Tattoos In Workplace?

wearing it on their face a la Mike Tyson. But even if it’s that cute little leprechaun on their ankle, our latest survey results show visible tattoos in the workplace could have a negative effect on your employees’ pot of gold.

A recent study from the Pew Research Center found nearly 40% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo, and body piercings are also a growing means of self-expression among people in this age group. In a perfect world, we would all be judged solely on the merit of our work. But if the 2,675 people we surveyed are any indication, there is a lot more going on when it comes to performance evaluations, raises, promotions, and making character assumptions about professionals based on their appearance.

Are Visible Tattoos in the Workplace Inappropriate?

Who has tattoos in the workplace, what do people find objectionable about them, and do tattoos really affect job opportunities? The results might surprise you.

Of the 2,675 people we surveyed, 12% reported having a visible tattoo that can be seen by managers and co-workers during the workday. Only 3% reported having a visible body piercing (other than an earring).

The biggest takeaways from our survey include a whopping 76% of respondents feel tattoos and piercings negatively affect an applicant’s chances of being hired during a job interview. And more than one-third – 39% of those surveyed – believe employees with tattoos and piercings reflect poorly on their employers. Furthermore, 42% feel visible tattoos are always inappropriate at work, with 55% reporting the same thing about body piercings.

Fortunately, only 4% of those with tattoos and piercings report having faced actual discrimination because of their ink and body art.

Overall, 42% of those surveyed feel any and all visible tattoos are inappropriate at work. That number climbs to 55% for body piercings.

By Age

As you might guess, age plays a huge role in how tattoos and piercings are perceived at work.

The younger generation was most likely to have tattoos, as people age 26-32 edged out the 18-25 demographic by a 22% to 21% margin. That number drops steadily with age, bottoming out at less than 1% for people age 60 and older. For body piercings, the 18-25 age group topped the charts at 11%, compared to a combined 3% of people older than 40. Although respondents in each age group seemed to recognize tattoos and piercings hurt an applicant’s job search chances, there was a very clear difference of opinion regarding the appropriateness of tattoos in the workplace.

In a nutshell, the older you are the less tolerant you become regarding tattoos. Not surprisingly, people 18-25 were the most accepting of tattoos in the office with only 22% claiming they are inappropriate. That percentage jumps in each age group, maxing out at 63% of people age 60 and older finding tattoos objectionable at work.

By Education

Basically, the more educated you are the less likely you are to have or condone tattoos or piercings.

20% of people with tattoos are high school graduates. That number drops slightly to 19% for those with associates degrees but falls to 10% for recipients of bachelor’s degrees. People with advanced degrees are even less likely to have tattoos, as 8% of those with master’s and just 3% of PhD recipients have ink.

Those with high school diplomas were also the least likely to find tattoos inappropriate at 38%, compared to 55% of respondents with a PhD. However, when it comes to body piercings, there was no significant statistical difference between education levels as an average of 56% found them objectionable.

For Women

According to our survey, you’re more likely to have tattoos and piercings if you’re a woman who is single or divorced.

The number of women with tattoos more than doubled men by a 15% to 7% margin. Also, 5% of women have body piercings compared to a mere 1% of men. Interestingly, single and divorced people were far more likely to have ink and piercings as only 9% of married people have tattoos, compared to 16% of respondents who are married and divorced.

By Geography

The Mountain region (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico) has the most people with tattoos at 16%. The area of the US least likely to have people with tattoos is the West South Central (Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana) with 8%.

As for which parts of the country think tattoos are inappropriate, here’s the breakdown:

  • Mountain (ID, MT, WY, NV, UT, CO, AZ, NM): 35%
  • West North Central (MO, ND, SD, NE, KS, MN, IA): 36%
  • Pacific (AK, WA, OR, CA, HI): 36%
  • New England (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT): 36%
  • Outside the US: 38%
  • Mid-Atlantic (NY, PA, NJ): 38%
  • East South Central (KY, TN, MS, AL): 41%
  • East North Central (WI, MI, IL, IN, OH): 46%
  • South Atlantic (DE, MD, VA, WV, NC, SC, GA, FL): 48%
  • West South Central (OK, TX, AR, LA): 55%

