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Social media could be a factor in increased tattoo regret among Gen Z

Jul 9, 2024, 4:00 PM

An artists gives a woman an arm tattoo...

KYIV, UKRAINE - JUNE 11: A tattoo artist makes a tattoo on the arm of a young woman on June 11, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Every Saturday a group of tattoo artists make charity events where they do tattoos, and the clients make donations to the Ukrainian army. The region around Ukraine's capital continues to recover from Russia's aborted assault on Kyiv, which turned many communities into battlefields. (Photo by Alexey Furman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alexey Furman/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of Gen Z are reporting tattoo regret. One artist told USA Today that social media and fast-moving trend cycles could be contributing.

According to the Pew Research Center, 32% of Americans have at least one tattoo. Of that group, 22% have more than one. 

Twenty-four percent of the respondents said they regret at least one of their tattoos. 

What causes tattoo regret? A tattoo artist weighs in

Gabs Miceli, a Brooklyn, New York-based tattoo artist, told USA Today that the two categories are “immediate regret” and regret that comes down the road. 

Miceli told USA Today that people are getting more “impulse tattoos.” Patchwork tattoos, or collections of mismatched tattoos, have become popular among influencers over the past five years.

Getting tattoos based on current trends could lead to more tattoo regret as styles change. Especially if they are not well thought out. 

Miceli also told USA Today that social media may be making tattoo regret appear more prevalent. The internet allows people to share their thoughts and experiences more widely, possibly leading to an illusion that regret is more widespread than it actually is. 

Additionally, USA Today reported that perception and stigma can change people’s views or cause tattoo regret. While society is generally more accepting of tattoos nowadays, some industries are less accepting of them in the workplace. 

Some reasons for avoiding tattoos

While tattoos are a personal decision, Dave & Dujanovic host Dave Noriega and guest host Adam Gardner shared their reasons for passing them up. 

“I have no issues with tattoos. But I mean, it’s not for me,” said Gardner. 

He said that he did not want to regret the decision later on. 

“[Reason] two, I could never figure out what to get,” said Gardner. 

According to Noriega, he wouldn’t be able to commit to a design. “I would have to love it … I would genuinely want some artwork that I could look at and admire.”

Secondly, he said he does not know if they would age well. Human bodies naturally change during our lives. 

Ink Nurse said that tattoos age with the body they are on. They can fade and stretch as the skin ages and pigment breaks down. 

Can you avoid tattoo regret? 

While some cases of tattoo regret are unavoidable, planning and preparation can help others feel confident in their decision. 

Sleight of Hand Tattoo, a shop in Vancouver, British Columbia, shared some tips for avoiding tattoo regret. 

Firstly, choose a style and subject that is right for you. It is recommended to choose something that is meaningful to you. Avoid styles that are trendy unless they truly resonate with you. 

Mystic Owl Tattoo, another shop in Marietta, Georgia also recommended researching artists. The shop’s website said that before you settle on one, become familiar with different artists, their portfolios, and their styles. 

Pay attention to their reviews and the reputation of the shop they work in. Reputable tattoo artists and shops will always have a clean workspace, wear gloves, and use clean, disposable needles. 

Sleight of Hand Tattoo’s website said to choose a placement that will age well and won’t complicate life. Certain tattoo placements will age better than others. When consulting with an artist, tap into their expertise. Highly trained and skilled artists will be able to weigh in on your desired placement and suggest alternate locations. 

Finally, take care of the tattoo during and after the healing process. Mystic Owl Tattoo’s website recommended following the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist. 

Additionally, it is recommended to keep the tattoo moisturized and protected from sun exposure. Sun burns can increase the aging rate of a tattoo. 

Related: Free tattoo removal for former gang members

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Social media could be a factor in increased tattoo regret among Gen Z