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Long-Term Tattoo Care: A Lifelong Commitment to Your Ink

It’s no secret that getting tattooed is a lifelong commitment. You spend time, money, and effort to find the best artist and wear your artwork permanently. But many people seem to overlook the other side of tattoo commitment — maintaining your ink long-term with good habits.

Tattoos are indeed permanent, but that doesn’t mean they look the same way forever. Your ink may not maintain its original color and shape without a well-rounded skincare routine and balanced lifestyle. 

There’s no need to fret, even if you’ve neglected tattoo maintenance for years. There are ways to rejuvenate your tattoo and commit to a routine that fits your budget and schedule!

Let’s look at the pillars of long-term tattoo care, whether you’re healing your first tattoo or looking to restore your old ink to its fullest potential.

First Things First: Aftercare Essentials

They say that the best time to start a good habit is yesterday. In other words, it’s never too early or too late to care for your ink, no matter how old it is. 

Some aspects of tattoo aging are unavoidable, such as skin elasticity and how ink breaks down over time. However, your long-term care efforts will be far more effective and rewarding if you start on the right foot.

So, if you’re committed to long-term tattoo care, remember that it all begins the moment your artist applies your tattoo. 

Let’s run through a quick refresher on tattoo aftercare essentials so you can adopt these best practices the next time you get some new ink. 

Know the Basics

The fundamentals of tattoo aftercare are pretty simple in summary. Keep the region clean, use a soothing gel to provide hydration, and don’t pick at scabs as they form. Of course, the specifics of these principles can get cloudy when caring for a new tattoo, especially when experiencing physical discomfort or stress. 

Our best advice is to simply go through the motions and follow through with the best practices that have been proven time and time again. The more closely you adhere to the aftercare protocol, the better your ink will settle into the skin and heal, looking better than ever.

Avoid the sun, wear loose-fitting clothing, and stay disciplined for the first few weeks of the healing process. It will take some willpower and planning, but the results will be worth the wait.

Create Your Clean Routine

One of the best ways to support your aftercare strategy is to lay out a simple, easy-to-follow routine that you can repeat without second-guessing yourself. Think of it like auto-pilot — you have everything in place at all times, with an easily repeatable process you can’t mess up.

For example, keep a gentle, unscented soap by your sink or shower, along with a fresh roll of paper towels that you can use to pat dry your skin after cleaning. Have your go-to soothing gel nearby to hydrate the area with cooling relief when you get the urge to itch. 

It might sound obvious, but by planning ahead with the right products and procedures, you keep yourself on track for a safe and successful healing phase. Combine this with other aftercare best practices, and you’re already ahead of the game for long-term maintenance.

Fighting the Fade: 4 Tips

After a month or so, your new ink is fully settled, and scabs have fallen away on their own. You still have a few more months until the deeper layers of skin are fully healed, but the heavy lifting is mostly finished. 

This marks the transition from the healing phase to the maintenance phase of your tattoo. Unfortunately, this is where many tattoo enthusiasts are led astray, thinking their work is done. While maintaining a tattoo isn’t complex, it’s easy to forget the basics of tattoo maintenance and accelerate the fading process more than necessary.

What exactly causes tattoos to fade or morph with time? In part, this is simply a natural process in which ink is broken down in the skin and the turnover of cells in the body. Skin will lose elasticity as collagen production declines with age, leading to sagging which can cause tattoos to change shape

However, all hope is not lost with regard to fading. There are plenty of ways to maintain your tattoo apart from proper aftercare, so make the commitment today! Here are some tips to fight the tide of fading and keep your ink looking great for the long road ahead.

Keep the Lotion Flowing

Regardless of the season or your exposure to sunlight, using a hydrating moisturizer on your ink is one of the best ways to fight the effects of fading. 

We’re typically focused on skincare products for the face, but the rest of your skin is just as important — especially if you’re tattooed. Our lightweight Daily Body Lotion is formulated for long-term tattoo care, ideal for daily use in any environment. Just remember to follow with a good SPF, as some skincare products contain ingredients that increase sun sensitivity.

Just like you cared for your new ink during the healing phase, apply some lotion once or twice daily to keep your skin hydrated and happy. It’s a simple idea but one we tend to forget about once the ink has healed. Learn from the mistakes of others and commit to an essential daily lotion, starting now.

Stay Safe in the Sun

There are plenty of beauty experts that recommend avoiding the sun altogether as a way to maintain healthy and youthful skin. That sounds simple in theory, but let’s be real — you’ll want to soak up some rays during summer and show off your amazing artwork.

Firstly, sunscreen is your friend when spending time in the sun, so embrace the SPF and use a specially formulated sunblock for tattoos. This will keep your ink looking fresh, bright, and safe from the harmful effects of UV rays.

Next, minimize your time in direct sunlight during a beach trip or relaxation session at the pool. Don’t hesitate to duck into the shade or cover up with a lightweight long-sleeve if you feel the heat. Finally, remember to moisturize and hydrate after spending time in the sun, ensuring you don’t dry out or burn. 

Remember: just a bit of sunlight can give you that healthy glow without compromising your tattoos.

Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Your skin covers a lot of ground — up to 22 square feet based on your dimensions! Your skin health is also a reliable indicator of your overall health and vitality, so caring for your skin starts with taking care of your body in general.

It’s no wonder why people with the best skin tend to have excellent lifestyle habits, including diet, exercise, and sleep. If you’re lacking in any one of these areas, you’re more likely to face the effects of sagging, wrinkly skin, and fading tattoos.

As it turns out, tattoo maintenance is more than skin deep. Commit to a balanced diet, regular exercise, and quality sleep so that your ink looks great along with the rest of your body as you age.

Long-term tattoo maintenance isn’t just about doing the right things for your health. It also requires avoiding certain habits that can accelerate aging and ink fading. 

Habits like excessive drinking, smoking, and other vices tend to show up on the skin, and tattoos are no exception. A bit of fun is okay now and then, but aim to cut down on the number of daily habits that can hurt the long-term quality of your ink and skin overall.

Consider a Touch-Up

At some point, you may consider revisiting your artists to “touch up” your tattoo with a fresh coat of ink. This is a common practice in the tattoo industry, and most artists are happy to oblige for a reasonable price compared to a new piece.

While a touch-up might not restore a tattoo to its full former glory, a talented artist can certainly improve upon its foundations. We suggest waiting at least a few years until your ink is fully settled before you schedule a touch-up appointment. 

Remember that all the original aftercare practices apply to caring for new ink after a touch-up. This is a great opportunity to start fresh and recommit to your ink with regular use of lotion, sunscreen, and all the other tips outlined here. 

Make the Commitment to Care for Your Ink

Caring for a tattoo goes far beyond the first month of healing. Your ink is an extension of your natural skin, so treat it like any other part of your body. Using lotion, managing sun exposure, and living a healthy lifestyle will take you far in your tattoo journey, no matter when or where you started. 

With the Mad Rabbit collection of products covering all aspects of tattoo care and longevity, you’ve got everything you need for a beautiful collection of ink long-term. 


How tattoos ‘move’ with age | University College London

This Is Why Your Tattoo Faded So Much | Allure

8 Tattoos That Actually Look Better As You Age, According To Tattoo Artists | Bustle

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