Tattoo Time Capsule: 35+ Before And After Photos Of Faded Ink

By Aakash M January 26, 2024

This article was originally published on docjournals

When you glance at the tattoos on some of our beloved seniors, you might notice a touch of fading and nostalgia. And if you happen to be someone who’s got inked, it’s natural to let out a little “hmm” of concern about your own tattoos. Let’s not get carried away down that path.

The reason behind their vintage-looking tattoos is quite simple: those artworks were inked decades ago when tattooing technology was a bit different. The inks weren’t as advanced back then, and the tattoo hygiene might not have been up to today’s standards either. Plus, they might not have had the luxury of touch-ups that we do now.

But fear not! Your tattoos are not destined for the same fate. Just like some people age like fine wine, there are folks whose tattoos have stood the test of time. In fact, we’ve got some examples to show you! So keep the worries at bay and enjoy the vibrant journey of your tattoos. They’re in good hands!

Still blooming

Do you know what’s fascinating? Despite the noticeable fading on the image to the right, we can’t help but feel it still looks absolutely charming. It’s almost as if the fading was meant to be, adding a special touch to the tattoo.

Reddit/ bloopdoopdeedoo

That’s precisely why many folks would prefer the state of the tattoo on the right. But it’s essential to bear in mind that the fading isn’t excessive, indicating that the tattoo was well taken care of. The image on the right was captured five years after getting the tattoo.

By a professional

Spotting a long-lasting palm tattoo is rare! Those who venture into palm tattoos are well aware that these ink artworks are among the most challenging to preserve. They tend to fade quite easily, and the situation worsens if the design wasn’t crafted by a skilled professional.

Reddit/ Sabstar

The image on the right showcases it five years after its creation, while the one on the left captures its freshly inked state, and the image in the middle is right after it healed. Quite an impressive example of a well-maintained palm tattoo, don’t you think?

Furry tattoo

What an adorable little pug! Considering the age of this pupper is ten years (a lot in dog years), we can safely say that this tattoo has aged like a champ. On the left, we have the image captured when the tattoo was first inked, and on the right, we see it a decade later.

Reddit/ Independent_Duck_772

Whether it’s a real pug or an artistic rendition, these adorable creatures never fail to bring a smile to your face. And you know what? The owner of this tattoo wholeheartedly believes that it has aged incredibly well, and we couldn’t agree more!

Then and now

The image on the left takes us back to 2019, when the tattoo was fresh and bold. Then, fast forward to 2022, and voilà! Three years down the line, it’s still rocking and looking fab. Age ain’t nothing but a number, even for tattoos!

Reddit/ LamorozecPaula

Despite the considerable fading, it still manages to look fantastic! Kudos to the brilliant tattoo concept and design that can withstand the test of time, and even fading can’t dampen its beauty. It goes to show that having a creative mind truly works wonders!

Fresh and ripe

You can bet those blackberries have ripened up nicely with time! The left image gives us a glimpse of their fresh inkiness back in 2017, right after they were plucked from the tattoo shop. And now, fast forward five years to 2022, we get to savor the matured and beautifully aged version on the right.

Reddit. lerenardnoir

There’s no denying there’s a good amount of fading going on, but hey, it’s all part of the adventure! Being a forearm tattoo, it must have soaked up plenty of sun rays over time. But fear not; a little TLC and healing can bring back that charming vintage vibe it once had.

The difference

If we had to choose, we’d go with the tattoo on the right. Sure, it might not be as sharp as its left counterpart, but its subtle fading has an alluring beauty. With its brightness, the one on the left might seem a tad overpowering.

Reddit/ lunadeurano

A keen eye will spot some slight differences that hint at the healing of the tattoo on the right. One noticeable change is the variation in font thickness between the two images. The left image was captured back in December 2020, while the right one is from January 2023.

Delicate and thoughtful

No doubt, there’s quite a bit of fading on this tattoo, and it’s surprising since it’s just a year old. However, fear not because it still manages to look good! The credit goes to the fantastic designs, high-quality ink, and the overall brilliant concept behind it.

Reddit/ CommercialDouble9227

Behold, a mesmerizing micro realism fine line tattoo elegantly adorning the chest! While its design may appear simple, don’t be fooled, for a great deal of thought went into crafting this masterpiece. Delicate and oh-so-feminine, this tattoo is a testament to the artistry and creativity that can be achieved in even the most intricate details.

