Why Do Tattoos Turn Green (2022 Updated)?

Thick black strokes or thin, delicate lines – whichever you choose, are you ready for your tattoo to turn green over time? This is a common problem with very old tattoos and you should definitely know about it before getting a tattoo.

This quick guide will explain Why ink can turn green, what inks turn green, and whether your modern tattoo will fall victim to greenness in decades to come!

We also have some tips on how to keep your tattoo ink fresh and new for as long as possible. Of course, if you’re worried about ink colors fading and changing over time, consider a temporary tattoo instead.

Why Tattoos Turn Green: The Short Answer

Why Tattoos Turn Green The Short Answer
Credit: Instagram

Your tattoo ink does not change over time, but is slightly absorbed and expelled by your body. Black ink is made up of a variety of pigments that are removed by your body at different rates. Green and blue pigments are among the last to be absorbed.

So, as some of your black ink begins to fade, less pigment will appear. This is why very old tattoos turn green!

By old, we mean really Old. It takes decades for old ink to turn green. Additionally, many modern tattoo inks are designed not to fade or turn green at all.

To learn more about how ink changes over time and what you can do to keep your tattoo looking fresh, keep reading our guide below.

Also Read: Tattoo Chemistry: What Is Tattoo Ink Made Of?

Tattoos Turn Green: The Long Answer

Tattoos turn green The long answer
Credit: Instagram

To expand on our short answer, tattoos don’t turn green – they already contained green to begin with. Tattoo ink is made up of different pigments. To create different shades of black (yes, black isn’t just one color), many pigments are mixed together.

The specific pigments used depend on the brand and shade of black. How quickly they fade depends on the placement and long-term care of the tattoo, as well as the quality and components of the ink.

What’s in tattoo ink?

Tattoo ink is made up of a solid color pigment and a liquid, usually an alcohol or water. Solid pigments can be plastic, metal, or any other solid, colored component that will not degrade over time.

Usually only black ink tends to turn green with age as the pigments are absorbed by your body. However, other bright colors may also fade. Although they do not turn green, loss of definition and discoloration are common issues.

This is why quality is so important. You should always be inked with high quality ink, as the pigments are less likely to fade quickly and you won’t suffer from infection. It can happen when you get inked with expired tattoo ink!

modern tattoo ink

We’ve learned from the past and improved the pigment quality of our tattoo inks over the years…but we’re not 100% sure it worked.

As mentioned, tattoos take decades to fade and turn green. So while we hope our modern ink will stay bright and not fade, we won’t be completely confident until a few decades have passed, and we can see the proof of that.

How Tattoos Change Over Time

Tattoos naturally change over time as our body slowly extracts the ink pigments and removes them. This is actually how laser tattoo removal works – the laser breaks down the pigment so that your body can extract the ink and expel it.

Bold colors can fade in a few years (see our tips below to keep them looking vibrant and fresh), but most fades and fades take decades. Many factors can impact how a tattoo fades, including:

  • Expose to UV light – this erases tattoos faster,
  • Your body’s natural response to tattoo ink,
  • The quality of the ink pigments,
  • Damage to your skin, for example, scars on the tattoo.

Also Read: Does Tattoo Ink Expire? Everything you need to know

Investment Matters

When it comes to tattoos that fade and turn green, placement really matters. Where you put the tattoo on your body will play a huge role in determining how quickly it fades. Any place that is regularly exposed to the sun, for example your hands, will fade much faster than a hidden tattoo, for example on the inside of your thigh.

Certain areas of your body will shed ink faster or regenerate new skin faster. This speeds up the fading process. Tattoos inside your mouth or on your inner lips are a good example. They can fade in a few months. Usually that’s considered a bad thing, but it could be a positive if you’re not sure you want your tattoo to be with you for the rest of your life!

Another thing to consider is your body’s natural aging process. Some areas sag naturally and the skin wrinkles. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, it happens to all of us. But if you want a very detailed tattoo on the back of your hand or on your neck, for example, it can warp over time as your skin changes.

