While body ink is a cool form of self-expression, let's face it, once a celebrity gets a huge tattoo, it's hard for some people to remember what they once looked like. Once upon a time, it was hard to find a star covered in art; now, it's the opposite.
With facial tattoos at an all-time high thanks to Gen Z rappers like Lil Pump and sleeves becoming normalized thanks to mega-stars like The Rock, people might be surprised to see what some celebrities looked like before getting inked.
Post Malone Didn't Always Have Face Tattoos
It might be hard to imagine Post Malone without face tattoos, but the rapper's skin, once upon a time, was clear of all ink. He received his first face tattoo, Japanese finger waves, in July 2018 while headlining the Fuji Rock Festival in Toyko.
According to the artist, his tattoos were a way to boost his self-confidence. During an interview with GQ, Malone said, "I don't like how I look, so I'm going to put something cool on there so I can look at myself and say, 'You look cool, kid,' and have a modicum of self-confidence when it comes to my appearance."
Justin Bieber Got His First Tattoo At 16
Singer Justin Bieber was a clean slate when he first stepped onto the music scene as a young kid. After getting his first tattoo, a tiny seagull on his hip, at the age of 16, Bieber has since amassed more ink than the average Hells Angel, including face and neck tattoos.
Even though the singer is heavily inked, there is one place he won't touch. During an interview with Sirius XM's The Morning Mash Up, Bieber revealed it: "I promised myself I didn't want to get tattoos on my hands."
Jenni Farley Before And After Her Disney-Themed Sleeve
Fans might remember Jenni Farley, aka JWOWW, having tattoos while on Jersey Shore, such as the flames on her ankle, something she got at only 15. Recently, though, she went all-out with her ink, getting an entire Disney-themed sleeve. But the sleeve isn't the typical reminder of happily ever after. In fact, according to Farley, it's the opposite.
The reality star explained that the tattoo is more of a "Happily Never After," with overly dramatized versions of Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Ariel, Cinderella, and their respective princes. One aspect shows Cinderella crying because there is no "Prince Charming." For Farley, it's a reminder to save yourself.
Miley Cyrus Has Tiny Tattoos Across Her Arms
Growing up on the Disney Channel, Miley Cyrus couldn't really spread her wings. And people grew up knowing her as the southern girl-next-door. That all changed when she finished Hannah Montana and got her first tattoo, "Just Breathe," on her chest. Now, the singer has over 70 tattoos over her body.
Some of her recognizable ink includes a dream catcher on her rib cage (her biggest work to date), a replica of her father's motorcycle on her shoulder, a quote by Theodore Roosevelt on her inner arm, and a curved tooth bone. According to the artist, she'll never get a tattoo that doesn't have meaning.
Machine Gun Kelly Looks A Lot Different Without His Body Ink
Machine Gun Kelly and tattoos kind of go hand in hand since the singer is completely covered in colorful ink, a much different look from his football days as a kid. The thing is, while MGK is very much a not-so-blank canvas, each of his tattoos holds a special meaning.
The "North 71" sign on his shoulder is the bus he would take to get back home, while the "216" and "303" are the area codes of both Cleveland, Ohio, and Denver, Colorado, the two cities that shaped him into the person he is today.
Zayn Malik's Body Wasn't Always An Inked Collage
Former One Direction singer Zayn Malik no longer looks like a young kid in a boy band. Now, he's all grown up, sporting over 60 different tattoos over his body, from intricate designs on his chest to a mandala flower on his head and other tiny tattoos over his arms.
According to the "Pillowtalk" singer, the reason for so many tattoos is simple; he likes them. During an interview with GQ India, Malik said, "I like tattoos, that's all. When I was a kid, tattoos were rare: People I looked up to, and thought were cool, had tattoos."
The Rock's Polynesian Tattoos Weren't A Thing Until 2003
When he first stepped onto the Hollywood scene, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson sported one tattoo, a single bull on his arm. Now, a solid portion of his upper body is covered in ink, including a bit of a cover-up of that infamous bull. Completed after a solid three sessions for a total of 60 hours, the ink represents something very important to the actor.
Everything on The Rock's body represents his ancestors' beliefs from both his mother's and father's sides of the family, the dual black and Samoan cultures, namely going through a great struggle and overcoming it for the better.
Adam Levine Will Never Forget He's From California...
It might be hard to believe, but the Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine didn't get his first tattoo until he was 21 years old. The ink is a dove and cherry blossom on his left shoulder, a tribute to 9/11. A few years later and the singer is pretty much completely covered in body art.
