I don’t know about anyone else, but I was very surprised to find out that tattoo ink can fade in the sun. I guess I thought that “permanent” really meant “permanent.” But that’s not so.
While the simple passage of time alters tattoo ink (as anyone who’s seen an elderly man with a tattoo he
got decades ago while in the military can attest) sunlight can cause the brigher colors to fade faster than they otherwise would have. Red ink, which seems to be in a class by itself already, fades most noticeably.
I’ve been able to see this in my “swoosh” of seven stars over my collarbone, which is the tattoo that I most often display in public and which has gotten a lot more sun exposure than my others. The red stars have faded more noticeably than the others (although all of them show signs of fading, and I need to go get them touched up one of these days).
Wearing sunscreen over a new tattoo is advice nearly all of us get from the artist along with other aftercare instructions, but those of us who don’t automatically reach for the sunscreen when we’re going to be out in the sun for any length of time may slack off on using it after a while. Even a little bit of sun exposure adds up over time.
Now that summer weather is beginning (it sure is hot here in Los Angeles today!) we all need to start thinking about taking better care of our decorations. Wearing sunscreen is a good idea anyway, and while it won’t completely protect a tattoo from fading (there really isn’t any magic potion that will do that) it can help. And it can also help prevent skin cancer that might really damage your decorations.
Consumer Reports magazine posted a link to a web site called Skin Deep that offers a lot of useful advice about cosmetics in general and sunscreen in particular. That link will land you on a “splash page” that asks you to give them your email address, but if you look closely you will see a link that says “no thanks” and you can click on that to get access to the site without giving them any personal information.
Taking good care of your ink is good for the rest of your body, too.
photo credit: James Jordan