Tattoos & Piercings

Tattoos and piercings demonstrate your individuality, but don’t go and do something you might regret… 

Tattoos and piercings are big business. David Beckham, Rihanna, and lots of other celebrities have adorned themselves
with personalised body art. But remember: tattoos are permanent, plus it’s expensive, time-consuming, and painful to reverse tattoos later. So if you’re thinking of getting inked, consider that your choice of design now may differ from what you would want on your body later in life. Will you want Ibiza 2017 written on your arm or the name of your partner on your neck when you’re 65? Same with piercings; a tongue or belly ring might feel rebellious now, but will you feel embarrassed by it in 10 years’ time?
If you still decide to go ahead,
go to a safe, regulated place to avoid infection.  

Tattoos – the statistics 

  • 1 in 5 people in the UK has a tattoo 

  • 29% of 16-44 years olds have a tattoo 

  • 14% of teachers have tattoo 

  • 19% of 18 to 25-year olds get inked while abroad on holiday 

Know the law 


There’s no legal age of consent but under-16s can’t consent to piercing of the genitals – that may require permission from a parent.  


It’s illegal to tattoo anyone under 18. By law, studios for tattoos and piercings should ask important health questions, check your age and give advice about hygiene, healing and infection. When choosing a studio for a tattoo or piercing:  

■ Make sure they’re regulated and registered at or with the local authority.

■ Get a recommendation from a friend and check out their work before you commit.

■ Be certain that gloves are used, the studio appears clean and a new needle is used.  

Written by Victoria Evans and Jane Bianchi of Teen Health Guide, and edited by Dr William Swallow MBChB, DRCOG, MRCGP 

© Teen Health Guide Limited