New Study Reveals Statistics Surrounding Tattoo Regret and How to Avoid It


Everyone has tattoos now (kind of). Maybe not everyone, but at least one-third of Americans do – and that number just keeps growing. But tattoos are not only skin-deep: they resonate with deeper aspects of self-expression and acceptance. If you ask a heavily inked person, chances are likely they regret at least one of their tattoos. So how common is it for the average person to regret their tattoos? What is the most common regret?

A new study conducted by Advanced Dermatology delves into the statistics surrounding tattoo regret and how to avoid it.

The brutal truth: tattoos are not always a lifelong love. The study reveals that approximately one in four individuals experience regret over at least one of their tattoos. Popular tattoo designs that often lead to regret include tribal, names, hearts, and roses.

When it comes to factors influencing tattoo decisions, the study finds self-expression, aesthetics, empowerment, emotional healing, and remembrance were among the top motivations. 1 in 10 people have a tattoo based off pop culture, and the same amount of people have gotten a tattoo for their significant other and then broken up. 1 in 5 people have gotten a tattoo under the influence.

Location is key! Forearms are the most regretted areas for tattoos, followed by the biceps, chest, shoulders, thighs, and ankles. The timing of regret varies; over half of the respondents realized their regret two years or more after getting the tattoo, while others felt it within days or months. Tattoo size also matters, with smaller tattoos significantly more likely to be regretted than larger pieces like full sleeves. 63% of people with a tattoo smaller than the palm of their hand regret it, while only 2% of people with full sleeves or longer regret their tattoo. Perhaps that’s because people with full sleeves spent more time thinking about it and researching their artist.

This study underscores the importance of careful consideration before getting a tattoo. Spontaneous tattoo decisions often lead to regret, with 25% of such cases regretting their choice shortly after. The emotional state before getting a tattoo is a significant factor in future regret, with impulsive decisions, search for significance, and the desire to appear cool being the leading causes.

Tattoo care is crucial for maintaining their appearance, yet 23% of tattooed Americans doubt their tattoos will age well, and 42% neglect to put sunscreen on their tattoos (COME ON GUYS. SUNSCREEN!!) Interestingly, 28% believe tattoos enhance attractiveness, but 36% admit to lying about liking someone’s tattoo.

Despite these regrets, tattoos remain popular. According to Advanced Dermatology, 73% of Americans view tattoos favorably, and 39% sport their own ink. Social acceptance of tattoos is increasing, with 98% perceiving greater acceptance now than in the past. Among Americans without tattoos, 27% plan to get one, partly due to the availability of tattoo removal technology.

Courtesy of Advanced Dermatology
Courtesy of Advanced Dermatology
Courtesy of Advanced Dermatology

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