Cape Argus

Your perky rose tattoo will wilt as you age

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LONDON: Tattoo artists are increasing­ly leaving their mark on Western culture, but a study released today reveals for the first time how their designs will deteriorat­e as their human canvases age.

Tattooed celebrity trailblaze­rs as diverse as David Beckham, Angelina Jolie and British “first lady” Samantha Cameron have helped bring body art into mainstream culture, but will they be regretting their choice as the years pass?

Ian Eames, a researcher in fluid mechanics at University College London, has created a mathematic­al model which can predict the movement of tattoo ink particles over time, giving an idea of which designs age better.

“Tattoos are incredibly popular worldwide with more than a third of 18 to 25-year-olds in the US sporting at least one design,” said Eames.

The paper, which is published in the Mathematic­s Today journal, will enable those considerin­g getting a tattoo to accurately predict how their design will look in 20 years’ time.

Tattoo inks are a suspension of water-insoluble particles, such as mercury, lead, cadmium and iron, which are injected under the skin using a needle.

Over time, these inks become dispersed as the cells which contain them die, divide or leave the body.

“Skin type, age, size, exposure to the sunlight and the type of ink which is used influence how a tattoo disperses with time,” explained Eames.

“Broadly speaking… 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,” he said. – Sapa-AFP

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