Inked: Tattoos in the Workplace

Are tattoos more accepted in today’s workplace? As members of the beauty industry, do you think it’s more accepted than in corporate America? We asked nail techs what they thought about visible tattoos at work and most of you told us it should be no big deal, but there seems to still be some stereotyping that comes along with that skin ink.

“I don’t think visible tattoos in a corporate setting would be very accepted, but in other workplaces tattoos fit right in. Tattoos are becoming mainstream and almost a fashion accessory in some cases. I think tattoos are very accepted in the beauty industry! We are all creative and it is a form of self-expression. Look at the Barbie that was released last year with pink hair and tattoos.

In my case I have my knuckles tattooed, both arms fully tattooed, my chest done, my calves, and my back. I don’t dress any differently for work then I do in my normal life so my tattoos show — that’s the way it is. I have spent a lot of money on my tattoos and have some amazing artwork so why would I cover them? I have interviewed at a few different salons and my tattoos were never brought up. My talent outshined my tattoos. Every time I get a new tattoo, my mom says, ‘What if you have to change salons?’ And my response is, ‘Out of the last five hairstylists you have had, which one of them wasn’t tattooed?’ That usually ends the conversation.

Do I feel there is a stigma attached? Sure, and that might never go away because people are entitled to their opinion. I have hardly had bad feedback from my clients. I have heard coworkers’ clients make rude comments. I specifically heard someone say, ‘How can someone who makes that many poor choices in her life be good at anything?’ I responded, ‘Oh did I show you the October issue of NAILS Magazine with my published work in it?’ That’s all it took. Her client said she was sorry and was quiet the rest of her service. It didn’t hurt my feelings or make me mad. But like the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. Best quote I ever heard was, ‘The only difference between tattooed people and non-tattooed people is tattooed people don’t care if you are not tattooed.’“

— Amanda Lenher, Posare Salon, Las Vegas

“I have 11 tattoos that I am able to cover up. Several of the gals that work at my day spa and salon also have them. The younger generation seems to have no problem with it at all. It is the older generation — stylists and patrons — that are requesting they be covered up. However, the majority of the tattoo complaints have been made when a person with tattoos shows them off by wearing skimpy clothing. That is more of a problem about the clothing. At the same time, if it was appropriate to sneak a peek at everybody at your salon, it sure would be interesting to see just how many of them have even just a little heart tattoo hidden somewhere and won’t admit it. So in my opinion, we all need to wear our hearts on our sleeves and perhaps be more professional and not gossip by offering our patrons some water, coffee, or even better, a nice glass of wine.”

— Natalie Peters, Capelli International Day Spa and Salon, Yorba Linda, Calif.

According to U.S. News & World Report, tattooing has become one of America’s fastest-growing categories of retail business over the last 10 years. There are now an estimated 15,000 tattoo studios in operation. And by best estimates of what I could find online, approximately 15% of Americans have at least one tattoo. In 2010, according to the Pew Research Center, it was noted that 39% of millennials (those born after 1980) have at least one tattoo. (At NAILS, four out of 12 of us have tattoos. I have several visible tattoos myself.)

We wanted to see what nail techs thought of tattoos in the workplace. We asked our Facebook ( and Twitter ( followers to chime in.

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The two-foot-square area between a nail tech’s mouth and work area; the area wherein dust, vapors, and particles can be inhaled if a nail...
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