Still got it

On the left, we have the tattoo fresh out of the studio, and on the right, the same tattoo gracefully aged around eight years. While there’s a fair amount of fading, it’s no surprise with forearm tattoos, as they get their fair share of sun exposure.

Reddit/ thatsonecookedgoose

No need to fret about protecting your tattoo forever; over time, some fading is inevitable. In this case, a little healing is all it takes to make things right and bring the tattoo back to its former glory. We’re sure this tattoo is gonna go for a refresh.

One decade later

Do you know what’s fascinating? There’s practically no difference between these two images except for the camera quality and lighting. The fading on the tattoo is barely noticeable. It’s a testament to how diligently this tattoo has been maintained over the years.

Reddit/ lemonkitty

Oh, this tattoo has aged like a fine wine, getting better with time! Originally crafted in April 2012 and captured in a photo in May 2022, it’s a remarkable journey of beauty and preservation. We can’t wait to see how it looks today—we’re confident it will still be in fabulous condition.

Fading already

Now, here’s a real marvel—a palm tattoo that looks like it’s been around for decades, but here’s the twist: it’s only two weeks old! How is it that one tattoo doesn’t fade at all while the other tattoo is about to disappear?

Reddit/ Gild5152

Well, this tattoo was made by the person who clicked this image. The lady works as an apprentice at a tattoo studio, and she only has three months of experience under her belt. She also wanted to prove how quickly palm tattoos fade!

A cute cat

This tattoo is a true homage to cat lovers, and that’s precisely the reason behind its existence. Meet the Jiji cat—a feline not necessarily from a distinct breed but renowned and adored all over Japan. For those unfamiliar, a quick Google search will reveal the cutest animated images of this cat.

Reddit/ strawberinefoxx

Take a look at the image on the right, captured precisely one year after getting the tattoo. It’s rather remarkable because there’s barely any fading, and when comparing both images, you’d be hard-pressed to spot any difference. The cuteness is consistent!

Aging of artwork

That’s what the owner of this tattoo calls this subreddit, and we totally agree with it. The left image dates back to 2012, capturing the tattoo in all its freshly inked glory. Fast forward a decade to 2022, and we get a glimpse of how this marvelous piece has evolved over time.

Reddit/ ifdreamstherebe

Looking back at a tattoo you created after a decade must be an incredibly gratifying experience. Knowing you made the perfect choice and got it done to the highest standards must be very rewarding. Bonus: the fading on this one is minimal.

Fixed and healed

It’s hard to say how many people would opt for a tattoo like this one, but what’s certain is that it holds profound meaning. From our perspective, this tattoo stands out as one of those rare gems that can maintain its appeal even as it gradually fades.

Reddit/ casually-dressed

Let’s take a closer look at these images. On the left, we have a snapshot taken right in the studio, fresh after the tattoo’s completion. Now, fast forward two years to the image on the right, and you can witness how this tattoo has gracefully healed after going through its fading phase.

A bad one

You know, if your tattoo starts fading within just two years, there might be a bit of an issue there. It’s a shame for this guy because that tattoo is stunning and has a great aesthetic appeal. It’s not a small tattoo, and with its beauty, it must have cost quite a bit too.


Take a look at the images side by side. On the left, we have one captured in February 2020, while on the right, we have the same tattoo in February 2022. It’s astonishing how aggressively it has faded in just two years, almost as if it has been around for decades.

Long wait

This person had quite the patience before finally deciding to get their tattoo refreshed. As you can see on the right, after a staggering 25 years without any healing or proper care, this is how a tattoo ends up looking.

Reddit/ Quitendangerous

Now, this guy has a fascinating story behind his tattoo. He got it originally inked when he was 25, and on his 50th birthday, he decided to refresh it, as shown in the image on the left. Both pictures were taken that day. The initial tattoo was done in Saskatchewan, but the refreshing touch-up took place in Kelowna.

Fresh vs. aged

First and foremost, the concept behind this tattoo is truly remarkable, and what’s even more impressive is how it has stood the test of time. The owner must have taken exceptional care of it to maintain its splendor. While copying exact tattoo styles is discouraged, this tattoo is a fantastic source of inspiration!

Reddit/ obigimli2022

On the left, we have the image of this tattoo, fresh and new, right after it was created. Fast forward eight years, and you’ll see the image on the right, showcasing the considerable aging of this artwork. While the changes are quite noticeable, a refreshing touch-up will breathe new life into this tattoo.

Just fine

Check out these two images side by side. The first one undoubtedly displays the tattoo when it was brand new, while the second one was taken nine years later. For a tattoo that’s nine years old, it has held up remarkably well!

