Why Do Tattoos Turn Green & Blue? Tattoo Artists Explain What Happens

I imagine when it comes to tattoos, there's little worse than your ink changing over time, whether it be fading, blurring, or changing color. You might wonder why tattoos change, in particular, why tattoos turn green and blue.

No matter if you have a micro tattoo, you're inked all over, or you're contemplating losing your tattoo virginity, it's important to think about the future and try to predict – as closely as you can without being a mind reader – what your tattoo might look like in forty years' time. Because nobody wants their beautiful ink to turn into a blot that is unrecognisable later in life. There are of course, certain body parts where tattoos might age slower, so it's best to do your research before going under the needle if you want your ink to stay looking fresh. As an example, finger tattoos can fade easily, so you might want to pick a more fleshy, less active body part for your next design.

But what about tattoos that turn blue or green? You've likely seen someone with a tatt that probably wasn't designed in those hues, but it seems to have changed color over the years. It might look cool in an aquatic, new color scheme, but if you're someone who wants your ink to stay intact, you'll want to know why tattoos turn blue and green in the first place. So here's what the experts have to say...

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Jon Jon of Triple Diamond Tattoo tells me, "This only happens with black inks." This was information I wasn't expecting. But, Adal Ray of Majestic Tattoo NYC agrees, "It's simply the black ink being both absorbed by the body and fading over time, so there's less densely packed deposits of ink."

Jon Jon explains, "Every black ink is made differently, by different manufacturers with different base colors. There are blue blacks, gray blacks, black blacks, all types and they will all age differently. Age of the tattoo, sun exposure, location and ink brand all are factors in this." Before you decide on an all black, or a black and white tattoo, you might want to take this information into consideration.

Josh Egnew of Electric Anvil Tattoo tells me how ink quality has improved over the years, "Pigments used back in the day were of poorer quality and as they aged discolored. Since then pigments have improved, but time will tell how they will age as well."

It seems that unless you have a crystal ball, there's no telling how well your black ink tattoo will hold up, but if you look after your ink, it should stay looking fresher for longer – so don't slack when it comes to slathering your tatts in sunscreen!

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