By Industry

Wondering which industry is most likely to include tattooed workers? That would be the people working in agriculture and ranching. 22% of respondents who said they work in agriculture and ranching reported having tattoos. But in an ironic twist, 67% of those workers found tattoos inappropriate in the workplace — by far the highest percentage of any industry surveyed.
Workers in the hospitality, tourism, and recreation industry were second with 20% of workers tattooed, followed by 16% of people in the arts, media and entertainment industry. Government workers are least likely to be tattooed with only 8% of respondents stating they’re inked. Here’s the full breakdown of tattooed workers by industry:
  • Agriculture/ranching: 22%
  • Hospitality, Tourism & Recreation: 20%
  • Arts, Media, Entertainment: 16%
  • Retail: 14%
  • Finance & Banking: 13%
  • Healthcare: 13%
  • Professional Services: 13%
  • Other: 13%
  • Education, Child Development, Family Services: 12%
  • Manufacturing: 9%
  • Energy & Utilities: 9%
  • Engineering, Design & Construction: 9%
  • Information Technology: 9%
  • Government: 8%

Company Culture

Most people interviewing for new jobs worry about base pay, bonus potential, and benefits. But nearly one-quarter of survey respondents said they take a company’s stance about things like tattoos and piercings into account when making their decision.

23% of all those surveyed said they specifically examine a company’s permissiveness regarding tattoos and piercings when deciding whether or not to accept the job offer. Workers age 60 and older are the age group most influenced by corporate attitudes towards body art, with 31% reporting they are affected by company policy regarding tattoos.

Know your company’s attitudes about tattoos in the workplace and implement the strategy accordingly when hiring. While you should never discriminate based on looks alone, make sure the employee you’re interviewing will be a good cultural fit.

Safety Precautions To Take Before And After Getting Inked

Getting inked is a lot of fun and a great way to celebrate a special moment, person, or just life. You wake up every morning, and it is there to remind you of the person that you were once and how it made you feel. But, here’s something you should know – it is permanent, and the tattoo processwill hurt.

Here’s the lowdown on what to do before and after getting a tattoo.

Before The Tattoo

Knowing what you need to do before you get inked is crucial. You should be clear about what you want and why. If it’s your first time, it’s even more important for you to be aware of the dos and don’ts. Here are some tips on what to do before getting a tattoo:

  • Consult Your Dermatologist: If you have sensitive skin or are prone to skin allergies, it is best to consult your dermatologist before you go for a tattoo. You never know how the chemicals and ink react with your skin. Even if you don’t have a history of allergies, it is best to be cautious.
  • Be Sure Of The Design: This is something that you are going to have to live with for the rest of your life, so you need to be sure of what you want. It could be a design you have wanted to get for a long time or something you decided on an impulse. If it’s the latter, sit with a tattoo artist and tell them what you have in mind. Let them use their creativity to come up with designs.

If you want to play it safe, you can get something that you’ve seen on someone else and know will look good. You can try and personalize it with the help of your artist. Whatever it is that you decide, look at the tattoo every day for 30 days. If you’re not bored by the end of it, go for it.

  • Placement Of The Tattoo: You may want the tattoo at a particular place – it could be your arm, wrist, thigh, chest, back, neck, or ankle. But sometimes, the design may not go with the natural flow of your bone structure. In such a situation, it is best to go with the advice of your tattoo artist. Be aware that areas with more muscle will be less painful than those with more skin and bones.
  • Take A Second Opinion: If you are not sure that you will be able to love the tattoo design for the rest of your life, take a second opinion. Ask a friend or a sibling for advice. Research online and see what people have to say about it.
  • Never Drink Alcohol Before Getting Inked: Yes, we have seen it in movies that people get drunk and land up at a tattoo parlor and wake up the next morning with no memory of where that came from. Let’s leave that to the movies.

Alcohol thins your blood. While you are getting a tattoo, your skin will bleed because it is essentially a wound. And the thinner your blood gets, the more you bleed. This may compromise the visibility of your artist and lead to the design getting messy. It can also thin the ink, and the design may come out patchy.

design may come 
  • Do Not Tattoo Yourself: You may be a good artist or feel like since it is a small tattoo, you could probably do it yourself. Don’t! Hygiene is essential, and there is a lot of sterilization that goes on before your artist even thinks of touching you with their needle. You may end up getting an infection, and there are high chances you may ruin the design (unless, of course, you’re a fabulous tattoo artist yourself).
  • Watch For Cleanliness: There are tons of tattoo artists these days – some charge a bomb, while others might offer to do it for a low rate. No matter what, make sure your artist is hygienic. Observe the workspace. If it is too dusty or dirty, chances are they will not be particular about tattoo hygiene either.

