Believe it or not, the tattoos we wear age with us, almost from the moment they are put in our skin. During the healing process following a tattoo our immune system attempts to start breaking down the pigment particles. Due to their size, it’s not terribly successful. The millions of pigment particles remaining make up the tattooed artwork.
Since there’s no way to stop the clock on time, we must live with some minor degradation over decades of wearing tattoos as the immune system nibbles away bit by bit at them. Another contributing factor to fading is from sun exposure. Exposure to the sun can shift the appearance of the pigment in our skin, cause it to slide into a different shade of the previous color, or often to a lighter tone.
Those who work outside will often see an accelerated amount of fading with their tattoos. The style of tattoo will also play a role in how fast, or slow it fades. Thicker line-work, bold and saturated colors will often remain brighter and bolder for a longer time in comparison to thinner, fine-line tattoos.
This is due in part to the appearance of larger tattoos because there’s less focus on the intricacies of them unlike soft grey-wash or fine-line pieces. Tattoo inks are also a unique, contributing factor to the speed at which fading occurs. Not to say one brand of ink is superior, but the composition of the ink combined to application could contribute to tattoo fading.
Overall skin care can also play a role, so ensuring you’re helping your body’s largest organ to the best of your ability prior to being tattooed and continuing after is extremely helpful to reduce fading. High friction areas like the elbow and insole of the foot usually show excessive fading very rapidly. There are some simple preventative measures to slow down the amount of fading for a tattoo.
Proper sun protection is the absolute most important, physically blocking the tattoos from direct, prolonged exposure is ideal, but not always possible. Zinc-based sunscreen applied properly and often can be a great alternative when physically covering isn’t possible. A healthy diet with nutrient dense food and plenty of water daily will also help slow the fading of your tattoos.