Looking to prevent your new tattoo from losing its glow? Do you have a classic tattoo that’s starting to fade? HUSH is here to shine some light on why tattoos fade and how you can prevent it. We’ll teach you a little about how tattoos live in the skin and what could be causing a tattoo to fade.
Do Tattoos Fade?
First things first, is it a myth or the truth that tattoos can fade? It’s true, tattoos can fade! As we are sure you have guessed – tattoos do fade, but why they fade and how much they fade differs from person to person. Something that helped us understand the lifespan of a tattoo was getting to know the dermatology behind them. When you first get a tattoo, the ink lives in the epidermis and superficial dermis – which are the upper layers of skin. After about three months, when healing is complete, most of the ink sinks to below the epidermal-dermal junction in the upper dermis. For the first three months or so, tattoos are pretty susceptible to anything that affects the epidermis. After that, once they sink a little deeper into your skin, they are less fragile. Here’s the catch though! You have got to take real good care of your tattoo for those first three months because once they sink down – they’re locked in. Comprende? Don’t worry, we’re gonna make sure you know the low-down on good aftercare. More on that later.
What Makes Tattoos Fade?
All sorts of things can contribute to your tattoo fading. Here’s what to know.
Going out for some vitamin D? Get that broad-spectrum SPF splattered all over your tattoos! Tattoos that have been exposed to the sun over their life tend to fade out a bit, especially tattoos with color. Sun protection is also an important part of the healing process. Tattoos that are fresh and not protected from the sun have the chance to get messed up with early fading and cracking. UVs also can create scarring instead of a nicely healed tattoo. Cover up, y’all — the tattoos, at least!
Same as above, amigo. Incorrect healing could cause some early fading, whether that’s from sun exposure, dryness, or infection. It’s super important to take good care during the healing stage of a tattoo. We’ll give you the proper aftercare information later on in this article.
Wear and Tear
Where’s your tattoo? On your hand? Arm? Elbow? Legs? If you have a tattoo on an area of the body that sees a lot of friction, then there’s reason to imagine that tattoo will fade a bit over time. This is also why palm tattoos are difficult, as are inner lip tattoos. There’s a whole lotta action in those areas. It’s a less extreme version of that on areas like elbows, arms, legs, and wherever else see a lot of action.
If you’re bulking up, then you might be stretching out as well. When your skin expands, it stretches the ink from the tattoo out a bit and this might cause it to appear faded. It depends on how much weight is being gained. If it’s just a little, fading probably won’t be an issue. If it’s a lot, you are going to see more distortion. Check our article on tattoos and weight change here for more deets.
Good ol’ father time messing with our art! Unfortunately, there are no fixes to aging. When the skin gets older it loses elasticity, and a lot of change happens both on the surface and under. We aren’t sure exactly what goes on – that’s the magic of aging – but if you’ve checked the tattoos on grandma then you know what we’re talking about.
How Long Does It Take for a Tattoo to Fade?
Shitty tattoos fade faster. We aren’t talking about crappy concepts here, either — when the artist fails to drive that needle home in your skin, it means the ink doesn’t sink! This is the whole reason we made our numbing line of HUSH products — so you can sit for (what would have been) a painful, but well-done tattoo versus sitting for a tattoo that doesn’t stick. If you’re looking for an actual amount of time until a tattoo starts fading… we can’t really help you there. Tattoos are different. Skin is different. Different styles, different ink, different placement, the list goes on. But eventually, all tattoos do fade.
What Kind of Tattoos Fades Faster?
Again, shitty tattoos! Pick a good artist! But for real — colored tattoos (and especially lighter colors in tattoos) are going to fade faster. The lighter colors don’t have as strong of a staying power as darker colors do. White fades the fastest, followed by yellow and orange. It also depends on the style of the tattoo. Certain styles of tattoos fade faster. Styles that use a lighter pressure method mean the ink won’t be going as deep. That makes these lighter style tattoos, like watercolor tattoos, more susceptible to fading.
