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Trends, The Trades And Tattoo Removal

Trends, the Trades and Tattoo Removal

The tattoo-removal industry is booming. And it is expected to hit $83.2 million annually.


“Most tattoo removals are performed on people in their 30s and 40s,” says Michael Kullick, a San Francisco-based plastic surgeon. “What was attractive in your 20s is not so attractive in your 30s,” he says.

Removing a tattoo costs about $500, depending on the color and depth of the ink. Black ink is the easiest to remove. People with yellow or pastel color tattoos pay much more and they endure more pain during the removal process.

Perhaps young folks who are considering a tattoo should think twice.  But, the data says they probably won’t.

Most tattoo removals are performed on people in their 30s and 40s.

Revenue for the tattoo industry overall, is estimated at $3.4 billion and it is growing.  There are about 8,000 tattoo parlors in the USA.


The stereotypical Mom tattoo.

Social trends change and tattoos can become more socially acceptable.  And if this is true, then why are so many folks in their 30s and 40s getting their tattoos removed?

Perhaps career aspirations and corporate upward mobility are delivering a dose of reality.  Looking cool may not pay the bills, but a job promotion just might do the trick.

Some service companies establish dress code standards which include that arm tattoos be covered with long sleeve shirts.

During a recent training session with a lawn-care service company, I spoke about the importance of the first impression.

Then the seminar became a little more personal. One of the attendees, a lawn care professional named Jim, rolled up his sleeves to reveal several tattoos on both his arms. I invited Jim to the front of the class and he eagerly opened the top few buttons on his shirt to give the class a partial view of more tattoos on his chest.

Needless to say, Jim was heavily tattooed and he was very comfortable with his appearance. In addition, Jim was tall, smart, and articulate. He had a great smile, a positive attitude and a muscular build. Jim’s verbal presentation was in stark contrast to his physical appearance. This is because a big guy with tattoos conveys a stereotypical negative image of a trouble maker.

Jim admitted that this had been a problem for him in the past. “Customers were afraid of me when I wore sleeveless shirts.” He said, “When I asked a customer a question about their lawn care needs, it was hard for me to break through their first impression. Their visual image of my tattoos had already created a bias, so that even though I spoke in a polite and professional manner – it didn’t matter. The customer’s mind was already made up.”

Customers were afraid of me when I wore sleeveless shirts.

Jim knew his employer trusted him and that he was a diligent worker, so he did not fear getting fired due to his appearance. Without being asked by his employer, Jim used common sense and averted future, negative first impressions by wearing a long sleeve shirt. It was as simple as that. I bet all employers wish they had an employee like Jim.

In Jim’s case, a manager did not have to intervene. However, what if Jim was reluctant to wear a long sleeve shirt? Would a manager have the right to insist upon a dress code in the best interest of ensuring customer satisfaction? The answer is YES, providing the company has set expectations and a published dress code.

After the seminar, I asked Jim whether he would still have gotten all his tattoos, knowing what he knows now. “Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, I would have only got a few discreet tattoos that are easy to hide,” Jim said.

In a market driven economy, customer demands arise and this results in new products and services. It appears that tattoo removal has reached a tipping point and it’s a service for which people will pay.  Trends, the trades and tattoo removal have undoubtedly culminated in new market demand.  The tattoos-trends-trades triumvirate will be an interesting social trend to observe.

I suppose the best option might be to not get the tattoo in the first place. But that’s just me.

Steve Coscia

The road from professional musician to thirty-year customer service veteran to best-selling author and speaker is not a typical career path, but Steve Coscia may have started a new trend.

Coscia is one of the most widely published and quoted authorities in the customer service industry. He has published more than 200 articles, four books and a series of training DVDs. His college curriculum is taught at institutions of higher learning throughout the United States and Canada.

This Post Has 13 Comments
  1. I’m an instructor at a technical college for our Major Appliance and Refrigeration Technology Programs. This article strikes a powerful cord with me in that it is frustrating to see young talent walk through our doors and have to tell them that their artwork will limit there employment prospects. Another concern is body piercing. Try talking with a dispatcher, sales rep, or technician with a tongue post or sub-dermal implant. I’m seeing this not only in the high-school and college crowd, but also in the 30’s and 40 year olds. What are people thinking?

  2. Thanks for confirming what we already suspected. The adage “you only get one chance to make a good first impression” still rings true, and yes we do have restrictions about piercings and tats.

  3. I have several tattoos, two of them are large ones on each forearm, One of those wraps around my left arm, its a cover up of something I did in my 20,s. I have been in the industry for 18 years and on all my jobs I offered to were long sleeves. Only one of the jobs that I had wanted me to keep them covered. On all my jobs I have always enjoyed highest marks from costumer reviews. My ink has never really been an issue because were appropriate to cover them I make no issue of it.
    Looking back I have no regrets, currently in 6 years I have had 4 promotion starting from instructor and now Director of Education. All with exposed tattoos, however when appropriate I will were the long sleeve button down with tie.

    I believe the type of tattoos you get can have a lot to do with if they should be covered up. Also my example is me, not all story’s will be the same. If you are going to have tattoos you should choose wisely and only have them in places were you can cover them up should it be necessary. I am glad I did not get any on my neck or hands.

    Greg Harris

  4. This old adage goes back to something Zig Ziglar noted decades ago. He notes he was in WW2 and partially went to war for everyone’s right to do as they choose, i.e. freedom. However, he followed up with, and I paraphrase; I respect their right to have tattoos and wear what they want and have the hair style they choose. But they also have to respect my right to NOT give them a job if I so choose.

