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What is the best age to get tattoo?

Getting a tattoo is a big decision that requires careful thought and consideration. While there is no definitive “best age” to get inked, there are several factors to weigh when determining if you are ready for the commitment of a lifetime mark on your body.

What is the legal tattoo age?

In most states in the U.S., you must be at least 18 years old to get a tattoo without parental consent. Some states allow 16 or 17 year olds to get a tattoo with parental permission. The age of consent for tattoos varies by country and region, but 18 is the most common legal age.

Does getting a tattoo as a teenager increase regret?

Getting a tattoo at a young age does increase the chances of regret down the road. According to research, nearly 50% of people regret their tattoos. But that number jumps to 78% for people who got their first tattoo before the age of 16. Tattoos done in the teen years are more likely to be trendy designs or have a connection to a relationship that may not last. The teenage brain is still developing impulse control and critical thinking skills as well, which can contribute to making a hasty choice.

What factors should I consider if I get a tattoo as a teenager?

While not recommended, some teenagers are set on getting a tattoo before they turn 18. In those cases, there are several factors to think through first:

  • Get approval from your parents – Discuss your desire for a tattoo with your parents and ask them to sign the consent form at the tattoo parlor if you are under 18.
  • Start with something small – Large or highly visible tattoos are harder to cover up or remove later. Opt for a smaller tattoo in an area that can be concealed.
  • Avoid names or trends – Tattooing a girlfriend or boyfriend’s name or getting a fad design you may not appreciate later are bad ideas for teens.
  • Consider the meaning – Make sure your tattoo has a deep meaning to you and symbolizes something important.
  • Find a reputable artist – Do thorough research and choose an experienced tattoo artist who specializes in smaller or teen tattoos.
  • Give it time – Sit on the tattoo idea for at least 6 months before getting it done to make sure it’s the right choice.

What are the pros of getting a tattoo in your 20s?

Waiting until your 20s to get a tattoo has several advantages:

  • More maturity – In your 20s, you will have better judgment and be less likely to make an impulse decision.
  • Better idea of your tastes – Your sense of style and interests will develop more in your 20s.
  • More life experience – With more life experience comes more meaningful designs and symbols to pick from.
  • Financial resources – Having an income makes it easier to budget for a quality tattoo and artist.
  • Professional impact – Visible tattoos may not go over as well in some careers, so waiting gives more time to establish yourself.

According to a poll, the majority of people believe the 20-29 age range is the best time to get your first tattoo. Getting a tattoo in your 20s allows more time for careful thought while still being young enough to heal quickly from the tattooing process.

What are the cons of getting a tattoo in your 20s?

However, getting a tattoo in your 20s can have some drawbacks as well:

  • Changing interests – You may still change a lot in your 20s making your tastes hard to pin down.
  • Relationship instability – Your relationships and marital status may be unpredictable in your 20s.
  • Weight fluctuations – Your weight can fluctuate more in your 20s impacting how a tattoo ages.
  • Limited budget – You may have an income, but also student loans and other expenses to budget.
  • Job changes – Frequent job changes in your 20s may expose you to different workplace tattoo policies.

What are the pros of waiting until your 30s or 40s for a tattoo?

There are some solid advantages to waiting until your 30s or 40s for your first tattoo:

  • Greater self-awareness – You’ll know more about your personality style and tastes in your mature years.
  • More life milestones – 30s and 40s open more meaningful events and people to memorialize.
  • Stable relationships – Marital status and other relationships are often more stable later in life.
  • Career establishment – Your professional career will be established making tattoo policies better known.
  • Financial stability – More financial stability makes it easier to invest in a well-done professional tattoo.
  • Parenthood – Becoming a parent can influence tattoo choices with kid’s names or dates.

According to research, the 40-49 age range contains some of the highest tattoo satisfaction levels of any group. Getting a tattoo when you’re more settled in life can lead to fewer regrets.

What are the cons of waiting for a tattoo until your 30s or 40s?

However, there are a few disadvantages to putting off getting a tattoo until your later years:

  • Health risks – Risks increase for people over 40 for issues like infection or slow healing from tattoos.
  • Weight and skin changes – Weight gain, skin elasticity changes, and wrinkles can impact how the tattoo ages.
  • Eyesight changes – Failing eyesight can make it hard to do intricate tattoo designs.
  • Trend fatigue – You may get tired of trends and want a more classic or conservative tattoo.
  • Lifestyle constraints – Careers, kids’ activities, medical issues can eat into free time for tattoo care.

How does age and gender factor into tattoo regret?

Age and gender both play into likelihood of tattoo regret. According to research:

  • Women are slightly more likely to regret their tattoos than men.
  • People under 20 have a very high rate of tattoo regret.
  • Men over 40 and women over 50 have some of the lowest tattoo regret rates.

This table summarizes tattoo regret statistics by age group and gender:

Age Group Men Regret Rate Women Regret Rate
Under 20 72% 83%
20-29 35% 55%
30-39 20% 31%
Over 40 12% 25%

Which body parts have the highest and lowest regret rates?