What Kind of Tattoos Lasts Longer?
There’s a saying in the tattoo world, “bold will hold,” meaning if you can see it easily from across the room, it probably is going to last longer. Tattoos with strong lines and deep, correct ink placement are going to last longer in the skin. Tattoos with darker colors, especially a classic black ink tattoo, are going to last longer as well. The inks in darker pigments aren’t as easily broken down by your body.
Does Placement Cause Tattoo Fading?
Sure does. We mentioned it earlier but we’ll say it again. Getting a tattoo on an area of the body that faces more friction means you are subjecting that tattoo to more wear and tear. Think hands, lips, and head.
How Can I Lessen Tattoo Fading?
Healthy tattoos come from quality skincare habits. The bottom line is the healthier skin lifestyle you lead, the better for your tattoo.
Be Good to Yourself (You Deserve It!)
If you are taking good care of your skin and health in general – you are taking good care of your tattoos. Putting some extra effort into your skincare and wellness routine (think giving yourself some TLC after a bubble bath and drinking enough water) will keep those tattoos healthy and also comes with a few extra benefits… like lookin’ like a dime piece!
Keeping those tattoos nice and moisturized is going to help them stay fresh. When you take a hot shower, it sucks all of the moisture and oils out of your skin. Your skin also takes a beating from environmental factors. Moisturizing helps lock in the good stuff, and massaging the lotion stimulates blood circulation and cell generation. Lotion up, baby!
If you want to keep those tattoos looking good, you are going to want to load up on the SPF. Broad-spectrum, por favor! Sunscreen helps your skin keep looking young in general because it protects your skin from deteriorating your collagen, causing wrinkles, and creating sunspots. Like we said before, healthy skin makes for healthy tattoos. If only there were a sunscreen that moisturizes while it protects your tattoo… 👀
Touching Up a Faded Tattoo?
Is it possible? You would think it would be a piece of cake to just trace over those faded lines or fill in some color but it usually takes a fully loaded do-over to reverse the fade effect of your tattoo. Touching up just a few lines or a patch of color is going to leave your tattoo looking worse than faded. It’ll be all inconsistent and patchy, and we don’t recommend it unless the whole thing is being reworked. We recommend you learn to love the fade. If you can’t, maybe think about a new artistic interpretation of the faded tattoo. Add background or new little details and give the old tattoo a new era.
After All, It’s All About Aftercare
Okay, we’ve told you all we know about tattoos fading but the hottest tip we’ve got to prevent fading is practicing good aftercare. We know it can feel annoying and can seem over-the-top, but you just paid good money for amazing art that is permanent and on your body forever!
Wrap that puppy up! Just for the first week or so. Check your local medical supply store or order a breathable bandage online. You’ll want something that covers the whole tattoo but is also breathable. This is going to prevent infection and protect that fragile baby tattoo from the environment while your skin closes up.
Antibacterial soap, warm water, and a very gentle touch. That’s all you need. Twice a day. Keep it simple and don’t use any sort of cleaning agent that could irritate the wound. Our antibacterial foam soap also has a touch of lidocaine, meaning you get to both clean your tat and soothe the skin.
When your tattoo is ready to break free of the bandage it is still going to need a barrier to the world. You are going to want to use our CBD healing balm. It’s going to protect your healing tattoo and keep it moisturized. It also rejuvenates existing tattoos. Two birds, one balm!
Don’t be itching and picking at your tattoo! We know it’s tempting but just save your little picking habit for some other low-stakes scab. This is art healing on your body. Let it be! Check out our article on more aftercare tips here! Sources This Is Why Your Tattoo Faded So Much | Allure Tattoo Ink - Where Does It All Go? | BME Aftercare Instructions in the Tattoo Community | NCBI Which Tattoo Colors Fade The Fastest? | Trending Tattoo The Importance of Moisturizing | UT Medical Center