Tips For Tats

There’s no doubt your tattoos will fade over time, but there are ways you can take better care of them and prolong their vibrancy.

It’s a great feeling when you decide to get inked, and even more so when you find a design that you truly connect with. Most of us focus on finding a design, deciding on the best tattoo artist, meeting and discussing an idea with them, and finally setting up that all-important appointment to be inked, for life (well, in most cases!)

A good tattoo artist will talk to you about caring for your new tat, including staying away from swimming pools, reducing exposure to the sun, not spraying perfumes on the area, etc. while some will even help with rock salt, ointments and more. What everyone forgets is long-term care—you look at your tattoo a few years down the line, and realise it has faded and looks dull, or has even lost almost all its colour.

How did that happen, you wonder?

“The process of caring for your tattoo starts right from the time you get inked,” says Himgauri Wakle, an independent tattoo artist who runs Tatva Tattoos. “Tattoos tend to fade over time due to multiple reasons, such as exposure to sunlight, bleaching agents, sunblocks that come with lightening agents, and excessive swimming. Weight loss or weight gain also leads to fading of tattoos. The placement of these can also affect the life of a tattoo—for example, designs on fingers, knuckles etc. fade quicker due to constant washing of hands,” she shares.

While retouching a tattoo is an option, there are ways to maintain it to keep it looking great. Himgauri says, “It’s simple—the more your tattoo is moisturised, the longer it will retain its colour and form.” She recommends using organic products such as beeswax or soy wax and shea butter.

While tattoo care products have been available internationally for years, it is only recently that the Indian market has seen the launch of these niche skincare items. Just a couple of months ago, The Body Shop introduced the Amazonian Saviour Multi-Purpose Balm, made from 100% natural-origin ingredients that, among other things, helps revive the appearance of tattoos. Himgauri opines that The Body Shop product is superior as compared to plain Vaseline. “This is an amazing one and is better-suited to sensitive skin or skin that is prone to rashes and breakouts,” she adds.

Another product available in the Indian market is the Beardo After Tattoo Care Oil. It is formulated with olive and almonds, which nourish and condition the skin, helping it recover and also giving the tattoo the protection it deserves. The company claims that this product “restricts the fading of tattoo colour and brings it back to life.” With an authentic Ayurvedic formula, this oil can be used on fresh as well as old tattoos.

Fragrance-free products such as lotions by Aveeno, recently launched in India, are a good option for keeping inked skin hydrated too. Many folks flaunting tattoos also prefer to simply use baby oils.

However, it’s not only from the outside that you can care for your tattoo. Olly Alva of Al’s Tattoo Studio says, “Over time, the skin ages and what will also help is ensuring you keep your skin as fresh as possible.” This means giving it the nourishment it needs from within, leading a healthy lifestyle and staying well-hydrated. He suggests avoiding excessive use of soap, especially on the tattooed area, as this will strip the skin of moisture. “Instead, use a loofah to keep the skin clean, remove dirt and grime, and open pores thus letting the skin breathe,” he explains.

For new as well as old tattoos, Olly recommends the use of calendula extract to his clients as this soothes the skin and promotes the regeneration of new tissue.

We’ve got to be realistic and understand that while skin continues to age, tattoos too will be affected over time. But there’s a lot that we can do to ensure that the skin and, in turn, the tattoo remains fresher and more vibrant for longer. So why not start now?

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