What is the Best Age to Get a Tattoo?

Chances are if you have ever even thought about getting a tattoo, someone has hammered it into you that you might regret it. You might be wondering what the best age to get a tattoo will be, but the most honest answer is that the timing will be unique to each individual.

The most important factors are that you are following the law, that your tattoo artist is qualified, and that you are responsible and mature enough to choose artwork that you will love for the long-term. Today, we will discuss a few more factors to consider before you get inked for the first time.

What You Need To Know Before You Get Your First Tattoo

While many people get tattoos as an 18th birthday present or as soon as they can afford one, it is crucial to take time to consider your options. In a recent survey conducted by Inkedmind.com, 88% of respondents stated they took time and carefully planned their first tattoo. There are a number of reasons you should put some thought into your tattoos before you commit.

The placement, the coloring, and the sizing are all important choices because they affect what kind, where, and how you can get more tattoos in the future.

If you get a tattoo at an early age, you may consider getting something simple or small, just in case you decide against it later. It is much easier to cover a tattoo than it is to remove it completely. 

How Much It Costs To Remove a Tattoo

Another simple truth is that quality tattoos are expensive. It is in your best interest to know exactly what you want because there are no refunds or returns when it comes to tattoos because they

are nearly permanent. What is equally, if not more, expensive? Getting tattoos covered up or removed.

The best way to avoid having to get a bigger, pricier tattoo on top of your old, unwanted art or having to remove it altogether is to be sure of what you want to begin with.

You should also be confident that your tattoo choice is for you and you alone. Many, many people will have opinions about the ink you put on your body, but at the end of the day, it is you that has to live with it.

You should be at an age where you understand this, and you understand the consequences of letting someone else dictate your body. Part of this onslaught of unsolicited advice will be from people who care about you. 

Will Your New Tattoo Get You Fired?

Luckily for you, it is 2020, and there are many employers that will accept your body modifications as long as you are experienced and qualified for the job. However, not all employers are so forgiving especially in more traditional fields.

Unless you are already solidly set up in your career, getting your first few tattoos where no one at work will see them is a good idea. Save your hand and neck tattoos for later when your fancy job will help you afford tattoo concealer. 

Does Your Tattoo Change Over Time? Will It Change Color or Stretch?

Another reason you may choose to wait to get larger, more complicated tattoos is that the longer you have a tattoo, the more it will change by fading, blurring, and stretching. If you wait until your mid-twenties or even older, you will avoid most of abrupt changes that may happen to your body at the end of puberty and into the beginning of adulthood.

Some people wait until their forties and fifties to commit to their ink, and this choice is perfectly respectable. Their career is set, their bodies are in their prime, and they know their personalities well. There is very little chance of regret, yet still all the time in the world. If you wait a few years, you will have a better idea of what your tattoo will look like, and the quality will last for longer. 

What is the average age to get a tattoo?

Because the age of consent is usually between 16 and 18, in the United States, the average age to get a tattoo is 17 and a half years old. While many people will discourage minors from getting tattoos, they do not often explain why. A minor’s brain is not finished developing, therefore their decision-making can be impulsive. They may regret their body modifications over time, but it is also possible they will not. It is hard to know, and it is better to be safe than sorry. 

While I strongly suggest planning your tattoos, I do think there is merit in being spontaneous sometimes. If you have the maturity, I recommend following your impulses at least once, after your 18th birthday of course.

You need to be sure that you have the right attitude for this choice though. Once you have a tattoo, it will be part of your story forever. Even if you change your mind later or you outgrow this phase of your life, you can still honor the choices that you made and look back in fondness at a fun adventure you had.

The worst thing that can happen by waiting for the right time is the waiting; the worst thing that can happen if you choose the wrong tattoo is having to live with your skin disfigured by a drawing you hate. 

If you are planning to get your first tattoo, check out my article “Everything You Should Know When Getting Your First Tattoo

What happens if a minor has a tattoo? 

Laws vary by location, but often parents can provide informed consent for minors to get a tattoo. However, in some states minors are prohibited from getting tattoos regardless of whether they have parent permission, so double-check the laws in your area. Under certain circumstances, it may be possible that a parent or guardian could sue a tattoo artist, parlor, or another adult if their child were to get a tattoo without their consent.

If a tattoo artist, owner of a parlor, or even a parent knowingly allowed a child to get tattooed, they could be held responsible by the state. The more likely scenario would be damages being brought against a divorced parent with joint custody or another adult acting as the “informed consent” for a minor without the true guardian being involved. 

Can you tattoo a baby? 

Yes, but only in cases of medical necessity. Although it can seem unheard of, there are some cases where it may be beneficial or even required to tattoo a minor younger than 16 including babies. Unfortunately, some medical procedures and conditions require tattoos.

Medical tattoos, radiation therapy, and “cosmetic/reconstruction” tattoos all have their place, and age does not change their necessity to the life and well-being of the child. Did you know that the youngest baby ever on record as tattooed would be a 2-hour-old Paul Bailey in Beaver County, Utah?

Meanwhile, the oldest person to ever receive their first tattoo would be Jack Reynolds of Guinness World Record fame who was 104-years-old at the time. 

What should I know before getting my first tattoo? 

  1. Do not go for the cheap option. You might think that you are getting a sweet deal because your friend’s older brother is willing to “tat you up” in their kitchen at a party, but you will get what you pay for. Using the wrong equipment in an unsterile environment by someone who is not a professional or acting professionally will make you regret your tattoo decision more than anything else you could choose to do. 
  2. Know what to look for in an artist. They should be professional, clean, and safety-minded. If they are not all three, keep looking. Triple-check their credentials, visit their workspace beforehand if you can, and ask them questions about their practice before their needle ever gets to your skin. 
  3. Be ready to take care of your injured body. Self-care is key to a beautiful, long-lasting healthy tattoo.  After you get your tattoo, you will not be able to go swimming for at least a week, you will need to check on it multiple times per day, and you have to stay out of the sun. If you are not responsible enough for the aftercare, you are not responsible enough for your tattoo yet.

While getting a small, fun tattoo when you are eighteen can be a rite of passage, I do suggest waiting until your mid-twenties to allow some time for your identity to blossom and your ideas to flourish before you begin to add more expansive pieces. You must think through your decision.

If necessary, you may discuss it with your legal guardians, or if you are an adult, with trusted friends or family.  I hope this article covered every thing you needed to know about the best age to get your first tattoo. At the end of the day though, no one can decide for you what the best age to get a tattoo for you would be.

If you have gone over all the factors, and you still want your tattoo, then maybe today is the best age for you to get a tattoo.