Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Get a Tattoo

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 5, 2020
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

There are plenty of reasons for getting inked – self-expression, marking an achievement, honoring a loved one, etc. But there are also several reasons not to get a tattoo.

Whether the body art you’ve been thinking about getting could make finding employment difficult, or you simply don’t know the artist very well, there are a few sensible rationales for holding off on that new tattoo – at least until you’ve thought it through more meticulously.

Curious? Read on.


You Need a New Job

As outdated and bigoted as the reality may be, prospective employers are less likely to hire you if you have a visible tattoo. This is especially true if your job requires face-to-face interactions with customers. Restaurants prefer to hire servers without visible tattoos, and customer service and retail managers fear hiring employees with visible tattoos will negatively impact sales. 

Despite the fact that 40 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo, the lingering negative bias associating tattoos with risky behaviors and a poor educational background can seriously hurt your chances on the job market. 

Even if you’re currently employed, nothing in life is certain. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid getting a tattoo altogether, but you may want to keep job hunting in mind when you choose the placement of your tattoo.  

You Care What Other People Think

Basing your decisions on what others think of you is a surefire way to lead an unsatisfied life. That being said, if you’re sensitive to criticism and worry that others will perceive you in a negative light, you may want to rethink your decision to get a tattoo. 

If you have visible tattoos, someone will pass judgment on you at some point in time. In a study conducted by Emerald Insights, researchers found that some study participants viewed tattooed employees as more unprofessional than non-tattooed individuals. 

Even more dishearteningly, some participants even claimed tattooed people appeared less intelligent and dishonest compared to those without tattoos. While studies have shown there’s no correlation between tattoos and intelligence, some people believe otherwise. 

Research also shows that tattooed women are perceived in a more negative light than tattooed men. If you’re concerned about being judged for your tattoos, it might be best to avoid getting one in the first place.

It’s a Spur-of-the-Moment Decision

We’ve all been there. You’re hanging out with friends, someone mentions getting a tattoo, and the next thing you know, you’re all packed into the nearest tattoo shop picking out flash. (Flash tattoos are the completed designs you see displayed on the walls of a tattoo studio. Sometimes they’re kept in binders, too.) 

As exciting as it seems in the moment, getting a tattoo without putting any thought into it isn’t the best idea. While not everyone suffers from tattoo regret, 75 percent of tattooed individuals polled said they regretted at least one of their tattoos. 

One good way you can avoid regretting a tattoo is putting a lot of thought into the design and making sure it’s personally meaningful to you. If you choose a design that has personal significance instead of jumping on the tattoo bandwagon with your friends, you’ll be less likely to second guess your decision to get inked later on. 

On the other hand, the only foolproof way to avoid tattoo remorse is to skip getting a tattoo at all.

You’re Feeling Sick

If you feel at all run down, even if you’re only a little stuffy, you should hold off on getting a tattoo. Because your skin is punctured multiple times with needles during a tattoo, you should treat getting one the same way you would treat a minor surgical procedure. 

Just like your doctor recommends waiting until you recover before minor surgery, your tattoo artist would rather wait until you’re well, too. Not only will waiting until you’ve recovered reduce the risk of infection and slow healing, but you’ll also spare your artist and fellow tattoo shop patrons from nasty germs. 

You Want to Have Kids

Your body changes during pregnancy, so if you’re planning on becoming pregnant in the future, you may want to reconsider getting a tattoo. At the very least, you’ll want to think long and hard about tattoo placement. A tattoo on your stomach that looks crisp and clean when it’s fresh may look very different during and after pregnancy.

Rapid weight gain causes the skin to stretch, which can alter your tattoo. Additionally, weight gain often leaves behind stretch marks that can potentially distort the lines of your tattoo. If you’re committed to getting tattooed but plan on having kids someday, consider locations that won’t undergo as many physical changes, such as the back or shoulders. 

