You’re 21 years old and you’re thinking about getting a tattoo. You experiment with half a dozen different designs, trying them out on various body parts using inbox’s custom tattoos. After a few weeks of inky trial and error, you land on a wicked idea. Everything's coming together perfectly, until your parents drag you to old Aunt Carol’s senior home spring concert. It’s the musical, “Cats” (who chose this, Carol?). You’re surrounded by seniors belting out “Memory” and it suddenly dawns on you: what the heck will my tattoo look like when I’m old?
Getting a tattoo is a major investment. You’ve put the time in planning, watched our Path To Permanence series, and are ready to commit. But you want it to age as beautifully as you will.
Even if you’re a go with the flow kind of person, it’s important to consider the long-term effects of having a tattoo. So, before you get tatted up, keep the following in mind to ensure your ink will last:
“Bold will hold’”
This is a common term heard in the tattoo industry. Designs with bold outlines generally age well. So, to make sure your tat will look rad on your 95th birthday, try to work with thicker, bold lines. However, it's important to remember all of the variants in this equation: the style of the tattoo, your skin's unique qualities, as well as the skill and experience of the artist. If the lines are too thick, they may end up blurring and bleeding together over time. If your artist is doing thicker lines, it's important that they don't overwork the area, which can lead to scarring.
This plays a huge role in tattoo longevity. As your skin ages, you naturally lose collagen making your skin more delicate. Unfortunately, a small design with a ton of detail will most likely turn into a smudgy mess. If you want something intricate, consider increasing the overall size of the design. If you’re like me and are drawn towards smaller tattoos, try to keep it simple and clean.
Sorry to break it to you but as we age our bodies will inevitably change, whether it be weight gain, pregnancy, or the natural fluctuations that come with aging. Avoid areas like the abdomen and the flesh under your arm as they will loosen over time and can stretch or distort your tattoo.
As well, beware of high friction areas as they have more wear on the ink. Avoid in between fingers or toes, under your armpits, behind your knees and in between your thighs. No matter what age, these spots are notoriously difficult to maintain due to rubbing. If you’re keen on these body parts, be prepared to invest in frequent touch-ups.
As there’s no quality assurance for ink, it’s possible that it could have inferior pigments. So, do your research, read reviews and ensure the parlor you choose is hygienic. Since it’s on your skin forever, you want to make sure your artist is using high-quality ink.
If longevity is important to you, tattoo artists recommend staying away from watercolors. Although colored tattoos are beautiful, they are infamous for fading. If your heart is set on a watercolor tat, try to make sure it has a black outline to hold the design.
Lastly, take care of your tattoo! The maintenance is easy and trust us, it goes a long way. Stunning tattoos have been destroyed due to poor aftercare treatment, so stay out of the sun and make sure you listen to your artist’s instructions on how to properly care for your new tattoo.
So, you CAN get a wicked tattoo that holds well into your senior years. Keep the above in mind and make sure to do your research because when it’s your retirement home’s spring concert, you might as well look badass while belting out “Cats”!
Written by Rebecca Damiani
Artwork by @_novaraye