What Happens To Your Tattoo As You Get Older?

It is well known that as we age our body, skin and mind change. So when we turn to body modification at an early age, some can’t help but wonder what the artwork on their body 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 age just as you do.

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

4 things your tattoos will go through as you age

1. Your tattoos will change

The skin, being our largest organ, is the most sensitive to changes caused by aging. The fact that you are getting older is mostly or largely seen in skin changes. Skin deterioration therefore also involves changes and deterioration of the tattooed skin.

So the first thing you will witness about your tattoos as you get older is simply a change. The change may be in the shape of the tattoo due to the stretching of the skin, or the loss of detail and a blurry appearance as the skin becomes wrinkled and less smooth.

This kind of change is inevitable, and it is bound to happen sooner or later. We don’t think it’s worth pointing out, but focusing on your diet and training at a younger age can prevent premature skin changes.

2. Your tattoos will fade

Fading is one of the most common occurrences when it comes to tattoos and aging. As a result of years of sun exposure and micro-damage to the skin, tattoo fading can occur within 10 or 20 years, in some cases even earlier. It’s an inevitable event that can only be managed with proper skin care and less exposure to UV rays.

Your tattoos will fade
Image Credit: Registered Tattoo

Aging, however, is probably the biggest contributor to tattoo fading. As the skin changes and loses its elasticity, it weakens and does not retain its shape, which promotes the stretching of the tattoo. As the tattoo stretches, the ink also spreads, causing the shape of the tattoo to change and a flash of color to occur.

Sun damage is the second biggest 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 accumulates as we age. Due to sun exposure, tattoos become hazy, smudge and lose their original shine and smoothness.

Discoloration can also occur as a result of weight gain during aging. Weight gain also contributes to the premature stretching of the skin, which changes the shape and size of the tattoo, leading to flashing and discoloration.

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

3. Your tattoos will lose their original shape

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

The change in shape is less noticeable on small and simple tattoos. However, it is most noticeable in large tattoos that are placed in the places of the body that are most prone to stretching; abdomen region, upper arm, thigh region, side of back or lower back, etc.

In some cases, the shape does not change drastically, but this is surely unavoidable. So, before deciding to get a tattoo, make sure you have the location of the tattoo in mind. Later in life, such a decision can play a big part in changing your tattoos.

4. Your tattoos will change in size

Due to stretching of the skin and lack of elasticity, your tattoos will also stretch. This will most often result in not only changing the shape of the tattoo but also its size. In some cases, small tattoos will lengthen or expand as they are stretched. Other tattoos simply appear larger due to the stretching of certain areas of the skin.

Tattoos change the most in size where the muscles begin to sag. For example, a tattoo in the bicep area may look bigger as you get older because the bicep muscle will begin to sag, stretch the skin and lose its youthful shape.

What can you do to protect tattoos?

The process of protecting tattoos and preventing premature skin aging begins the moment you get a tattoo. From the moment you leave the tattoo shop, you should keep in mind that immediate aftercare and general tattoo maintenance will be a priority. Apart from that, you will also need to focus on your general well-being; it is essential to stay healthy, active and to eat well. Your health and well-being will reflect on how your body changes, ages and affects tattoos.

So here are some recommendations that you can use to protect tattoos even as you age.

Follow tracking

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

However, it is essential not to overdo it with the follow-up, as this can have undesirable effects. For example, avoid washing the tattoo too frequently or moisturizing it every few hours. Simply 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 UV rays, as well as your skin, is one of the most important things you can do to prevent premature or severe skin aging. UV damages the skin little by little, or if you are too exposed to it, for a long time, then the damage can be significant.

Either way, covering the tattoo or applying sunscreen to all exposed skin can provide a layer of protection and prevent significant skin damage. Sun exposure also promotes dryness and wrinkling of the skin, so you will also take care of it by providing adequate protection. By that, we mean applying sunscreen with a sunscreen of at least SPF 30, but we recommend always opting for SPF 50.

Stay hydrated

In order for your tattoo and your skin to age gracefully and as invisibly as possible, it is essential to always stay hydrated. The lack of hydration of the body contributes to the dryness of the skin. This, in turn, promotes rapid aging of the skin, making it looser, more wrinkled and less elastic.

Water is essential for your health, especially the health of 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 hotter days or workouts.

Of course, your skin will start to get drier as you get older. Avoid activities that could promote faster drying of the skin, such as exposure to the sun. Also, if you think your water intake can’t fight dry skin or dry tattoos, you can also use moisturizing and nourishing lotions.

Maintain weight and activity

Trying to maintain weight and activity can help the muscles in the body stay firm and fit longer, even as you age. This can be useful, in addition to your health of course, for your tattoos as well. Firm muscles also help the skin stay firm, which prevents it from sagging and wrinkling.

However, it is inevitable that at some point your muscles will simply give up due to old age and start to sag. No matter how hard you train and stay active, aging will surely at some point begin to affect the way your body looks and behaves. However, proper activity and exercise can prevent premature aging of organs and skin, which of course ensures that your tattoos stay intact for longer.

Other things you can do!

  • You can always opt for a tattoo touch-up when you start to notice that age is affecting the appearance of your tattoos. However, keep in mind that touch-ups are more difficult to perform 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 that 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. In addition, artificial tanning can damage the skin more deeply, which surely affects the tattoo as well.
  • Try not to overdo your skin care. 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 tattooed skin, especially when it comes to excessive cleaning.
  • Try to quit smoking, if you smoke. Cigarettes and nicotine promote dryness of the skin and faster skin aging. Smoking can make you look older than you are, and it can make your skin dry and wrinkled even if you’re still young.

Also read: Am I too old to get a tattoo? (How old is too old?)

The essential

You cannot avoid aging, nor 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 that your skin and tattoos remain intact for as long as possible.

We always advise people to eat well, drink enough water and stay active. It’s a simple recipe for a long and happy life that everyone should follow. So, just by taking care of yourself, you can prevent the tattoo from changing, fading or premature reshaping. The healthier you are, the brighter and more vibrant your tattoos will stay.

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