Aged Tattoos: How to Keep Them Looking Great

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Have you ever wondered what will happen to your tattoos as you age? As our bodies change over time, this is a valid concern.

Aged tattoos can sag and wrinkle, which might make you wonder if it’s worth getting inked. But fear not, there are ways to maintain your tattoos’ appearance. Good aftercare, quality ink, and an experienced tattoo artist are all essential for tattoos that age well.

In this post, we’ll provide tips and insights on how to take care of your tattoos, from selecting the right artist to avoiding sun exposure. Remember, tattoos are for all ages, and with proper care, they can continue to look great for years to come.

aged tattoos

Aged Tattoos: Explained

Over time, tattoos will naturally fade and lose their vibrancy. This process starts as soon as the ink is deposited into the skin and continues throughout the healing process. Depending on the type of tattoo, it may begin to fade soon after the aftercare period is over.

If you’ve had your tattoo for many years, it may no longer resemble the original artwork due to the pigment breaking down and becoming muddled.

Factors such as your environment and lifestyle can also affect how long your tattoos last. Let’s explore the various factors that contribute to aged tattoos:

2 advanced age men with tattoos

Factors for Tattoo Aging

#1 Sunlight

One of the biggest enemies of aged tattoos is the sun. UV rays from the sun can cause the fading of tattoos, which is why it’s important to use SPF and sun protection to preserve your tattoo’s vibrancy for a longer time. As you age, your skin loses elastin due to sun exposure, making it sag and wrinkle.

#2 Poor Aftercare Routine

Apart from sun exposure, a poor aftercare routine is another factor that can affect how well a tattoo ages. Good tattoo aftercare is crucial for a tattoo to age well and keep looking good over time.

Not following proper aftercare instructions can lead to a dull, blurry-looking tattoo.

It’s important to follow the instructions given by your tattoo artist or look for a list of aftercare steps to ensure your tattoo looks great for years to come. Check our tattoo aftercare instructions for a professional and easy approach.

#3 Quality of Ink

The type of ink used by your tattoo artist is another factor that can affect the appearance of your aged tattoos. High-quality ink is a better choice as cheaper inks tend to age poorly and quickly. They can also pose a health risk as they may be unregulated.

❗️It is (VERY) important to choose a reputable artist or shop with experience, and to ensure that they use high-quality ink.

#4 Tattoo Placement

The location of your tattoo can also have an impact on how it ages. Areas of the body that experience more friction and wear, such as the hands or feet, may cause your tattoo to fade more quickly.

As your skin wrinkles and sags with age, the artwork may become compromised, outlines may blur, colors may fade, and the original ink may not be as discernible.

In addition, parts of your body that are more prone to gaining or losing weight, such as the stomach or legs, may cause your tattoo to become distorted over time.

#5 Color

The color and detail of your tattoo will also affect how well it ages over time. Darker colors, like black and grayscale, tend to age better than brighter colors, especially red. White hued tattoos are especially prone to fading quickly.

Colored tattoos and watercolor technique tattoos may also begin to fade over time, though not as drastically as white hued tattoos.

#6 Complexity / Detail

In terms of detail, the more intricate and detailed the tattoo, the “worse” it will age. Thin lines, shading, small words, and small tattoos are all more likely to fade quickly. Some people like the way their tattoos age, but if a tattoo has too much detail, it is likely to blur together over time.

Bolder lines, thicker lines, and larger designs will generally stand the test of time better.

#7 Lifestyle

Leading a healthy lifestyle can also contribute to your tattoo’s longevity. Drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight can all help keep your skin healthy and your tattoo looking its best. However, gaining significant amounts of weight can stretch out the ink, especially in areas of the body that are prone to weight gain.

#8 The artist

Choosing an experienced and reputable tattoo artist is crucial to the longevity and quality of your aged tattoos.