Tattoo placement also impacts rates of regret. Here are the body parts with the highest and lowest regret rates according to surveys:

Highest Tattoo Regret Rates by Body Part

  • Lower back – 24% regret rate
  • Fingers – 20% regret rate
  • Ankles – 19% regret rate
  • Wrists – 18% regret rate
  • Neck – 13% regret rate

Lowest Tattoo Regret Rates by Body Part

  • Ribs – 6% regret rate
  • Shoulders – 5% regret rate
  • Back – 4% regret rate
  • Chest – 3% regret rate
  • Lower arms – 3% regret rate

Does getting a tattoo before having children increase regret likelihood?

Having children before getting a tattoo does seem to lower regret rates. According to polls:

  • 28% of people without children regretted their tattoos
  • 20% of people with children regretted their tattoos

Having kids first lowers regret likelihood. Possible reasons for this include:

  • Maturity and self-awareness that comes with parenthood
  • Less impulsive decision making
  • Ability to commemorate kids with tattoos of their names or dates
  • Changing priorities and interests after having children

Should you tell your tattoo artist it’s your first tattoo?

It’s generally wise to tell your tattoo artist it’s your first tattoo. Here’s why:

  • The artist can walk you through the process since it’s new to you.
  • They can recommend smaller tattoos to start.
  • They can suggest body part locations that are easier for first timers.
  • The artist can adjust to go slower and explain aftercare clearly.
  • Knowing it’s your first tattoo clues the artist in to your nerves and lack of experience.

Tattoo artists want you to have the best experience possible so you’ll come back. Be transparent that you’re new to getting inked so they can provide the best service.

What’s the process for a first tattoo consultation?

A tattoo consultation before getting your first tattoo usually involves these key steps:

  1. Discussion of your design ideas and desired style.
  2. Exploring placement location options and size of the tattoo.
  3. Looking through the artist’s portfolio and samples of relevant work.
  4. Talking through safety procedures and sterilization methods.
  5. Review of pricing based on size, design complexity, color vs. black and grey.
  6. Scheduling a follow up appointment for the tattoo itself.

Consultations are often free or low cost. Be sure to come prepared with clear ideas of what you want so the artist can guide you fully.

How can I mentally prepare for my first tattoo?

Some tips to mentally get ready for your first tattoo include:

  • Remember why you’re getting it – The meaning behind your design can help you power through the jitters.
  • Know what to expect – Do research so you’re prepared and feel less anxious about the process.
  • Hydrate and eat – Staying hydrated and having a proper meal beforehand prevents feeling lightheaded.
  • Have a support person – Bring a trusted friend or loved one with a calming presence.
  • Talk to your artist – Share any major fears or concerns so they can take extra care.
  • Breathe deep – Practice breathing exercises to stay relaxed and present.

While exhilarating, prepare for getting your first tattoo like any new intense experience. Take every step to equip yourself mentally.

What’s the pain level of a first tattoo? How do I handle the pain?

There is no getting around it – getting a tattoo hurts! But the pain level depends on these factors:

  • Body part – Areas with more muscle and fat hurt less than bony regions.
  • Size – Larger, more intricate tattoos are more painful.
  • Level of detail – Solid blocks of color are less painful than detailed designs.
  • Length of session – The pain compounds over hours of work.
  • Skill of artist – A heavy-handed artist will cause more discomfort.
  • Your pain tolerance – Everyone has a different threshold for pain.

For handling the pain:

  • Numbing cream – Apply a topical anesthetic 30-60 minutes beforehand.
  • Painkillers – Take over-the-counter analgesics before your appointment.
  • Stay hydrated – Drink lots of water before and during the tattoo.
  • Eat – Have a filling meal with protein and carbs for energy.
  • Breathe – Use deep breathing to release endorphins.
  • Distract yourself – Listen to music, meditate, or talk to your artist.
  • Relax muscles – Consciously relax the muscles around the area being tattooed.

What’s the tattoo aftercare for the first 24-48 hours?

Caring for your new tattoo properly is crucial. Follow these tips for the first 24-48 hours of healing:

  • Leave bandage on – Keep the bandage or plastic wrap on your tattoo for the minimum suggested time.
  • Wash gently – Once unwrapped, gently wash the tattoo with mild antibacterial soap and water.
  • Pat dry – Pat the tattoo dry with a clean towel; don’t rub it.
  • Apply ointment – Apply a thin layer of the recommended ointment or lotion.
  • Don’t re-bandage – Let the tattoo breathe; don’t cover it again.
  • Wear loose clothes – Avoid tight clothing over the tattoo.
  • Elevate – Keep the tattooed area elevated, especially swollen areas like feet/ankles.
  • Limit activities – Avoid strenuous activities that cause sweating.

Listen closely to all your artist’s aftercare instructions and follow them to the letter during the initial healing phase.


While there are no hard rules on the perfect age to get your first tattoo, the late 20s to late 30s tend to be a time of stability, self-awareness, and resources to get great ink you’ll appreciate forever. That said, with careful thought regarding the design, reasons, and artist – any mature, responsible adult can have an amazing first tattoo experience at many different ages. Ultimately it comes down to making sure you’re fully ready for a permanent stamp on your body.