As tattoos become more and more common, boundaries get pushed further and further. Rather than a small tattoo on the ankle, many are opting for full sleeves or back pieces. And we think that’s cool – afterall, your body is yours, and you should adorn it as you see fit. One particular trend, however, needs a bit more thought than just whether it would look cool or not.
We’re talking, of course, about your hands. Hand tattoos aren’t new in and of themselves, but the popularity of them certainly is. The last few years have seen a huge spike in people wanting to take their sleeves one step further, or make a statement with a bold, in your face hand-piece. And who can blame them? If you Google “hand tattoos”, you’ll get a huge selection of bright, beautiful, intricate designs. What you don’t see, however, is what went into getting them that way.
If you read our (or any, really) tattoo aftercare suggestions, you’ll notice that they include not soaking your new tattoo, keeping it clean, and avoiding a lot of friction. This is almost impossible to do when it comes to your hands. Most people get their hands dirty, several times a day. Most people wash them a few dozen times, for that reason. Most people use their hands constantly. Avoiding dirt, water, and action is literally an impossible feat when it comes to one’s hands. This means that your new tattoo is not likely to heal well – it will need several touch-ups, and sometimes will need to be completely redone a couple of times before it looks the way you hoped it would. And that’s just for the tops of your hands. If you’re thinking about tattooing the sides of your fingers, it gets worse. If you’re thinking about the palms of your hands, it gets way, way worse.
Hand tattoos also carry with them two major social issues: there is still a lot of stigma attached to them, and very few employers that will allow them. Now, we don’t want to be that guy, the one that lectures you condescendingly about your choices. We’ve all dealt with that guy, and we’re not a fan. But we’d be lying if we said there are no consequences to hand tattoos. While we’ve made great strides in tattoo acceptance, we’re not there yet, and hand tattoos still have a pretty negative reputation. A lot of people that see them instantly think “criminal” or “weirdo”. Employers see them and instantly think “hell no”. If you are planning on becoming a school teacher, a business person, a lawyer, a doctor, or any similar sort of professional, a hand tattoo is a great way to ensure that never happens. You want to think very, very carefully before marking your hands for life.
We’re not, of course, telling you not to get them, though our artists – and a lot of others – will be admittedly hesitant to do them unless the client is already heavily tattooed and fully understands the inherent issues. We want to make sure that your tattoo experience is the best it can possibly be, and for that reason, need to put our knowledge and concerns to work for you. Getting a visible tattoo in a high traffic area can come at a fairly hefty cost, both financially and socially, and can take a lot of work to get perfect, so please, please think long and hard about it, and take your artist’s advice, before deciding whether hands on or hands off is the way to go.