Why Are All Old Timer Tatoos Industrial Green?

Black I could understand but why was every tat right up until the 70’s that crappy hospital green?

Green? Old tattoos always look blue to me.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve never gotten one. Sure, they look all crisp and colourful now, but give 'em twenty years, and they all look blue and blurry.

I, er, don’t have an answer for you about the colour, though.

I think it’s a question of the ink fading, and perhaps the skin aging. Perhaps newer inks have been improved and don’t age as drastically, or maybe people make more of an effort now to get their tattoos retouched.

Black inks fade under UV light. Just wait til the current crop of sun-worshipping inkfiends turn 50, and they wonder why all their tats look green…

Well, perhaps the ones who treated their tattoos as a show piece rather than something personal would. A smart person who has tattoos and cares about them will get touchups done when the tattoos begin fading (and even before that as well). Touchups can even make an older tattoo look a lot better than it did when it was new. Also, a new tattoo often needs some touching up, especially blackwork (like the heavy, pure black ones in vogue)
The newer inks are a lot better at resisting fading, but those men who have the bluish or greenish tattoos likely didn’t think much about them and allowed them to be exposed to sun. If the ink has carbon as the ingredient to make it black, it’s pretty stable. I’ve seen pictures of Philippine Kalinga tribesmen who are in their 60’s and older who’ve had lots of sun exposure and their tattoos don’t show the degree of fading that you see on old sailors: Kalinga Tribesmen . Granted, they also had theirs applied with a rather thick needle and tapped into the skin

The bottom line is, it’s all about taking care of your tattoos. Keeping them out of excessive sun exposure and putting sunblock on the ones that are exposed is always a smart move.

Your comment reminds me of the common response those who aren’t into tattoos say: “Just think how it will look when you’re 80!” Hell, when I’m 80, I wont care about how the tattoos look, because i’ll be more interested in things like keeping myself alive. You know, trivial things like that.

Doobieous you sound very knowledgeable, perhaps you can explain something to me. My daughter-in-law’s tattoo is less than a year old but the parts that were lavendary-purple are disappearing rapidly. Is the ink being absorbed by her body or fading due to other factors? The tat is not exposed to sun.

Some inks fade faster than others. White and light colors are more prone to fading, generally. Lighter colors will have to be touched up more often, in most cases.

Also, older inks were less colorfast, and less likely to be kept from the sun (think, prison tattoos, or even biker tattoos). Sun is death for tattoo ink.

Tatto Ink - Pigment Composition