Experts see rise in facial tattoo removals


It's generated more than 2 million views on Facebook in the past 24 hours; we're talking about the mug shot of 21-year-old Jose Guillermo Molina. He's charged with stabbing a three-year-old Houston boy in the neck. In addition to the crime, his heavily tattooed face is getting a lot of attention.

Houston Tattoo Removal Clinic is in the business of eliminating ink from the skin, and the staff is seeing more clients wanting facial tattoos removed.

"As they get older, they regret it and they need to get it off because they have to get a job or they need go into the military," said Celia Roberts, who removes tattoos.

One client went from face and neck tattoos to unmarked after a series of laser treatments.

There are those who prefer designs and lettering though. Houston Chronicle reporter Brian Rogers' has a Tumblr page called Tattoo Army and it features images of people at the courthouse. Some have tattoos with lettering; one reads "Trust no one beneath his eyes."

"It's definitely a big commitment," said Gabriel Bayles with Scorpion Tattoo Studio.

Scorpion Tattoo is a fixture on lower Westheimer. Its reputation is based on custom work. It has a general rule: No tattoos on faces or hands unless some already exist.

"But if they come in and they just have no visible tattoos then we tend to try to be responsible in that way," Bayles said.

Face tattoos, it's believed, grew out of the gang culture in California then spread through prisons, jails and kept on going.

"There were face tattoos in the 50's and guys heavily tattooed all over their bodies even then. So it's not necessarily something new but tattoos are definitely more popular, they're all over the media, so you just see it more now," said Gabriel Massey with Scorpion Studio.

There is the anti-social element he says to tattoos. Facial tattoos take it to the next level. The majority are said to still be connected to gangs and done in what are called tattoo parties.

And then there's the mug shot that launched this discussion. If first impressions count...

"The guy's got problems," Massey said.

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