What Causes Tattoos to Fade?

What Causes Tattoos to Fade?

Tattoos are an excellent way to express your passions and personality. As a result, you want to keep yours looking as vibrant and new as possible.

So naturally, you might wonder what things can cause your ink to fade.

Activities such as swimming, tanning, and exercise can negatively affect tattoo quality. However, the extent depends on several factors, such as if the ink has healed.

Additionally, you can take preventative measures to protect your pieces from degrading.

Does Sun Cause Tattoos To Fade?

Once summer rolls around, you’ll undoubtedly want to hit the beach and have fun in the sun. 

But you may wonder: will those golden rays affect my body ink?

Generally, direct sunlight will cause tattoos to fade over time. And this effect is more pronounced on new pieces that are still healing.

If you have an old tat, don’t worry too much about the occasional day in the sun. The fading process takes years, and you can help prevent it.

However, pieces that are still healing are at risk. Here are some ways to protect yours from UV rays:

  • Cover it up – long sleeves and pants can block sunlight from reaching your tats.
  • Sunscreen – high SPF sunscreen helps prevent your ink from fading. Not to mention it also protects the rest of your skin!
  • Avoid peak times – Try to keep your new ink away from the sun when it’s at its strongest. Usually, this is from 11 am to 3 pm.
  • Find some shade – Relax under a parasol or tree so that you’re not constantly in direct sunlight.

Does Tanning Cause Tattoos To Fade?

Now you know that the sun can affect your ink. But what about tanning?

Tanning both in beds and under the sun will cause tattoos to fade. 

UV rays from the sun and tanning beds break up the ink pigments in tattooed skin. So no matter how you get that bronze, it can affect your pieces.

Specifically, these UV rays lead to tattoos losing color and detail—especially if the ink is still fresh and healing.

As a result, you should take some steps to preserve your tat.

Firstly, consider getting spray tans if you still want to get some color in your skin. They help you achieve that bronzed look while keeping your tattoos unaffected.

And if you can’t avoid the sun, make sure to use sunscreen or cover new ink up.

Can Swimming in the Ocean Cause Tattoos To Fade?

It’s hard not to love splashing in the ocean on a hot sunny day. Plus, it’s the perfect opportunity to show off your sleeves and back piece for all to see.

However, doing so isn’t a great idea if you have new ink. Because swimming in the ocean can significantly diminish a tattoo’s quality while it heals.

Specifically, the ocean’s water pulls ink out of pores if they aren’t healed, causing new pieces to look patchy and faded.

Plus, salt water is harsh on sensitive and healing skin. And the resulting irritation can further hamper your ink’s appearance.

Not to mention the risk of infection. 

A new tattoo is essentially an open wound, and the ocean holds all sorts of dangerous microbes and bacteria.

There are precautions you can take to reduce the damage. For example, loose bathing suits can reduce harmful friction.

But either way, stay out of the sea until your ink settles.

Will Sweat Cause an Old Tattoo To Fade?

If you’re a gym rat, rest easy—sweating won’t affect your old tattoos.

Once a tattoo fully heals, the ink becomes sealed deep into your dermis. As a result, sweat can’t flush it out or break it down in any noticeable way.

However, exercising is generally a bad idea in the days immediately after getting a tattoo. The activities and movements involved make your piece vulnerable to degradation.

For example, friction may damage ink that’s still healing. And due to all the germs in a gym environment, infections are also common in new tats.

Furthermore, it’s vital to keep your ink moisturized immediately after getting it. And that can be tricky to do since sweat eventually dries skin out.

So if you have a particularly grueling workout, make sure to moisturize new tattoos afterward.

Still, sweat itself has little to no direct effect on your ink. Once yours heals, you can exercise to your heart’s desire.

What Medications Can Cause Tattoo To Fade?

Believe it or not, some medications can affect your ink’s quality.

In particular, anticoagulants and blood thinners may cause you to bleed more while getting a tattoo. And that blood can carry ink out of your skin, leading to loss of detail.

Additionally, taking antibiotics during and after getting a tattoo is usually a terrible idea. The medicine will treat the ink pigment as a bodily infection and fight it. 

As a result, healing will take significantly longer—which means more time that your ink is vulnerable to damage.

But thankfully, there’s a catch!

Generally, medicine will only cause fading and degradation if your tattoo is still healing. So assuming your ink is several years old, you don’t need to worry about taking anything.

Will Taking a Hot Shower Cause My Tattoo To Fade?

We discussed earlier how swimming in the sea damages new tattoos. But what about taking a nice hot shower?

After all, the water we bathe in is less harsh on our skin than ocean water. 

However, that doesn’t mean it can’t harm your tattoo.

As it turns out, a steamy shower can dilute the vividness and detail of tattoos that are still healing.

Hot showers naturally cause the pores in our skin to open up more. As a result, it’s much easier for the ink to get carried out of healing skin.

Furthermore, many people use loofahs and sponges to lather soap on their body. And this friction makes it even more likely for the ink to get a patchy, faded look.

So until your tats heal, keep the showers short and not too steamy.

Furthermore, make sure to dry your tattoos afterward by gently patting them. Doing so helps prevent fading and other issues.


Direct sunlight, swimming, and even certain medications can cause tattoos to fade. But typically only if a tattoo is still healing and unprotected.

By taking preventative measures, like using sunscreen, you can preserve the beauty and quality of your ink for longer.

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