During an interview with People, Levine discussed tattoos and what he thought about them, saying, "Tattoos wind up being this strange road map or narrative over the years. They always remind me of this long, weird, awesome journey life has been."
Travis Barker Just Kept On Adding Ink
Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker might as well have been born with tattoos. Not just because he's covered but because the punk rocker would look very odd without a single piece of ink on his body. As of 2021, the drummer has over 70% of his body covered.
For Barker, tattoos tell a story, and he'll keep getting them as long as he has memories he wants to preserve. During an interview with GQ, Barker said, "I don't care if I have nice, shiny tattoos. Mine all tell a story and make up who I am." Spoken like a true rock star.
Demi Lovato Has A Few Iconic Tattoos On Her Arms
Since leaving Disney Channel, Demi Lovato has spread her creative wings and has inked her body in more than one place. While the singer has a fallen angel on her back and a dream catcher on her rib cage, some of her more iconic tattoos aren't covered by a shirt.
The lion on her hand and the birds spiraling around her arm are two of Lovato's more notorious tattoos. Surprisingly, they're also some of her first. According to the Dancing with the Devil singer, the birds might have been a wee bit impulsive!
Trace Cyrus Took His Rocker Image To The Next Level
It might have been years ago, but Trace Cyrus didn't always have tattoos covering him like a turtle neck shirt. The Metro Station singer looks like a totally different person without ink going up his neck! Way younger, too. Even so, now the singer has over 100 tattoos across his body.
Unfortunately, in 2014, the singer expressed his regret about getting so much ink. On a Twitter post, he wrote, "So sad I ruined my body with all these stupid tattoos..." It didn't take long for his half-sister, Miley Cyrus, to get him out of his funk, though. They went and got new ink shortly after.
Pete Davidson Might Be Removing His Ink
How strange would Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson look if he removed his tattoos? Well, he might not go back to looking like his younger self in that picture, but he'll look very different considering he's sporting over 100 designs across his body.
But, according to film critic Mike McGranaghan, Davidson is going through the process of tattoo removal. On a Twitter post, the critic wrote, "[Pete] said it takes 3-4 hours in the makeup chair to cover them, so he figured 'it would be easier to get them burned off." It seems kind of drastic, but to each their own.
Roman Reigns' Shoulder Piece Morphed Into Something Bigger
WWE star Roman Reigns is no stranger to bold tattoos. But going from shoulder ink to an entire sleeve and chest tattoo is a huge step. The sleeve was an add-on to the pre-existing work, not a cover-up. The piece pays homage to his Samoan ancestry, with each pattern having a specific meaning.
During an interview, Reign's explained the significance of the unique piece, saying, "This tattoo of mine is related to my family, the unity among all of us. It's a pattern that has a lot of significance in my Samoan culture. I am very proud to wear this tattoo."
Ben Affleck Sports A Giant Phoenix Back Tat
For a few years, people have been speculating whether or not the huge phoenix tattoo on actor Ben Affleck's back is real or not. But in 2020, the actor came forward, saying that he just enjoyed messing with the tabloids, and of course, the massive piece of work is real.
While the ink has sparked more than one conversation, not all good, Affleck is actually very fond of the work. During an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, he said, "I love my tattoo. I'm very happy with it. Luckily, I’m the one who has it."
Dave Bautista Went From Blank To Covered
As an MMA fighter, bodybuilder, WWF World Heavyweight Championship, and actor, it's a surprise Dave Bautista didn't get inked sooner than he did. And that little tribal sun around his belly button doesn't count! Now, Bautista is covered, sporting various styles of work, including tribal, Japanese, and some heritage tattoos.
Not including the huge tribal tattoo going down his arm, some of Bautista's bigger pieces include the word "Imagine" on his rib cage and two crows on his stomach. The former was inspired by the John Lennon song of the same name, while the birds represent his Greek ancestry. In Greek mythology, crows symbolize good luck and prophecy.
Lil Pump Is Getting Tired Of His Face Tattoos
Florida rapper Lil Pump has always been a bit eccentric with his style, always changing his hair color and sporting acrylic nails. And while his style is ever-changing, so is his body art. With many tattoos covering his arms, neck, and face, Lil Pump has, wait for it... become bored.
In 2021, the rapper announced over social media that he's become tired of some of his face tattoos and is going through the process of getting them removed, starting with the frowning face located between his eyebrows.
