Reasons Your Tattoo Is ALREADY Fading
Your body is an empty canvas. Why not use it to tell your story with tattoos?
Tattoos contain art, culture, philosophy, and every human emotion you can think of.
The inking process is also unique and an adventure in itself. Needles poke your skin 3000 times a minute to create a vacuum hole in the second layer of your skin.
Ink is deposited and the vacuum is closed, leaving behind stories with emotions on flesh.
But tattoos don’t last forever. They eventually fade. Fortunately, we can slow down the fading process to make our tattoos last for years.
In this article, we’ll look at the most common reasons that most people’s tattoos fade early, and see what we can do about it.
1. The artist used poor quality ink
The biggest difference between professional tattoo artists and amateurs is in the ink they use.
The amateur uses weaker techniques to etch cheap ink onto your body. They often use acrylic dye instead of vegetable dye. Acrylic dye contains unhealthy metals that can lead to cancer.
You might not be able to identify poor ink initially, but your body will react to the ink in time to reveal its true quality. They might use pre-made inks made with soot and dirt. These often react with your skin and immune system to fade away into vague blue and green shades.
Pre-made inks also contain lightening agents like titanium to reduce manufacturing costs. But they can end up triggering allergies in exchange. The allergies can trigger years after the tattoo has been administered, which makes it especially tricky for people with sensitive skin.
The professional uses concentrated ink and etches it onto a deeper layer of your skin. They tailor their technique and ink to the person. High quality ink often uses iron oxide and metal salts. Veteran tattoo artists also make their own ink with a combination of dry mixtures and carriers.
Distilled water, methanol, glycerin, and rubbing alcohol make for good quality ink. The professional stays away from compositions that contain impurities. As a general rule, the brighter the pigment, the greater the potential of health risks.
You want your tattoo artist to use pure compositions that have been stored in a sterile environment. Tattoos don’t expire, but some of the components in them can be contaminated. Which is why you want properly stored ink that’s relatively fresh.
2. UVA rays
The second biggest reason for prematurely fading tattoos is sun damage. See, your body considers your tattoo as nothing more than a wound for the first 48 hours.
The inking process involves creating lots of little micro-traumas on your skin to create an impression on your skin. The skin is inflamed during this period and is especially vulnerable to harmful UVA rays from the sun.
Your tattoo ink hides in the dermis of your skin, which is the second thickest layer. This layer is tough, but also easily penetrated by UVA rays. The UVA rays break down the composition of the ink.
Then your immune system reacts to this broken down ink. It uses white blood cells to carry away the ink particles by disposing of it like it would to any other foreign intruder in your body.
The leftover ink on your skin spreads out, become dry and splotchy. The sharp and fine lines of your design vanish. Sunburns hurt the dermis and trigger a healing response in your skin. This results in new skin cells which make your colors look duller and the edges more blurry.
Enough UVA rays can turn the tattoo on your body into a horrible blob. They commonly cause color distortions with gray and black colors because they use darker pigments in their composition.
3. You’re ex-foliating or irritating your skin too much
Ex-foliation is all about getting rid of the dead skin cells in your epidermis. The dead cells make your skin look flaky. Too much ex-foliation makes your tattoo look like it’s peeling.
Scrubbing away the top layers of your skin makes it fade faster. This is because your body is replacing the skin cells on the second layer of your skin with new cells in response.
The friction can also lead to irritation. Irritation triggers macrophages and fibroblasts in the skin to come forth and deal with whatever is causing the irritation.
The cell renewal rate of the surrounding skin increases as a result.
Your tattoo is only as good as the canvas it’s painted on. If the quality of your skin deteriorates, so does your tattoo.
You combat this by keeping your ex-foliation sessions as short as possible. Keep it gentle and quick if you want to prolong your tattoo for as long as possible.
Additionally, you can prolong your tattoo by having it on a less damage prone area. Tattoos on the palm and feet experience the most friction.
So consider getting a tattoo on your back or neck instead. These usually only experience friction in bed. So the quality of your mattress and bedsheets will have a cumulative effect on those areas. Whether it’s skin-to-skin contact, or skin-to-material contact, consider your tattoo site with caution.
3. The needle didn’t go deep
You have three layers of skin on your body: The epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous fat layer. Your tattoo ink needs to penetrate the second layer of skin, the dermis.
If an artist fails to leave a residue in this layer, the tattoo will be shallow. The first layer of your skin, the epidermis, is your first layer of defense against the outside world. It has the most cell renewal cycles for this reason.
The epidermis is the first layer to react when you get a sunburn, peeling open and revealing a new layer. The skin heals itself. Then the inks starts to look faded since most of the ink is lost.
Make sure you get inked by a professional who knows what they’re doing. Ask for plenty of testimonials and look at their reviews. In the absence of these, try getting a small tattoo first and see how it works out.
4. Bad aftercare
What should you do after getting inked for the best results?
The standard procedure was to apply generous amounts of rash cream on the area for good aftercare. Today, rash creams contain bleaching agents and a component known as lanolin which is one of the worst things to treat your tattoo with.
This substance is made from sheep wool and has a high chance of triggering allergic reactions. This can clog your pores, which is terrible news for when you’re healing from a freshly imprinted tattoo. So avoid rash creams.
Other times, it’s what you do before your inking that matters. Many people like to shave and clean an area before they get it inked.
They do this to be considerate of the tattoo artist and to provide a clean canvas. But this ends up backfiring because shaving and aggressive cleaning can cause inflammations in the skin.
Inflamed skin reacts badly to the inking process and increases the tenderness of your skin. This makes the inking process painful.
If you must clean up, do it gently. If you must shave an area, do it with the least amount of friction possible. Trimming with an electric razor is your best option here. Just don’t do anything to upset the skin.
All you need for aftercare is simple antibacterial soap and cocoa butter a few times a day. Apply enough butter to just moisturize the area, not to coat it.
If your skin isn’t taken care of well, your body will reject the ink and ruin the fine lines in your tattoo once the healing is complete.
There are many reasons your tattoo can start fading early. What your tattoo looks like in the first 2 days doesn’t matter.
You want to wait until your body is healed to judge your tattoo. Make sure your artist used high quality ink, and avoid sun damage and friction. Have healthy habits after your inking to prolong the tattoo for as long as possible.
If you’re not happy with what you have, speak with your tattoo artist. You can get a touch up to fix most minor problems so don’t worry too much.