How tattoos age over time? Understand factors that cause damage to the visuals and learn the preventive measures

Has a glance at old photographs ever made you wonder how different you looked back then as compared to the present? Whereas childhood pictures often make us smile at the innocent and mindless attempts of posing, those from teenage and young adulthood days sometimes result in a bittersweet feeling by reflecting on days of vigor and glamor for (now) old and grey-haired individuals.

Did you know that just like human beings, the appearance of the tattoos that they get engraved so passionately may also change over time? To understand how tattoos age over time, look at some of the before and after pictures below:

If you are planning on getting some text engraved, do take a moment to look at the above example and learn your lesson.

However, if you must get a tattoo involving written text, discuss with your tattoo artist in advance about its longevity and preventive measures. Also, ensure s/he uses a dark-colored ink.

How would you feel if your entire tattoo literally gets DELETED after you make the effort of shortlisting the design from a plethora of options and go through the physical pain of getting it engraved?

This picture presents a good example of how tattoos age over time.

A very important consideration while getting a tattoo should be the area where you want it engraved. Generally, hands and feet are subject to constant activity and therefore less preferable spots for getting a tattoo, especially if you want it to last for a long period of time. Tattoos on areas such as the back or chest are comparatively long-lasting. In fact, some of the best areas to get a tattoo besides these two are the back of the neck and inner part of the arm between your elbow and the wrist.

Looking more like stitches or marks of an injury rather than a tattoo after just 6 months, this is certainly not one of the best options.

Again, one of the reasons for such a fast erasure may have been the area selection since the tattoo on the inner lip is bound to wear and tear due to continuous eating and chewing.

The passage of time has caused the bright color of this tattoo to drain out, thus leaving it to appear dull and unattractive.

If you are considering getting such a detailed tattoo, remember that the transition from a stylish portrait to what may look like a scene from one of the horror movies may not take very long.

Having seen multiple examples that depict how tattoos age over time, let’s move on to understand the various factors that cause this damage to the originally beautiful visuals.


One of the factors that cause tattoos to fade out is the sunlight. The ultraviolet rays cause the elastin in our skin to break down, thus causing wrinkles and sagging. This results in the tattoos getting damaged. A preventive measure could be using sunscreen on areas where tattoos have been engraved when heading out.

Tattoo design

A more detailed and intricate design is prone to fading out earlier as compared to a basic one involving solid lines and defined shapes. Also, dark colors like black are generally long-lasting as compared to bright colors.

Ink quality

Low quality ink is likely to fade out early. Therefore, ensure to select a reliable artist who uses good quality products and takes care of hygiene.


As weird as it may sound, your lifestyle has a profound impact on the longevity of your tattoo. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are likely to keep you in shape and hence prevent you from gaining excessive weight. Excessive weight may cause the ink on your tattoo to stretch and get blurred, thus ruining the design.

Having understood how tattoos age over time and the factors that may contribute to their damage or discoloration, it is important that you play your part in preserving them. If you are wondering how that could be done, be informed that it involves various aftercare and preventive measures including but not limited to: using sunscreen, drinking plenty of water (to keep your skin healthy), moisturizing the tattoo area daily and keeping your tattoo covered by wearing a full-sleeved shirt when going out in the sunlight.

In no way do we intend to discourage you from getting a tattoo if that’s what you really want. If taken proper care of, your tattoo may end up looking the same or even better after years. However, the key is to be aware of factors that may cause harm to it. You must take appropriate measures – like the one mentioned in this article – to protect it.

81 thoughts on “How tattoos age over time? Understand factors that cause damage to the visuals and learn the preventive measures”

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