Reddit/ Lexxerz818

Here’s another extraordinary case of a tattoo that gracefully ages with time and fading. Let’s take a moment to applaud the owner and the brilliant designer behind this artwork for conceiving such a creative concept and bringing it to life so beautifully.

The queen

Let’s take a look at these two images side by side. The left one captures the tattoo in all its fresh glory, while the image next door right was snapped an impressive 12.5 years later. And you know what we’ve learned from this journey? Even after all that time, the queen bee still reigns supreme!

Reddit/ deedlelu

This forearm tattoo has aged remarkably well. The slight signs of aging could be attributed to sun exposure and possibly a lack of daily lotioning. A touch-up will undoubtedly enhance its appearance, but it’s essential to remember that tattoo care is an ongoing commitment throughout a lifetime.

Couple goals

If there is something that literally screams ‘couple goals,’ it has to be matching tattoos! And well, here we have it—a couple with two matching tattoos. Just like their love, these tattoos have also stood through the test of time.

Reddit/ aged_tattoo_resource

Indeed, in the spirit of love and unity, these tattoos deserve to be refreshed and healed. After all, they’ve been adorning their bodies for a whole decade, a testament to a love that we can safely assume has lasted even longer.


This list is a treasure trove of diversity! It’s brimming with various kinds, designs, stories, and unique tattoos like the couple tattoo we saw earlier! Now, let’s uncover another special gem—a simple yet creatively vintage tattoo that adds a charming touch to this captivating collection!

Reddit/ js00bz

We call this tattoo “vintage” for a good reason—it dates all the way back to 1966! To add even more sentimental value, it’s a tribute to the person’s friend who shared this image. This tattoo has gracefully aged for over five decades, bearing witness to the changing world around it.

Teenage tattoo

What a journey it must be, getting a tattoo as a teenager and then looking back with a sense of satisfaction at having made a great choice two or three decades later! This rose tattoo, having weathered the years, is a beautiful testament to the enduring beauty of meaningful ink.

Reddit/ ironicrunner

To be exact, this tattoo is a remarkable twenty-nine years old, having been inked when the lady was just fifteen. It’s almost three decades since its creation, and despite its fading, it has admirably stood the test of time. Time for a touch-up!

Burning fire

It’s quite apparent that the image on the left captures the tattoo in its fresh, just-made glory. Surprisingly, the image next to it was taken six years later, and yet, it’s hard to believe, but the fire of this tattoo still burns brightly.

Reddit/ pwattanacho

While it’s possible that the tattoo has been healed, the uploader of this image is also seeking an expert’s opinion on how well it has aged over the past six years. Although we’re not experts, it’s safe to say that after all this time, the tattoo still looks pretty darn good!


You don’t come across foot tattoos every day, making them quite a rarity. But this one is an absolute stunner! The creativity shines through with the beautiful bird, delicate leaves, and that adorable little lightning bolt tucked in the corner.

Reddit/ old_cat_spinster

Let’s take a peek at these two images. On the left, we have the tattoo looking relatively fresh, captured in December 2014. Fast forward almost five years to September 2019, and you’ll see the image on the right showcasing the healed version of this artwork.

Some more vintage

Behold another vintage treasure—a thirty-three-year-old tattoo! Unfortunately, we don’t have a ‘before’ image for these timeless artworks, as not everyone had access to high-definition cameras back in those days. But fret not; we do have the ‘after’ image!


The fading on this tattoo is quite evident, giving it away as one that must be quite old. Among all the tattoos on this list, this one needs a touch-up. According to the owner, you could easily distinguish the teeth and ribs in its earlier days, but time has taken its toll!

Like wine

Here’s yet another prime example of a tattoo that has aged like fine wine. While it might not have been that long since its creation, it has certainly matured gracefully. We’re sure that the owner of this tattoo is a Canadian and also a patriot!

Reddit/ MariahsMakeup

For any Canadians out there, ‘The True North strong and free’ needs no introduction, as it’s a cherished part of their national anthem. For those unfamiliar, it’s a beautiful line representing Canada’s essence. The image on the left captures the tattoo in its fresh form, and the one on the right is four years later.


We dubbed this tattoo the “Exposed Beauty” because it’s a forearm tattoo often basking in the spotlight. On the left, we have a snapshot from 2017, when the tattoo was still fresh and vibrant, while on the right, we see the same artwork five years later, witnessing its journey through time.

