You know how tattoos are usually forever. Well, inner lip tattoos or cosmetic tattooing is a bit different. Lip tattoos around for about one to five years on average. It is like a temporary tattoo party on your lips.

The trick to making it last is how much acid is in your mouth and how fast your lips heal. If your mouth is chilly with low acidity, your lip tattoo might stay longer. But if it is all over the place, you tattoo could fade sooner. So, lip tattoos are not forever. They are more like a short-term fling in the tattoo world.

What exactly are lip tattoos?

Lip tattoos are like drawings on the skin inside your mouth. They can be of any design, like tattoos on other parts of your body. But you must keep in mind that the lip area is smaller and more sensitive so this is a good idea to keep in mind.

According to a tattoo artist, simple designs work best because small details might disappear. You can choose any design, even with colors or black ink. It is up to you.

But here is the thing – lip tattoos also known as cosmetic tattooing does not last as long as tattoos on other areas of your body. Usually, they only stick around for one to five years. That is because the cells in the lip area change, and the tattoo ink fades faster.

So, if you are thinking about getting a lip tattoo, remember, it might not last forever. There is no guarantee on how long it will stick around.

Types of lip tattoos

There are two main types of lip tattoos. One is when people get small pictures or short words tattooed on the inside of their lower lip. You can only see these tattoos if the person opens their mouth and pulls down their lower lip.

The other type is getting “lip liner” or “lipstick” tattooed on the outer part of the lips. This is a kind of permanent makeup. Lip liner tattoos can make the lips look fuller, and lipstick tattoos can mean you do not have to put on regular lipstick every morning.

Are Lip Tattoos More Risky Than Other Tattoos?

Getting a lip tattoo inside your lip has some risks, like any other tattoo. These risks can include things like infection, allergies to the ink, swelling, rashes, or scarring.

Lip tattoos located on the inside of your lower lip versus other areas of your body might have a higher chance of getting infected because there are a lot of bacteria in your mouth. There is also a risk of irritation, especially if you eat foods like citrus fruits, vinegar, or tomatoes, or if you smoke or chew tobacco.

It is important to know that lip tattoos, whether inside or outside the mouth, tend to fade faster than other tattoos. Lip tattoos on the inner lip can fade away more because of how the inner lip area heals. For many people, this type of lip tattoo may only last a few years, and sometimes it might completely fade away after a few months.

Lipstick or lip liner tattoos do not disappear like inner tattoos, but the color can fade over time. This happens as new skin cells form on your lips, and older cells shed off.

Are Lip Tattoos Long-Lasting or Temporary?

A lip tattoo inside your lip are not forever; they are more like temporary visitors on your lips. Here is why: 

  1. Fast Healing: The inside of your mouth heals quickly. If you bite it, it is better in a day or so. This speedy healing makes the tattooed skin heal and cover the ink.
  2. Always Wet: Lip tattoos are inside the lip, which is always wet. This constant wetness can make the tattoo slowly fade away.
  3. Acid Trouble: Spit, or saliva, is more acidic than your skin. So, when lip tattoos are always in this acidic place, the colors in the tattoo start to break down.  It’s a good idea to keep this in mind.

Even if the tattoo is on the outer part of the lip, it is not a forever thing. While it might last a bit longer than lip tattoos located on the inside, it still fades over time. So, if anyone says they can give you a “forever” lip tattoo, be careful; it might not be as forever as they say.

How Long Do Lip Tattoos Last on Average?

So, your lip tattoo inside your lip will stick around for about 1 to 5 years. The reason it does not last longer is because the cells in your lip area change super-fast. This quick turnover makes the tattoo ink fade faster.

Because lip tattoos only last 1-5 years, you got to get touch-ups to keep it looking good. If you do not do that, it will keep fading until it is gone.

How to Keep Your Lip Tattoo Looking Good

Making sure your lip tattoo stays colorful and awesome for a long time is important. Here are some simple things to do: 

  1. Keep it Dry:
  • Put a folded paper towel inside your lip for the first few days until it is all healed. This helps your tattoo stay dry.
  • Before bedtime, do it again and use paper towels on your cheeks to soak up saliva overnight. It might feel a bit odd, but it is only for a couple of nights.
  • Use a straw to drink until your lip heals.
  1. Watch What You Eat:
  • Don’t eat spicy foods.
  • Foods that are too hot.
  • Crunchy or fried foods.
  • While your lip is healing, avoid certain foods:

These can be a bit tough to eat in the first few days and might mess with the healing. If the healing takes longer, the tattoo might not look as good. So, be patient for a bit, and soon you can enjoy all your favorite foods again.