The ink for your tattoo is stored in the dermis layer of your skin, which is only one millimeter thick. If the artist misses this layer, your tattoo may fade quickly (in the epidermis) or blowout, causing the lines to become blurry and messy (in the hypodermis).

A good tattoo artist can help with choosing the right location, ink, and level of detail for your tattoo, as well as provide recommendations for lifetime care and aftercare instructions. So, it’s important not to skimp on this step and look for the best tattoo artist available.

aged tattoos

7 Tips For Better Looking Aged Tattoos

If you want your aged tattoos to look great for a long time, there are some simple tips you can follow:

Use sunscreen

Wearing sunscreen with SPF can help reduce the effects of UV rays on your tattoos, which can cause fading.

Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water can help maintain the elasticity of your skin, which can prevent it from affecting your tattoos.

Follow proper aftercare instructions

Follow proper tattoo aftercare instructions to ensure that your aged tattoos stay looking fresh for years to come.

Click here to find a medically researched guide on tattoo aftercare instructions.

Replenish your collagen

Keeping the collagen in your skin can help preserve the boldness of your tattoos. To keep collagen in the skin, try eating a balanced diet with vitamin C, zinc, and copper-rich foods. Avoid smoking as it damages collagen. Consider using collagen supplements or skincare products to boost collagen production.

Consider the location

Some good locations for tattoos that are less likely to change include the inner forearm, outer parts of the chest, back of the neck, and center of the lower back. These areas are often covered by clothes or are less prone to changes that could affect the appearance of your tattoo, which helps to preserve the colors and details.

Touch-ups

Regular touch-ups can help maintain the vibrancy and clarity of your aged tattoos over time.

Keep a healthy lifestyle

Avoid gaining or losing weight too quickly, as rapid weight changes can stretch out the ink and distort your tattoo. Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle can help your tattoo look great for years to come.

How Quickly Do Tattoos Age?

In general, tattoos age differently depending on their size, design, and how well they’re taken care of. Smaller tattoos with fine lines tend to fade after about fifteen years, while bigger tattoos with bolder lines can maintain their look for up to thirty to forty years or more if cared for properly.

If you’re unhappy with the way your tattoo is aging, consider getting a touch-up. This can restore lost detail or add to the design, effectively restarting the aging process.

A touch-up won’t fix mistakes or make up for poor care, but it can be a great solution if your tattoo is showing signs of wear after a decade or two.

Do Aged Tattoos Look Bad When You Get Old? 

Your tattoos will fade over time, that’s just a scientific fact.

But don’t worry, most tattoos that age poorly don’t get proper care. As you age, your skin will sag and wrinkle, causing your tattoo to do the same. However, proper care and maintenance can help your tattoo look its best even as you get older.

old men with tattoo forearm

Bottom Line

It’s common for people to hear warnings about how their tattoos will look when they get older. Despite this, many still get the tattoos they want. By taking good care of your tattoos and being cautious when getting them, you can ensure that your aged tattoos will last and retain their meaning for a lifetime.

FAQ

What does an aged tattoo look like?

As tattoos age, they may start to look less sharp and clear. The outlines of the design can become less defined and colors may begin to fade. In some cases, the original ink may no longer be visible. Areas of the body that are subject to more friction or wear, such as the hands or feet, may experience more fading than other areas. This happens because the skin cells in those areas shed more quickly.

What type of tattoo ages the best?

Tattoos that are placed on flatter, less frequently used areas of the body, such as the upper arms, shoulders, back, and thighs, tend to age the best. According to some tattoo artists, these areas are better able to withstand the test of time and maintain their appearance for longer.

Can old tattoos be touched up?

Yes, tattoos can be touched up, but only after they’ve fully healed. This can take anywhere between 4 weeks to 6 months. It’s important to wait until the tattoo has fully healed before getting it touched up, as doing so before it has healed can cause further damage to the artwork. The healing protocol for touch-ups is the same as for initial tattoos.

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