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Tattoos After 10 Years: Here’s How These Popular Styles Aged Over Time

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Published: 09.26.2023
Updated: 11.01.2023

Tattoos are a form of art, expression, and fashion. Every decade, a different list of tattoo styles overwhelms studio appointments. While some of these popular options from the 2010s continue to be a staple in every tattoo artist’s portfolio, others have nearly disappeared from the industry.


The significant factor that affects whether a tattoo style remains popular is longevity. Tattoos are expensive, and you get inked expecting to have a piece of artwork on your body forever. However, some trendy choices like white ink and micro lining are quick to fade. 

Check out how the most requested tattoos of 2010 look after a decade. 

7 Popular Tattoo Styles from the 2010s and How They Aged

If you had your finger on the pulse of the tattoo community in 2010, odds are you are inked with at least one of these designs. Unique application styles, body placement, and ink density affect how your tattoo will look in the future. So, what happens to a tattoo after ten years?

White Ink Tattoos

White ink tattoos are a distinctive and unique choice for permanent ink. As the name suggests, these pieces are completed using only white ink, creating a more subtle design. In addition, dark ink hides the raised surface of tattoos, whereas white ink exemplifies it. As a result, white ink tattoos have an interesting 3D quality. 


The white ink tattoo fad peaked in the early 2010s and quickly tapered off. However, despite their unique appearance, these tattoos present several challenges that make them undesirable.

Tattoo artists inject white ink deeper into the skin than black or colored ink. Unfortunately, white ink molecules do not hold in place well and require extreme stretching of the skin and heavy applications to be visible. As a result, white ink tattoos over ten years will become distorted and faded. Most end up looking like a scar rather than a piece of artwork. 

Watercolor Tattoos

Watercolor tattoos emulate paint on a canvas. Artists use thin layers of vibrant colors to create beautiful and captivating designs. Instead of relying on black outlines like traditional tattoos, watercolor pieces are more fluid. Watercolor tattoos do not use a lot of black and rely on layers of color and contrast to create depth and definition.


Tattoo artists use less ink to create watercolor pieces. As a result, this tattoo style is prone to fading. To create fluid and whimsical patterning, artists apply very thin layers of ink into shallow layers of skin. Unfortunately, this application strategy makes tattoos more susceptible to sun and friction damage. To keep your watercolor vibrant as long as possible, choose a spot on your body that is easily protected from UV rays. Selecting a flat part of the body, like a forearm or thigh, is best to prevent creasing or friction fading. 

Microline Tattoos

Microline tattoos feature an elegant and minimalist tattoo style. These pieces use thin, sharp lines to create script, symbols, and small imagery. A popular choice amongst young celebrities and influencers, Microline tattoos quickly became a top choice for first-time tattoos.

But how do Microline tattoos hold up after a decade?


Fine-line tattoos are inclined to fade. To maintain a delicate styling of these pieces, artists can’t densely pack the ink. A very small amount of ink molecules are embedded into the skin, making Microline tattoos susceptible to damage. It is common to notice broken lines and fading within 5-7 years of getting a fine-line tattoo.

Finger Tattoos

The hands and fingers are difficult areas to tattoo. Not only do these areas have lots of texture they are frequently exposed to water, soap, and friction. Every time you wash your hands, the tattoo on your fingers is rubbed and exposed to chemicals. As a result, the ink will become less prominent; lines will become fuzzy, and shading will be less defined.


Fortunately, finger tattoos are small and easily fixed. Once your ink becomes faded, it is easy for an artist to complete a finger tattoo cover-up. Or, schedule a consultation with a laser removal clinic to quickly erase a poorly-aged piece.

Underboob Tattoos

Underboob tattoos are a sexy form of self-expression. They are placed on the sternum and designed to follow the natural curvature of the breasts. These tattoos are easily concealed and cared for. Most Underboob tattoos age well as long as proper aftercare procedures are followed. 


To keep your ink looking beautiful and fresh for decades, partnering with your tattoo artist on placement is essential. Consider factors like aging and bra fit before deciding how high or low to place the tattoo. For example, a tight underwire or irritating bra band will create friction and damage an underboob tattoo. It is also essential to wear high-SPF sunscreen when wearing a bathing suit or clothing that exposes your ink to the sun. 


Overall, underboob tattoos age well and will look gorgeous after ten years. With proper care and moisturizing, gravity is the only thing standing between you and a well-persevered underboob tattoo.

Infinity Tattoos

The infinity sign has long served as a symbol of positivity, eternal dedication, and everlasting love. These tattoos surged in popularity in the early 2000s and have continued to be a common choice among teens and young adults. 

