Since When Are Face Tattoos A Thing?

Face tattoos: Now that’s an interesting topic. Some people love them, and most people hate them. But did you know that face tattoos are not just a trend formed by your favorite rappers and rock stars?

Face tattoos have been a thing for pretty much as long as tattooing has been around. Tribesmen from all over the world would adorn their bodies with symbolic tattoos, including their faces. 

Over time, this practice all but fizzled out and went through a period of unpopularity and stigmatization. In the past decade, face tattoos have made a comeback in urban scenes. Since then, more and more people are starting to accept this form of self-expression. We are going to take a look at why people get them, what goes into the process, and why some tattoo artists refuse to do them. 

 Why Do People Get Face Tattoos?

Why do people get face tattoos? Aren’t they worried about their careers and other opportunities in life?

Well, truthfully, it depends on the industry that they're in. Chances are, you won't see a lawyer in a courtroom or a surgeon in an operating room with face tattoos. But what about a rapper? It wouldn't be out of the ordinary to see an artist or basketball player with face tattoos either.

Certain careers do not restrict certain forms of self-expression, and as a result, face tattoos will not interfere with opportunities within those careers. 

Okay, but what about being judged by society? Aren't they scared of that?

For many, face tattoos are a message to the world and not necessarily a sentimental tattoo. They are a way to say “Go ahead and stare, I don’t care what you think”. Other times it could be for attention, saying “Please notice me.”

Even if you aren’t against face tattoos and don’t tend to cast judgment, the reality is that a stigma exists. Face tattoos are often associated with gang activity, drug dealing, or with addiction. This is not always the case though - some people get face tattoos for cultural reasons or simply because they think they look beautiful or cool. 

Most professionals with face tattoos are tattoo artists, chefs, hairdressers, and even some interior designers and people working in fashion. Some people even work regular 9 to 5 jobs and cover their ink with makeup during the workweek. 

If your current job is not doing it for you anymore and you are thinking about becoming a tattoo artist, a great first step is to invest in your future by purchasing Hugo Feist’s Black and Grey Realism Tattoo Course today. This comprehensive course is equipped with everything you need to know to become the best artist you can be.  

Is Permanent Makeup A Type Of Face Tattoo?

No. Permanent makeup and face tattoos are both applied with needles and ink, but they're not the same thing, and they are not usually performed by the same type of artist.

Permanent makeup includes things like permanent eyeliner, lip liner, eyebrows, freckles, lipstick, and more. Notice that these are all very sensitive areas of the body. 


Tattoo ink is made with ingredients such as mercury sulfade, ash, nickel, lead, and so on, while the ink for permanent makeup is usually a single pigment called iron oxide. Both are safe, but there is less of a chance of allergic reaction with the latter.

The ink used for tattoos can penetrate skin layers deeper, giving greater permanency. On the other hand, permanent makeup ink only penetrates the top of the dermis, and touch-ups are required more frequently.

Machine and Needles

Generally, permanent makeup is done with specific rotary machines that are much gentler and have much finer tattoo needles for greater precision.

Tattoos, in general, are often applied with coil or rotary machines, and other techniques such as stick and poke, depending on the artist's preference. 


Permanent makeup does not carry the same stigma as face tattoos. Permanent makeup is common among professionals who don't have time to do a full face every morning, and everyday fans of makeup who want to save time when doing their different makeup looks. People who suffer from lip discoloration, hair loss, and unsteady hands may even get permanent makeup for more than just cosmetic reasons. 

Is Caring For A Face Tattoo Different From A “Regular Tattoo”?

Caring for a face tattoo and a “regular tattoo” is the same in certain aspects and different in others.

Face tattoos still have to be covered for a few hours, and hands must be washed before applying any ointments or moisturizers. Though acne breakouts are not uncommon, regular skincare regimens will need to be altered. This means that face cleansers, toners, exfoliators, and facecloths need to be avoided. 

Scratching your tattoo is also a no-no, no matter how hard it is to resist. Anti-itch creams should be avoided during this time since they can clog pores or slow down healing. 

Sunscreen is more important than ever with face tattoos since they tend to fade faster than “regular tattoos”. However, applying too much can clog pores and cause infection.

Do Face Tattoos Carry Any Health Risks?

Face tattoos have all the same health risks as tattoos on any other part of your body. These include:

  • Allergic reaction- While relatively uncommon, allergic reactions are the most common health risk posed by tattoos. An allergic reaction can happen as soon as the tattoo is applied, or years afterward due to certain pigments or dyes, such as reds, greens, yellows, and blues.
  • Infection- An infection is most likely to occur quite soon after having a tattoo done if it has been done with unsterile equipment or you have touched it with dirty hands.  
  • Keloid formation- People who are prone to keloid scarring are more likely to experience this health risk, even though it can happen to anyone. Keloids are more likely to form from tattoo removal and rarely appear on professional tattoos.
  • MRI complications- Though rare, people with tattoos may experience burning or swelling at tattoo sites while undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Pigments may also affect the quality of the MRI image. 

Can Face Tattoos Be Removed?

Yes, but as advanced as laser removal is, there is still the disadvantage of scarring. The only tattoos that cannot be removed by laser are eyelid tattoos. 

Though face tattoo removal is generally quick, the rate at which it disappears depends on the tattoo artist.

For prison and amateur tattoos, removal may take as little as one or two sessions. This is because of the quality of ink used and the technique. Chances are both are poor, and the ink would not have penetrated the skin deep enough.

When done by a professional who uses an actual tattooing machine, different inks, and professional techniques, removal can require more sessions. This is because high-quality ink penetrates the skin deeper and the artist may have used highlights and shading. 

Removing face tattoos is generally more painful than removing tattoos on other parts of the body since the face is more sensitive. There is also the risk of losing facial hair with laser tattoo removal. 

Why Do Some Tattoo Artists Refuse To Do Face Tattoos?

Some tattoo artists are okay with doing face tattoos, while others are on the fence about it. There are also some who are flat-out against it and will refuse to give any client a face tattoo, no matter their age or profession.

The reasons for this will vary, but the most common one is the client potentially regretting their choice. Clients may be very convinced during the session and for some time after that, that they are ready for a face tattoo. But many break under societal pressure and end up regretting it. No tattoo artist wants to feel responsible for a client being unable to get a job or meet their partner’s parents. 

Other tattoo artists refuse to do face tattoos because there isn't enough space for the artist to show off their talent. Some refuse because of how delicate facial skin is, or how quickly they fade because of exposure to sunlight. Some artists don’t want to do face tattoos because it is a lot of pressure and they don’t trust themselves! 

Sometimes, an artist may reconsider their stance if the person already has a lot of tattoos. This generally means that they are more equipped to manage all that comes with being heavily tattooed and having an extremely visible tattoo. 

Face tattoos are a huge commitment and will change your life forever. You will instantly notice people looking at you differently, from the moment you step out of the tattoo studio. If you are still unsure about getting a face tattoo, we recommend reading all about whether or not you should get a tattoo here. 


  • Face tattoos aren't for everyone and that’s completely fine. Before getting a face tattoo, it’s important to consider all the social and health risks associated with them beforehand. 
  • Face tattoos and permanent makeup are different things. Many professionals and makeup lovers get permanent makeup as a way to save time and alter their appearance. Face tattoos are generally for self-expression and making a statement.
  • While face tattoos are considered ‘permanent’, they can be removed with a laser much faster than “regular tattoos”.
  • It is difficult to find a great artist who will do a face tattoo, and many artists refuse to do them.

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.