Every Single Little Thing To Consider Before Getting A Matching Tattoo

If done right, matching tattoos are a great way of feeling closer to someone. Deciding on a similar ink and heading to the tattoo parlor with someone who means a lot to you can actually be about much more than just the tattoo itself — it can transform into a very memorable and meaningful experience. "It's a fun way to commemorate what someone means to you," tattoo artist Janice Danger explained to Women's Health. "You come in together, you plan the design together — it's a great bonding experience all around." Psychologist Joshua Klapow agreed, explaining to Electric Street Tattoo, "Matching tattoos and the act of getting them says as much about each individual as they do about the couple together."

It's not just for us mere mortals, either! We've seen a bunch of celebrities get matching designs over the years, which they've proudly shown off across social media and red carpets alike. From the likes of rekindled lovers Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck to cousins Hailey and Ireland Baldwin, there are plenty of celebs out there who've shown off their close bonds by getting inked together. 

But while it can be a whole lot of fun, it's also important to remember that getting a tattoo isn't a decision you should undertake lightly. In fact, there are a few things you should make sure you've considered before that needle touches your skin.

Find a design that works for everyone

When you go for matching tattoos, be sure not to get carried away and get something you probably wouldn't under someone else's influence. If you get a design just to go with the flow but you're not really feeling it, you're far more likely to end up regretting it. So make sure you put in your two cents! "One of the partners should never decide for the couple," tattoo artist Navya Rao told India Today. "The idea of getting inked and even the design should always be mutually agreed upon."

You'll also want to consider your own style when it comes to choosing what you want and not go too heavily on one person's preference. Remember that, regardless of if you're going for a couple's tattoo or getting ink with a larger group of friends or family, your tattoo needs to make sense to you personally. "Pick something where, if the friendship doesn't last, you have a tattoo that stands alone and wouldn't need a further explanation," Janice Danger explained to Women's Health.

To find out what you like, get online and get inspired. Tattoo artist Brandon Kemp told Well+Good that you can never do too much research, and you ideally wouldn't be putting something permanent on your body that bonds you for life with someone else on the spur of the moment. "Like a romantic partnership, it's not a decision to be entered into lightly," Kemp shared.

Really think about why you want matching tattoos

What is it that's sparked your interest in matching tattoos? Is it a cute way to show off your love for your friends, family, or significant other? Does it remind you of the fun times you shared? Or is it just something you're doing on impulse, or that someone else wants more?

By working out exactly why you want to get matching tattoos, you'll know if you're getting inked because you really want to or if it's covering for something else. "As a life coach, I would ask any client of mine to examine the personal meaning and/or implications of partnering with someone else to enact a very permanent form of self-representation," life coach Noelle Cordeaux said to Elite Daily. After all, as The North Tattoos' John Engfors told Dollar Shave Club, some couples may get inked together to reignite a lost spark — but it rarely ends up reviving a relationship.

If you really think about it and decide you're getting a tattoo more for the sake of it than because you have a burning passion for one, that's the perfect time to sit down with the person or people you're looking to get inked with and talk it through together. If you find you want to have an appointment with a needle because you genuinely want to go through the process with someone else, then you're all good to go!

Don't underestimate placement

Before you head to the tattoo studio, you'll want to have a conversation with whoever you're planning to match with about where you want to get your design (and if you plan on getting it in the same place). For example, one of you may be looking to get something on your foot, while the other may be thinking about getting a tattoo on their hand. Working out if you'd prefer the placement to be the same will save you a lot of time when the needle comes out.

If the ink is your first, some recommended getting tattooed somewhere discreet. Tattoodo's Justine Morrow told Bustle that many people may feel less pressure if they're getting their tattoo somewhere that can be covered. So, if you're feeling a little anxious but you still know you want to go through with the tattoo, placing it somewhere it's not permanently on display (but where you can still show people when they ask you about your matchy-matchy memento) may be ideal. "There are places on the body that are great not only for first-timers trying to tone down the glaring evidence of body modification, but for couples making their mark on each other's skin," Morrow shared, suggesting places like the ankle, side of the foot, ribs, or hips.

Be prepared for your tattoos to turn out different

One of the biggest things to remember when getting a matching tattoo with someone is that it may not look exactly the same on every person. In fact, the more people who get the tattoo, the less likely it is to look the same for everyone. Different skin tattoos differently, and the final look of the ink can also vary slightly depending on your body shape. Even if you get a tattoo in the exact same place and of the same size, it can still end up looking slightly altered or even more stretched out on different body types. As Brandon Kemp told Well+Good, the end product can really vary from person to person simply based on their skin type. "That's just the nature of it. Everybody's skin is different," he shared.

So, particularly if you look different from the person or people you're getting inked with (you may have an age difference or vastly different skin color, for example) you're going to want to spend a little extra time thinking about what tattoo to get. Then prepare yourself for your matching tats to maybe look just a little different than you envisioned.

