Should You Give a Tattoo as a Present?

woman with tattoo sleeve and blue hair


Marie Killen/Getty Images 

Tattoos can be beautiful, meaningful, sentimental. They're also permanent. And they're not for everyone.

Is a tattoo a good present? If the person you're gifting already has ink, and/or has explicitly and seriously talked about wanting it, then yes, it could be a great gift. Even people who casually talk about getting a tattoo might not actually be ready for one, so be absolutely sure they're serious. If not, stick to something a little safer—say, a luxurious facial oil they wouldn't normally splurge on for themselves, or even high quality fake ink from a company like Inkbox.

If you do decide to give the gift of a tattoo, cool. This is a unique and special present that literally lasts forever. Your loved one will never forget it. Since it's so major, here's what you need to consider.

Picking a Tattoo Shop and an Artist

Choosing the right shop and tattooist is crucial, not only because you need to make sure it's a professional, reputable, and clean business, but also that the artist is the right fit for your giftee and whatever they have in mind for a design. Tattoo artists each have their own unique style and approach, so it's a good idea to be selective.

Because of all this, it's probably best not to jump the gun and give a gift certificate to a particular shop—unless you're a tattoo aficionado and know a top-notch place, or your giftee already has a shop and artist they love. In that case, a gift certificate gets you a step closer to the fun part: getting the tattoo.

Otherwise, give your loved one the option to choose the shop and the artist for themselves. Getting a tattoo is a big decision that requires thoughtful planning and consideration. Instead of a gift certificate, you might want to design a special card that reveals what your present is. Then you can move forward by researching the options together.

Don't Rush It

Gifting a tattoo can be really exciting, but it's not a race to the finish line. Give your loved one time, space, and freedom to choose a design on their own. If they're open to you showing them inspiration, look at magazines, Pinterest, or Instagram, and send it their way. Whatever you do, resist the urge to make any decisions for them, even if they ask. You should never be responsible for deciding what's going to be permanently etched on another person's body.

Taking things slowly also gives your giftee a chance to change their mind about wanting a tattoo altogether. That's OK. Don't pressure them to move forward if they end up not wanting to.

Be There Every Step of the Way

This is your gift, so it's great if you're able to be there for the actual tattooing (if that's what your giftee wants). Especially if this is their first ink, they might appreciate some support and maybe a hand to squeeze.

A tattoo is a very bold present—a gift that keeps on giving. Don't be presumptuous if you don't know your loved one wants it for sure. No returns or exchanges.

When In Doubt, Go Faux

inkbox freehand ink
Inkbox Freehand Ink $20.00

If your giftee is interested in exploring the world of tattoos but isn't fully committed to an idea for a permanent design, consider going faux. Inkbox makes beautiful fake tattoos using long-lasting (but temporary) For Now ink that stays on skin for up to two weeks, according to the brand. The coolest part? The brand regularly partners with incredible artists, like Mira Mariah of Girl Knew York (best known for Ariana Grande's most memorable tattoos) and Brittany Randell of Humblebee Tattoo. There's also a Freehand Ink tool that allows your giftee to draw their own design, and an option for custom tattoos.

Next up, your guide to tanning and tattoos.

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