The social stigma surrounding tattooing is fading away, and with it fades the notion that older adults can’t enjoy ink themselves. Because the last two generations of young adults have so widely embraced tattoos as a form of self-expression, getting a tattoo has rapidly become about as normal as having pierced ears. In fact, more than one in three young adults has a tattoo. Perhaps that’s why more and more seniors are starting to ask, why should kids have all the fun?
The Rising Popularity of Ink
These days, nearly one in twenty people who get their first tattoo are over the age of 60. If that number seems small, it’s important to remember that number would have been close to zero only a few decades ago. One study found that as many as 15% of Baby Boomers have a tattoo, a number that only seems to double with each passing generation. What society once viewed as the rebellious decision of an impudent young adult has nearly become the norm, and seniors’ getting their own tattoos is the natural result.
Building a career often means making sacrifices, like having to maintain a professional appearance, even if that means you can’t dye your hair or your skin the colors you’d like. But in retirement, concerns about what your clients, bosses, and associates might think of you quickly melt away. And for those who had concerns about how their dream tattoo would age over the next five decades of their life, retirement evaporates those concerns, as well.
Find an artist who specializes: For seniors thinking of getting their first tat, the best piece of advice you can follow is to try and find an artist you trust, preferably with a strong portfolio. If you love traditional American tattoos (a la Sailor Jerry), find someone who can do that work well. If you love watercolor design and realism, look for artists who can offer you what you need. Even more importantly, it’s also better to work with an artist who has done work on seniors before. Tattooing older skin means working with a softer, less elastic material that’s far more prone to bruising.
Choose a design that will work with you — and your skin: Fragile skin also means that the kind of intricate designs younger people get are far more difficult to do on seniors. With this in mind, it’s better to choose a design that’s bold and simple, and a design that won’t take a dozen separate sessions to complete. Your artist will work with you to find something you love that will translate well to your body.
Practice good tattoo care & hygeine: In the days after getting your first ink done, it’s critical to maintain good hygiene to prevent infection. And in the years to follow, it’s important to moisturize and use sunscreen to help preserve your tattoo. Nothing will make your new ink fade as quickly as direct exposure to the sun.
Most seniors recognize that retirement is one of your last opportunities to do all the things they’ve wanted to do. That may mean traveling, going skydiving, or getting that tattoo you’ve always wanted. When you reach the age of sixty or more, it’s all the more reason to live every day to the fullest. Whether you’d like your new design to communicate your philosophy about life, honor a loved one, or remember an important event in your life. It’s never too late to get your first tattoo.