Tattoos That Age Well: Best Types & Tips To Prevent Tattoo Fading

Tattoos That Age Well: Best Types & Tips To Prevent Tattoo Fading

These few considerations can make the greatest difference between whether your tattoo ages gracefully or will be prone to (premature) fading. The look of fresh ink is mainly determined by how diligently you follow proper tattoo after-care instructions. However, it is important to keep the long-term outcome of a design in mind when choosing the right tattoo for you. These few weeks of care alone will not keep your piece looking fresh for the next several decades. To state the obvious: getting a tattoo is a permanent commitment. Your new ink will travel with you through decades of daily movements, life transitions, varying routines and body fluctuations over the years. So, you want to consider how characteristics like tattoo placement and ink colour could change and appear differently over time.

Expert Tip: Zensa Numbing Cream contains 5% lidocaine for maximum-strength pain prevention without any vasoconstrictors that disrupt the ink-settling process. These two benefits of our unique formula ensure your new tattoo looks sharp while hurting considerably less to get done. Zensa Healing Cream contains medicinal-grade calendula oil and grapefruit essential oil to accelerate the tattoo healing process and offer long-term, protective skin benefits to keep your ink well-moisturized and looking fresh for years after the tattoo after-care stages.

Read on to learn more about the types of tattoos that age well. We’ll share: Places to get tattoos that age well; Tattoo styles and colours that age well; and How to best take care of your tattoos to ensure they look great over the next few decades.

How to Prevent Tattoo Fading

Factors That Determine Whether A Tattoo Ages Well:

  • Placement

  • Ink Colour

  • Tattoo Size & Style

  • After-Care

  • Sun Exposure

  • Lifestyle Habits 

Like with real estate, your tattoo’s location matters when assessing its long-term value. Tattoo placements that are less exposed to the wear and tear of daily life are likely to age more gracefully. Everyday occurrences, such as handwashing, sun exposure, friction from clothing, bloating or trapped sweat, could cause tattoos to fade more quickly or become distorted over time. Regarding the best-aging ink colours, darker pigment shades are superior for staying power. Larger tattoos are more likely to age well compared to smaller tattoos. Certain tattoo styles that feature bolder linework stay looking vibrant for longer. Highly-detailed pieces retain the original style’s design integrity more easily over the years compared to minimalist style tattooing.

Design details aside, your tattoo after-care routine is the greatest determinant of how your tattoo will appear immediately and decades after healing. Bad after-care can cause infections and scarring during the tattoo healing process, which can immediately decrease colour intensity or lead to premature ink fading. Initially and in the long term, healthy skincare habits are essential to ensure your tattoo looks bright and fresh – even well into your 50s or 60s. Consider the basics like protecting your ink from sun exposure, moisturizing, drinking plenty of water, eating a nutrient-rich diet and not smoking.

How to Prevent Tattoo Fading

Tattoo Placements That Age Well:

  • Shoulder

  • Upper Arm

  • Back (Top & Center)

  • Behind The Neck

  • Upper Rib Cage

  • Inner Forearm

  • Upper Thighs (Front & Sides)

  • Calves

For tattoos that age the best, consider getting inked on flat areas of the body that experience less friction and are not as sensitive to water retention or weight fluctuations. Tattoos that age well tend to be done on bony areas, regions where wrinkles are less likely to form and you tend to store minimal body storing fat. High-friction tattoo placements – your fingers, lips or stomach – are prone to fade more quickly due to frequent heat or moisture that rubs against the ink, breaking down the pigment and drying out the skin. Our recommended tattoo placements include areas that are most commonly covered on a daily basis (unless your everyday uniform consists of a tank top and shorts or a swimsuit), so they will also get less exposure to the sun than an ankle, hand, face, neck or collarbone tattoo. Cover your ink with sunscreen and loose, breathable clothing to preserve the ink’s vibrancy, its design integrity and generally help your tattoo age well.

How to Prevent Tattoo Fading

Tattoo Styles That Age Well:

  • Blackwork Tattoos

  • Black & Grey Tattoos

  • Tribal Tattoos

  • Greyscale Tattoos

  • Dotwork Tattoos

  • American Traditional Tattoos

Bolder, deeper and darker linework looks better with age. Tattoos done in black or grey ink tend to hold up over time and are the least likely to fade when regularly protected and treated with care. Blackwork tattoos and Black & Grey tattoo styles have a high guarantee of aging gracefully. Certain tattoo styles that use black and/or grey ink, such as Tribal tattoos, Greyscale tattoos, and American Traditional tattoos (as well as bold lettering or Zodiac tattoos) are known to age well. These different tattoo styles feature bold, detailed linework that is deeply injected into the skin. The level of detail work done also affects how well your tattoo ages. By design, more detailed tattoos use more ink and cover the skin with more pigment to protect against tattoo fading. Over time, intricately-detailed pieces help your tattoo maintain the look of the original design even if the colours blur or fade a bit after several decades. Dotwork tattoos tend to age well because of the high level of detail work, associated with this specialized dotting technique and are typically used for slightly larger scale pieces done in black or grey ink.

