The great thing about tattoos are their permanence. The not-so-great thing about tattoos? Also their permanence. While tattoos can be a great way to express yourself and be your boldest, most bad-ass self, unfortunately a lot of people get tattoos that they later regret. One study reported that 3/4 people regret at least one of their tattoos, often one that didn't have much planning or preparation behind it. We don't think that the fear of commitment should stop you from getting a tattoo, but just make sure enough planning and research goes into it beforehand. Whether it's testing out the design with our Freehand Ink or Custom Tattoo Platform, playing around with size, placement, and style of your tattoo can help to alleviate some of the potential regret. Once you've fallen in love with a design, diligent research should be done towards finding a tattoo artist. Spoiler alert: don't go to your friend's cousin who's just got a machine and is tattooing out of his garage.
We asked our inkfam on Insta if they had any tattoo regrets to share. Whether it came down to design, the artist, or placement, here's what they had to say.
"I got the tattoo at 16 almost 17. I went with three of my friends to an artist who didn't mind tattooing minors (which should have been enough to deter me, but I really wanted the tattoo. I had done my research so I checked his ink and only got black ink just incase and put it under my left arm across my ribs so I could hide it from my parents (who still don't know and it's been almost three years and i still live with them 😅). The tattoo reads "not until i draw my last breath" in honor of a dear friend of mine who passed away after a long battle with mental illness and cancer. The artist did not have a steady hand and didnt follow his stencil (or whatever you call the blue ink they transfer onto your skin to give you an idea of placement and size and whatnot). The tattoo has an extra letter, the extra "L" on "until" and the ink is shakey and the curve of the tattoo isn't what I wanted. I regret going to an artist I knew nothing about and getting a permanent tattoo. After I graduated high school, I started to look for cover artists and now have to get a second tattoo to cover this one before my parents can see." @akeeeyco
"So I got this tattoo late last year. I don’t know what even kind of aesthetic I thought it would match... but young stupid me thought the most cliche tattoo I could think of could somehow be unique. Unfortunately my mom hated it (big surprise) which defeated the last glimmer of hope I had for it being worth it. I regret it now, because I got it incredibly impulsively. I thought about it for a few hours, then went to make an appointment for it, and he offered to do it right then. So of course I did it. I hate wearing tank tops, being shirtless etc. now that I see how pointless it was." @natethegreat99
"I was sixteen and my buddy got a tattoo machine off Amazon. I had always wanted to get a tattoo and now seemed like the perfect opportunity. I ended up getting my ex’s name tattooed on my bicep. I regret it because now i will forever have her name on my arm. I would love to cover it up, I just have no idea what I would cover it up with." @isaacleft
"So I got this tattoo on April 1, 2012. It’s a saying that my dad has always said reminded him of me. I’ve been through some ups and downs with life throughout high school and early college (I’m now in my last year of graduate school) but he always said I was resilient and never gave up no matter how hard or how disheartening things got. So as my first tattoo I figured I would get the saying that would kind of keep pushing me to always strive for more. I do not regret the words and what they mean to me. Yet being a first time tattoo and not really putting a lot of time into the font that I would have liked, the spacing, the size, and ultimately the location (hence my “give up” picture that my boyfriend gets a kick out of). I wish I had the brain to look at font options more and really think about how I wanted the words placed, but being young and impulsive I just went for it." @jilldemers
"I was 17, you know, the prime age where you're defiant and full of angst. I was hanging around with a few friends in their garage (red flag number 1), and we were talking about my friend's newly-opened tattoo shop in my small hometown. He was really excited and I wanted to share the excitement with him (red flag number 2), on this new milestone in his career! I had seen some of is previous work on a few other friends of mine and thought, "Oh what the heck, why not!" I decided to get a heart on my left hip. That way, it could be hidden from sight if it ended up being terrible (red flag number 3).
So we all huddled in the garage while he started getting everything ready. As my anxiety started peaking and I was thinking of backing out, he started to prep the area where I said I wanted my new ink. A little while later he got to work. Being my first tattoo, I didn't know that it wasn't supposed to hurt that bad. He was digging so hard Into my skin I was almost in tears. He was very heavy handed. I let him finish and teenage-me was so excited to have a new tattoo! It was just a simple outline of a heart. A very crooked, uneven heart. I was still proud of it at the time, but then about 3 years went by and I decided to go get it covered up by a real tattoo artist, not in someone's garage! That ended up being red flag number 4.
The gentleman took advantage of me being very new to the tattoo world and charged $150 bucks for a little bit of swirls and the red ink to fill in my already botched tattoo job. However, he was very light handed and I knew at that point my first tattoo artist was a load of crock! He mentioned that my pervious tattoo had scarred me pretty badly, as it was raised and you could feel the outline of the heart. I obviously thought that was "normal". Well, the cover up ended almost being worse than the original because it just looks messy.
So in total I paid almost $300 for a tattoo that still almost ten years later I regret! I haven't ventured out to get anymore ink due to my previous experiences! I regret it mostly because I was SO young, and didn't do any research on what could have went VERY wrong. HELLO, garage tattoo job.... c'mon! To this day I still keep it covered the best I can, but I can laugh about my mistake. I've decided to not get yet another cover up, because it still is a part of my story.
To anyone thinking about getting PERMANENTLY inked, think long and hard about it. Plan it out, if 6 months later you don't enjoy the thought of what you were considering tattooing on your body, DON'T DO IT. Learn from my mistakes!! There are incredible artists out there, and now inkbox which you can virtually try any tattoo before permanently scarring your body. If only this was around for teenage Kelsey, she wouldn't have to explain the embarrassing story everyone the heart on her hip makes an appearance!" @141kms
"I got it about three years ago I regret it because well we broke up sorry it was half a heart and when we held hands it was a whole one. Cheesy, I know. Anyways I got just got the other half of the heart tattooed on." @ella._.renae_04
"I gave it to myself freshman year of high school. It was supposed to be a tiny paper airplane in flight, but I didn't understand how many times a stick-poke tattoo needed to be gone over. It ended up looking more like a horizontal pine tree! It gave my leg a pretty nasty infection, and all I have left of it is a scar on my leg from where I had the airplane and the lines." @jxlia_nxcole
"I got it when I was around 19 or 20. My friend recommended a shop and I agreed because his tattoos are beautifully done and flawless. I go in for the actual appointment and the artist just acted like it was this huge inconvenience for her and complained the whole time - which I feel reflects in her work. Overall not a good experience with the artist on the day of the tattoo, but I had to go back a month later and get it touched up... which she again complained about. I still enjoy the tattoo and all. I just wished I went to a different artist." @alexandreaisme
"I regret my tattoo because it was spontaneous and not really planned. It was poorly done because we went to a shop that accepts walk-ins and it was a cheap place. I got it back in April of this year. It's a kangaroo and I got it because I got my Australian passport accepted" @toxicbunnyz
"My tattoo is the two words "forever young" on my ribcage. I got it when I was 18 years old, one of my first two tattoos that I got at the same time. I have been looking at ways to cover it of transform it into something else, but my feelings towards it are like a rollercoaster! Sometimes I love it, sometimes I regret it! 🙈❤️ It’s not really special, visually boring. Also, it sounds like a 14 year-old decided on me getting it. I feel like it’s too childish... you realize only kids say that which is kind of irritating now that I’m a bit older." @ariellep01
Are you thinking about your first or next tattoo? Check out our Path To Permanence blog posts and YouTube series to learn everything you need to know before getting your first tattoo. Have a design in mind that you want to test out? Create your own tattoo on our Custom Platform so you can live your life with no regerts. Woops, we mean *regrets.