Why Do Tattoo Colors Fade? What Tattoo Colors Fade Fast & What Colors Last Long?

Tattoo enthusiasts come from all walks of life and although they have different backgrounds, tastes and interests, they have one thing in common. All tattoo artist hate the fact that tattoos often fade. Having to touch up tattoos every few years can be impractical and expensive, but unfortunately it cannot be avoided. Although some permanent ink pigments are available that have a very long life, they are not safe for use on human skin, which leads to tattoo fading.

The light ink used for tattoos are safe and does not have high light fastness. Some colors like purple, magenta, and orange even fade faster than darker colors. Black and gray are the strongest tattoo colors that you can choose. Due to their dense and strong appearance, they last longer than any other color.

This discoloration is caused not only by the colors used, but also by exposure to ultraviolet light and sunlight. In fact, many people whose tattoos are regularly exposed to natural light will notice fading and deterioration faster than others. To do this, of course, you don’t have to protect your tattooed skin from sun light forever.

Just try to become aware of your skin in the sun and try to protect it. Remember that as your tattoo fades, it will also damage your skin. So take steps to protect your bare skin with sunscreens and shade.

Why do tattoo colors fade?

Depending on where your tattoos are, changes in your body such as weight gain, weight loss, and muscle mass gain can affect the appearance of your tattoos. However, the most common cause of tattoo colors to fade is ultraviolet light, mostly from the sun.

It doesn’t mean you have to stay out of the sun forever after getting a tattoo. It just means that excessive exposure to the sun will fade your tattoos over time. The tattoo will fade at about the same rate that your skin will deteriorate from exposure to too much sun.

Other causes of tattoo color fading are listed below:

1. Tattoo location

The placement of the tattoo has a direct impact on how your tattoo will fade over time. If the tattoo is in an area that rubs against other parts of the body or clothing, fading will occur more quickly.

As a rule of thumb, the more friction, the more wear. For example, tattoos done on thighs fade faster than tattoos done on other part of the body. As you walk, your thighs rub against each other and over time wear your tattoo.

The best places to avoid tattoo fading are places where the body does not rub against itself or where it is not restricted by tight clothing.

2. Ink quality

The quality of the ink definitely adds to the longevity or fading of your tattoo. Generally, if the tattoo ink is made up of poor quality components or is over-thinned by an inexperienced artist, it will not last as long as the high-quality or highly concentrated ink.

3. After care treatment

Tattoo aftercare is one of the most effective ways to keep your tattoo looking its best. This is important to ensure that your tattoo stays healthy and does not fade. A good tattoo artist will always make tattoo follow-up recommendations that are specific to you. However, general principles must be observed like:

It is important that you keep your new tattoo clean and hydrated. There will be scabs, don’t worry, this is part of the healing process. After the first few days, continue to use a mild moisturizing lotion until the scab is gone and the tattoo is completely healed.

4. Skin elasticity          

One of the main cause of tattoo fading is skin elasticity. Over time, the skin changes and the body forms new skin, which leads to warping and discoloration of the tattoo. However, things like moisturizing and keeping your skin hydrated can be a great way to protect your tattoo in the long run.

5. Tattoo Color

The lighter the color, the more likely it is to fade – which is why watercolor tattoos tend to have a shorter lifespan. The light inks are pretty and vibrant. When combined with darker ink, it adds an accent or highlight to the design. In general, white ink fades the fastest. Next up are yellow, light green, pink, and similar light colors.

Dark red, brown, gray, and black inks are usually the last to fade. Long after light inks were forgotten, dark inks are likely to be still visible. However, if you are thinking of not having a permanent piece of art on your skin, white ink is the way to go.

Note: While a tattoo will stay with you for a lifetime, all tattoos will fade over time. You can slow down your tattoo fading by practicing good aftercare, such as: protecting your tattoo from the sun with sunscreens.

What tattoo colors fade the fastest?

The tattoo colors that fade the fastest are lighter colors. Below are the tattoo colors that will fade over time

White Color

White is the fastest tattoo color that fades. Sometimes the whiteness doesn’t even get past the initial healing phase because it’s made from titanium dioxide, which your body considers invasive.

Your white blood cells are also very good at breaking down white pigment. These macrophages break it down and get through your lymphatic system before you even know it.

Other tattoo colors that fade the fastest are: Pink, orange, yellows and light green

This colors are known to fade faster than tattoo inks of darker color.

Which tattoo colors last the longest?

Black, gray, and blue are the strongest tattoo colors. These tattoo colors are dense and oily, and they can last for 5-6 years before fading. Sometimes these tattoos colors stay perfect for 10 years. The rate of discoloration of the pattern is related to the natural renewal of the skin.

Note: Blue tattoo pigments can outlast the wearer. The blue ink color tattoo is made of copper phthalocyanine. This pigment is very lightfast and can be mixed with white titanium dioxide to achieve lighter shades. Pigments can retain their integrity even after decades or even centuries of exposure to UV rays, but aging human skin can wash them out somewhat because the pigment particles grow larger as the skin loses elasticity.

Blue and black inks are the most stable of all tattoo colors. The pigment, which is darker, seems to help it hold its color and shine longer than any other color.

Tips to prevent tattoo colors from fading quickly

  • Keep your tattoo out of the sun. It’s like exposing a painting to the sun. Sooner or later it will fade a bit. The same thing applies with a tattoo, especially lighter colors, the sun will attack them.
  • Make it a habit to apply a thin layer of moisturizer to your tattoo because a thick layer of moisturizer can wash off the color of your tattoo.
  • Take the time to find an experienced artist. You will find that your tattoo will stay alive longer than if you tried to trim the corners with cheap inks.


The speed at which the tattoo will fade depends on the pigments used, the location of the drawing and the type of skin. Their saturation is maintained the longest by dark colors: black, blue, but also red and brown. Tattoos like yellow, orange and all pale colors fade faster. Note that most tattoo inks colors will fade over time, but never completely.

However, keep in mind that there are ways to prevent your tattoo from excessively fading. When tattooing, try to select an experienced tattoo artist who will properly apply the pigment. Correct initial application helps to reduce discoloration. Also, make sure to take good care of your tattoo while it is healing, your tattoo will look amazing and make last longer.