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Tattoo Regret Stories

The Surprising Stat of People Who Regret a Tattoo, Plus Cringe-Worthy Stories to Match

A random day two years ago, I spontaneously decided that I was going to get a tattoo after work. I had never even thought of a potential design until just hours before, but thank god, I still love it to this day. Unfortunately, a shocking number of people didn't have the same luck as I did, and according to a survey conducted by Advanced Dermatology, 78 percent of respondents admitted to regretting at least one piece of ink.

One of the biggest reasons? Age. Almost half of participants reported they were the under the age of 20 when they got their questionable tattoo. Seventy-five percent also didn't plan enough beforehand and took the plunge as soon as a few hours (like me) to a few weeks. The most regrettable design based on data was found to be tribal designs, with hearts and roses close behind.

When I asked POPSUGAR US employees to share their own tattoo horror stories, they backed up these statistics a little too well. Check out what and why my colleagues regret getting inked on their bodies.

  • "My friend Lily and I got the word 'promise' tattooed on our pinky fingers. One of my more regrettable life decisions for sure — right up there with seeing a dentist in Mumbai and that other time I decided to get a fringe. We got the tattoos in high school, after a long night of drinking at a very questionable Thai restaurant. I also woke up with a stray cat in my bed that morning and I named her Cleopatra. I guess in an inebriated stupor, you think getting pinky promise tattoos is just so unwittingly clever . . . I spent the next day icing my hand and Yelping laser removal doctors in the greater LA area. Oh, did I mention it was in Comic Sans?"
  • "Yes, I regret mine immensely! I got it while studying abroad in London, I spent a weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland, and got it done on a whim. The tattoo artist (to be polite) screwed it up and a part of it isn't even. Needless to say, I've lived with two small teardrops ever since . . . Why teardrops, I have no idea, you'll have to ask my 20-year-old self!"
  • "I feel zero connection to the dragon tattoo on my lower back. First, let me say that it's not exactly a "tramp stamp" because it's not even on my lower back. It's more mid-to-low back, which is even crappier. There are also two stars surrounding the dragon, which look like they belong to the barbwire family. I don't regret it. I just don't feel anything for it. I never have. It was a spontaneous decision I made in high school while walking on Venice Boardwalk. That part I like. That I used to be spontaneous."
  • "I thought I really wanted an infinity sign tattoo, and I still completely value my state of mind and reasons for getting it. But I hated it the moment I got it. First of all, it was ugly and not at all like the simple design I imagined in my mind. Second, it was on my wrist, which meant that everyone always wanted to hear the story. Key takeaway: Don't just waltz into a cheap, beachside tattoo parlour without a solid plan. I always think that if I had waited even six months, I would have gotten a better design somewhere else on my body and would still have it and love it to this day. Instead, 10 years later, I am still in the long process of getting it removed."
  • "I have many tattoos but only regret one of them. I got my first tattoo when I turned 18 and insisted the artist use my drawing of a flower and only use black ink. The artist was first starting out and it was just a terrible tattoo, really dark and heavy. At the time I had no idea who my artist was, he was fairly new to his career. Fast forward to many years later, I'm in a shop watching a friend get tattooed by a very well known artist (he's been on tattoo shows on TLC etc.). I chat him up and tell him that I have this awful tattoo I got when I was young. He asks to see it and immediately names the place where it was done and proclaims that he remembers doing this (it was one of his first)!!! He agrees it's terrible and offers to cover it up. We decided on a design (more flowers) and I reluctantly agree — it's much larger than I had anticipated, but he says it will have to be like this because of what I'm covering up. He does his thing but apparently took the liberty of adding in some background design not on the original sketch. Needless to say I hate it, (it's my only full-color tattoo) and will probably get it removed once and for all. He's supertalented, I have just had bad luck with him."
  • "Tramp stamp. Was too young to even get one legally (I used my older sister's ID). Walked into a shop with a friend and on a whim said, 'let's get tattoos today!' Picked a tribal design that meant absolutely nothing to me (yes, just picked one, haha) and that was that. Almost 20 years later and I'm almost done with all of my laser tattoo removal sessions!!! It'll be like it never happened."
  • "OK, so I have a nine-legged octopus. It was my first tattoo, I got it when I was 21 and first moved to SF. You know, if you don't count the legs, it looked great on paper. Plus, my tattoo artist was a junkie, and that is never a good combination. So, I gave him a bunch of comps to look at; it was kind of an amalgam of a bunch of different pics. I was at a party months later. Months! When I found out, my friend, who always f*cks around, counted the legs by tapping my back shoulder, and said, 'nine legs, your octopus has nine legs.' I didn't believe him obvs, as he's always f*cking around like that but something in his tone . . . I ran to the bathroom and counted them myself. Yup . . . I have a 'novem-pus' on my back. Can't say I regret it, I love the story too much."
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