PERMANENT TATTOO FACTS & STATISTICS

Tattoo Facts & Statistics has been compiled and updated since 1999 and contains the best available data on the prevalence and occurrence of tattooing and basic information about tattoo culture. This information is shared on our web site as a public service and as a resource for those interested in tattoo culture and its study and research.

Emerging from their often unsavory reputation of the recent past, tattoos have gained increasing prominence in the past decade. Life magazine estimated in 1936 that 10 million Americans, or approximately 6% of the population had at least one tattoo. A Harris Poll, done in 2003, nearly triples those numbers and estimates that 16% of Americans now have one or more tattoos. For a complete breakdown of the Harris Poll numbers, see below:

The National Geographic News stated in April 2000 that 15% of Americans were tattooed (or approximately 40 million people!)

Esquire Magazine estimated in March 2002 that 1 in 8 Americans was tattooed.

According to the American Society of Dermatological Surgery, they stated in 2005, that of all the people they treat with laser and light therapy, only only 6% are getting a tattoo removed.

Harris Poll, 2003, estimates that fully 36% of those aged 25-29 have one or more tattoos.

A 2006 a study done by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that 24% of Americans between 18 and 50 are tattooed; that's almost one in four. And the survey showed that about 36% of Americans age 18 to 29 have at least one tattoo!

Make no mistake about it, the tattoo industry is hot property. There are an estimated 20,000+ parlors operating in the United States, according to a U.S. News & World Report article, which said, on the average, an establishment is being added in the country every day. The article ranked tattooing as the sixth fastest growing retail venture of the 1990s, right behind Internet, paging services, bagels, computer and cellular phone service

Tattoo industry spawns popular outgrowth

*Search Engine Lycos, ranks the Top 50 search terms every week. "Tattoos" was the third most popular search term in 2002, the fourth most popular search term in 2001, seventh most popular search term for the year 2000, and the eleventh most popular search term in 1999. "Tattoo and tattoos" is one of only seven search terms to never fall out of the Top 50 Search terms in the 199 weeks since Lycos has been keeping track. The other six are Dragon Ball, Pamela Anderson, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Las Vegas and the WWE/WWF.

*In July of 2002 "tattoos" reached its highest ranking ever, coming in as the number two most requested search term on the internet. "Tattoos" was requested more often than Britney Spears, marijuana or Kazaa, illustrating that skin ink is more popular than "sex, drugs and rock n' roll!"

Lycos dropped the term "tattoos" from it's Poll because the term was so popular. According to Lycos, tattoos rarely drops out of the top ten search terms requested on the Internet and Lycos dropped the term because they wanted to make room for other searches.

Search engine Ask.com found these stats about tattoo searches:

  • LA fashion week reminds us once again that trends come and go. But, while the Devil may wear Prada, Search Engine Ask.com reveals that tattoos have been stealing the scene as the #1 searched beauty term since 2003. No longer taboo, the popularity of tattoos prove that skin is always in.
  • Virtually every language is searched for in tattoo designs: from Aztec sayings to Russian phrases, but Japanese and Chinese characters/symbolsare among the most frequently searched.
  • Location, location, location: Backs rank the highest in searches (lower, upper and all over). But, not far behind: necks, arms, wrists and ankles. Unmentionables also rank high.
  • Angelina's number, choice and types of tattoos rank the highest in the celebrity category. Ask.com searchers are also intrigued by other celebs. Most notably, Nicole Richie, Alyssa Milano and heavy metal rockers Metallica.
  • As for who searches for tattoos more: given the top five ranked designs, which are tribal, cross, stars, butterflies and fairies, we'd say women.

A Third of Americans With Tattoos Say They Make Them Feel More Sexy

National survey of adults shows that Democrats more likely to have tattoos, but regret for getting them is highest among Republicans.

ROCHESTER, NY, Oct 8, 2003 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- A recent Harris Poll finds that 16% of all adults have at least one tattoo. The highest incidence of tattoos was found among the gay, lesbian and bisexual population (31%) and among Americans ages 25 to 29 years (36%) and 30 to 39 years (28%). Regionally, people living in the West (20%) are more likely to have tattoos.

