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If Tattoos are Permanent, Why Do they Fade Over Time?

March 26th, 2017 by Tattoo Removal in Tattoo Removal

Anyone who has run the idea of getting a tattoo past a friend or relative has inevitably heard the well-meaning, yet completely irritating and unnecessary ‘tattoos are forever’ speech.
We know. Thus the basis of their appeal over henna or a rub on transfer from a cube of 1980’s bubble gum. Thank you for your misplaced concern.

But no matter how many people tell us that tattoo ink will be in our skin forever, there is no denying the fact that they are only mostly right.

Immediately after the tattoo ink is placed under your skin, your body will get to work trying to remove the foreign bodies that have just breached its protective epidermal layer. Some ink deposited too shallow is lost through scabbing and blistering, and some is excreted through the lymphatic system as the immune system seeks to restore healthy balance. Anything not taken care of by the healing process is lost through the natural sloughing of the outer layer of skin.

But further to the initial healing process, there are several reasons that your body art will appear less vibrant over time.

Ink Quality

The quality of the ink your artist uses will affect the longevity of your tattoo. Cheaper inks tend to fade quicker so do your research and ask questions of your chosen studio before committing to using their services.


This reason for quickly fading tattoos is often the outcome of visiting an inexperienced, backyard tattooist. That and hepatitis. When the tattooist places the ink too shallow under the skin your tattoo will fade as the skin regenerates.


Not all skin is equal. Tattoos placed in areas such as lips, feet and fingers are likely to fade quicker than other areas.

Poor Aftercare

It is critical for the longevity, crispness and vividness of your tattoo that you listen to the advice of your tattoo artist in caring for your healing body art. Stay out of the pool, spa and sun, keep it clean and moisturised and do not knock the scabbing off.

Sun Exposure

You cannot live in this sundrenched land of ours without knowing the benefits of being sun safe. Not only will keeping out of the harsh midday sun and using sunscreen every day protect your skin from cancer, but it will protect the pigments in your skin from fading. You know that house down the street that keeps their Christmas decorations out until May, the bright jolly reds and greens becoming washed out pinks and yellows? That’s your tattoo with too much sun exposure.


No matter which way you look at it, the ink is a foreign substance that has invaded your body. Over time, as the lymphatic system does its job, tiny particles of ink will be carried away and exit your body in ways best not discussed in polite company. While the majority of the ink will stay where it was placed, small amounts will be disposed of as your body’s macrophages set about breaking down and carrying away potential pathogens.


With time your tattoo will inevitably fade, however with correct care you will be able to keep your body art looking vibrant as long as possible.