Some professions are more open to tattoos than others. And much of the time, the issue of tattoos is directly related to an employer’s dress code, which might regulate the concealment of any tattoos.
This can be a problem because certain people in certain industries can be rather strict.
For example, if you have a number of tattoos, you might not be able to pursue a career as a flight attendant, because most airline companies regulate the dress code to require tattoos to be concealed and the design of the airline’s uniform determines whether a tattoo can actually be covered or not.
That might sound unfair at first, but passengers could find it difficult to concentrate on the safety briefing if the flight attendant had, say, a prominent (and inappropriate) forearm tattoo of a mermaid or a sailor.
But what about cosmetologists, who make artful adjustments to a client’s appearance? Can’t they possibly have some body art of their own?
Yes, cosmetologists can have tattoos. However, depending on the salon you apply to work at and your clientele, you might be discriminated against because of them.
Whether or not cosmetologists can have tattoos is a bit of a gray area, so let’s get to the bottom of it!
Are Tattoos Okay in Cosmetology?
Overall, cosmetology is a more artistic career path that is always up-to-date with the latest trends! And right now, tattoos are trendy and are becoming more widely accepted. Because of this, in general, there is more acceptance of beauticians having tattoos than most other professions.
Related Read: Top 10 reasons to pursue a career in cosmetology
So yes, cosmetologists can technically have tattoos, but depending on the salon you work at and your clientele, you might encounter some discrimination.
And before you go asking yourself whether a potential salon should discriminate against you because of your body art, you should probably be asking: will they?
Discrimination in Cosmetology
Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “Can they actually discriminate against me because of my appearance?”
Well in a way, yes you can, although there’s more to it than that.
There is legislation that protects against appearance-based discrimination in the workplace. But there is a distinction between physical appearance and personal appearance – and this applies to all industries, not just cosmetology.
Physical vs Personal Appearance-Based Discrimination
Personal and physical appearance sound like they’d be the same thing, but they aren’t, and a few changed letters can make a world of difference. To illustrate this point, we’ll use an (unlikely) example.
Let’s just say that you’re a 4’2” albino Latina who wants to work as a cosmetologist. The salon you interview at cannot discriminate against you based upon the aspects of your physical appearance that you have no control over, such as your height, the pigmentation of your skin, and your ethnicity.
But, let’s say that you’re a 4’2” albino Latina covered in tattoos who wants to work as a cosmetologist. Your tattoos are something you’ve chosen to have done, and as such, they contribute to your overall personal appearance (and there’s nothing more personalized than tattoos).
Because it’s something you’ve freely chosen to have done, a potential employer could legally discriminate against you because of this and choose to not hire you.
But how would you even know if you were treated differently because of your tattoos? The truth of the matter is, you might not.
You might feel that your interview at the salon went really well, only to learn that someone else was chosen. The reasons for you not getting the job might not officially be due to your tattoos. But how can you know if they were an issue in the first place?
What do employers think?
Tattoos being a no-go area can be kind of logical with some careers, such as law enforcement, education, and the military, but cosmetology is different, and common sense needs to come into play.
If you’re applying at a suburban salon with an older, potentially more conservative clientele, then your tattoos can count against you. And as such, any potential salon owner wanting to keep their clients happy might choose another stylist.
But if you’re applying at a hip, inner-city salon with suitably hip clients, your tattoos might even be seen in a positive light. Those salon owners might be excited to have a cosmetologist that’s relatable to their clients.
Related Read: Top 20 Highest Paying Cities for Cosmetologists
Ultimately, you should be able to discern what types of salons would be more accepting and which ones might not want that type of image, and you can apply accordingly.
What do customers think?
It’s difficult to gauge what a client might think if your tattoos are visible when you’re working on them, but client’s own appearance can be an indicator. They might even be one of the four out of ten Americans who have a tattoo!
Perhaps the only way to arrive at the conclusion that a customer might be offended is if your tattoos contain something that could conceivably be offensive, as subjective as this is.
Inappropriate tattoos for beauty professionals
Tattoos featuring nudity, sexual content, and curse words are obviously something that might cause offense if they’re seen by the salon’s clients (as well as your co-workers), but you might not even be aware that your tattoos could be considered to be inappropriate.
Additionally, anything that can be seen as affiliated with gangs or crimes (like a teardrop) might scare away some clients.
And yet, what’s the big deal? As a beauty professional who wants to look appropriately professional, can’t you just cover those tattoos up?
What About When a Tattoo Can’t Be Seen?
Do you think Dame Judi Dench proudly displays her tattoo when she plays Queen Victoria? No, of course she doesn’t. But her period costume makes it easier to cover it up.
This might not be the case when working at a salon, even though covering up might be the best course of action for the salon you intend to work at.
Does the Salon Provide Uniforms for Their Staff?
Do your research, and this just involves taking a look at the salon you’re applying at, and checking whether staff actually wear a uniform. If so, it’s going to be mandatory, and you need to consider whether or not the uniform will cover all your tattoos.
Even if the uniform will not give adequate coverage, it’s not a deal breaker, even though the visibility of your tattoos might now play more of a role when it comes to if you’ll be hired.
What About When You Can Wear Your Own Clothes?
When no uniform is required, you have more control, but you still need to be practical. You might need to wear something that covers your arms and legs, or wherever your tattoos might be located.
But you also need to consider if you can do that all year round, even in hot temperatures. Can you comfortably work on clients with your body covered to this extent in the heat of summer?
You might need to look into different clothing materials or accessories to cover up should you have a tattoo you or your employer is worried about.
Cosmetologist tattoo ideas
What about when you want to get a new tattoo after you get the job at the salon? Ideally, you should aim for some ink on a part of your body that won’t be revealed in the workplace.
Related Read: Disadvantages of Being a Cosmetologist
If you do decide to get a new tat, you could even opt for something that acts as an advertisement for your craft, like permanent makeup exquisitely tattooed on your face (even though this will definitely count as a visible tattoo)!
Incorporate shears and a comb into a classic tattoo design
Get both arms involved…
…or every finger!
Make a colorful splash…
…or keep it super-subtle!
No matter how colorful your tattoos might be, it’s still a gray area when you think about whether they’ll affect your job prospects at a particular salon. A lot depends on the specific salon, but it’s important to remember that there’s a huge difference between visible tattoos, and those that are hidden!
And at the end of the day, whether or not you have tattoos shouldn’t be a deal breaker if you want to become a cosmetologist!
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