I get asked on a regular basis what the best ways are to keep tattoos looking fresh and new over time, because let’s face it, no one wants their tattoo to fade, and getting a tattoo hurts.

Most people want to show off their new ink, be it on vacation or those long summer days when we’re wearing close to nothing.

So, you’re probably asking-what can I do to make my tattoos look brand new for the ages? Or, an even better question-how do I help my tattoo age well over time?

That comes in two phases:

  • Healing
  • Life

Healing Phase

During the healing phase, it’s important to make sure you’re washing your tattoo and keeping it moisturized. Basically, listening to your tattoo artist on his recommended steps for the proper tattoo recovery period. Don’t remember or need a refresher? Hop over here to learn more.

Life Phase

Avoiding UV Rays/Direct sun light

There have been many analogies, but I like to use this one: Think of your tattoo ink as being very similar to the paint on your house. Over time, all those UV rays that shine down on your house, fade the paint and require you to repaint.

UV rays affect tattoos much in the same way causing fading.

Now staying away from harmful UV rays and direct sunlight is next to impossible. So, what can you do? Great thing is, you’ve got options.

Sunblock Lotion

Remember your mother applying lotion before going out to swim after that tasty lunch on the beach as kid? Well, the same is applicable here and hopefully you have tasty snacks to go along with.

Any time you’re going to go out in the sunlight, you should apply sun blocking lotion at least 50 SPF or above to your tattoo. Should you apply to the rest of your skin too? Yes, but that’s up to you.

I go as far as to apply even when I’m going out and about on my daily life, not just the beach or when I’m wake surfing.

Rash Guards

Another option when you’re out swimming or hanging out at the beach is wearing a surfing rash guard that has 50+ SPF built right into the fabric. I have a couple buddies from Hawaii that swear by them and use them even when swimming in pools here in the Pacific Northwest during the summer months. Cuts out the need to reapply sunblock lotion every couple of hours.


In addition to avoiding harmful UV rays, keeping your skin moisturized with creams and lotions is another way to keep your skin youthful and resilient. But why?

Here’s why; your skin is constantly moving and pull apart and shifting. Applying lotion keeps your skin snap back much like a new rubber band and keeps the ink pigment in place longer.

What are some lotions to use? Aveeno, Curel, and Lubriderm non-scented are some common recommendations.

Now keep in mind that I’m not a doctor, but only a tattoo professional on a lifetime trek of learning. These are just some of the tips and pieces of knowledge I’ve picked up over the last 15 years I’ve been tattooing.