How Long Do Lip Tattoos Last?

Tattooing has evolved over the past few years. Tattoo artists that were only comfortable with inking artistic designs on living canvasses are now venturing into cosmetic tattooing. Many cosmetic tattoo artists have mastered the art of making permanent and semi-permanent makeup look beautiful. This natural-looking cosmetic tattoo procedure is called lip blush tattoo. Are you wondering how long it will last?

Lip tattoos on the outside of your lip can last 1-3 years, depending on your lifestyle and the treatment. Smoking and sun exposure can also contribute to speeding up the fading process. Lip tattoos on the inside of the lip can fade the quickest because they are exposed to saliva and food.

So if you are contemplating getting a lip tattoo, let me give you more insight on the actual lip tattoo process, how long it will last, the care routine, and the factors that will cause it to fade. These factors will help guide you in making the right decision. Besides, if you invest, you want to be confident in knowing that you are getting the best possible returns.

What Is A Lip Tattoo?

A lip tattoo is a color procedure that involves inserting pigments into your lips with small needles. Lip tattoos are obtained in two ways: one by tattoo art on the lip area, and the other is semi-permanent lip makeup, which is a cosmetic tattoo on the lips that enhances the lips’ natural color. It enhances the color and helps improve the shape of the lips. So you end up with an illusion of more definition and fullness without actually undergoing cosmetic surgery.

Although many believe that lip tattooing is very similar to micro-blading of the eyebrows, cosmetic tattoo artists have noted that the treatments differ. The semi-permanent lip tattoo is applied with a needle and a machine, while micro blading on eyebrows is a manual process involving using a hand tool and cutting the skin.

The Actual Lip Tattoo Process

There are two ways that you can obtain a lip tattoo. A semi-permanent lip tattoo or a design or logo on the lip area.

1.   Semi-Permanent Lip Tattoo On The Outside

A tiny needle deposits pigments on the lip, which helps build layers of color. A lower-speed tattoo machine is used less frequently than traditional tattoo machines. Color is deposited throughout the lip area using a selection of different techniques; this depends on the type of look required.

2.   Tattooing  A Design On The Lip Area

The design is first drawn on the inside of the lip by the tattoo artist. They will then trace it onto the desired area of your lips. Using new, sterile needles, your artist will insert the desired ink colors by making slow, methodical punctures in your skin.

Two Different Types Of Cosmetic Lip Tattoo Techniques

Lip tattooing is gaining momentum in the cosmetic tattoo industry. While permanent makeup artists will advise on the most suitable treatment that will suit you, it might be worth knowing the available options. Below are the two techniques that are gaining momentum in the beauty industry;

1.   The Lip Blush Method

The lip blush method or lip blushing offers a softer, more natural look. The results are a beautiful finish of shading and blending.

2.   The Contour And Blend Lip Treatment    

The contour and blend lip treatment aims to replace lost or faded pigments on the outer edge of the lips. This treatment also reinforces the shape of the lips without creating visible demarcation lines.

Reasons Why A Lip Tattoo Does Not Last Long

To help you understand why lip tattoos do not last as long as tattoos on other areas of the body. I have listed some of the main reasons below;

Product Of Excessive Saliva

The mouth is one area that is always moisture-rich due to the constant production of excessive saliva. This moisture breaks down the tattoo, reducing the lifespan of the tattoo.

Acidic Environment Of The Mouth

The acidic environment of the mouth can attack the tattoo pigments and break them down.

Cell Regeneration

The skin inside the oral cavity of the mouth tends to regrow within a short period. Hence the tattoo ink tends to shed off, resulting in a fading lip tattoo.

Do Lip Tattoos Fade?

Although tattoos are permanent, as the dermis and epidermis heal, the once vibrant tattoo colors fade; this is also true of obtaining tattoos inside and around the lip area. How long the lip tattoo will last cannot be accurately determined, as the care routine of the tattoo is also one of the deciding factors.

Although fading of the lip tattoo color may slow down, it is highly unlikely that you will eliminate the process of fading. The tattoos on the inside of the mouth have been known to fade the quickest because of their contact with food, drinks, and saliva. 

Tattoos on the outside of the lip, called semi-permanent lip tattoos, can last on average around 1-3 years, with touch-up sessions followed once every 6-12 months. It is advisable to contact your tattoo artist before tattooing to obtain information on the color recommendations and designs so that your ink will last long.

What Causes A  Lip Tattoo To Fade?

A lip tattoo is an investment, not just financial but also an investment in oneself. Very seldom is it a random decision; many spend a lot of time researching before taking the plunge. You must arm yourself with the knowledge of what factors will cause the lip tattoo to fade so that you protect your investment. The following factors can cause a lip tattoo to fade;

Sun Exposure

Exposure to the sun can cause the lip tattoo to soften, causing a change in the appearance of the color. Often leading to a lightening of the pigment. It is advisable not to expose your lip to direct sunlight for at least a month after receiving the tattoo. Not only will the sun exposure cause the tattoo to fade, but it will also cause burns to the lip, which can lead to scarring.

