking good as new.
What Is Tattoo Aftercare?
More so than age or sun rays, bad healing can be avoided. The best way to increase your tattoo's lifespan is to give it the best aftercare and make your healing journey as healthy and easy as possible.
So how can you ensure your healing goes well and there are no hiccups that cause long-term issues with your tattoo?
When you are ready to take the bandage off your new tattoo, head to the bathroom and wash your hands first. You don’t want to touch the wound with any gnarly bacteria.
Once you’re clean, gently remove any wrappings. Run some lukewarm water over the tattoo to rinse off any blood and excess ink that’s come out. It’s normal for there to be some oozing ink. Your tattoo isn’t falling out.
After you’ve rinsed what you can, take an antibacterial, fragrance-free soap and gently, very gently, lather the tattoo and wash it down. You shouldn’t scrub. If there is skin, blood, or ink that won’t easily come off, leave it for now. It will come out later.
Any excessive scrubbing or removal of skin or blood clots could lead to your tattoo healing poorly. You definitely want to avoid that!
Pat the area dry with a clean paper towel and apply a thin layer of a healing ointment like our Sana Sana CBD Healing Balm. This stuff is loaded with natural botanicals and CBD to protect and soothe your new tattoo and support an awesome healing process.
Repeat this process every night, morning, and whenever your tattoo feels dirty.
It will also be important to steer clear of sun rays for the first two weeks of your tattoo’s life. After your tattoo is healed on the surface, you can apply sunscreen to protect it.
And on that note, we remind you that aftercare doesn’t end after your tattoo is healed. You’ll need to protect your body art and skin health for the rest of your life to keep those tattoos looking gorgeous. That means regular and consistent sunscreen application plus a healthy lotion addiction to keep your skin hydrated and elastic.
Drinking water also helps, as does a good diet. You are now a canvas for some pretty awesome art so remember to take care!
If you see your tattoo start fading, you can always look into getting a touch-up on your art to keep it fresh. If the tattoo has run its course and it's not a tattoo you care to touch up, you could also consider a cover-up for a new tattoo.
It’s your body and your art! You choose what you do.