Perfume Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Perfume Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Getting new ink is always an exciting and unique experience to memorialize something important to you. If you’re thinking about designing a perfume tattoo, have you wondered about its history?

The first recorded findings of perfume date back to Mesopotamian, around 4000 years ago. Giving and receiving perfume is an ancient tradition centered around affection due to the product’s luxurious appeal. Today, perfume symbolizes wealth, intelligence, and class.

Wow, it sounds like perfume has a lot of history. But that’s not all we’ll cover in this article – we’ll explore the symbolism, meaning, styles, and location of perfume tattoos. 

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What is the History of Perfume Tattoos?

Perfume dates back to Ancient Mesopotamia in the form of incense sticks. In Latin, the phrase per and fumus meant “through smoke.” Later, the French coined the term parfum. Classic colognes appeared in Europe in the 17th century. 

The glass perfume bottles we know and love came from mid-18th century England. We’re talking about the big, blown-up bottles with enameling and fine detail work. These bottles are the most common to become tattoos – not your drug store plastic rectangles.

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What Do Perfume Tattoos Symbolize?

Perfume tattoos symbolize the same thing as wearing perfume – class. Elegance. Perhaps even that you can be a little bougie.

Because it was so expensive, perfume was an indicator of wealth and status in ancient cultures (and 1920s France). Even today, a single bottle of Roja Haute Luxe can run you over $3000. Knowing that many people have more than one perfume or cologne for special occasions, that bill ticks up quickly.

Perfume bottles can also symbolize femininity, though the lines between feminine and masculine have always been blurry in the fashion world. When we think of perfume, we think of the big glass bottles with the hand spritzer that Judy Garland used to use.

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What Do Perfume Tattoos Mean?

Like any tattoo, a perfume tattoo will mean something different to each individual. Some people have perfume tattoos just because they love the look of the glass or it fits in with their styles. Tattoos don’t have to be meaningful – you just have to enjoy them.

For others, perfume tattoos could remind them of dressing up as little kids. I don’t know about you, but I used to raid my mother’s closet and make-up as often as I could get my little fingers on it! 

People also choose to have specific perfume bottles tattooed. If it was a loved one’s favorite fragrance, the ink owner might want to memorialize them. That way, no matter where they go or how they dress up, they’ll always be a little bit like their loved one.

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Characteristics of Perfume Tattoos

Perfume tattoos can be exciting to design because there are so many possibilities. The tattoos are most commonly bright, angular, and filled with floral arrangements. Clients can add a hand spritzer to the bottle or a long tassel. 

The design mimics the reflective nature of glass, and some have the perfume spray emitting from the bottle (which is more of a shading technique than colorization). Having the tattooed bottles filled with a type of “poison” or skull and cross-bones is also a popular choice.

Other designs will feature blacks and greys with more somber messages. They’ll feature skulls, moons, stars, and figures trapped inside the bottles. 

They can also be silly. I came across a man with a perfume bottle tattoo, so I asked him which brand he preferred, and he laughed at me. Upon closer inspection of his tattoo, the perfume bottle had “WD-40, for men” written. I thought that was great!

Styles of Perfume Tattoos

Just like characteristics, there are a lot of options for styles. Watercolor tattoos are a more modern choice, while thick, solid line work is more traditional. You can choose a black and grey style or a monochromatic color scheme. It’s really up to you and your artist.

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Where Do Perfume Tattoos Usually Go?

The tattoo’s location can depend on how large you want your ink to be. If you’re interested in a smaller perfume bottle, the wrist, ankle, or collarbone can be a great choice. I’d recommend the shoulder blades or legs for medium and larger pieces.

If the perfume is the centerpiece in a larger tattoo, consult your artist about proper placement. They may not recommend putting your tattoo directly on your chest or back, instead placing it slightly off to the side. They know what they’re doing!

How To Choose an Artist for Perfume Tattoos

Because there are so many options for characteristics and styles, I want to break this up into smaller sections.

Watercolor Tattoos

You’ll want an artist with a color portfolio and great shading if you want a watercolor perfume tattoo. Because of this style, the lines don’t have to be as defined, but the colors do.

Traditional Glass Tattoo

You’ll look for an artist with fantastic shading and color gradient control. For the tattoo to mimic real glass, the artist needs to make it look like it “shines.”

Black and Grey Tattoo

Your artist should have a portfolio revolving around shading and line work. When you look at their pieces, see if they “come to life” the way you want yours to. Every artist’s style is different. 

Blackout Tattoo

This one will be pretty simple: You want an artist with blackout tattooing experience. They are some of the hardest tattoos to properly do and maintain because the risk for ink bleeding is so high.

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Perfume tattoos symbolize grace, elegance, and wealth. They can mean reconnecting with a lost loved one or just having a good time joking around with friends. No matter why you get one, make sure to make it yours!

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