You Don’t Know the Artist

A tattoo is only as good as the artist who does it, so you want to make sure you’re working with a skilled tattooer. Take some time to get to know your artist before you make a commitment. Book a consultation and ask to see a portfolio instead of walking in and getting a flash tattoo. Once you know your artist’s skill level and style, then you can select a design. 

A truly skilled tattoo artist will help you select the right placement to suit the body’s lines and shape, so finding an artist you trust is essential to getting the best tattoo possible. 

In addition to skill, you’ll also want to make sure your artist abides by proper health and safety standards. Make sure their station is clean, your artist wears gloves and uses fresh needles and individual cups for ink. If you feel at all unsafe, you should hold off on that tattoo. 

You Don’t Know What It Means

Ariana Grande recently fell victim to one of the most common tattoo mishaps: the failed translation. While celebrating the success of her single, “7 Rings,” she sought to have the title tattooed on her finger in Japanese Kanji. 

In Chinese, the tattoo translated to “7 wheels,” which is at least somewhat close. Unfortunately for Grande, the characters translated to “small charcoal grill” in Kanji. Yikes! 

If you want a tattoo in another language, double and triple-check your sources before you get it permanently inked on your body. Unless you’re fluent, the best way to ensure your design actually says what you want it to say is checking the translation’s accuracy with a native speaker.  

You’ve Had Skin Cancer

According to Dr. Cormac Joyce, a plastic surgeon in Galway, Ireland, it’s possible for a tattoo artist to spread malignant cells from existing melanoma during the tattooing process. While incidents of “skin seeding” are incredibly rare, tattooing injects metallic salts and organic dyes into the skin, so you may want to skip getting a tattoo if you’ve had melanoma in the past.

It’s also important to note that Dr. Joyce does not believe tattoos cause skin cancer. What he’s witnessed is a rare incident in which pre-existing cancer cells were introduced to other areas of the skin during the tattoo process. He also says tattoos may put those with a prior diagnosis or a family history of skin cancer at risk, but he generally believes it’s safe. 

You’re Superstitious

Many tattoo artists believe getting a tattoo of your significant other’s name is a death knell for your relationship. Even if everything is going great at the time, tattoo artist Tyson Weed of Sentient Tattoo Collective says, “It’s like a hex on the relationship… I almost always see that person again for a cover-up.”

You may want to avoid getting someone’s name inked permanently on your body if you’re at all superstitious. Of course, if it’s the name of a deceased loved one, the superstition no longer applies. Memorial tattoos are a beautiful way to keep loved ones close to your heart. 

If you’re determined to get a tattoo representing a current relationship, consider a design that doesn’t involve your significant other’s name. An astrological symbol, the flower representing their birth month, or a quote from their favorite song are all great alternatives that don’t carry the same potential for bad luck. 

You Have Sensitive Ears

Wait, what? It may sound silly, but it’s true. If your ears are extremely sensitive to most earrings, getting a tattoo may not be a good idea. Colored tattoo inks contain nickel, the metal responsible for most allergic reactions to earrings. The presence of nickel in your tattoo ink can lead to inflammation, itching, swelling, and even chronic skin conditions. 

If you’re still determined to get a tattoo, stick to black and gray designs instead of color. Because black ink is commonly made from carbon, it’s much less likely to cause an allergic reaction.  

Wrapping Up

While there are plenty of good reasons to get a tattoo, there are several reasons why you shouldn’t get one. Some of them are only temporary, like having a cold when you planned on getting inked, while others may prevent you from getting one altogether. 

To avoid tattoo remorse, make sure you’re getting a design you truly love. Think long and hard about placement if you’re job hunting, and if you’re extremely sensitive to the opinions of others, consider holding off on a tattoo. Lingering misconceptions are still fairly common, but there’s good news, too.

Opinions are changing. Most college students are aware that getting a visible tattoo could potentially impact their chances of employment, but nearly half are considering it anyway. As tattoos become more accepted by the mainstream, outdated beliefs become less prevalent. 

Still want a tattoo? Take time to find an artist you trust, put some thought into your design and placement, and don’t get tattooed while you’re sick.