Why Does My Tattoo Look Faded?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 6, 2020
    Last Updated: December 28, 2020

So, you got your first tattoo, and you kept up your aftercare regimen. You enjoy having your new tattoo out for everyone to see and even though it’s been a little while, you’re still enjoying all of the compliments. 

One day you notice that your tattoo is starting to fade. The colors don’t seem to be quite as vivid as they used to be, and in a few places, the color seems to have disappeared. 

Any self-respecting tattoo artist can fix a faded tattoo, yet even the most intricate and well-maintained tattoo will start to fade over time. Understanding the different factors that can cause your tattoo to fade is vital if you want to keep your tattoo looking its best for years to come.

Why Your Tattoo Might Look Faded

Many people who go into a studio complaining about faded ink always want to know why their tattoo has faded. The truth is that often there’s no clear answer. Many different lifestyle factors cause a tattoo to fade over time. Let’s check out a few of those reasons.

Poor Or Inconsistent Aftercare

If you go into the studio a few months after getting your new ink and start complaining that your new body art is fading, they often might ask about your aftercare regimen. Poor or inconsistent aftercare is the most significant reason tattoos start fading.

Whatever phase of the healing process your new ink happens to be in, stay consistent with all recommended aftercare. This includes not submerging your tattoo in water or baking it in the sun under any circumstances. 

If you’re still in the early stages of the healing process, apply a specialized tattoo healing lotion two to three times a day after cleaning and drying the tattoo. Avoid petroleum-based products such as Vaseline; they’re generally too heavy to promote proper healing and can clog pores if you use them incorrectly. 

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application. When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.


After you get a new tattoo, it is recommended that you stop working out for at least a day or two, as excessive sweating can damage a new tattoo. Make sure you wear light, loose-fitting clothes over the affected area as your new tattoo continues to heal. 

Exposure To The Sun

Too much exposure to the sun is another common mistake, although it affects people in some regions of the country more than others. A tattoo can get sunburned. Too much exposure to the sun is harmful to your tattoo and can cause the color to fade faster. 

If you’re in the beginning phases of the healing process, it’s best to keep your tattoo entirely out of the sun for the first three to four weeks. If your tattoo has had adequate time to heal, get into the habit of wearing a strong sunblock (SPF 30 or higher), whenever possible. 

If you’re in an environment with heavy sunlight, such as the beach, necessary precautions such as long pants or a t-shirt can go a long way toward keeping your tattoo looking its best.

The sun can do a lot of damage to your tattoo over the years

Poor Nutrition 

Foods that are bad for the skin are bad for your tattoo. Fast food, whey protein, chocolate, starches and refined sugars are the worst offenders. 

If you have a tattoo or three, try and eat foods rich in antioxidants. These foods will stimulate melanin production, which is vital for your tattoo’s long-term health.

Changes in Weight

If you gain or lose a great deal of weight over a short period, this will affect your skin’s elasticity. The sudden changes to the skin elasticity can cause the tattoo to lose its shape and sharpness, by stretching or sagging the original design. This can even affect older tattoos that have had a chance to heal completely. 


Constant touching or friction is the other day-to-day nuisance that can cause your tattoo to fade over time. 

If you work at a job or participate in sports that involve a great deal of physical contact between your tattoo and other surfaces, try to wear clothing that will help keep your tattoo protected from unnecessary abuse.

Think Long-Term 

If you want to keep your tattoo from fading, the best thing you can do is take care of your skin and avoid any of the factors above as much as you possibly can. 

Once you’ve transitioned from a tattoo healing lotion to a gentle moisturizing cream, this frequent application needs to become part of your daily hygiene regimen, preferably for the rest of your life. Applying a non-scented and non-oily lotion every day will help to keep your tattoo looking vivid and sharp as you get older.


If you stay hydrated by drinking eight to ten glasses of water per day, avoid foods that cause your skin to break out and follow these tips, you can prolong the life of your tattoo. Healthy skin is a healthy tattoo; take care of yourself and your tattoo will follow.