Prevent Tattoo Fading

Man with tattoo

So you just got a new tattoo and it looks great! The colors are vivid and the lines are clear! But over time, it’s almost inevitable that tattoos will start to fade and the number one culprit is the sun. Find out what causes tattoos to fade in the sun and what you can do to avoid this from happening.

First, let’s talk a bit about why tattoos fade in the sun. Dermal clinician Sally Risby explains, “Tattoo particles stay in the skin because they are too big for the lymphatic system to engulf. Lasers remove tattoos by going in and smashing the ink particles down so that they are small enough for the immune system to deal with.” The sun acts in a similar way. “It’s like plastic toys that are left out in the yard too long,” Risby goes on to say, “The ink on your skin will react in the same way and will fade after prolonged sun exposure.”

Of course sunscreen is a great way to avoid tattoos fading from the sun. There are even sunscreens marketed specifically for tattoos. They come in stick form which makes it convenient in keeping tattoos completely covered, but there is nothing special in the ingredients as far as any enhanced color protection.

That being said, you should never put sunblock on a new tattoo. Follow the artist’s after care instructions and then keep it covered up with clothing or by standing in the shade. Once it’s completely healed, and it’s gone through the entire scabbing and flaking process, sunscreen is necessary on a daily basis.

Skin brighteners are another way to keep your tattoos looking bright in the summer months. You want to make sure you choose one that is bleach free so it will brighten the tattoo and not lighten your skin. These will not prevent tanning from happening, but it will remove the tanned skin that forms over the tattoo. Be warned that the brighteners may take a month to be effective and the item is not inexpensive.

Those with tattoos that prefer tanning beds to sitting out in the sun should be warned that tanning beds are just as damaging as direct sunlight if not more so. The ultraviolet rays are more concentrated and people tend to overexpose themselves in the tanning beds, not realizing their limits. If you so opt for tanning beds, protect your skin.

Tanning lotions are okay for tattoos as is anything else that is not damaging to your skin otherwise. However, the tanning lotions could create an odd effect to your tattoo’s appearance. It’s best to avoid putting the lotion on the tattoo all together.

And remember, just because you’re not laying out in the sun doesn’t mean you’re not prone to getting tanned or even burned. Running errands, driving in the car, and working outside can all lead to damage to your skin and tattoo fading so it’s a good idea to wear sunblock at all times!

What about you? Have your tattoos been fading? What do you think is the best way to keep your tattoos looking new? Let us know in the comments section.


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