Fixing Lip Tattoos

Even if you are super careful, lip tattoos need a touch-up sometimes. A touch-up is when the artist goes over your tattoo to make it look fresh again. The first touch-up is usually free, but later ones might cost you. Keep in mind, touch-ups mean reopening the wound, so take care each time. Ask your artist about touch-ups before you start.

Do Lip Tattoos Hurt?

Yep, tattoos hurt a bit, and lip tattoos can be a bit more uncomfortable. Lips have lots of nerves, making them sensitive.

Since lip tattoos are usually simple and quick, the pain is shorter. After the tattoo, there might be some discomfort, but it is not as much as during the tattoo. Pain varies from person to person – some feel a lot, others not so much. You will be somewhere in between.

Tip: Do not brush your teeth or drink right before the session. It hurts more if you do.

Being Safe with Lip Tattoos

Like any tattoo, lip tattoos can have risks like infections or allergic reactions. Inner lip tattoos, especially, are at risk because of the mouth’s bacteria. But most often, it is not taking loving care of the tattoo that causes trouble.

Here is how to be safe:

1. Find a Good Artist:

  • Make sure your artist is skilled and follows safety rules. Ask if they clean their needles and tools.
  • An experienced artist who has done lip tattoos before is a viable choice.

2. Use Mouth Rinse:

  • After eating, drinking, or smoking, use a special mouthwash. You can use a common brand like Listerine. Do not use soap while it is healing.  Remember no spicy foods.
  • Use a little toothpaste and be careful when brushing your teeth.

3. No Kissing:

  • Sadly, no kissing for about a week after your lip tattoo. It might be a downer, but it stops bacteria from getting on your tattoo.
  • Using too much mouthwash can make the tissue swell, so be careful.

Doing these things helps keep your lip tattoo looking good and lowers the chance of any problems.

How Much Do Lip Tattoos Cost?

The first lip tattoo usually costs between $50 and $100. It depends on how detailed and skilled the artist is. The first touch-up is often free, and after that, touch-ups are usually less than $50.

Side Effects of Lip Tattoos

Getting a lip tattoo comes with some issues because the healing process can be tricky. It is crucial to follow the healing steps and watch out for any problems.

“The biggest risk for lip tattoos is infection, the mouth has lots of bacteria and keeping it clean can be a challenge.”

While your tattoo is healing, keep an eye out for any changes. Some swelling and redness right after getting the tattoo are normal, but if it lasts too long, it might be a problem.

“Infections make the skin painful, swollen, give you a fever, and get worse over time,”

Scaring is another issue, and it can happen if you do not follow the right aftercare. This can make your tattoo look weird, and your lip might have a permanent scar that is not as cool as your new tattoo.


In conclusion, lip tattoos are cool because they are hidden and fade away after a few years. But they are also one of the more painful tattoos, and if you do not take care of them, they can get infected.

To make sure your lip tattoo turns out awesome, find a pro artist. Lip tattoos need someone skilled because they are tricky. If you are thinking about getting one, it can be a great piece of ink. The pain will be worth it, taking care of it is not hard, and finding a good artist is a simple search away.


Do lip tattoos hurt more than other tattoos?

Yes, lip tattoos can be a bit more painful because lips have lots of nerves. But the pain varies from person to person, and some find it more bearable.

How long does it take for a lip tattoo to heal?

The healing time for a lip tattoo can vary, but it takes about 1 to 2 weeks. During this period, it is crucial to follow proper aftercare to ensure a smooth healing process.

Can I eat and drink after getting a lip tattoo?

Right after getting a lip tattoo, it is advisable to avoid hot, acidic, and spicy foods. Using a straw for drinks can be helpful, and you should be cautious about what you eat until the tattoo is fully healed.

Are lip tattoos permanent or temporary?

Lip tattoos are not permanent; they last between 1 to 5 years. The quick regeneration of cells in the lip area causes the ink to fade over time.

Can I remove a lip tattoo if I change my mind?

Lip tattoos fade over time, but if you want to speed up the process, there are laser tattoo removal options. Keep in mind that complete removal may not be possible, and the process can be costly and must have many sessions.


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