How Long Do Tattoos Last? How To Make Them Last Longer

So how long do Tattoos last? Tattoos last a lifetime; that’s inevitable. So, the real question is, when do tattoos start to fade, and how can we maximize the quality and intensity of a tattoo?

The visual quality of a tattoo deteriorates or fades when they are not looked after, period. But there are things you can do here.

Let’s get a better idea of how tattoos came about and how we can look after them.

Tattoos started way back when. In some places or cultures, tattoos are a sign of belongingness to the tribe. Other parts of the world consider tattoos a social status.

A tribe member deserves a tattoo for his hunting skills. In our modern world, however, people want tattoos as a remembrance, a fashion statement, or an act of rebellion.

It doesn’t really matter what’s the reason behind it; it’s a personal creative choice, and most of the time, we want them to last.

However, tattoos are like paintings. You would want it to look spotless and fresh as long as you can. Just like the artwork on your wall, you need to look after and maintain your tattoo.

How much are your tattoos worth to you? Do you want them to last? If so, read on.

how long do tattoos last

How Long Do Tattoos Last?

Many factors impact the way your tattoos look after having them.

Choosing the artist is one thing. Tattoo aftercare is another thing. And lastly, aging. Aging, however, is unavoidable.

The longevity of tattoos depends on you. It depends on how much effort you can make to keep the tattoo in its immaculate condition. But there is only so much you can do; the body ages and changes.

Do Tattoos Change Over Time? | How and Why?

Skin Aging 

The skin is our largest organ. It is the part of our body that shows signs of aging. As the skin changes, the tattoo goes along with it. Skin aging is visible as stretching and loss of elasticity.

Our skin also changes color slightly, regenerates, and gets hit with heat, cold, sun, and water; our skin goes through a lot.

Due to all of the above, the tattoo changes its shape and overall appearance; it can fade, stretch and blur too.

The Type and Size of the Tattoo

Small to medium-sized tattoos are prone to changes. Tattoos that are detailed and colored also diminish faster in contrast to big and bold tattoos. These kinds of tattoos get easily affected when the skin starts to show visible wrinkles and especially when exposed to the sun.

What about the type of ink?

The Ink Used

The quality the tattoo artist also uses contributes to the changes of the tattoo.

Cheap ink has high chemical content but has very low pigmentation. Thus, the tattoo changes over a small period of time. Any change that occurs on the skin, the tattoo with low pigmentation will exhibit poor visual quality. 

Hence, top-quality tattoo ink is always preferable.

beautiful blonde women getting a colorful tattoo on her arm

Why Do Tattoos Fade Over Time? | How and Why?

Skin Aging Triggers Fading

All tattoos fade over time.

Regardless of how high-quality the ink is used or how experienced the artist, tattoos are bound to fade.

But not soon, though. If you’ve had your tattoo during your younger years, expect it to start to fade in your 40s to 50s. Aging is one factor that triggers fading. As was mentioned, with aging comes skin wrinkles.

So, when the skin starts to show signs of aging, the tattoo will also start to lose its vivid appeal. 

Sun Exposure Deteriorates Tattoo Colors

Sun exposure, additionally, is another aspect that will decrease the saturation of your tattoo. For colored tattoos, most especially, the colors will start to show fewer hues. 

On a brighter note, tattoo aftercare might just do the trick. If you take good care of your skin, you will be able to fight aging.

Avoiding direct sunlight will also protect the lucid colors of your tattoos. Hence, as much as possible, prevent skin damage from sun exposure by using a good sunscreen.

Weight Loss and Weight Gain 

Another thing, weight loss and weight gain can also generate fading. Weight gain will prompt stretching. Thus, the skin changes its shape. When the skin alters its shape, the tattoo will do so as well. 

Weight loss, on the other hand, also triggers tattoo fading. For the same reason as weight gain, the skin changes its shape.

The tattoo will have no fat to hold onto. As a result, the tattoo starts to lose its original shape and brightness. 

Lastly, most tattoo artists don’t recommend abdomen tattoos to females and teenagers.

The stomach area is one area that experiences drastic changes. Thus, having tattoos around the abdomen area present when a female gets pregnant will compromise the appearance of the tattoo. 

Tattoo Location and Fading

Tattoo location also matters. Some areas are less likely to spike tattoo fading.

In some parts of the body, fading can be excessive.

So, what body parts are prone to fading?

cool young women with neck and arm tattoos

Body Parts That Are Prone to Tattoo Fading

The Palms

The palms are often exposed to various textures, sweat, friction, etc. The hands are used constantly. So, a tattoo done on the palms will deteriorate faster than in most other locations.

The Feet

The feet are another part that is used constantly. It is prone to acidic sweat, friction, and moisture. Thus, most tattoos done on the feet area loses their vibrant color in due time. 