Do Small Tattoos Age Well?

Small tattoos tend to not age as well as their larger counterparts. However, there are several caveats to consider before generalizing the correlation between tattoo size and the risk of a piece not aging gracefully. Trendy tattoos, like tiny tattoos or pieces done in minimalist tattoo styles, tend not to age well. With these designs, every detail is magnified and highlights design imperfections that naturally occur – even with following all of the best tattoo after-care instructions ​to a T. Any fading can easily make a small tattoo look distorted, messy or illegible. Slight fading over decades is less noticeable with tattoos featuring bolder linework and larger pieces can still look well-defined even if there’s a little blurring between the lines. Fine-line tattoos also tend to fade faster than traditional tattoos because the ink is less densely-packed under the skin.

Best Tattoo After-Care Practices

Proper after-care during the initial tattoo healing stages will determine how well your piece looks now and in the long term. Badly-healed tattoos are highly prone to infection, which results in premature tattoo fading and patchy linework. Follow your tattoo artists’ instructions precisely. Ask any questions you deem necessary about proper tattoo hygiene, best practices and safety. Educate yourself on the basics of tattoo after-care. Learn when to remove the tattoo bandage for your specific placement. Remember to cleanse & moisturize the tattoo twice daily for at least the first 4 weeks after getting inked. Use a gentle, fragrance-free soap and an after-care tattoo lotion, like Zensa Healing Cream. Our unique formula contains restorative ingredients like calendula oil, grapefruit essential oil, aloe vera and shea butter to help reduce inflammation, aid (or accelerate) wound healing and hydrate the area to repair the skin barrier. Zensa Healing Cream also contains sunflower seed oil to brighten the tattoo and increase pigment colour retention. Here’s everything to know about Zensa Healing Cream and how to navigate the tattoo after-care stages:

Tattoo After-Care: Your Full Guide To The First 48 Hours

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Best Tips To Prevent Tattoo Fading:

  • Prevent Sun Exposure

  • Build A Supportive Skincare Routine

  • Incorporate Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Sun Exposure & Tattoo Aging

Healthy sun protection, skincare and lifestyle habits are key factors to ensure your tattoo ages well.

Unprotected sun exposure is the primary cause of visible tattoo fading (and aging). The sun’s UV rays (particularly UVA rays) promote the formation of free radicals, which break down tattoo pigment injected into the dermis (middle layer of skin) to diminish. These negative effects of UV rays diminish the tattoo’s vibrancy and accelerate ink fading. Sunlight also is a leading cause of skin aging. By breaking down collagen and elastin levels, harmful sun rays damage the moisture barrier and dry out your skin – causing wrinkles, fine lines and hyperpigmentation. This UV-induced damage can result in an uneven complexion or skin texture concerns. Any skin issues, sagging or dryness only highlights any distorted ink or fading. To prevent poor tattoo aging, always apply sunscreen to your tattoo (after the initial 4-6 weeks during the healing process – keep any new tattoo entirely out of the sunlight) with at least SPF 50. Cover your tattoo whenever possible when going out into the sun with clothing, a beach towel or your hair, depending on the placement.

Building a supportive skincare routine is one of the most underrated ways to help your tattoo age well. Undernourished or sun-damaged skin is more prone to wrinkles or sagging, which can distort the ink and encourage tattoo fading. Moisture your skin regularly with a rejuvenating tattoo lotion, like Zensa Healing Cream, to support a strong skin barrier, reduce inflammation or flaky skin and keep your tattoo looking crisp and bright for years after getting inked.

Lifestyle choices deeply affect your skin health and how your tattoo ages. Healthy lifestyle habits are essential to prevent tattoo fading. Maintain a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, engage in regular exercise (shower after sweating), reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake, don’t smoke cigarettes, wear relaxed-fitting (breathable) clothing and avoid tanning beds like the plague. Large weight fluctuations can distort the look of a tattoo. So, paying attention to your diet and exercise routine can play a significant role in the sharpness of your tattoo through different life stages. Incorporate plenty of vitamins A, C, D and E into your diet and skincare routines to prevent skin sagging (a main cause of tattoo fading).

For more on this topic, read our post on 6 Easy Habits To Prevent Tattoo Fading.
Zensa Healing Cream contains medicinal-grade calendula oil (rich in vitamin A) and grapefruit essential oil (rich in vitamin C), soothing aloe vera (rich in vitamins A, C and E), sunflower seed oil (rich in vitamin E and traces of vitamin D) and avocado oil (rich in vitamin D), among other ingredients to maintain skin health and ink colour intensity to ensure your tattoo ages well.


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