What is common between Angelina Jolie, David Beckham and Samantha Cameron? All the three have tattoos. But no matter what the design, all tattoos will fade and smudge over the decades, according to a new study.
But no matter what the design, all tattoos will fade and smudge over the decades, according to a new study.
Reason: the permanent ink used to create them migrates under the skin.
Ian Eames at University College London has developed a mathematical model that can be used to predict how a tattoo will change over the years.
More elaborate tattoos become more difficult to recognise after 20 years, according to Eames' model.
The ink from a tattoo is locked into fibroblast cells in the skin, and tends to disperse as these cells divide, or fade as the cells die and are removed from the body.
Eames' model is the first to predict how tattoos should change over long periods - up to 20 years - by modeling the way skin cells shunt the ink particles around.
"Broadly speaking, what my model shows is that the small details in a tattoo are lost first, with thicker lines being less affected. Although finely detailed tattoos might look good when they are first done, they tend to lose their definition after 15 years - depending on how fine the lines are," New Scientist quoted Eames as saying.