What Happens To Your Tattoo As You Get Older?

It is well-known that as we grow older our bodies, skin, and mind change. So, when we turn to body modification at our younger age, some can’t help but wonder what the works of art on their bodies will look like in 20 or 30 years. For starters, we can say that even with the utmost care of your skin and body, your tattoos will change and grow old as you do.

So, if you wonder what exactly will happen to your tattoo when you grow older, you’re in the right place. In the following paragraphs, we’ll observe some of the most common tattoo changes that occur with the aging of the body and skin. Knowing this you might take care more of your tattoos and prevent premature aging. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

4 Things Your Tattoos Will Go Through As You Grow Older

1. Your Tattoo(s) Will Change

The skin, being our largest organ, is the most susceptible to the changes caused by older age. The fact that you’re growing older is mainly or largely seen in the changes of the skin. The deterioration of the skin, therefore, implies changes and deterioration of the tattooed skin as well.

So, the first thing you will witness regarding your tattoos as you grow older is simply a change. The change can regard the shape of the tattoo due to the stretching of the skin, or the loss of the details and a blurry appearance as the skin becomes wrinkled and less smooth.

This type of change is inevitable, and it is bound to occur sooner or later. We don’t think it’s worthy of stressing about, but by focusing on your diet and workout during a younger age, you can prevent premature skin change.

2. Your Tattoo(s) Will Fade

Fading is one of the most common occurrences when it comes to tattoos and growing older. As a result of years of sun exposure and micro skin damage, fading of the tattoos can occur in 10 or 20 years, in some cases even earlier. It is an inevitable occurrence that can only be managed by skincare and less exposure to UV rays.

Your Tattoo(s) Will Fade
Image Credit: Saved Tattoo

Aging, however, is probably the main contributor to the fading of tattoos. As the skin changes and loses its elasticity, it becomes weaker and doesn’t hold shape, which promotes the stretching of the tattoo. As the tattoo stretches, the ink spreads as well, which results in the change of the tattoo shape and lightning of the color.

Sun damage is the second main contributor to tattoo fading. Every time we expose our skin to heat or UV rays, our skin suffers and becomes damaged. As we are younger, the damage is minimal and less visible, but it is there and it builds up as we get older. Because of sun exposure, the tattoos become blurry, smudges, and lose the initial shine and sleekness.

Fading can also occur as a result of weight gain during aging. Weight gain contributes to premature stretching of the skin as well, which changes the shape and the size of the tattoo, resulting in lightning and fading.

Also Read: Do Tattoos Fade Over Time (And How Can You Fight Tattoo Fading?)

3. Your Tattoo(s) Will Lose The Initial Shape

As we mentioned earlier, as we grow older our skin loses its elasticity and becomes loser and more wrinkled. This contributes to the overall change of the tattoo, which of course includes the change of the shape.

The shape change is least visible on smaller and simples tattoos. However, it is most visible in large tattoos which are placed in body locations most prone to stretching; the abdomen area, the upper arm, the thigh area, side of the back or lower back, etc.

In some cases, the shape doesn’t change drastically, but it surely is inevitable. So, before you decide to get a tattoo, make sure to have in mind the placement of the tattoo. Later in life, such a decision can play an important role when it comes to the change of your tattoos.

4. Your Tattoo(s) Will Change Size

Because of the skin stretching and lack of elasticity, your tattoos will also stretch. This will most often result not only in the change of the tattoo shape but also its size. In some cases, smaller tattoos become elongated or expand as they stretch. Other tattoos simply appear bigger due to the stretching of certain skin areas.

The tattoos change size the most where the muscles start sagging. For example, a tattoo in a bicep area may appear bigger as you grow older since the bicep muscle will start to sag, stretch the skin, and lose its youthful shape.

What Can You Do To Protect The Tattoos?

The process of protecting the tattoos and preventing premature aging of the skin starts the moment you get a tattoo. From the moment you leave the tattoo shop, you will have to keep in mind that the immediate aftercare and general care of the tattoo will be a priority. Apart from that, you will have to focus on your general well-being as well; it is essential to stay healthy, active, and to eat properly. Your health and well-being will reflect on the way your body changes, grows old and affects tattoos.