Reddit/ thefoxandmoon

The left one showcases the tattoo in all its fresh and vibrant color, while the right one reveals how, over time, it has gracefully faded and weathered the sun’s rays. Despite the sun-kissed appearance, it still manages to retain its appeal.


There’s nothing quite like having a meaningful message inked on yourself, making it one of the coolest choices you can ever make. Take a peek at the left image, captured back in November 2002, and now swing over to March 2022 to see the right one.

Reddit/ lainey072

This tattoo bears the Latin phrase ‘nosce te ipsum,’ which beautifully translates to ‘know thyself’ in English. Unlocking the key to understanding oneself and finding purpose can offer remarkable clarity and direction in life. Embrace this ancient wisdom, and it may just be the guiding light on your journey of self-discovery!


This tattoo is undoubtedly a pinnacle of wholesomeness on the entire list. Is there anything more adorable than a smiling baby elephant cradling a rose with its tiny trunk? Perhaps the only thing that could rival this cuteness is yet another smiling baby elephant adorned with delightful designs.

Reddit/ WanderVoids

On the left, we have a snapshot of the tattoo when it was just freshly made, and on the right, we travel five years into the future to witness how it has aged gracefully. Despite the passing years, the cuteness of this tattoo remains entirely unaffected.

The wisdom tooth

Now, that’s some seriously clever wordplay on this tattoo’s name! Not everyone would guess that the ‘wise’ part refers to the wisdom tooth. It exudes a distinct sense of vintage charm, evoking the essence of old and traditional tattoo designs.

Reddit/ fltlsyko

The image on the left was freshly clicked, and the image on the right was clicked a decade down the line. If there’s one learning that you could take from this tattoo besides the obvious fading, it is that yellow doesn’t always hold up on everybody!

Fresh it seems

Let’s compare these two images: on the left, we have the tattoo captured when it was freshly inked, and on the right, we leap a decade into the future. Apart from the noticeable fading, there’s an essential lesson from this tattoo—yellow ink doesn’t always age well on everyone!

Reddit/ eaglesnestmuddyworm

You’ve got to be quite the keen observer to spot the subtle distinctions between both images. If you pay close attention to detail, you might notice that the fish in the bowl on the right appears much lighter compared to the one on the left.

Special one

Do you know what makes this tattoo unique? It’s not the design or the concept. This tattoo is a traditional bamboo tattoo! In most cities, you can only get tattoos from the machine. They are also much more painful than a tattoo from a machine.

Reddit/ midwestpsych

This exquisite bamboo tattoo was crafted in Thailand, and we can’t help but admire the intricate detailing on this one. It falls under the category of fine line tattoos—a small yet elegantly detailed design, just like the artistry displayed in this image.


You’ve got to be a true marshmallow enthusiast to sport a tattoo of a toasted marshmallow on your forearm, just like this man! But he took it a step further by infusing the design with multiple layers of creativity. This kind of originality isn’t something you come across every day.

Reddit/ kushincanada

However, that’s a poor marshmallow because it has faded over the years. The image on the left was freshly taken, and the picture on the right was taken a year after getting the tattoo. Looks like it’s time for a touch-up!

Pretty great

Check out this image posted by someone looking for our expert opinions on whether their ink needs a little touch-up magic. The left pic showcases the tattoo in all its brand-new glory, just fresh out of the studio, while the right one shows how it’s been holding up two years down the line.

Reddit/ Selena_____

This tattoo is holding up remarkably well, with minimal fading to be seen. However, there is one notable difference that catches the eye. Upon comparing both images, you’ll notice a slight fading on the bee inked on the woman’s finger.

Literally the same

The two images have a whole decade between them, but it’s hard to tell at first glance. Given this remarkable resilience, we can safely say that this tattoo has aged like a fine vintage wine, holding up astonishingly well over the years!

Reddit/ kylebvogt

Moreover, this tattoo boasts an intimidating design that commands attention. For those drawn to such powerful motifs, this artwork serves as a fantastic source of inspiration. Embracing something unique is always a rewarding experience. This one might need a touch-up after another decade has passed!

The only one

The person who shared this image provided some heartwarming insights. This magnificent tattoo belongs to their father and has been proudly worn for nine years. What makes it even more sentimental is that it was his very first and only tattoo.

Reddit/ sics2014

This tattoo features an awe-inspiring eagle and feathers, undoubtedly holding profound significance to its wearer. However, on a lighter note, the passage of time has taken a toll, resulting in significant fading. It’s quite clear that this tattoo could use some tender love and care.

