Tattoos are pretty damn permanent, so you'll probably have thought long and hard before deciding where to get yours. But just to add another consideration into the mix, it turns out some parts of the body are much more likely to see tattoos fade over the years than others.
So if you want yours to look just as sharp and bold in 10 years as it did in the months after you first got it done, you might want to make sure you're getting inked in the right place.
As a general rule, Fredrik Glimskär, founder and CEO of online tattoo marketplace Inkbay explains that "areas where skin might be susceptible to wear, or where skin may be exposed to the elements (particularly the sun)" are the most likely culprits for tattoo fading.
For example, if you wear a backpack on the daily, it might not be the best idea to get a tattoo on your shoulders because the friction from the straps could cause it to fade. Similarly, if skinny jeans are a wardrobe staple, you're probably better off not getting a tattoo on your thigh.
While it obviously differs from person to person, there are five body parts in particular that Fredrik identifies as being most likely to fade if inked:
"The tattoo will basically just wear out as the skin is hard for the ink to stick to," Fredrik explains, adding that the same goes for your fingers because the difficult nature of the skin means that the ink doesn't take as easily. "[Tattoos in those areas] just end up looking like a grey blur 99.9 percent of the time," he advises.
As mentioned above, the skin on the hands makes it really difficult for ink to stick properly. This, Fredrik points out, means that "coloured ink won’t be as bright, and black won’t be as bold." Plus, he adds that "wear happens as we use our hands a lot. The skin is thick but there is little fat or muscle underneath, which can cause it to fade much easier."
The reason tattoos on your feet are more susceptible to fading is because we constantly have socks and shoes rubbing against them. "If we were to live barefoot, tattoos on the feet would probably keep their colour for a while," Fredrik says.
Particularly those on the outside of the elbow. Fredrik explains these tattoos will fade more quickly than most as "you're constantly bending your arms. We often lean on our elbows at work, on desks or tables," he points out.
Armpit/inside of upper arm
"This is for the simple fact that you move your arm constantly, and the friction on the inside of the upper arm/armpit area can cause the ink to fade a little," says Fredrik.
How can I prevent tattoos from fading?
There are a couple of things you can do. Here are Fredrik's words of wisdom:
- Keep it moisturised.
"Aftercare is crucial for the longevity of your tattoo; the better you take care of it as it heals, the longer it will last. Make sure you keep it moisturised with a non-scented, water-based, anti-bacterial ointment. Additionally, don’t use lanolin or petroleum-based products such as Vaseline. These are too heavy and may clog the pores, causing breakouts on the tattoo."
- Keep it out of the sun.
"You absolutely need to keep your new tattoo out of the sun in the first weeks of the healing process. Try to keep them completely covered, but if you must expose your tattoo, apply the strongest SPF that you can find. Once it has healed, it is still a good idea to keep it out of the sun as much as possible. Just as the sun would fade ink on a photograph, it will fade the ink on your skin."
- Avoid tight-fitting clothes.
"If you wear clothes that fit tightly to the area where your tattoo is, the material may rub against it and cause it to fade quicker. Wear loose-fitted clothes around the tattoo whenever possible to prevent fading."
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.