How to Make Your Old Tattoo Look Good Again

Updated on November 1, 2018
Lace wrist tattoo on girl. Old tattoos look new again.
Lace wrist tattoo on girl. Old tattoos look new again.

You could be excused for thinking that tattoos weren't around much before the now current revival in popularity and social acceptance, that they are currently experiencing. But tattoos have been around for centuries. Although you're probably not that old, many of us are sporting a tattoo that is at least a decade old, plus showing that age too.

The reality is that our tattoos grow old and age, just as we do. Over time the ink will spread underneath the skin, blurring once straight, bold outlines and making them appear to blend together in the design. Colors begin to fade, lose their vibrancy and often take on a blue blob shape. Words and verses merge into one another, no longer able to be read.

Our environment, particularly the sun, damages and fades tattoo's prematurely. Using a sun protection lotion is one way to extend the life of your tattoo and moisturizing the skin where your tattoo is. Unfortunately, once the damage is done theres no way to reverse that damage entirely.

Although there are other options available to freshen up some of those old tattoos!

Book a Consultation With a Talented Tattoo Artist.

When a tattoo reaches a particular age, there is no amount of exfoliating gel that can liven it back up. This is when a consultation with a talented tattoo artistcould be the answer.

Your fossil of a tattoo could be re-outlined again with a solid, crisp black line. This would enhance the clarity of the tattoo design by redefining the tattoo design elements. It would also give the tattoo artist the opportunity to add some further detail back into the faded tattoo again. In particular, areas of the design that are small and complex that have lost their detail because the the ink has spread. Tattoo designs that have faces or symbols in them, highly benefit from some touch up work.

The colors in a tattoo is usually the first area of the tattoo to show wear. Re-coloring faded of tattoos that have maintained their outlines can make them current again. This is also the opportunity to repair or fix any errors or parts of your tattoo design, you honestly never really liked.

Have you considered, encompassing the old tattoo into a larger, more complex tattoo design. What about developing it into a sleeve, back job, stocking or body suit. What can be done to an old tattoo, when blended into a new tattoo is mind boggling and totally inspiring.

Body suit on lady, Inked women. Tattoo aftercare helps keep these looking good.
Body suit on lady, Inked women. Tattoo aftercare helps keep these looking good.

Quick Result ~ Exfoliating Gel

For a fast tattoo fix up, consider using Aftershock Exfoliating Gel. Developed with Alpha Hydroxy Acids derived from natural grapes, lemons, pineapple and passion fruit this amazing ink rejuvenator gel will assist with removing old, dull, dead skin that has grown on any aging tattoo.

This miraculous gel will brighten up any tattoo, but needs to be used with caution. Leave on your ancient tattoo for approx. 5 - 15 minutes and let the natural Alpha Hydroxy acids do their magic with the top dead layers of skin that has grown over your old tattoo.

Although this option has immediate results, to continue to enjoy the benefits of using Aftershock Exfoliating gel you will need to incorporate the process into your monthly routine.

Tattoo Lightening and Removal

Tattoo removal is an expensive and often quite painful process, but it does have its place in making your old tattoo look fresh again. For an Artist to create a new, awesome tattoo design or tattoo cover upthey may require some of the old tattoo to be lightened or removed. Often the darker outlines and block coloring cannot be covered up entirely without some form of external intervention such as tattoo removal or tattoo lightening.

Tattoo lightening is where you attend approximately three of the five recommended tattoo removal sessions. The tattoo is not completely removed, you can often still make out the old design when your lightening sessions are completed. What it has done though, is toned down the thick, dark inks like blacks and blues and lower the brightness of general colors, that can pop through a good tattoo cover up.

Current methods of tattoo removal do not work well on the inks used in tattoo studios of today, so luckily, you'll be working on tattoos done quite a few years ago. The methods are reasonably effective when used to lighten a tattoo for a cover-up. This form of tattoo lightening does not take anywhere near as many removal sessions to achieve your desired result.

There is no greater freedom in the tattoo universe than the option or ability to change up the tattoo design you were initially given by your Tattoo Artist. You should have learned by now that tattoos' are a one off event.

The options mentioned here within, are your one time - get out of jail free card!

How Old is your tattoo?

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Arm tattoo in black and white
Arm tattoo in black and white | Source

Total Tattoo Redesign or Tattoo Cover up

Possibly your tattoo has gotten to a point where there isn't a lot that can be done to improve your aged tattoo. The ink may have spread too far and blended into the colors tattooed next to them, potentially creating an entirely new color, but most likely that washed out blue black effect found on all ancient tattoos'.

This is where a total tattoo cover up, where either the decrepit tattoo design is completely re-done and inked again in the same theme, style, colors as previously used or a whole new tattoo design all together is created as a tattoo cover up.

A talented Tattoo Artist may opt to redesign your elderly, more basic tattoo by adding to the current design and embellishing on it. Experienced tattoo artist's are able to incorporate your previous tattoo into a part or section of the of the fresh tattoo design. This transformation can be achieved by incorporating and developing additional details plus altering or adding color.

If like me, you've shed tears over a tattoo, if you consider your tattoos' works of art - your own personal life story, then it's time to act.

Initially you may have out laid a fair wack of cash for your amazing piece of art, you could have even taken good care of it. Yet life happens to all of us, the years pass by and our bodies and our tattoos show that wear and tear.

Considering that our tattoos are part of our body and many will turn to plastic surgery to appear younger, so should we consider rejuvenating our tattoos.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        gunjan mishra 

        14 months ago

        i hv a tatttoo studio pls suggest me the darkest ink

      • profile image

        Brian Evans 

        16 months ago

        I have an eagle diving on my right forearm I got when I was 18, I am now 48 and would like to have it altered or re-designed, any ideas please

      • profile image

        Kathi andrews 

        2 years ago

        I have a new tattoo that needs color modification and detail ,Jeffery Hubbard in Birmingham Alabama was the artist ,very talented but unfortunately he did a horrible job on mine and is no longer accepting appointments.I am looking for an artist who can work on finishing with expert detail to color and depth. Any suggestions I am in the Birmingham area but can travel within the area


      • profile image


        3 years ago

        I have two year old sleeve.still looks decent.just want to revive.

      • Organised Kaos profile imageAUTHOR


        4 years ago from Hobart, Tasmania ~ Australia.(The little bit broken off the bottom of AUS)

        Thanks for you lovely comment Kalinin1158, tattoos certainly are a personal thing, but I am with you - got quite a few and love them!!

      • kalinin1158 profile image

        Lana Adler 

        4 years ago from California

        Very informative article! I love tattoos (have 5 myself), and I'm always thinking of ways to improve/design/re-design them or add something. Voted up


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