You know that feeling once your tattoo has healed and you can finally show it off to the world? Yeah, we love it too. But as time goes on, just like you, your tattoo ages. With age and exposure, your ink can start to look dull and blah.
If your tattoo has faded and you want to revive it, or if you're trying to prevent your tattoo from fading, try out these tips. This way, you’ll be ready to revive that old tattoo and learn how to make tattoos look new.
1. Exfoliate Your Tattoo
An exfoliator will remove the outermost layer of skin, which is all dead cells anyway. That just leaves new, healthy skin below. Don’t worry about scrubbing off any of your ink, it is deposited much much deeper into the skin than that surface layer.
What to Use
You can use a physical exfoliant which includes scrubs, terry cloths, brushes, mitts, loofahs, and other sponges. There are also chemical exfoliants which dissolve the dead skin cells rather than rubbing them away.
How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Tattoo?
You should apply an exfoliant about twice a week to ensure you get the most out of your products. Over exfoliating your skin, any skin (not just the tattooed parts), can cause more harm than good. These issues include:
- Red and irritated skin
- Extra shiny skin
- Flaking and peeling
- Acne and inflammation
Make sure that your tattoo is completely healed before starting a regular exfoliating schedule. Check out our article on how to heal a tattoo for more information.
2. Use Moisturizer on Your Ink
While proper hydration of your tattoo is necessary right after you get a tattoo, it is still just as important to keep up with over time. Moisturized skin is more elastic and hydrated which both help with the looks of your older tattoo.
What to Use
Choosing the right moisturizer or tattoo balm for your tattoos can be confusing because there are so many options and opinions on the subject. The best things to look for in your moisturizer are all in the ingredients list.
Avoid ingredients like:
- Metals such as Aluminum
- Long words with “- thanolamine” at the end
- Mineral oils, which is a byproduct of petroleum
- Synthetic fragrance
These all contribute to skin irritation, dryness, rash, and other uncomfortable skin conditions. Look for ingredients to find the best lotion to keep tattoos bright. These include ones that are all-natural and certified organic. Some beneficial contents to look for are:
- Shea and Cocoa Butter to heal seal in moisture
- Glycerin to draw water from the air and bring it to the skin
- Vitamin C which brightens the skin
- Vitamin E provides antioxidants to repair sun and other damage
Always do your own research into these products to find the best lotion to keep tattoos bright!
How Often Should You Moisturize Your Tattoo?
As a good rule of thumb, for all skin not just tattoos, you should use moisturizers or tattoo enhancers on your skin at least twice a day. Morning and night, but especially after you have showered or cleaned your skin because it is the most vulnerable once it's been stripped from cleansers.
Some areas of your body that see more wear and tear like elbows, hands, knees, or anywhere that sees a lot of sunlight should get a little more attention in terms of moisturizing. We would all rather have our tattoos looking vibrant instead of ashy. Your tattoos will stay vibrant for years to come, all you have to do is take a few minutes out of your day to moisturize.
3. Keep Your Skin Clean
Clean tattoos are happy tattoos. Keeping your tattoos clean is definitely needed right after you get a tattoo to avoid infections and bacteria which can ruin your ink. Once your tattoo is healed, you still have to keep up with your cleansing routine.
If you don’t keep your skin clean, the area can get a build up of dead skin cells, dirt, oil, and sweat. Seems like no big deal but these build ups could give you infections (dermatitis), scaly skin, acne, and hyperpigmentation (dark spots).
Infections can occur on new tattoos but if you aren’t properly cleansing, it can ruin your healed ones as well. Dark spots over your tattoos can distort the art and make it look really dull and old even if it's not. Using the right cleanser can help revive tattoos and keep them fresh.
What to Use
Antibacterial soaps and cleansers for sensitive skin or are gentle on skin are the best to use for your tattoos. These products usually avoid harsh sulfates which actually dry out your skin. Always read the ingredients label to double check!
How Often Should You Wash Your Tattoo?
Ideally, you should try to wash your skin about once a day. We know, we know… that isn’t always in the cards. As long as you are showering or cleansing your tattoo once every few days, you should be alright!
4. Always Use Sunscreen
Sun damage is one of the top causes of a dull looking tattoo. There are both UVA and UVB rays that damage your skin. UVA penetration makes skin age and sag prematurely while also fading ink. UVB rays give you damage to the top layers of skin and cause sunburns and blisters which can lead to infections. Once a tattoo has been sun damaged enough, there is not much you can do to revive it so prevention is the key when it comes to the sun.
What to Use
Use a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30! If your skin is on the fairer side, go with SPF 50 to make sure you have good coverage. Avoid sunscreens with a lot of additives and chemicals and look for those with all-natural, moisturizing ingredients.
How Often Should You Apply Your Tattoo?
Easy answer. Anytime you will be exposing your skin to the sun, you should be wearing sunscreen. Try to put it on about 20-30 minutes before going outside to allow the product to soak into the skin.
5. Touch-Ups and Cover-Ups
In extreme cases of damage and dullness, you can always get your tattoo retouched or even covered with a new design. Having fresh ink put over your tattoo can bring it back from the dead! Or you can see it as an opportunity to switch it up and add a completely new piece over the damaged area.
Make sure that if you do decide that your tattoo is too far gone to revive, that you are consulting with a skilled tattoo artist with cover up & touch up experience. Once you have gotten your new ink, always follow the proper aftercare instructions!
Bring Your Tattoos Back from the Dead and Make them Look New
We know that sometimes the immediate care after a new tattoo is taken more seriously than once it has healed. But if you want to keep your tattoo looking vibrant and fresh, you have to make sure that your tattoo care is a lifelong routine. If you haven’t been, now is the perfect time to revive your tattoo and start a tattoo skincare schedule!