Tattoo Alternatives for Under-18s

Making marks on our bodies is hardly a new craze, but it's illegal to tattoo anyone under the age of 18. Until you're old enough, here are some alternatives and some things to think about.


Why can't I get a permanent tattoo?

The Tattooing of Minors Act 1969 makes it illegal to tattoo anyone under the age of 18, regardless of whether your parents or guardian consent to it.

Tattoo parlours need to be registered with their local authority, and must meet good standards for cleanliness and safety.

What if I do my own permanent tattoos?

Don't even think about it.

At best, you'll end up making a mess on your skin you can't get rid of.

There's also a serious risk you'll end up with a nasty infection or a bad scar.

What about transfer, stencil or foil tattoos?

You can buy transfer tattoos or ink and stencil tattoos in shops and over the internet.

We're not just talking about lick-and-stick kids tattoos either - some of them look just like the real thing and can last for weeks if you look after them.

Foil tattoos come in gold & silver and are really popular too!

What are henna tattoos?

Henna tattoos use a plant-based dye to stain the skin and come out reddish-brown, khaki or green. Henna is non toxic and has been used safely in India for hundreds of years.

It goes on as a paste in the desired pattern. It's then left on a while to stain the skin before being washed off with water. they fade gradually over time but usually last a couple of weeks.

Avoid 'black henna' - it contains hair dyes or other chemicals that shouldn't go on your skin.

You can do henna tattoos yourself or, for an expert job, look into getting it done at a beauty parlour.