Iron Deficiency

Lips can lose color when a person is iron deficient due to the blood’s poor circulation. This deficiency can cause the pigments in the tattoo to fade.

Lifestyle Of A Person

A smoker often has distressed lips, which is caused due to excessive smoking; this can often have less desired results on the lip tattoo.

Exposure To Salt Water

A newly inked lip tattoo should completely avoid saltwater, as it will cause the tattoo to disperse, run or fade. Research has shown that a saline solution made of salt and water is effectively used to draw up ink instead of depositing ink into the skin.

Excessive Exfoliation

Excessive exfoliation can cause the top layer of the skin on the lip to flake, leading to the removal of the color pigments.

Retinol Or Vitamin C

Although retinol is used to brighten skin, it can cause tattoo discoloration. Retinol also helps remove unwanted pigmentation since lip tattoos contain pigments; retinol on lips can strip the lips of the pigments.

The Type Of Tattoo Treatment

The method used, the tattoo artist, the color, and the type of tools used to create the tattoo can contribute to the longevity of the lip tattoo.

What Can I Do To Make My Lip Tattoo Last Longer?

Lip Tattoo On The Inside Of The Lip

As far as obtaining a lip tattoo on the inside of your lip goes, there is no clear indication of how you can make it last longer; this is due to the acid and chemical content found in mouths, the saliva, and the continuous exposure to food and drink.

The best way you can ensure that your inner lip tattoo will last longer is by ensuring that you select a small design or few letters to be tattooed, bearing in mind that thinner lines and the closer the lines are together, the high the chances of fading faster.

It would also be advisable to liaise with your tattoo artist on the recommended colors and designs that will help slow down the fading process.

Semi-Permanent Lip Tattoo

With the semi-permanent lip tattoo, there are a few basic routines that you can follow to help maintain the initial look and hopefully prevent the lip tattoo from fading.

1.    Keep Your Lips Hydrated

A dry, cracked, or chapped lip blush tattoo will not have the desired effects that you would have hoped for; hence it is important to ensure that the skin is moisturized. Invest in a lip balm that is formulated without petroleum jelly. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, petroleum products can be one factor that contributes to the fading of ink.

2.    Always Wear Sun Protection

As per the research carried out by the AAD, ultraviolet light can fade most tattoo inks. Ensure that your lip tattoo receives ample protection by applying a lip balm that is formulated with a broad-spectrum sunscreen. SPF 30 or more. This application process needs to follow every two hours to ensure effectiveness.

3.    Avoid Using Tanning Beds

Tanning beds and sunlamps can cause the ink in the lip tattoo to fade. The UV light can also react with the tattoo ink and lead to a skin reaction that can be quite painful. It would help if you avoided sun tanning bed exposure for 30 days before and after the procedure.

4.    Minimize Exfoliation

Exfoliation is known to remove dead cells; when it comes to the lip blush, too much exfoliation can remove the pigment of the lip tattoo. Limit the use of lip scrubs with the hope of maintaining the lip color for a longer period.

5.    Invest In Color Touch Ups

Your lip color tattoo can last longer if you obtain a color boost procedure at least once every 6-12 months.

6.    Minimize Smoking

Excessive smoking can also lead to the fading of the lip tattoo.

7.    Use Mouthwash

After eating, drinking, and smoking, it is very important to rinse with a mouth wash. It helps neutralize the pH levels of your mouth, keeping the tattoo intact.

8.    Prevent Infection

Microorganisms can sometimes thrive on skin that is treated with tattoo pigments. Regular washing and rinsing with alcohol-free mouthwash will keep the lip free from bacterial or viral growth.

9.    Penetration Of The Tattoo Ink

The tattoo ink penetrating the deeper layers of the skin can last longer. Placing a paper towel between both lips and pressing can lead to deeper ink penetration, making it last longer.

What Color Lip Tattoos Last Longer?

Although reds and orange lip tattoos have been proven to last longer, the challenge is that you will be stuck with those bright colors for a longer time. Almost up to 5 years in comparison to the 1-3 years of the more subtle colors.

Cost Of A Lip Tattoo

The cost of a lip tattoo can vary depending on the location or the tattoo artist and tattoo studio. On the average lip, tattoos can cost between $400 and $1500.

A refresher appointment will also need to be done between 6 – 12 months after the procedure. The cosmetic tattoo artist recommends that at least 2 sessions be done. The first session is to establish the blush on the lips, and the second session is merely touching up for any uneven healing and to add more saturation to the lip tattoo.

These sessions involve additional charges.

A cost of a logo or design on the lip area can also vary depending on the design chosen, the tattoo artist, and the state. Small designs can cost on an average about $50- $80.


Lip tattooing has become a very popular procedure where you can enjoy the effects of wearing lipstick without dealing with the hassle of applying it, smudging, or having to touch it up during the day. Lip tattoos are known to fade faster than any other tattoo. Perhaps it is due to the many factors that affect the tattoo’s longevity.


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