The Mouth and Lips

It is inevitable. The mouth and lips get wet all the time. Additionally, moisture and thin skin are other factors that contribute to tattoo fading.

Moreover, the lips and mouth are constantly exposed to changes in temperatures. The hot and cold food and drinks you eat can add up to the tattoo fading in the area. 

The Shoulder Blades

The shoulder blades also do a lot of labor every day. It is prone to friction from carrying bags, backpacks, etc. Therefore, sweat that runs through the shoulder blades and high friction build up around the area can fade the tattoo faster.  

Are there any other factors that will make me ask, “how long do tattoos last?”

Absolutely there are; read on.

Other Factors That Promote Tattoo Fading


Smoking is not good for the skin. It promotes skin aging faster than many other lifestyle factors. Regardless of your age, your skin’s glow and firmness will generally decline faster if you are a smoker.

Smoking also reduces the production of collagen. Therefore, the skin will lose its elasticity. Moreover, it will gradually become saggy. 

When your skin begins to appear older than your age, your tattoo will also experience the same thing.

Smoking is a bad habit. It is not at all recommended for many reasons. A healthy lifestyle promotes younger skin and good-looking tattoos too!

good looking man with arm and neck tattoo crossing road

Overdoing Skin Cleansing

Skincare is essential to keep the skin healthy and young.

Cleansing the skin is recommended to remove dirt and dead skin. However, overdoing skin cleansing scrapes off protective skin layers on oils and can result in skin irritation. 

If your tattoos are located in areas where it lacks hydration and a protective skin barrier, the skin will begin to change. It is due to constant irritation every time you overdo cleansing.

Overdoing your skin cleanses will begin to fade your tattoo over time and show signs of dullness. 

Tattoo care does not stop after it is healed.

It is ideal to perform correct skin care and hydration routine to keep your skin in pristine condition.

When you do, the art on your skin will always look good as new. At the end of the day, it is not only your tattoo you’re taking care of. Instead, your holistic wellness as too!

Improper Tattoo Aftercare Routine

It is vital to start an aftercare tattoo routine once your new tattoo is done.

Firstly, doing so will prevent infections, inflammation, and tattoo fading.

Secondly, a proper aftercare tattoo routine will promote faster healing. Thus, you’ll only have to endure the discomfort of tattoo healing briefly.

Ask your tattoo artist for advice to make sure you’re doing the proper tattoo aftercare. Ask about ideal products to use and what products to avoid too.

Simple Tattoo Aftercare Routine

  • Wash your hands before touching your tattoo. 
  • Moisturize as often as you can.
  • Wear loose clothes to avoid friction. 
  • Avoid direct exposure to sunlight. 
  • Don’t use Vaseline and petroleum jelly. 
  • Avoid picking and scratching your tattoo. 
tattoo artist giving a strong man a tattoo on his stomach

How To Prevent Tattoo Fading?

There are a few tricks and tips that prevent tattoos from fading fast.

Although it is unavoidable for tattoos to fade, looking after the skin properly will keep your tattoo looking better for longer.

So, what can I do to prepare the skin before getting a tattoo?

What To Do Before Getting a Tattoo?

  • Get a professional tattoo artist to do your skin art. 
  • Exfoliate, cleanse and moisturize the skin area for a week prior to getting inked
  • Choose a vegan tattoo.
  • Pay a little extra for top-quality ink.
  • Preferably, bold and less intricate tattoos are better.
  • Small and dense tattoos fade quickly, so you might as well go for a little bit bigger tattoo!
  • Choose your area wisely. Stray away from body parts that are sweat-prone. 
  • Make sure that all the tattoo materials used are sanitized. 

What To Do After Getting a Tattoo?

  • Start your tattoo aftercare immediately. 
  • Keep the tattooed area moisturized.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure.
  • Prevent using clothes that will trigger friction. 
  • Never scratch your tattoo.
  • Don’t plunge into the pool or beach with your new tattoo. 
  • Keep your new tattoo clean and moisturized at all times.
  • When your tattoo is exposed, layer it with sunscreen. 
  • Drink as much water. Hydration is essential in keeping your skin healthy and wrinkle-free.
  • Eat healthily and try to avoid excess weight gain or loss. 
  • Quit smoking! It’ll make your skin look old, and so will your tattoo. 
  • Avoid overdoing cleansing to avoid skin irritation and loss of protective skin barrier. 

Conclusion – How Long Do Tattoos Last?

Tattoos are skin art. Art is meant to please the eyes, and humans are visual creatures.

Keeping the exquisite look of your tattoo will keep you satisfied.

Performing simple aftercare tattoo routines can go a long way.

Having a tattoo is a lifetime commitment. Thus, your aftercare routine does not stop after it is healed. In the long run, apart from keeping your tattoo bright and alluring, you are also looking after your body.