I’ve been tattooed in Peru on multiple occasions going all the way back to 2008. Cusco Peru is where I met the tattooist who has done both of my sleeves.
My Peruvian tattoo artist now works in Germany but he started his career in Peru. And he completed my left sleeve in Peru. I’m a ‘tattoo tourist’ who frequently gets tattooed when traveling abroad.
Peru has some fantastic tattoo artists specialized in every style of tattooing you can think of. They even have specialists in scarification, piercing and body modifications including implants. Tattoos and body modification are ingrained in the culture of Peru.
Here’s everything you need to know about tattoos in Peru.
Getting a tattoo or piercing Peru
Can I get Tattooed In Peru?
Peru is one of the top travel destinations to get a tattoo abroad. It’s not only a foodies destination with stunning scenery and a vibrant culture; Peru has some of the best tattooists in the world.
Tattoos in Peru can be (and often are) world class. Tattooing and body modification are common in Peru. And the better artists work six (6 days) a week for twelve (12) hours a day tattooing locals and tourists alike. They get a lot of practice.
Having both of my tattoo sleeves done by a Peruvian tattoo artist I would not hesitate to recommend Peru as a destination to get tattooed. And having spent almost a year in Peru getting tattooed, I can say with certainty it’s a top travel destination for those people interested in tattoos and body modification.
Don’t just take my word for it. My friend Diego also got his tattoos done in Cusco Peru by the same group of artists.
How old do you have to be to get a tattoo in Peru?
In Peru, the legal age for getting a tattoo is 18 years old.
Are Tattoo Shops Safe In Peru?
As a general rule most tattoo shops in Peru are safe. Yet you need to take the same precautions and evaluate tattoo parlors in Peru in the same way you would at home.
You should always ensure they are using disposable needles, single use wrapping materials and an autoclave. You should ensure the shop is thoroughly cleaned after each client.
Be sure to evaluate the shops reputation online. Check Google reviews and both Instagram and Facebook to ensure that the tattoo studio in Peru has a good reputation.
Are Peruvian Tattoo Artists Good?
Tattoo artists in Peru are often world class. Yet you will need to do the same due diligence on your prospective Peruvian tattooist that you would in any other part of the world.
You need to look at the tattooist’s online portfolio on Instagram and Facebook. And check reviews of the tattooist on Google. You should also ensure that the artist is comfortable completing the style of tattoo that you are seeking to have done.
The Best City In Peru For Tattoos?
The best city in Peru for tattoos is Cusco. As Peru’s gateway to Machu Picchu Cusco draws in tourists from all over the world.
And tattooists do congregate where there are more tourists. Plus it’s Peru’s main party destination and well, the tattooists in Peru are a sociable lot.
Given that there are a lot of cashed up tourists looking to get souvenirs of their travels the tattooists in Cusco get a lot of practice tattooing a myriad of different styles everyday. As such the tattoo artists in Cusco Peru are generally of a higher caliber than those in different regions of Peru.
Are Tattoos In Peru Expensive?
Comparing the prices of tattoos in Peru to the United States, tattoos in Peru are generally cheaper. Tattoos in Peru are often 30-50% cheaper than the United States. And they’re on parity with Colombia.
When choosing a tattooist or shop the price of the tattoo should not be a factor in your decision. The cleanliness and reputation of the shop along with the skill of the tattoo artist should be the factors you consider when deciding to get a tattoo.
I would never choose a tattoo studio or tattooist based on price. Price is never a factor when I get tattooed. And using price as a factor in your decision making when choosing to get a tattoo often leads to regret.
Do Peruvians Like Tattoos?
Tattoos and body modification have a long history in Peru. And you will not find the same negative connotations associated with tattoos (i.e. criminality) that you do in some other cultures.
Tattoos in Peru today often mark out an individual as having more disposable income. And tattooists often earn far above the national average. Tattooing is a lucrative profession in Peru.
Where in some societies around the world people may actually cross the street to avoid a tattooed individual, that will not happen in Peru. The older generation of Peruvians will often not even notice your tattoos. And the younger generation of Peruvians will often admire them.
Do Not Get A Traditional Peruvian Tattoo
Getting a ‘traditional Peruvian tattoo’ is little cliche. And it looks a lot like cultural appropriation and down right stupidity as every other foreigner (extranjero) will likely have a similar tattoo.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen a foreign tourist get Nazca lines, Pachamama symbols or Inca crosses tattooed as a souvenir. They often just pick them from flash off the walls of whatever tattoo shop they walk into.
Virtually every tourist gets the same tattoo. It’s boring for the artists and is not a unique souvenir. Every other tourist has the same tattoo.
Peruvian tattooists are impressive artists. Have them design you something custom. A tattoo nobody else has. That way you won’t look like a silly ‘gringo’ who just walked into a tattoo shop in Peru and appropriated a symbol for Pachamama or some other Peruvian deity.
Get A Custom Tattoo Design While In Peru
Peruvian tattooists are most often highly capable artists. If you can describe to a Peruvian tattooist what you would like as a tattoo they can create a custom design.
Custom tattoo designs are easy to order in Peru. Simply visit your preferred artists and describe to them what you would like. Make an appointment to check the final design and have it tattooed. Be sure to leave a deposit when ordering custom tattoo designs.
Custom designs in Peru can often be ordered and tattooed on the same day for smaller pieces. And for larger tattoos it may take a few days at most.
Take Tattoo Numbing Cream for Tattoos In Peru
Numbing products are often unavailable in Peru. And no, the old ‘marching powder’ isn’t an effetive numbing agent. If you’re traveling to Peru for a tattoo you’re not going to be able to access quality numbing product once in Peru. Buy one in advance.
I personally tested and used dozens of different numbing creams with my Peruvian tattooist over the years. And we tested a new one on my full negative space blackout sleeve while I was in Germany. It was one of the best tattoo numbing creams I’ve used and it contains Lidocaine (5%), Prilocaine (5%) and Epinephine (1%).
Foods To Avoid Before And After A Tattoo In Peru
Do not eat pork before or after a tattoo in Peru. If pork isn’t prepared and preserved in the correct manner it can cause an infection.
Your tattooist in Peru will likely warn you not to eat pork and they aren’t joking. You should follow your tattooists advice in Peru and avoid all pork products until your tattoo is healed.
If pork hasn’t been kept hot enough [60 C (140 F) or above] or cold enough [4 C (40 F) or below] then you risk getting a scabby staphylococcus infection on your new tattoo from eating it.
An infection can seriously damage your new ink in its critical 2-3 week healing cycle.
I have first hand experience of bad pork following a long tattoo session on my left bicep. My tattooist told me not to eat pork.
The next day we were having a barbecue in the mountains around Cusco Peru. And he forgot he’d tattooed me the day before. Yet I also forgot he told me not to eat pork.
So when he handed me a pork chop I didn’t hesitate. The next day I had a staphylococcus infection that damaged his ink.
Don’t eat pork in Peru before or after your tattoo session. But definitely don’t eat pork after a tattoo session until your tattoo is healed.
Get To know Your Tattooist In Peru
Tattooists in Peru are a sociable lot. And you should get to know your Peruvian tattooist. Invite them out for a drink and get to know them. You’ll learn a lot about Peru, Peruvian culture and art.
I count a whole host of Peruvian tattooists among my closest friends. They’re extremely talented artists who began their careers in Peru and have now set up shops all around the world.