Album Art

Without a doubt, this tattoo resembles some exquisite album art! As per the post, it marks the person’s very first venture into the world of ink. On the left, we have the snapshot of its fresh debut, while the image on the right was taken a little over five years later.

Reddit/ screwygrapes

There is some fading, but it’s expectable for a five-year-old tattoo. It is quite a creative concept for a tattoo on the thigh. However, we’d love to see it refreshed and healed up. That’s indeed gonna get the spark back!

A Journey

You can draw a deep meaning from the tattoo and its age. If anything, the sun is still shining! There might have been a little fading, but that doesn’t faze the sun. We all could relate this analogy to ourselves and our experiences.

Reddit/ meowasaurus

Let’s take a peek at the timeline of this fascinating tattoo journey. On the left, we have a snapshot from August 2015, capturing the freshly designed tattoo. Now, fast forward to October 2022, and on the right, we witness the same artwork after it’s freshly healed.


Comparing the two, it’s evident that the tattoo on the left boasts a slightly darker hue, but our hearts lean toward the tattoo on the right. The magic of modifying a tattoo is amazing, as it allows your creativity to take flight and guide your ink to new heights.

Reddit/ DarkoRon2

On the left, we have the original creation from 2018, and on the right, we see its transformation after a thoughtful modification in 2022. Over the course of four years, this ink has really stood the test of time admirably.

A cute patch

If you want a wholesome design for a patch tattoo, well, here’s your inspiration. This tattoo has tried its best to stand the test of time, but it is visible that things have gone downhill in this situation. Nonetheless, we can still see the smile.

Reddit/ The5percentnationof

It basically looks like the beaver has developed acne overtime. The time difference between the two images is three years, and it looks like a lot has happened in between. Also, the embroidery effect of the tattoo has entirely vanished.

Wolf tat

This wolf tattoo is very aesthetically pleasing, and it also has a great story. The image on the left was clicked in 2017, and the image on the right was clicked in 2020. It’s a good concept, and it has held up pretty well.

Reddit/ Devilishlygood98

The owner of this tattoo is a little disappointed. That’s because this piece was made by an apprentice at the studio. This tattoo is an incomplete one, and it was never finished because she left the city. Even when incomplete, the tattoo looks amazing!

Over the years

Here’s another creative design. The image on the left was clicked in 2016, and the image on the right was clicked in 2020. An observation—it looks like the tattoo has shrunk, or it has been shortened over the years!

Reddit/ cthulhucraft1998

Other than that, the tattoo has smudged a bit. You can see that the text on the bottom of the tattoo is readable on the image on the left but not so much on the image on the right. On that note, the tattoo might need some healing.

Witnessing your work

This photo wasn’t uploaded by the owner of this tattoo but by the person who designed it, as the photos were sent to the designer by the owner. Well, seeing your work and witnessing how your tattoos have been over the years must be a great feeling.

Reddit/ jtrip360

This rose piece was done by the tattoo artist back in 2018 in San Diego. The fresh piece looks extremely beautiful, and we must also say that the tattoo artist has done a splendid job on the healing. The new version looks just as catchy as the old one. Squeaky clean!


For an arm tattoo, this one is an amazing design. The image on the left was clicked after designing the tattoo in the studio, and the image on the right was clicked 4.5 years down the line. The tattoo still looks pretty awesome!

Reddit/ cringerevival

Moreover, the fading is very minimal. If you observe very closely, you’ll see some at the bottom. But, in a way, that’s inevitable because it’s below the sleeve of a t-shirt, and that part is usually exposed to the sun. Yet, it has held up well.

Quite the interesting one

Do you know what the name of this tattoo is? It’s called ‘A Tale of Two Arms.’ Why, you ask? Well, that’s because this tattoo is on both arms. At least, that’s what it looks like from the image. There are plenty of such designs where one tattoo is spread over both arms.

Reddit/ being_b

The image on the left was taken in 2018, and the image on the right was taken in 2020. Now, it’s either a mirror image of the same tattoo, which explains the fading, or the image on the right is the same tattoo made on a different arm. It’s better to keep it mysterious.


Imagine having a precautionary statement on your arm as a tattoo. Sounds odd, right? Now look at this image. Doesn’t seem so odd anymore, does it? If anything, it’s exceptionally creative and ‘cool.’ Also, there is a hidden meaning in the tattoo.

Reddit/ GoldenBacon

In a way, the skull is there to make you understand what happens if you don’t put safety first! The photo on the left was taken when the tattoo was fresh, and the photo on the right was taken after six years. It looks good, even with the fade.