Matching tattoos doesn't mean identical designs

Matching tattoos don't actually have to be identical! Though you may prefer to get the exact same thing with your partner, friend, or family, you don't have to get the exact same design in order to get matching tattoos. For example, as a group or a twosome, you could head to the tattoo parlor and all get a different flower on your bodies. It wouldn't be exactly the same, but it would certainly still match. 

One same-but-different tattoo you should probably avoid, though, is a name, tattoo artist Brittny Abad told HuffPost. "I always recommend that people avoid names at all costs because names are so difficult to work around," she explained, adding that she has tattooed names on people who are perfectly happy with their choice. If you're not certain though, you may want to stay away from names, initials, and pet names, too.

Not going totally like for like is a great way to get around issues of disagreement on the design, and can also eliminate the anxiety that can come from the same ink potentially looking different on each of you. "The cool thing about friends and lovers is that opposites do attract, and even if you're really similar, you're still different people. This may be a great time to celebrate those differences," Justine Morrow explained to Bustle.

Know what you want to do if things don't work out

We don't want to be pessimistic, but it's probably a good idea to consider from the start what you'd do about your matching tattoo if you decided you no longer want the person or people you got inked with in your life. If you broke up with your partner, if your friendship broke down, or if you became estranged from your family, would you still be happy with the tattoo? Is it a design you could add onto or change? Or would you opt to have it removed entirely by laser? 

"The best way to get couples tattoos that you won't regret if you break up is to go with an actual image [rather than words or dates] that means something to the both of you, but can also be customized so neither person has the exact same tattoo," Broken Art Tattoo's Derrek Everette suggested to Dollar Shave Club.

Once you've thought about these factors, it'll make choosing your design, placement, and well, pretty much every decision, a lot easier. If you think you'd probably change it if things didn't work out, go for a simpler design you could modify with a new design. If you think you'd have the tat removed entirely, it's probably a good idea to go for something small so you'll be saving on the cash (and the pain!) if you ever decide you'd rather not keep it.

Tattoo removal can get be expensive and lengthy

If you do decide that removing your matching tattoo is a viable option in the case your friendship or relationship breaks down in the future, you may want to take that into consideration from the start. Tattoo removal can not only be pricey, but it can also take quite a while to complete, depending on your ink. Not to mention, it's hardly the most pain-free process. 

Removing tattoos can take between three and six laser sessions, which have to be spread out in order to ensure the skin has enough time to heal. Because of the recovery time, it could take anywhere between 12 and 24 weeks to actually get the design properly removed from your skin. With that in mind, when it comes to getting a matching tattoo, you may want to choose somewhere you can keep covered during the removal process — just in case. 

It's also worth thinking about what future partners might think of your ink. As Jeannie Beaver, a lasering specialist and family nurse practitioner, told HuffPost, it may not even necessarily be you who's bothered by the ink if things go south. Beaver explained a lot of people end up getting old tattoos removed because they got them in previous relationships and they're now causing an issue with their new partner.

Can you handle the aftermath together?

One important thing to think about before getting a matching tattoo is if you'd be able to deal with the idea that there could be some complications. As long as you get your ink from a safe, reputable studio, there should be few if not zero issues, but it can't hurt to think about how you'd handle it if a tattoo isn't healing how you thought it would. If one or more tattoos turn out perfect, but another results in an adverse reaction, would it ruin your experience? Or would one of you feel extra guilty? 

Some tattoos can be prone to infection due to things like dirty needles and unsanitary environments, which can result in painful skin conditions like swelling, rashes, and fever. "One of them might have a great experience and the healing works out well; the other one might be the opposite and now you've got a couple who's disgruntled because one person has a really good-looking tattoo, while the other one doesn't," Brandon Kemp pointed out to Well+Good.

That's why going together to the same place at the same time is advised, as well as at least one of you doing some deep research into where you're going to make sure the studio is reputable. "Usually, when a tattoo artist can take you right away, there is a reason — whether they are still new/an apprentice or lack good work and are not busy," tattoo artist Gianna Caranfa told Insider.

Remember not everyone will want matching tattoos -- and that's okay!

Though some people may see getting a tattoo as no big deal, for other people it's a massive deal. And, whatever side of the fence you sit on, it's important to be prepared to hear a no when you ask someone to get a matching tattoo with you. And it's important to be okay with that and respect their decision. Refusing to get a matching tattoo doesn't necessarily mean they aren't interested in getting serious – not everyone feels the same way about tattoos, and they may prefer to cement a friendship or romantic relationship in other ways.

Particularly when it comes to romantic partners, Navya Rao told India Today that a lot of people can feel pressured into getting inked — especially if their other half wants to for sentimental reasons. "A lot of times, one of the partners forces the other one to get a matching tattoo done for their own emotional security. That should never be the case," Rao shared.

If you're thinking of getting matching ink as a family or friend group, but one or more person just isn't feeling it, one of the best things you can do is get them involved in other ways. If you're all getting a certain word or artwork inked, they could, for example, get a t-shirt printed or have a custom piece of jewelry made showing the design instead.