Will My Tattoo Get Lighter After It Heals?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on January 7, 2020
    Last Updated: November 28, 2020

Tattoos can get lighter after healing, but it isn’t a given. Your professional tattoo artist will guide you for the aftercare routine, but know that overexposure to sunlight, allergies or the skin losing some of its elasticity could make a tattoo drop quality.

Will My Tattoo Lose Its Color Over Time?

A few things can happen to tattoos as it progresses back to health. One of them is that it may get lighter. This isn’t a myth but also not a certainty. 

While the tattoo heals, not all signs of lightening should be cause for alarm. Depending on your skin, during the healing, the tattoo may seem like it’s fading away. If you notice this right after peeling, it might not be a big deal, and is fairly common.

This is because a new, thin layer of protective skin will have grown over the tattoo ink, meaning that it will always be slightly lighter than it looked the moment you walked out of the tattoo shop.

Artists understand that tattoos may get lighter and will give clients sets of healing instructions to guard against this. The instructions will depend on the ink, machines, and needles used. They have tried methods that work best to avoid the decline of the design.

What Are the Chances of Fading During the Healing Stages?

Walking out of the tattoo shop after getting your body inked is only the starting point of the tattoo’s healing process. You will have to nurture your skin for at least three to four weeks to make sure it looks perfect once the healing is complete.

There are certain stages the tattoos will have to go through before total mending:

1. The Fresh Wound

This is the most delicate stage, and the attention given during this period plays a huge part in determining how original and bright a tattoo will remain. 

The process of a wound repair begins right after an injury. Since it’s a freshly opened tear, bleeding and inflammation are bound to occur. Direct exposure to sunlight at this point will seriously affect the quality of your tattoo. 

2. Crazy Itch

This begins from around 8–14 days. The skin becomes very dry, the scabs get hard and the dryness of the damaged skin causes flaking, which is the main cause for itching. It’s almost impossible to refrain, but don’t scratch your tattoo. Instead, gently wash and keep it moisturized as often as possible.

Scratching the tattoo will mess up the color and the lines of the tattoo and will result in a diminished version of your tattoo after healing. This is especially the case if you get a blowout, which is when the ink spreads under the skin. In this instance, you may still be itching up to a month after you get your tat.

3. The Relieved at Last Stage

This is from day 15–30 or less, when all of the dry skin has completely fallen off, showing a smooth, radiant skin with a beautiful work of art on it. 

During this stage, a tattoo is less prone to diminishing in color and brightness. It’s still important to keep it moisturized and to avoid total exposure to sunlight, as this may still create a mild burning sensation that can alter the original color of the tattoo. 

Why Would a Tattoo Get Lighter After Healing?

Skin Distress

When getting a tattoo, the flesh is punched countless times at high speed with a series of combined needles. This causes discomfort to that part of the skin, which may lead the skin to die and flake away. This causes the growth of a new layer, which may make the tattoo look lighter and blurry.

Position of the Tattoo

Inking on the area of the body that frequently rubs against other parts may also cause it to fade, regardless of the care you give it:

  • Between the thighs
  • Fingers
  • Lips

These places are highly sensitive and as tempting as it is to get them done, be aware that it may gradually fade if extra caution isn’t taken.

Loss of Collagen

Collagen contains protein and acts as a support to other cells in the body. When the skin loses this, its elasticity and strength are gone, which may alter a tattoo’s sparkle, thus fading slightly. 


The ultraviolet light of the sun can be absorbed by the skin, which can then break down the ink particles left under the skin. The result? A lighter tattoo.

Allergic Reaction

Experiencing an allergic reaction will most likely come from the quality and ingredients of the ink. Unfortunately, tattoo ink contains some not-so-pleasant ingredients. When detected, the body can react to these foreign bodies via an allergic reaction as it tries to remove the particles.

Allergic symptoms can vary, but the skin can become red, sore and itchy. If you can’t resist the scratch, you can distort the skin and cause the tattoo to become lighter.


It’s essential to get a high-quality tattoo to ensure a long-lasting design on your skin. The first step in doing this is to ensure a proper aftercare routine. Not doing so can lead to your tattoo lightening after it’s healed.

If you notice discoloration after healing, a touch-up might work wonders in fixing this problem. It’s unwise to try to fix it while your skin is still recovering, though. A better option will be to seek for the artist’s opinion since they can examine the tattoo and provide advice from there.

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