What Makes a Tattoo Fade?

What Makes a Tattoo Fade?

What Makes a Tattoo Fade

We’re glad that you’re asking this question because it means that you are taking your existing, new, or up and coming tattoo seriously. It’s important for people to look at body ink as in an investment. We don’t mean for financial gain per se (although that is viable) but as an investment in YOU. Tattoos are intended to be an expression of oneself and/or who one hopes to become, so when it fades you feel as if you’re losing more than some well-defined pigment. By arming yourself with knowledge of what can make a tattoo fade over time you can take steps to prevent this from happening. Let’s have a look at the common culprits.

6 Common Things That Cause a Tattoo to Fade

1. Poor Initial Care

While this article is dedicated to actions that cause a tattoo to lighten over an extended period of time, it’s important to address the days and weeks after getting a tattoo because more often than not this if the period when the problem started in the first place. There’s a very simple solution to this – prepare your skin by following these instructions and most importantly be sure to follow your tattooist’s after-care instructions to the tee. They know what they are talking about, and given that you trusted them enough to ink your skin with a needle, afford them the same confidence when it comes to their explicit advice.

2. The Sun

Most people know this and it’s been well documented here on our blog in articles such as What You Need to Know About Getting a Tattoo in the Summer but it bears repeating because excessive exposure to the sun without strong UV-protectant (SPF 30+) will invariably take its toll on the integrity of the work. That’s right, in an ironic turn of events the sun will darken your skin but lighten the darkest part of your pigment. Before heading out to enjoy the great big ball of fire in the sky apply an extra coating of SPF 30+ (or higher, depending upon your sensitivity to UV rays) directly on to your tattoo.

3. Poor Overall Skincare

Most people pay close attention to skin care immediately after getting a tattoo (as per item #1 above) by keeping it clean and applying a natural moisturizer as required. However, once the healing period has passed they begin to fall back into old habits. Skin (under and around the tattoo) becomes dry and flakey and eventually lightens as dead skin gives way to the lighter layers below. Don’t let this happen. Instead, treat every week as if it was the one immediately following your tattoo to the point that it becomes habitual and not a burden in any way. A few minutes of skincare per a day can leave you with a great looking tattoo for decades to come.

4. Poor Overall Nutrition

“You look pale” is something often said to people who are unhealthy due to bad eating habits. The skin absolutely reacts this way when people do not get required vitamins and minerals on the daily basis, and therefore so does your tattoo. Sure, poor nutrition may not have a direct/immediate impact on its pigment, but it does take its toll over time. Consuming antioxidants found in dark berries (blueberries, acai berries, goji berries, etc.) along with carotenoid-rich foods and betacarotene supplements can promote melanin production and help keep your tattoo looking dark/colorful (as applicable) and healthy for years.

5. Excessive Friction

If your tattoo is frequently exposed to persistent friction it is essentially being excessively over-exfoliated, which can make it fade over time. This is more common with athletes who participate in sports where their tattoo comes in constant and “violent” contact with padding, equipment, materials such as ground turf (etc.), and other competitors. For example, a surfer laying down in the prone position on top of a waxed-up surfboard while not wearing a wetsuit, rash guard, or even t-shirt for that matter will put an upper-abdomen tattoo through the wringer more than your average Jane or Joe.

6. Excessive Weight/Size Gain

When you gain significant weight and/or size over a relatively short period of time you dramatically alter the elasticity of your skin. Depending on where your tattoo if located it will stretch, causing the ink molecules to break apart which will give the appearance that ink is fading. The solution comes down to lifestyle choices, making sure that you don’t overeat to the point of obesity or use unnatural means to quickly gain muscle mass.


Schedule a consultation with an Adrenaline Studios near you to get a quality tattoo that is far less likely to fade. Alternatively, if your current tattoo is already beginning to fade, come see us to get it touched up or perhaps covered with a better ink job. Contact us today.