Contaminating your body while getting a tattoo can lead to a lot of infections. Make sure the tattoo artist is wearing disposable gloves, and all equipment is sterilized before they use them on your body. Also, ensure that whatever they use on you comes out of a sealed packet – watch them open it – because cleanliness is key.

  • Know The Process: Diving blindly into something as permanent as getting a tattoo is not ideal. Do your research and be aware of the entire process. If you feel something is off, let your artist know. If you have any questions about a certain step in the process, ask the artist.

After The Tattoo

Tattoo aftercare is equally important as ticking things off your ‘before getting a tattoo’ checklist. Here are some pointers:

  • Listen To Your Tattoo Artist: Once the process is over, your artist will give you a list of dos and don’ts to follow. Follow their instructions to the tee.
  • Cleaning Your Tattoo: Washing your tattoo gently is an important process of post-tattoo care. Think of it as a wound that you need to take care of. Use a mild, fragrance-free soap to wash off the excess blood and ink gently. Don’t scrub it or with a towel or loofah, or you may get a bacterial infection. Make sure not to soak the tattoo in water for a long time under any circumstances. You need to wash your tattoo about twice a day. Do remember that washing it excessively will cause the tattoo to fade quickly. 
  • Moisturizing: Your tattoo artist will give you a tattoo ointment or a tattoo wax to apply a few times a day. In case they don’t, you can use a fragrance-free moisturizer. Sometimes, they may ask you not to moisturize at all. In any case, you could apply a thin layer of tattoo wax or moisturizer to prevent infections. Do not overuse it, or it may lead your tattoo to scab excessively. Let it breathe.
  • Flaking And Peeling: After a few days, your tattoo will start to heal. It will dry out and start flaking and peeling. This is natural, and you may continue to use the tattoo wax or moisturizer based on the advice of your artist.
  • Avoid Direct Sunlight: Make sure the tattooed portion of your body is not exposed to direct sunlight. It will burn and damage the open wound sooner than you can imagine. Direct sunlight will not only cause the ink to fade quickly and leave it patchy, but it will also ruin the appearance of the design, and you’ll be running back to the studio for a touch-up.
  • Be Patient: Different people’s skins react differently to tattoos. Some may heal faster than others, but that’s no cause for concern. It will take a few weeks for it to heal completely, so be patient. Once it has healed completely, you may apply sunscreen or anything else that you usually would.
tattoo design 
  • Do Not Scratch: No matter what, don’t scratch your tattoo. Though the healing process may cause it to itch sometimes, resist the temptation to scratch. Scratching can cause major damage to your tattoo, and you could remove the top layer of your skin. It could also cause infection. Hence, be patient and try and ignore the itching.

Care For A Tattoo

Care For A Tattoo


  1. Research on your tattoo design and tattoo artist and be sure of where you want the tattoo done.
  1. Eat well before your tattoo appointment because pain and loss of blood can cause lightheadedness and make you feel faint. Eating will also reduce your sensitivity to pain, and you will not be uncomfortable.
  1. Make sure your clothing is appropriate for where you plan to get your tattoo. If you want it on your arm, wear a loose sleeveless t-shirt. If you want it on your back, make sure your outfit has your back exposed and hair properly pinned up. Ink could get splattered during the process, so make sure to wear something old.
  1. Make sure the tattooist and their equipment are clean. This will prevent infection.
  1. Be patient with the healing process. It can take some time, but it’s totally worth it.


  1. Do not drink alcohol before your tattoo appointment. Alcohol causes blood to thin, and thinning of blood will lead to excessive bleeding.
  1. Do not soak it in water as it will cause the tattoo to fade very quickly.
  1. Do not expose it to direct sunlight. Sunburns can be painful and will ruin the appearance of the tattoo.
  1. No matter what, do not scratch. Not even in your sleep.

Now you know what you need to keep in mind before and after getting a tattoo. Remember, it is permanent. So, even if you have to pay a little bit more for good quality and hygiene, do not hesitate, because it will take you a long way.

If you don’t like your tattoo a few years down the line, you can cover it up. The tattoo artist will be able to camouflage your old design to give it a completely transformed look. And if you don’t want your tattoo at all, you can get rid of it through medical procedures. But that will be a painful, long, and expensive affair. The bigger your tattoo, the more money you’ll have to shell out, and the more sessions you will have to sit through. So, do give your tattoo a good thought and consider all things before getting one.

It’s your mark, it’s personal, and it’s for your memory. Own it and wear it like your badge of honor – after all, it’s now a part of you. Happy getting inked!