The same goes for any area that swells and shrinks as you lose and gain weight. This can really warp the tattoo design over time.

Also Read: Do Tattoos Fade Over Time (And How to Fight Tattoo Fading?)

Worried about faded ink? Try temporary tattoos

Worried about faded ink Try temporary tattoos
Credit: Instagram

If you are reading this article before you have your very first permanent tattoo, so you might be worried about how it will fade. Thanks to the innovation of modern ink, a new tattoo won’t turn green quickly… but we don’t know exactly how long it will take to start fading.

So if this uncertainty is not for you, try temporary tattoos first.

Temporary tattoos can last anywhere from a week to a few months, depending on the type and brand. They won’t rub off like permanent tattoo ink, but they’ll give you an idea of ​​what it’s like to wake up to the same ink design, day after day.

5 tips to keep your tattoo ink fresh

5 tips to keep your tattoo ink fresh
Credit: Instagram

If you have ink and want it to stay shiny for as long as possible, follow these 5 tips. On the other hand, if you have brand new ink, go talk to your tattoo artist first! They will give you the proper follow-up procedures to follow.

Only after your tattoo has completely healed should you apply any other products.

Apply sun protection

The higher the FPS, the better. The sun’s UV rays will fade your tattoo quickly. Whether you live in a hot or cold climate, if your tattoo is regularly exposed to direct sunlight, you need to take sun protection seriously.

Apply coconut oil

Coconut oil is a very good moisturizer for tattoos. It can brighten and accentuate color, while locking in moisture. This prevents moisture loss throughout the day, which is better for your skin and the ink.

Also Read: Why You Should Use Coconut Oil For Tattoos (Plus Top 3 Products To Try)

Use a good moisturizer

Coconut oil locks in moisture, but it doesn’t provide much. So, apply a light moisturizer on your tattoo before coating it with a thin layer of coconut oil. Find a moisturizer made specifically for tattoos, so it doesn’t contain any components that fade the tattoo faster.

Book a touch-up session

If the edges are getting blurry, the colors aren’t so vibrant, and those green hues are messing up your black ink, a tattoo artist might be able to fix it with a touch-up session. They might even be able to cover it completely with new ink!

Try laser tattoo removal

Your final option is to remove the tattoo entirely. You can then enjoy smooth, colorless skin, or get a new tattoo with higher quality inks that won’t fade so quickly.

Also Read: Is Laser Tattoo Removal Expensive? (And other delete options)

Quick FAQs

Why do old tattoos turn green?

As the pigment in black ink is slowly removed by your body, it may take on a green/blue color as it fades. The color itself does not change, it is just the density of the color pigments which slowly decreases.

How long does it take for tattoos to turn green?

Decades! Older tattoo inks take decades to turn green, while high quality modern tattoo inks are designed to last much longer.

Which tattoo ink color is the hardest to remove?

White is one of the hardest to remove, along with green and light blue. These colors are difficult to remove with laser treatment and may require multiple sessions to fully remove.

Does lemon juice discolor tattoos or turn them green?

Lemon juice can slightly fade a tattoo, as it can whiten the skin. So yes, it can help your black ink fade faster (and therefore turn green faster), but it’s not an effective method for removing tattoos. You will go through a lot of lemons! It’s better to save up and pay a professional to remove your tattoos with lasers.

Will my ink turn green or blue?

Yes, it is possible for your black ink to turn green or blue over time. It will take decades, however, and depends on how well you took care of the tattoo as well as the quality of the ink used by the artist.

How long does it take to fade a tattoo with hydrogen peroxide?

It takes several weeks of regular application of hydrogen peroxide for the tattoo to fade slightly. It’s an ineffective method of tattoo removal and it’s not healthy for your skin. Consider laser tattoo removal instead. It’s expensive, but the results are unbeatable.

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