Do you have a new tattoo that seems to already be fading? There are many reasons that this may be happening. Often, if people do not know the correct way to look after their tattoo or tattoos, they may become faded very quickly; so what may be some of the reasons your tattoo is ALREADY fading?
5 reasons your tattoo is already fading may include unprotected sun exposure, poor quality ink, the needle did not go deep enough, poor tattoo aftercare, and infection. Any of these situations may lead to your new tattoo already fading.
These are not the only reasons a newer tattoo may already be fading, but they are some of the most common reasons why it could be. Let us have a closer look at tattoos and what could cause them to fade, and why.
Why Your Tattoo Is Fading After A Few Days
There is a slight chance that your tattoo would already be fading after just a few days of having it done.
Tattoo ink will never fade out of nowhere without a good reason for it happening (something causing it), especially when your tattoo is still brand new.
If your tattoo looks faded after only having had it for a few days, you may be mistaking what your tattoo looks like during the healing process for your tattoo being faded.
During the healing process, your skin will grow a new layer of skin over the “damaged area,” otherwise known as your tattoo.
While the new skin healed over the tattoo is still fresh and healing, it will be very light and may make your tattoo appear to be a few tones lighter – do not worry about this.
Your tattoo has not begun to fade or lost any of the ink, and once the skin has finished healing, your new tattoo will go back to looking as dark and fresh as it did before.
There is a slight chance that this is not the case and that your tattoo is in fact fading already, but you will not be able to tell whether or not it is, in fact, fading until 3 to 4 weeks after you got your tattoo done, when the tattoo will be completely healed.
Why Is My Tattoo Already Fading?
If your tattoo is now fully healed, and it has, in fact, begun to fade, there are a few reasons that this may have happened. Let us have a look at some of the reasons why your new tattoo may have begun to fade already:
Unprotected Sun Exposure
During your healing process, your tattoo may have been exposed to the sun without any kind of protection, such as sunscreen or sunblock.
Without protection, any tattoo is at risk of being damaged by the sun; the sun’s UV rays can, and often do, break down the pigmentation of the tattoo ink in your skin, causing your tattoo to fade far quicker than it usually would had it not been exposed.
This is especially risky if you have a new tattoo that is still busy healing because you will not yet have a new layer of firm skin covering your new tattoo – this leaves your tattoo ink completely exposed and at risk of being broken down drastically.
This could be a reason why your tattoo is already fading, especially if you have left your tattoo exposed like this more than once and if you did this in the healing process.
Poor Quality Ink
If your tattoo artist used inferior quality ink in your tattoo, there is a good chance that your tattoo would start to fade faster than a tattoo that was done with good, high-quality ink.
Cheap tattoo ink will often not stay vibrant for long; therefore, it may cause your tattoo to look faded quickly.
Not only will it fade very quickly, but some cheap tattoo inks are still also made out of acrylic dye instead of being made from vegetable dye.
This is a huge problem because acrylic dye contains metals that, in the long run, can cause cancers.
Poor quality tattoo ink may also change color over time as it fades; for example, cheap black tattoo ink has been known to fade to blue and green.
If this is what is currently happening with your tattoo, and not only is it looking faded, but it is also looking slightly blue or green, there is a high chance that your tattoo artist used cheap ink on your tattoo.
The Needle Did Not Go Deep Enough
Another reason why your tattoo may already be fading is that your tattoo artist may not have tattooed deep enough in the skin.
You have three layers of skin: the epidermis, which is your first layer of the skin, then there is the dermis, which is your second layer of skin, and then there is the subcutaneous fat layer, which is your third layer of skin.
The perfect tattoo needs to be tattooed into the second layer of skin, the dermis.
When a tattoo artist does not tattoo deep enough and only goes through to the epidermis, the first layer of skin, the ink will usually not stay in the skin.
The reason that the tattoo ink will not stay in your skin if it is only tattooed into the epidermis is this layer of skin is designed to heal itself when wounded – for example, when you get a sunburn, the epidermis layer of skin will peel, and a new layer of skin will be created, and the skin will heal itself.
The same thing will happen if you are tattooed in this layer of skin; your skin will scab and peel off, and if your tattoo ink was tattooed into the layer of skin that is peeling off or falling off due to scabbing, that means that you may lose most of your tattoo when this happens.
This will leave your new tattoo looking incredibly faded since you would have unfortunately lost most of your ink as the skin was healing itself.
Poor Tattoo Aftercare
If your tattoo was done well by a skilled artist who used high-quality ink and tattooed through to the suitable layer of skin, there is still a chance that your new tattoo could start to fade if you do not take good aftercare of your tattoo.
Aftercare is so important in your tattoo’s healing process because without the proper aftercare, you will put your tattoo at risk of losing a lot of ink unnecessarily.
All tattoos will scab, peel, or both during your tattoo’s healing process, although if your tattoo is being properly looked after, it will only do this in small amounts.
If your tattoo is not being well taken care of, your body may try to push out the ink (as a defense mechanism against infections), and you could end up losing so much ink that your tattoo may end up looking slightly faded once the healing process is finished.
How do you take proper care of your tattoo?
- Carefully wash your new tattoo twice a day with a gentle antibacterial soap.
- Pat your tattoo dry immediately after you have washed it.
