Requests for tattoos on hands have become increasingly popular lately- almost every day I find myself disappointing a client by telling them that finger tattoos simply don’t hold.
We don’t enjoy telling people why their tattoo ideas won’t work- we’ve chosen to work in this industry because we enjoy putting cool artwork on your skin forever. We never tell anybody “No” just for fun, or just to be jerks. We want you to have something you’ll be happy with forever. If you’re going to trust someone to take sharp needles to your skin and leave permanent marks on you, you need to extend that trust to believe that your artist has your best interest in mind when they tell you what’s best- it is their profession, after all.
That being said, we thought it might be helpful to lay out a comprehensive explanation on this topic in hopes that it will help you better understand, so listen up!
Reasons why we recommend you don’t get that tattoo anywhere on your hands:
1. Your Future
Let’s start here- I’m not sure why, but this is the bulletpoint people seem to brush off most often when we explain it. It’s true that tattoos have become much more common and tattoo acceptance has seemingly grown proportionately- except it hasn’t. A whopping 42% of all people still think that tattoos are inappropriate in the workplace. This Skinfo article has a great infographic with statistics on tattoo acceptability in the workplace.
Keep in mind that it can be difficult or impossible to cover a tattoo on your hands.
Now, maybe you’re one of the lucky few who have, or will in the future, have a job in a tattoo-accepting industry…Let’s consider society and world culture as a whole. In the future, your hand tattoos might not be a problem for your jobs, but there are many situations where you’ll be judged for your visible tattoos without you even realizing it’s happening. Applying for housing, meeting new friends & families, traveling in foreign countries, etc… you’ll never know exactly where your future will take you, and who you may meet…and how you may end up regretting those incredibly visible hand tattoos.
You also may be thinking “well, I don’t plan on ever associating with anyone who would judge me on my tattoos.” Unfortunately, that just isn’t possible unless you plan on never making any acquaintances outside of a Hot Topic in Portland, OR. Someone judging you based on your tattoos doesn’t necessarily make them a terrible person, it’s just that many circles and cultures still aren’t as familiar with tattoos as we are, and they aren’t equipped with the same world view as you are- they might not even be judging you negatively, but it can be difficult for many people to remove certain associations from their mind.
Moving on to more tangible evidence:
2. Your Skin & Science
Here’s the cold hard facts on exactly what we mean when we say tattoos on your hands just don’t work the same as tattoos do anywhere else on your body. As you likely already know, all tattoos fade over long periods of time. I’m not going to outline the science behind that, but if you’re interested check this out.
Small details are also not ideal for the skin on hands
The skin on your hands is much thinner than almost anywhere else on your body and therefore takes ink much differently than anywhere else on your body- because of this, a tattoo on your hands will fade much faster than anywhere else on your body. All tattoos fade over long periods of time as your skin changes with age, with sun exposure, etc. Now think of how much you use your hands every day! Your hands are worked harder, exposed to the elements, washed, etc… they are put through much more work than your other appendages. Most of those pictures you see online of finger tattoos are photos taken immediately after the tattoo is finished- many times the tattoos are almost completely gone within a year.
Even the most skillfully done finger tattoos will fade
This issue could be solved with regular touch-ups, but keep in mind that most tattoo shops (including ours) don’t offer free touch-ups for hands, so having your hand tattoos touched-up regularly can be time consuming and expensive. Can you commit to that?
So there you have it- a detailed explanation on why your artist may say “no”, to your hand tattoo. They aren’t trying to ruin your day- they’re trying to make sure you have a quality tattoo that you’ll love-forever.
*all the tattoo images in this post were found by google image search- none of these tattoos were done at Red Rocket, and I was unable to find their original sources. They were likely all quality tattoos to begin with- I use them here as a testament to the unavoidable fading nature of all hand tattoos.