It’s often advised to think long and hard before getting a tattoo – after all, they are permanent! However, in the world of tattoos, “permanency” isn’t actually what you’d expect. Your tattoo is not going to look the same after 10 years.
So much happens that affects not the permanency of your tattoo (it will always be there unless you undergo laser tattoo removal), but the quality of your tattoo.
There are things you’ve got to do before you walk into a tattoo studio and after you walk out with your fresh ink to keep your tattoo looking good.
While tattoos are permanent, their crispness is not. Ink fades, lines blur, and designs stretch. This is why assessing the longevity of the design you’re thinking about getting tattooed is essential.
So, what kind of tattoos age the best, and what helps a tattoo stand the test of time? Here are five things that affect the longevity of a tattoo:
One factor that plays a significant role in the aging process of a tattoo is the choice of design. Simplistic and clean designs tend to age better over the years compared to intricate, highly detailed tattoos.
Bold lines hold up well, while fine lines and intricate shading may blur or fade with time.
“The more detailed the tattoo, the worse it’ll age. That’s a simple, unavoidable fact. Thin lines, shading, small words, and small tattoos all fade much more quickly. Bolder lines, thicker lines, and larger designs will better stand the test of time,”Sorry Mom Shop
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Where you get tattooed plays a huge role in how your tattoo will age.
Areas that are less exposed to the sun and other environmental factors tend to maintain their clarity and vibrancy for a longer period than exposed tattoos. For example, a thigh tattoo is often protected by clothes so will age better than a hand tattoo.
It’s not only the sun that fades tattoo ink, but friction, too. Placements that don’t rub up against skin or clothes age better than tattoos in high-friction areas.
“[The longest-lasting tattoos are] on flatter, less abused areas of the body like the flat of the forearm, upper arms, shoulders, back, and thighs. These areas can usually withstand the test of time,”Bustle
Five areas where tattoos fade the quickest include:
- Inside of the palm
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Not all tattoo ink is the same – some inks fade faster than others.
“While red, yellow, and green tattoos can look vibrant and striking when first created, they are, unfortunately, the ones that tend to fade at the quickest rate,”Authority Tattoos
Pastel colors also fade quickly. The inks that last the longest include black, dark blues, and dark purples.
However, some tattoo designs work best with color! If you want a colorful tattoo, go for it. You can always get touch-ups to keep your design vibrant.
The quality of the ink also affects how a tattoo will last. Make sure to chat with your tattoo artist about what ink they use.
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The skill and experience of the tattoo artist you choose contribute to the longevity of your tattoo. A professional tattoo artist is way more likely to use a tattoo machine effectively and place the ink in the correct layer of the skin.
If tattoo ink is placed too shallowly, the tattoo will fade quicker. A skilled tattooist will know how to create a tattoo that will age well, taking into account factors such as line thickness, shading techniques, and proper placement.
“The professional tattoo artists follow strict standards when it comes to how the skin is prepared for your new ink. Through an apprenticeship under a licensed artist, they learn how to properly apply this ink into your skin. These standards reduce the risk of infection or other complications occurring during the process,”The Mad Tatter
Proper aftercare is crucial! Once you’ve walked out of the tattoo studio, it’s up to you to make sure your tattoo heals well.
Your tattoo artist will give you a list of instructions on how to look after your ink. This will include washing your tattoo with a gentle soup around three times a day, moisturizing, and keeping it covered from the sun.
Taking these steps diligently will help your skin to heal. During this process, it’s essential to prevent bacteria at all costs! So, you’ve got to stay out of the gym and bodies of water (pools, the ocean, lakes etc.) to prevent infections.
“Any time you open the skin, you leave yourself vulnerable to scarring and infections. Caring for your tattoo can prevent those complications and ensure that the tattoo heals properly,”Healthline
Any infections can cause a tattoo to heal improperly and can distort the design.
After the healing process is done (depending on the tattoo, it can take up to a month) it’s important to put SPF on your tattoo every time you go outside to protect your ink from the fading powers of the sun’s UV rays.
For long-term tattoo care, hydration is also key! Make drinking water and moisturizing your body part of your routine.
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While it’s impossible to predict exactly how your tattoo will look over time, taking a few precautions such as considering your tattoo design and placement, and choosing an experienced tattooist can increase the likelihood of your tattoo aging gracefully.