How well your infinity tattoo ages is based on several factors, including:

  • Size
  • Placement
  • Style

Infinity tattoos completed as Microline pieces are prone to fading. In addition, infinity symbols on hands, fingers, neck, ear, or face will become less prominent due to frequent washing and exposure. However, infinity tattoos with heavy lines and deep shading will age well, especially if inked in a concealed area like the back, arm, or leg.

Feather Tattoos

Feathers symbolize a brave and free-spirited nature. This iconic symbol of strength became a popular subject of tattoos in the early 2010s. These permanent pieces of art ranged in style from flowing watercolor masterpieces to minuscule ear tatts. As a result, your feather tattoo’s style, size, and placement significantly affect its appearance in 10 years. 


Traditional black and gray feathers will age gracefully. Heavily deposited ink will hold its color and placement for decades. In comparison, more abstract feather ink is susceptible to fading. As a result, watercolor, fine line, and white ink feather tattoos will require touch-ups and redos after 5-7 years.

How to Choose a Tattoo Design That Will Stand the Test of Time

Tattoos are supposed to last forever. Unfortunately, factors like tattoo style, color, and placement can greatly affect the longevity of your ink. If you want your tattoo to age well, look vibrant, and be defined for decades, choose styles that include:

  • Heavy line work
  • Saturated color
  • Distinctive detail and shading
  • Timeless or meaningful subjects

American Traditional

Tattoos completed in the American Traditional style will withstand the test of time. These pieces are defined by the use of heavy black, sharp lines, and icon symbols. Vibrant pops of red, yellow, and orange offer vivid contrast. Tattoo artists that specialize in American Traditional use deep saturation and heavy ink depositing to ensure the tattoo lasts forever.

Black and Gray

The most classic of tattoo styles, black and gray ink, utilizes strong line work and heavy shading to create realistic art. The depth of detail in these tattoos keeps the art clear and legible for decades. 

Tribal or Geometric

This style of tattooing focuses on deep concentrations of black ink. Each design is composed of a repetitive series of shapes, lines, and dots. Clean, heavy line work creates distinctive patterns that will age beautifully.

How to Make Your Tattoos Last Long Term

Do tattoos fade after ten years? Unfortunately, yes. But there are several ways to preserve the integrity of your inked artwork for as long as possible.

Sun Exposure

UV rays cause irreversible skin damage. Over time, consistent sun exposure will fade tattoo ink. Always wear high-SPF sunscreen. This practice will extend the vibrancy of your tattoo and is especially important for colored ink.


Keeping your skin moisturized will reduce signs of aging in your tattoo. Dry skin stretches and cracks, creating permanent wrinkles. Without proper hydration, your skin will lose its elasticity, become thinner, and make your tattoos more susceptible to damage.


Tattoos on the hands, fingers, neck, face, and feet will fade. This is because unavoidable things like washing your hands, shampooing your hair, and wearing socks negatively affect tattoos on those body parts. In contrast, tattoos on the legs, arms, back, and shoulders are less exposed and tend to last longer.

Touch Ups

It is common for tattoo artists to offer touch-up services. These quick appointments deposit fresh ink and clean up detailing to rejuvenate aged tattoos. Don’t remember where you got that decade-old tattoo? No problem! You can go to any other artist for a touch-up. 

Pick an Experienced Artist

Ink application significantly affects the longevity of a tattoo. The more experience a tattoo artist has, the better. Being a great tattooist is more than just having a gift of creative talent. Learning how to embed ink into the skin properly is a critical component of every tattoo artist’s training. Take the time to research and consult with multiple studios before scheduling an appointment. An extra week of due diligence can make the difference between a tattoo that lasts forever and one that fades in a few years. 

Have You Got a Tattoo That Didn’t Age Well? Book a Consultation Today!

Don’t love your tattoo choice? Thanks to Removery’s team of experienced laser removal technicians and state-of-the-art equipment, tattoos don’t have to be permanent! So whether you have a white ink tattoo that didn’t age well or a feather that looks more like a sword, clean skin is only a few laser treatments away. 


Laser tattoo removal is the only FDA-approved method to remove permanent ink. The laser beams are powerful enough to blast away any color of ink and safe enough to treat nearly any area of the body. So if you aren’t pleased with how your tattoo looks on older skin or just want a clean slate for a new piece, call Removery! Schedule a free consultation and create a treatment plan that suits your schedule and budget. 


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Carmen VanderHeiden Brodie Carmen Brodie VP Clinical Operations

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