    Secondly, I recently received a call from a local industry partner whom I had sent two smart and articulate students over for a Co-Op interview and he said, and I do quote: ” Do not sent people over here with holes in their ears!” he further stated he sends technicians into people’s homes and “momma does not feel comfortable” being home alone with someone who’s appearance is concerning to them.

    So, as Steve notes, our decisions will follow us, for good or bad.

  5. This morning’s “Tattoo Removal” blog struck a nerve with more single-day website traffic than we’ve seen all year.

    The above comments reflect the experiences and opinions of well-informed professionals. I invite others to share their comments in the interest of a constructive dialogue.

  6. Steve

    As you are well aware, I have had military experience during the 1970’s and had a tattoo on each forearm depicting a story. Though faded and practically illegible, they are not now or have been in the past an item of contention for me during my 40 year long progression through my career. When I got out of the Navy however, I was denied an application at a Country Club near home because of the art work.. (They would now accept my membership it turns out, tats and all!)

    Recently during a speak at a very prominent party of PHD’s regarding the Skills Gap and Education Shortcomings, I was properly covered up and flowing along quite elegantly, so much prose was being spewed that one member actually pulled out a Thesaurus from her desk and began leafing through it during the presentation. I removed my jacket at one point and then rolled up my sleeves to get a point across that we needed to get to work together using the visual analogy of rolling up those sleeves and getting to work.

    The lady gasped when she viewed my art work, and not to my chagrin. I believe that a persons’ demeanor and acumen during business allows the audience to forget about that first impression, leaving the question (if needed) about the tattoos until later on, which happens seldom happens any more. My father stated that I was crazy when I got them for the same reason as those previously stated, but I for one would not change a thing.

    Social stigma and first impressions go hand in hand, as there are many ethnic pre-conceived issues that prevail still today out there. I refuse to get on that band wagon personally. If, however, there were many body piercings or uncovered extremities with gothic/distasteful art work, I would not seriously entertain that person for employment due to their bad taste, not their choice to do something different. By the way, the Military frowns on tattoos, and there are regs. that can punish a member should they get one. It is called destroying Govt. property… It is not widely enforced, but is there.

    1. Hi, Joe,

      I’d like to interview you for a story on physical appearance and first impressions in the HVACR industry. I think you have a more progressive view on tattoos that some people, so I’d love to include your insight. Would you please email me ( Thanks!

  7. I look to hire the guys with tats showing especially big guys that are gang affiliated.

    I mean the tats on the neck , forearms some even facial and they follow my van the job site on their motor cycle

    This way they hear us coming and some how I never had a problem collecting funds or having my prices questioned when work is completed.

  8. LOL – the comment from Sylvan I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. My dad was a HVACR contractor (back then we called the air conditioning side – AOR – meaning “add-on replacement – of course today it is just replacement – most of the add-on A/C’s are pretty well gone) and collections had always been an issue – in my teens I had a Triumph Motorcycle – I didn’t consider riding in behind Dad’s service truck when he left the shop to make collection calls. I had the right bike, the long hair then, and “yelp” a tattoo – I should have ripped my shirt off and revealed my USA Eagle Marine Corp style tattoo and scream “pay up or else” as he pulled into the driveway. It would be the “or else” that would most likely got me killed – because, you see I am only 5’6” tall and weigh about 130 pounds (soak and wet – pocket full of change) – don’t think I would have scared many into “paying up!” Really enjoy the humor in Sylvan’s post.

  9. I find it amazing that people are still so quick to judge on appearance. I am not shocked by it because I run into the narrow mindedness, blinder wearing, shallow people everywhere. I went to Whole Foods the other day and there were many people working there with tattoos and body piercings . I found the ones I had interaction with were very articulate and knowledgeable about the products I was asking them about. I will continue to go there because I immediately thought how great it was that Whole Foods was not a closed minded industry. I love our country and the fact that we have the freedom to be who we want to be. Personal expression is what gives us the flavor of life. I do not want to live in a world of programed robots that walk around all looking identical and spewing out pre-scripted ideas and dialog.
    I wear a full beard and have a full back tattoo and tattoos on my arms. I know a lot of people that have had old tattoos removed so they could have new and better tattoos put back on.
    I want to know, work with, interact with people that think outside the box. People that are not so insecure that they feel they have to conform to other peoples interpretations of attractive, appropriate, or acceptable thoughts and ideas.
    Barbi was a plastic, artificial likeness of a woman, doll! It kills me when you see all these people that think that is the accepted and acceptable way to look. They spend unrealistic amounts of money to look like that and are miserable because they can not except themselves the way they are and for who they are.
    I would rather have a purple haired, pierced, tattooed, person setting in front of me that has solid fresh ideas able to articulate their thoughts and ideas then a suit and tie wearing robot who is just a follower with no real expectations in life other than to never be noticed or asked to stand up, stand out, or show any initiative.
    How exciting and fun would the world and life be if we all looked, talked, and behaved the same?
    Just me thoughts and twist on the subject.

  10. Interesting post Steve…Congrats on the dialogue.
    I can say i have had an interesting journey with Tattoos’s.
    Full disclosure i have a few smaller tattoos that are not visible in short sleeves. Even still I have also been responsible for advocating for a visible tattoo free policy at times. largely based on the idea of first impressions.

    However as we looked at customer feedback and the data as opposed to gut and dare i say possible dated viewpoints i was forced to change my opinion.
    I now believe that as tattoos have become prevalent in society at large, the threshold for reactions to tattoos and the pejorative associations may have changed.
    I look forward to seeing how this trend develops

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