How Long Does It Take For A Tattoo To Fade?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on August 17, 2019
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

As our bodies and skin change with time, so do our tattoos. Your beautiful ink will likely stay on your skin forever in one form or another, but it will unfortunately fade somewhat over time.

All is not lost, however, since there are plenty of mitigating factors at play; most of which are completely within your control. With our tips and advice, you can hold onto your crisp and sharp tattoos for years and years to come.

It can take several years for a tattoo to begin noticeably fading. This is dependent on:

  • Your skin health
  • How well you protect the area
  • Whether you use suncream
  • The quality of the ink
  • Hydration levels
  • Moisturizing
  • Friction levels
  • Tanning beds

How to Protect Your Ink From Fading

Apply Sunscreen

Protecting your skin from the sun is one of the best defenses against tattoo-fading. Stay away from intense sunlight for at least the first 2-3 weeks of getting inked. Avoid getting sunburned at all costs, as this makes your skin die and shed at a quicker pace, damaging the lower rates of your skin.

Applying sunscreen protects the ink from fading away, as UV rays speed up the aging process of your tattoo. Once your tattoo has completely healed, and no more scabbing or peeling is happening, start applying sunscreen. To protect your tattoo thoroughly, use at least SPF 30 sun lotions.

Avoid Tanning Beds

Tanning beds are riskier for your tattoo than sunlight because they expose your skin to a high concentration of UV rays. If you want a tan, go for the natural way, but be sure to use sunscreen.

Make Sure the Tattoo Ink Is High Quality

Low-quality ink contains heavy metals and a range of chemicals that can affect the quality of your tattoo. Research the shop or artist to make sure your tattoo artist uses high-quality ink.

Avoid Tattoo Locations Prone to Friction

While choosing a place for your tattoo, remember that areas prone to fiction, such as fingers, shoulder blades, or feet, lead to ink fading away faster.

Areas where your tattoo is exposed to rubbing on the skin or fabric increase the chance of fading with time. This is especially the case on the hands and feet.

Avoid Overusing Lotions

Using too many lotions or ointments during the healing process of your tattoo can make your tattoo fade away faster. The best option is to use hot water and non-scented soap to clean the area while it heals, proceeded by a very small amount of healing lotion once the area is completely dry.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing.​ Click here to buy from Amazon.

Stay Hydrated and Moisturize

With time, your skin dies and is replaced with new layers. This natural process may cause warping and fading of the tattoo. To prevent this, make sure to stay hydrated and moisturize your skin.

Avoid or Quit Smoking

Smoking reduces your skin’s elasticity, which can lead to pigmentation bleeding out of your tattoo. If you’re a smoker who wants to keep your new tattoo from fading away, it may be a great idea to quit.

Don’t Over-Cleanse Your Skin

Be careful not to over-cleanse your skin, as you may remove the hydration barriers that you need to avoid irritating the tattoo and lose ink.

The best option is to gently clean your skin and avoid constant scrubbing of inked areas. Using too much lotion may also saturate the skin, diluting the ink and making it fade away. 

Have a Safe Tattoo Healing

While your skin is still healing, make sure to keep the area clean and bacteria-free. This will prevent your skin from infecting. Tattoo infections easily cause fading and scarring.

Stay Healthy 

Drink plenty of water, exercise, and eat a balanced diet. This way, your skin will get the nutrients it needs to stay healthy, and so will your tattoo! 

Touching Up

Most tattoo artists offer free touch-ups if your tattoo fades during the healing process. When it starts to fade away with time, you can either do touch-ups or cover it up with a new design. 


If the ink fades away with time, you can always revitalize it by getting an experienced artist to give it a touch-up. They’ll go over the tattoo and pack ink to faded areas to recreate the original tattoo.


You can also opt for a different design over the old tattoo if you got bored with the old one or you regret having it done in the first place.

Choose a highly experienced tattoo artist, as covering up an old tattoo requires more advanced skills than a less-experienced artist can manage. If you go to a high-quality parlor, they should send you to their more experienced artists.

Wrapping It Up

Although permanent tattoos can last forever in some physical form, they do all eventually fade at some point. There’s no single reason we can pick out that applies to everyone, so follow our above tips to prevent the fading as much as possible.

Staying away from the sun, applying sunblock and staying healthy are good ways to have your tattoo lasting longer. The most common way to keep your ink bright and looking fresh is to get a touch-up, or even to cover it up with a different design.

Related Tattoo Articles