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How Many People Have Tattoos in 2023? 32% of Americans Have at Least One Tattoo

Tattoos have become an increasingly popular and mainstream form of body art and self-expression over the past few decades. But exactly how pervasive is tattoo culture in 2023? According to surveys, an estimated 32% of Americans now have at least one tattoo. The percentage is even higher in some generational and demographic groups. Keep reading as we explore the data behind tattoo prevalence today.

Tattoo Popularity Over Time

Humans have decorated their bodies with permanent ink for thousands of years, but tattoos have gone through major spikes and dips in acceptance in Western culture.

  • In the 1930s and 1940s, only 4% of Americans had a tattoo due to associations with rebellious subcultures.
  • By the 1970s and 80s, the percentage with tattoos grew to 10% of the population as cultural perceptions started to shift.
  • From 2003 to 2012, tattoo prevalence doubled from 16% to 32% thanks in part to television shows like Miami Ink and LA Ink.
  • Among 18-29 year olds, tattoo popularity quadrupled from 12% to 47% in that time span.

Reasons for the rapid growth include more mainstream media featuring tattoos, celebs making tattoos cool, easier access to parlors, and technological advances in inks and tattoo machines allowing for more detailed artwork.

Current Tattoo Statistics

Today, tattoos have hit record popularity across many demographics. However, significant differences emerge when comparing by geographic region, age, gender, and race/ethnicity.

Percentage of People with Tattoos by Region

RegionPercentage
United States32%
Canada27%
United Kingdom35% (ages 30-39)
Germany36%
Sweden47%
Greece29% men, 42% women
Italy14%
South Korea5%

Younger generations lead the way in tattoo prevalence:

  • 40% of Millennials (ages 24-39) have tattoos
  • 38% of Gen Z (ages 18-23) already have tattoos
  • 15% of Gen X (ages 40-54) have tattoos
  • Only 6% of Baby Boomers (ages 57-75) have tattoos
  • Just 1% of the Silent Generation (over 76) has tattoos

Tattoos by Gender

GenderPercentage
Men15% in US, 29% in Greece
Women13% in US, 42% in Greece

Globally, women are now slightly more likely to have tattoos than men. Traditional gender roles had kept tattoo popularity low among women.

Tattoos by Race/Ethnicity

Race/EthnicityPercentage
African American39%
Hispanic35%
Caucasian32%
Asian14%

These demographic differences show how tattoos appeal to diverse groups for a wide variety of cultural, artistic, and sentimental purposes.

How Many Tattoos Do People Have?

The 32% of Americans with tattoos break down into:

  • 17% with 2-5 tattoos
  • 9% with 6 or more tattoos

On average, inked Americans have 5-6 tattoos each. Full sleeve designs encompassing the entire arm have grown popular and can include 10 or more connected tattoos.

People who enjoy tattoos as a hobby or form of expression often start with one tattoo, become comfortable with the process, and return to add more meaningful designs over time.

Motivations For Getting Tattooed

There are many personal reasons someone may get inked:

  • Memorial tattoos to honor deceased loved ones
  • To commemorate important achievements or life events
  • Expressing cultural heritage and ethnic pride
  • Sentimental reminder of passions and memories
  • Artistic self-expression and creativity
  • Enhancing physical features or sex appeal
  • Signifying commitment in relationships/marriage
  • Showing membership in a group or club

Modern Tattoo Designs and Styles

Popular modern tattoo styles include:

  • Minimalist – Simple, understated black ink designs
  • Watercolor – Softer blurred colors bleeding into skin
  • Geometric – Angular shapes, dots, lines
  • Nature – Flowers, animals, landscapes
  • Portraits – Faces of loved ones or icons
  • Script – Stylized text and handwritten fonts
  • Polynesian – Tribal shoulder/arm bands of patterns

Cultural appropriation concerns have emerged around non-Polynesian people adopting sacred Polynesian tribal designs.

Tattoo Regret

Despite being permanent body art, 17% of tattooed individuals end up regretting their ink. Reasons include:

  • Not liking how the tattoo ages and blurs
  • Outgrowing the tattoo or changing interests
  • Getting a significant other‘s name tattooed
  • Tattoos obtained while intoxicated or too young

To resolve regrettable tattoos, people can undergo laser removal costing $450 per session on average. Covering up old tattoos with a new design costs $100-$200 typically.

Discrimination and Stigma Around Tattoos

Though public perceptions have improved, tattoos can still carry social stigma in certain contexts:

  • 37% of employers say visible tattoos have caused them to deny jobs to applicants
  • 70% of employers believe tattoos are inappropriate overall for their workplace
  • Heavily tattooed individuals face bias and discrimination in interviews
  • Formal social settings often expect tattoos to be covered up

Acceptance is gradually increasing as younger employees gain influence. Regardless, unfair stereotypes persist such as tattoos indicating criminal history or lack of education.

