10 Dangers of DIY Tattoos That Teens Should Know About

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diy tattoos

Perhaps you’ve always thought about a small tattoo on your hip or an inspirational saying on your wrist, but you’re just not able to commit for life. Whether you’re just looking for something quick or you aren’t looking to spend tons of money, DIY tattoos – whether via kit or not – are a potentially dangerous solution that people are turning to for custom tattoos.

The “stick and poke” technique, which is the process of tattooing by sticking a sharp object into ink and breaking the skin with it, has been used for centuries in some tribal cultures, and has now been marketed and packaged in a cool looking kit. But beware; this style sensation has many hidden risk factors.

Of course, if you can’t commit but you’re still looking for some “ink,” there are alternatives like fake temporary tattoos that offer safe and inexpensive ways to customize your look.

Avoid DIY tattoos for these reasons:

1. It’s Unsterile

Professional tattoo artists have specialized knowledge on techniques to keep tools and ink sterile at all times, in order to reduce to risk of infection. Tattoo product manufacturers are held to high standards to ensure that at every step, from production to use, you are not at risk from unwanted toxins.

However, DIY kits have been linked to contaminated ink and needles. As you may imagine, by stabbing yourself with contaminated ink or tools directly into your bloodstream, you are at great risk for potentially life-threatening infections.

2. Scarring

Because most DIY tattooists aren’t trained professionals, the incidence of scarring is much higher. Not only can this make the area look unattractive, it can lead to years of pain and sensitivity in the area, totally negating the benefits of a tattoo.

3. Bruising

You can easily poke a blood vessel by mistake when DIY tattooing, which can lead to serious bruising and make it impossible to finish a tattoo.

4. Allergic Reactions

Some people develop reactions to tattoo ink, ranging from serious to minor in scale. Professionals know what to look for, and you may not realize that you are causing long-term harm or if you are in immediate danger.

5. Improper Care and Treatment

Scarring can easily occur with an improperly healed tattoo, but there are also greater complications to muscle use and functioning if a tattoo is not properly healed. People often forget that tattoos are essentially small open wounds, and if not treated as such, may heal incorrectly.

6. No One is Asking you Twice

Here’s the deal, some people get a certain ”liquid courage” and decide that a tattoo is for them. Reputable tattoo artists will never work on someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol for several reasons. One is the obvious: a tattoo is forever and you don’t want to make that decision if you’re not clear-headed. Additionally, being under the influence can thin your blood and impede healing, so it leaves you far more open to scarring or infection.

7. Now Trending

One of the most recommended things a tattoo artist tells those searching for ink is to avoid anything “trendy.” Once the style is gone, you’re left with a lifelong reminder, and the immediacy of a DIY tattoo makes it too easy to follow the pack.

8. It Can End Up More Expensive

You may think you’re avoiding the cost of an expensive tattoo, but in reality, it is far more likely that you’ll pay much more in medical, removal, and/or fixing costs in the long run.

9. It May be Illegal

In certain areas you are actually required to have a license or other certification in order to give tattoos, and in these cases DIY tattooing yourself or your friends could lead to a heap of trouble.

10. Life-long Mistake

You’re not a professional, and one slip of the hand can easily lead to an embarrassing mistake that either needs a professional to fix, or expensive removal treatment.

Would you give yourself a DIY tattoo?


Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.


  1. I couldn’t even bring myself to get a professional tattoo. There is no way I’d do it myself. But I imagine there are people out there who would. I hope they read this.

  2. Beth Niebuhr says:

    No, I wouldn’t give myself a tattoo. I have no desire to have one. The reasons not to mess with your own skin that you gave are further proof that DIY tattoos are a bad idea. I didn’t know that it is illegal to give even yourself a tattoo in some places.

  3. Wow – I probably shouldn’t be surprised but I am. I do have a tattoo – two actually – but it would never occur to me to do anything like that myself. Thank you for sharing this information because obviously it’s needed.

  4. I would not get a tattoo of any kind – whether permanent or fake. They are just not me.

    Teenagers are risking their lives if they consider DIY tattoos.

  5. Krystle — I worry about all the people I see sporting tattoos these days. It’s a big fad but how many (even if they’ve gone to a reputable tattoo artist) will live to regret doing it. Maybe a little tattoo, but nowadays they are getting larger and larger. It’s “regular” people, too, and not just hippies or creative types. A visible tattoo could lose you a job or even a potential spouse. I was at a concert the other night and two young women came in, nicely dressed with sleeveless dresses — and large tattoos traveling down their arms. It wasn’t attractive at all. It they wanted to get attention they did, but for the wrong reason in my view.

    • I’m not a big fan of huge tattoos either. I think it takes something away from the person. You don’t see them, you see the tattoo. It’s a focus thing, but like anything I think if they are a good human being the tattoos could become invisible to the right person. Probably not an employer though.

  6. I have to say I am opposed to all tattoos. This is because of what they had always represented before modern times. They were used for ownership or identification.
    Roman days they were used to show someone in the legion, to make sure they could catch deserters. Tribes used them to show others which group they belonged.
    Slaves were tattooed to show ownership, and of course Jews were tattooed by the Nazis.
    It is funny how something like a tattoo has changed to show individuality, when it started out the opposite.
    If I ever even thought about getting one, it would be done by a professional.

  7. Pamela Chollet says:

    I can’t even imagine doing anything like this.You’d have to be out of your mind! And it’s not like there’s a shortage of tattoo shops in every city. Here in LA you can find 4 or 5 on one street. I would say if you decide to give yourself a tattoo making good decisions isn’t one of your strengths.

    • Some desperate teens could be talked into this. My mother in law attempted when she was younger. She was going to write her name on her hand. She got the letter L for Linda and didn’t make it any further!

  8. I’m with you on scotching the tattoo idea. If your teen is enamored with an image of some sort, then I would recommend that you go to a custom T-shirt place and get it on a T-shirt; subsequently, if s/he has a ‘falling out’ with the image, then you can just get rid of the shirt.

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