Tattoo haters of the world, rejoice! The decades-long tattoo trend is slowing down as regretful tattoo owners now turn to tattoo removal to reclaim their skin.
The tattoo craze has been an enduring trend compared to most fashion fads. Starting in the 1990s, tattoos have become ubiquitous since the 2000s. Prior to the mid-90s, tattoos were a curiosity, and generally seen as something bikers or tough guys would sport.
Other than earrings, piercings were also not popular until the 90s, when belly piercing took off. Soon, nose piercing became popular, but usually as a small, modest gemstone on the side of the nose, as opposed to the septum piercing of today.
Pre-2000, the first trendy tattoos were tribal-inspired designs that often circled around the upper forearm. These tribal tattoos are now considered to in some circles to not be politically correct due to “cultural appropriation.” The most infamous tattoo trend is perhaps the “tramp stamp,” a tattoo that sits on the low back of a female. Tramp stamps are also outdated.
What was once a symbol of rebellion, tattoos are now a sign of conformity. And perhaps to the horror of the tattoo lover, many young people consider them to be something their parents do.
“My son doesn’t want a tattoo,” said one parent. “He asked me why I had them, and I told him I thought they were beautiful. But I guess kids want to be different from their parents.”
Tattoos have also been associated with health problems, as some people are allergic to the ink, which can vary in safety depending on the tattoo shop. One study explored a possible link between tattoos and toxicity. Pregnant mothers should also be careful about getting tattoos.
While tattoos don’t carry the stigma they once had, they can still affect employment opportunities, particularly if the tattoos are extreme. A New Zealand teen named Mark Cropp has a giant tattoo on the lower part of his face saying “DEVAST8,” and he is having a hard time getting work because of it.
While someone such as Cropp could grow a beard to cover up a tattoo, others are turning to tattoo removal. According to the FDA, the number of tattoo removals increased by 52 percent from 2012 to 2013. The tattoo business is now a $75 million-dollar industry and growing.
Tattoo removal is not for the faint of heart. Laser removal takes more than one session, and can cause scarring. While tattoo-removal creams are now available, the FDA has not approved any of them. Doctors warn that laser tattoo removal by a non-physician can be dangerous.
“The situation brings worry that skin ailments or other medical issues won’t be identified at tattoo removal clinics,” says reporter Linda Matchan of the Boston Globe.
In opposition to the decades-long tattoo trend, young people are going in either one or two ways. Some are opting for a more natural look. Some even favor more formal retro clothing such as suits. The hardcore body modification enthusiasts are moving on from plain ink tattoos to technology such as LED lights embedded in the skin.