Health and Safety Considerations

When proper hygiene and aftercare guidelines are followed, the risks of tattooing are low. However, some hazards include:

  • Infections from unsanitized tools, particularly Hepatitis and HIV
  • Allergic reactions to pigments and chemicals in tattoo inks
  • Scarring and skin damage if instructions aren‘t followed

Certain groups should exercise caution or avoid tattoos completely:

  • Pregnant or nursing women due to risk of bacteria spreading
  • Those with bleeding disorders more prone to bruising
  • People with ink allergies or sensitive skin

Temporary and Semi-Permanent Tattoo Options

For those uncertain about permanent body art, some alternatives exist:

  • Henna – All-natural, fades in weeks, often used for ceremonies
  • Decal/Sticker – Applied like a temporary tattoo, lasts days
  • Inkbox – Semi-permanent ink lasting 1-2 weeks before fading

New innovations allow for more customizable and realistic temporary tattoo designs.

Traditional Tattoo Methods

The electric tattoo gun remains the most common modern technique, rapidly puncturing skin to deposit ink. However, traditional methods are still practiced:

  • Hand-poking – Using needles bundled together in a stick, takes more time but allows for intricate details
  • Tebori – Japanese method of hand-poking with a bamboo rod and steel needles
  • Tapping – A wooden or bone mallet strikes a piercing implement to drive pigments deep into skin

These historical methods create a different style of tattoo compared to modern machines. Some purists believe the slower process and handcrafted techniques create more meaningful tattoos.

How Much Does a Tattoo Cost?

Like any service, tattoo costs vary based on:

  • Size – Number of square inches
  • Detail level – Simple vs. complex designs
  • Body placement – More painful and visible areas cost more
  • Artist skill level – More experienced artists charge higher rates

On average expect to pay:

  • Small, simple tattoo: $50 – $250
  • Medium, custom tattoo: $200 – $500
  • Large, intricate back piece: $500 – $1000+

Top celebrity artists can charge over $1000 per hour for custom work on celebrities like LeBron James, Miley Cyrus, and Drake.

The Growing Tattoo Industry

The global tattoo industry was valued at $1.6 billion in 2018. It‘s projected to surpass $2 billion by 2023 as popularity continues rising. The United States accounts for about 18% of total revenue.

Thousands of tattoo shops and artists make a living in this growing business. Top tattooists can make over $100,000 per year. Companies like Inkbox have also capitalized on temporary tattoo demand.

With tattoos becoming more mainstream, even suburban shopping malls and airports open up tattoo shops to attract customers.

Religious Perspectives on Tattooing

Views on tattooing differ across belief systems:

  • Judaism – Tattoos traditionally prohibited under Jewish law
  • Christianity – Some groups condemn while others accept tattoos
  • Islam – Considered highly discouraged under teachings of Islam
  • Hinduism – Regarded as impure damage to the body‘s natural form
  • Sikhism – Strongly discouraged and seen as taboo

However, many modern followers choose to get tattoos regardless of traditional prohibitions.

Caring for a New Tattoo

Proper aftercare is crucial for preventing infection and helping tattoos heal beautifully. Tips include:

  • Wash gently with mild antimicrobial soap 2-3 times per day
  • Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment 1-2 times daily
  • Keep the tattoo covered with plastic wrap or bandages for the first few days
  • Avoid sun exposure, swimming, and tight fabrics over the tattoo
  • Don‘t pick scabs – let them fall off naturally

Contact your artist immediately about any abnormal pain, swelling, or discoloration which could indicate complications.

Saving Up to Remove Regrettable Tattoos

Though costly and painful, people determined to remove or lighten tattoos they regret have some options:

  • Laser removal requires 6-10 treatments costing $450 each, so plan for a $3000 expense
  • Start stashing cash in a savings fund months before your first treatment
  • See if your flex spending account or health savings account covers removal
  • Ask if your dermatologist offers package deals for purchasing multiple treatments upfront
  • Consider an artist‘s touch up or cover up tattoo as a less expensive alternative

With some diligent budgeting and shopping around, undesirable tattoos can usually be remedied.

Conclusion

Tattoos have exploded from a relatively niche trend to a commonplace practice embraced by nearly a third of Americans today. Demographic factors like age, gender, and race influence tattoo prevalence across groups. On average, inked people sport 5-6 designs celebrating their loves, losses, achievements, beliefs, and aesthetics through body art. While discrimination persists, tattoos are now acknowledged as an artform and means of personal expression. Their popularity will likely continue rising. But such a consequential decision should never be rushed into lightly. As with any life choice, weigh the risks and implications first before inking your body canvas.

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Michael

Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.