Democrats are more likely to have tattoos (18%) than Republicans (14%) and Independents (12%) while nearly equal percentages of males (16%) and females (15%) have tattoos.

This survey was conducted online between July 14 and 20, 2003 by Harris Interactive(R) among a nationwide sample of 2,215 adults.

How do tattoos make people feel?

Among Americans with tattoos, 34% said having a tattoo has made them feel sexier. Interestingly, more tattooed females (42%) feel this way than males (25%).

Additionally, those with tattoos said that having a tattoo has made them feel more rebellious (29%) while others said a tattoo makes them feel more attractive (26%). But tattoos apparently won't do much for your intelligence or your physique, as few Americans reported that tattoos make them feel more intelligent (5%), more healthy (4%), or more athletic (3%).

How do people without tattoos feel about those with them?

Many Americans who do not have tattoos said they think that people with tattoos are less attractive (42%), less sexy (36%) and less intelligent (31%). They also think that those with tattoos are more rebellious (57%). In contrast, only 29% of those with tattoos think they are more rebellious.

Do people regret getting tattoos?

A majority of Americans with tattoos (83%) do not regret getting them, while 17% do feel regret. The survey found that regret for getting a tattoo was highest among tattooed Republicans (24%) and among those living in the South (21%). And, the reason cited most often for feeling regret about getting tattoos was "because of the person's name in the tattoo" (16%).

TABLE 1

WHO HAS TATTOOS?

"How many tattoos do you currently have on your body?"

(People saying "one or more")

Base: All Adults
All Adults 16%
Region
East 14%
MidEast 14%
South 15%
West 20%
Sex
Male 16%
Female 15%
Race/Ethnicity
White 16%
Black 14%
Hispanic 18%
Age
18 - 24 13%
25 - 29 36%
30 - 39 28%
40 - 49 14%
50 - 64 10%
65 + 7%
Party I.D.
Republican 14%
Democratic 18%
Independent 12%
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual 31%

TABLE 2

REGRET HAVING A TATTOO?

"Do you ever regret getting a tattoo?"

Base: Currently Have a Tattoo
Yes 17%
No 83%

TABLE 3

WHY REGRET HAVING A TATTOO?

"Why do you regret getting a tattoo?"

Base: Yes, Regret Getting a Tattoo
Because of the person's name in the tattoo 16
Don't like the way it looks 82
Faded/unclear over time 11
It was stupid 11
It is visible even when I don't want it to be 8
It was a rash decision 3
Got an infection/disease 2
I'm a different person now 2
Effects my job/getting a job 2

TABLE 4

HOW HAVE A TATTOO MAKES ME FEEL

"Please complete the following sentence:"

"Compared to not having a tattoo having a tattoo has made me feel..."

Base: Currently Have a Tattoo
Difference % More Less No
Intelligent % 5 3 93
Sexy % 34 1 65
Spiritual % 20 1 79
Rebellious % 29 1 70
Attractive % 26 4 70
Athletic % 3 1 97
Healthy % 4 * 95
Strong % 16 * 84

TABLE 5

ATTITUDES OF THOSE WITHOUT A TATTOO

"Please complete the following sentence:"

"Compared to people without tattoos, I think people with tattoos are..."

Base: All Without Tattoos
Difference % More Less No
Intelligent % * 31 69
Sexy % 8 36 56
Spiritual % 3 29 68
Rebellious % 57 2 41
Attractive % 4 42 54
Athletic % 4 14 82
Healthy % 1 21 78
Strong % 8 8 84

Methodology

The survey was conducted online within the United States between July 14 and 20, 2003 among a nationwide cross section of 2,215 adults. Figures for age, sex, race, education and number of adults in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. "Propensity score" weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

In theory, with probability samples of this size, one could say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a statistical precision of plus or minus two percentage points of what they would be if the entire adult population had been polled with complete accuracy. Unfortunately, there are several other possible sources of error in all polls or surveys that are probably more serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. They include refusals to be interviewed (no response), question wording and question order, and weighting. It is impossible to quantify the errors that may result from these factors. This online survey is not a probability sample.

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