- Apply a thin layer of the aftercare tattoo balm that your tattoo artist recommends that you use after each wash.
- Do not cover up your tattoo with bandages or Band-Aids; your tattoo needs to be able to breathe at all times.
- Keep your tattoo dry – do not let your tattoo get wet for long periods of time; this includes baths, showers, sweating, swimming, etc. if your tattoo happens to get wet, pat it dry immediately.
- Do not expose your tattoo to the sunlight – the sun rays can cause damage to your tattoo while it is healing.
- Keep your tattoo moist but not covered or wet – what this means is that you should make sure your tattoo never gets dry by applying a thin layer of tattoo balm to your tattoo multiple times throughout the day, but do not put a thick layer of cream on that keeps the tattoo “wet” and unable to breathe.
- Do not scratch your tattoo even when it gets itchy during the scabbing phase – gently pat the area of the skin for some relief when it begins to itch.
- Only touch your tattoo with clean hands – wash your hands every time you want to deal with your tattoo, like when applying the tattoo cream, for example.
If your tattoo did happen to get an infection during the healing phase, you might have unfortunately lost quite a lot of ink while it was healing.
While your body is fighting off an infection in a tattoo, there will often be a lot of puss that will be worked out of the tattoo area.
As your body pushes out the puss and the pushes out infection, it will unfortunately also push out the ink as it cannot tell the difference between the infecting and the ink.
This, unfortunately, may lead to your tattoo not only looking faded but also having far less detail in it than it initially did.
If My Tattoo Is Already Fading, What Can I Do?
If your tattoo is already fading, it is important to first figure out what caused it to fade in the first place so that you do not repeat the mistake.
For example, if your tattoo has faded, and you now realize that it is because your tattoo artist used cheap ink in your tattoo, you now know not to go back to that tattoo artist to correct the problem.
Or, if you realize that your tattoo is faded because you went out into the sun and got a sunburn on your tattoo two days in a row while it was still healing, you now know how to correct this issue in the future.
Once you have found the issue and why your tattoo has already started fading, you can now take the next step towards getting the tattoo fixed; how do I fix a faded tattoo? What are my options? Let us take a look at what you can do to try and fix your tattoo and make it look like new again.
If your tattoo is only slightly faded, you always have the option of asking your tattoo artist to go over the tattoo again and retouch all of the faded areas with a second layer of ink.
Getting your tattoo touched up will generally solve the issue if your tattoo was not faded too badly in the first place.
This will also fix your tattoo if your tattoo was faded because the ink was not tattooed in deep enough; just make sure that the same mistake is not repeated and that this time the ink is tattooed through to the correct layer of skin.
Once the touch-ups are done on your tattoo and you have taken proper aftercare of it, your tattoo should look new and crisp and have no fading in it at all.
If you are simply unhappy with your faded tattoo as a whole and you do not want it retouched, you can always choose to have your faded tattoo covered up.
You and your tattoo artist can talk about if this is a possibility depending on your faded tattoo’s size and design.
If a cover-up tattoo is an option in your situation, you and your artist can go over a design, and you can have an entirely new tattoo done over your faded tattoo.
This time around, make sure to take proper care of your new tattoo once it is done, and you should avoid, and actively prevent, doing whatever it was that caused your original tattoo to fade.
Cover-Up And Redo
After you have received your cover-up, if you really wanted that original tattoo that became faded, you will always have the option of getting your original tattoo redone somewhere else on your body.
Having the original tattoo that faded covered up does not need to be the end of your original tattoo’s story.
You and your tattoo artist can talk about where else on your body you could receive that tattoo, and you can have your original tattoo design re-tattooed on you somewhere else.
Laser Tattoo Removal
If all else fails and you are not interested in adding an even bigger tattoo over your faded tattoo, you will always have the choice of getting your faded tattoo removed via laser tattoo removal.
This is usually not a choice that people often go to as it can be quite painful and relatively expensive; however, if that is what you want to do, you need to do what is best for you in your own situation.
There are many reasons as to why your tattoo may be fading, and it is possible that it is a completely different reason to any of the reasons listed above; however, these five reasons why your tattoo is already fading are some of the most common reasons that newer tattoos already begin to fade quickly.
If your tattoo looks faded after only one or two days after getting it done, it is probably still just healing, so give it time to heal fully before you get worried.
If your tattoo has completely healed, it really does still look faded, you will need to use the information above to discern what it was that caused your tattoo to fade.
After you have figured out what happened to your tattoo, go and speak to your tattoo artist or a new tattoo artist if it was a fault caused by your tattoo artist and you do not want to use their services again, and discuss the way forward.
Whatever it is that you end up doing with your old faded tattoo, make sure that all future tattoos are handled in a different manner and that you take good aftercare of them to prevent any future fading.
Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you
Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.
Design and tattoo ideas
For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):
- Great Book of Tattoo Designs, Revised Edition: More than 500 Body Art Designs (Fox Chapel Publishing) Fantasy, Celtic, Floral, Wildlife, and Symbol Designs for the Skin by Lora Irish
- The Big Book of Small Tattoos – Vol.1: 400 small original tattoos for women and men by Roberto Gemori
- Tiny Tattoos: Over 1,000 Small Inspirational Artworks by Rebecca Vincent.
If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).
The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):