So, here are some recommendations you can utilize to protect the tattoos even as you grow old;

Follow The Aftercare

The best thing you can do to protect your tattoo and prolong its aging is to take care of it the moment you get it. Following the aftercare instructions is the most important step towards proper tattoo healing. Aftercare is essential for numerous reasons; it can prevent inflammation and infection of the tattoo, it can promote faster healing, and ensure that the tattoo looks and stays bright and vivid for a long time. Proper tattoo aftercare can also prevent faster fading of the tattoo, especially in the case of bright colors.

However, it is essential not to overdo it with aftercare, since it can have adverse effects. For example, avoid washing the tattoo too frequently, or moisturizing it every few hours. It is enough to wash and moisturize the tattoo twice a day, maximum. It is also important not to touch the tattoo with dirty hands, or to pick, scratch, and peel it.

Wear Sunscreen

Protecting your tattoos from the UV rays, as well as your skin, is one of the most important things you can do to prevent premature or significant skin aging. UV rays damage the skin little by little, or if you’re overly exposed to them, for a long time, then the damage can be significant.

Either way, covering the tattoo or applying sunscreen all over the exposed skin can provide a layer of protection and prevent significant skin damage. Sun exposure also promotes drying and wrinkling of the skin, so you’ll also be taking care of that by ensuring proper protection. By that, we mean applying sunscreen with sunscreen of minimum SPF 30, but we recommend you always go for SPF 50.

Stay Hydrated

For your tattoo and skin to age gracefully and the least visibly as possible, it is essential to always stay hydrated. Lack of hydration of the body contributes to the drying of the skin. This, in turn, promotes fast skin aging, which makes it looser, more wrinkled, and less elastic.

Water is essential for your health, especially the health of the organs like the skin. So, always make sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day but always try to drink more, especially during warmer days or workouts.

Your skin will, of course, start becoming driers as you get older. So, avoid activities that could promote faster drying of the skin, like sun exposure. Also, if you feel like your water intake cannot combat dry skin or dry tattoos, you can also use hydrating and nourishing lotions.

Maintain Weight and Activity

Trying to maintain weight and activity can help the muscles in the body stay firm and in shape for a longer time, even as you get older. This can be useful, alongside your health of course, for your tattoos as well. Firm muscles help skin stay firm as well, which then prevents it from sagging and becoming wrinkled.

However, it is inevitable that at one point your muscles simply give up due to old age and start sagging. No matter how hard you train and stay active, getting older will at one point surely start affecting the way your body appears and behaves. However, proper activity and exercise can prevent premature organ and skin aging, which of course ensures your tattoos stay longer intact.

Other Things You Can Do!

  • You can always go for a tattoo touch-up when you start noticing older age is affecting the way your tattoos appear. However, bear in mind that touch-ups are harder to execute as the skin becomes more wrinkled and less elastic. So, make sure to always look for a professional and experienced tattoo artist who will know what to do.
  • We recommend you avoid artificial tanning as much as possible. It can do more harm than natural sun exposure, and can even cause cancer cells to multiply faster than they normally would. Plus, artificial tanning can damage the skin more thoroughly, which surely affects the tattoo as well.
  • Try not to overdo your skincare. Sure, it can be beneficial to focus on your skincare, but overdoing it can be counterproductive. You can make your skin irritated and increase its sensitivity. Overdoing it with skincare can also affect the tattooed skin, especially when it comes to over-cleansing.
  • Try to quit smoking, if you do smoke. Cigarettes and nicotine promote skin drying and faster skin aging. Smoking can make you appear older than you are, and it can make your skin dry and wrinkled even if you’re still at your younger age.

Also Read: Am I Too Old To Get A Tattoo? (How Old Is Too Old?)

The Bottom Line

You can’t avoid getting older, nor can you prevent your body from changing as you enter old age. However, by taking care of yourself and your health at a younger age, you can ensure your skin and tattoos stay intact as long as possible.

We always recommend people eat properly, drink enough water, and stay active. This is a simple recipe for a long and happy life everyone should follow. So, just by taking care of yourself, you can prevent premature tattoo change, fading, or re-shaping. The healthier you are, the brighter and more vivid will your tattoos remain.

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