Lil Xan's First Tattoo Was His Mother's Name Under His Eye
Diego Leanos, better known as Lil Xan, is a Gen Z rapper who sports more than one tattoo over his body, particularly his face. Looking very different from his younger self, Lil Xan received his first tattoo at the ripe age of 18, jumping right into the "I'm not going to work a desk job" vibe by getting his mother's name, Candy, inked under his eye.
During an interview with Billboard, the rapper explained how he would never work a normal nine-to-five job. But he never expected his art to take off; rapping was just a way for him to get out of his own shell. It worked out!
With over 100 tattoos covering her body, it's hard to imagine seeing pictures of actress Ruby Rose on the red carpet without her colorful sleeves and back pieces. According to Rose, she doesn't just get ink done on a whim. Each of her pieces holds a special meaning to her.
During an interview with Marie Claire Malaysia, Rose said, "They all have personal meanings or stories — they are there to create a memory. Some of them are more meaningful than others, but I love them all."
Aaron Carter's Face Tattoos Are A New Development
Aaron Carter, once a young boy singing "Aaron's Party (Come Get It)," is now a grown adult with face, neck, and hand tattoos. His newest ink came in March of 2020, with the inclusion of the word "Melanie" over his right eyebrow.
According to his tattoo artist, it might have been a bit of a mistake, considering the two had only been dating for a solid three months at the time. But the big piece is on the other side of his face, where a portrait of Medusa goes from his jawline to his hairline. Apparently, at the time of the session, the singer wanted his entire face done!
Rihanna Has Over 20 Designs
Rihanna went from being this beautiful young singer to an edgy artist in what felt like an overnight makeover. The singer now sports over 20 tattoos, including a fairly big chest tattoo of the Goddess Isis and an intricate tribal design across her wrist and hand.
According to the singer, tattoos are kind of her addiction. During an interview with Steal her Style, Rihanna said, "I like hanging out in tattoo shops. I am so intrigued by tattoos. It's an entire culture, and I study it. Sometimes I go with friends, or just by myself. I get bum-rushed, but I don’t care. I don’t take security.”
Amber Rose Brought A New Edge With Her Tattoos
Amber Rose has always been that edgy model on the cover of magazines. But she's brought a new level of energy to the camera ever since she decided she needed sleeves in her life. One of her more famous tattoos is the famous Hollywood sign on her forearm.
Most recently, the model made a huge commitment, getting the words "Bash" and "Slash" inked onto her forehead, her son's nicknames. To say the internet is in an uproar over her new tattoo would be a vast understatement.
Lady Gaga's Tattoos Are "Her Best Friend"
Lady Gaga is more than a fantastic singer; she is a walking piece of art. With over 20 tattoos over her body, Gaga makes sure each piece represents a different facet of her lie and what she's been through. And each is as beautifully done.
Some of her more intricate tattoos include a trumpet on her arm, a rose with the words "La Vie En Rose" going down her spine, and David Bowie's portrait on her rib cage. On one Instagram post, Gaga made it clear how she felt about body ink, saying, "Tattoos are a girl's best friend."
Ed Sheeran Has Over 60 Tattoos
Ed Sheeran might be known for his incredible singing, but he's also known for being totally inked up, namely his chest and arms. The singer has over 60 tattoos over his body, each with a special meaning and reason for why it found itself on Sheeran's skin.
His most famous is his super colorful sleeve and the huge lion's head on his chest. According to his tattoo artist Kevin Paul, the piece was to celebrate selling out Wembley. Fun fact: Paul was offered over $300,000 for rights to the artwork, something he turned down.
Blueface Looks Like Another Person
Considering he's covered head to toe in tattoos, it might come as little surprise that Johnathan Porter, aka Blueface, looked completely different when he was younger. Interestingly, the rapper credits about 25% of his music on helping him where he got today.
The other 27%? Well, he credits "marketing, promotion, being yourself." During an interview with The New York Times, the rapper said, "Blueface is probably 10 times Johnathan. Every rapper...they got two different personalities — they not like that when they at home."
Harry Styles Has Over 50 Tattoos
Harry Styles' look has completely transformed from when he first started out as one of the members of the boy band One Direction. With floppy hair that covered a majority of his face and a blank body for a canvas, Styles has since covered his body with over 50 tattoos.
Two of his more iconic tattoos are the large butterfly on his stomach and the two swallows on either side of his chest. The latter, Styles explained to Men's Health, has to do with traveling. He said, "They symbolize traveling, and we [One Direction] travel a lot!"
David Beckham Wins The Glow-Up Contest
Former professional soccer player David Beckham has always sported a wide variety of body art. At least, ever since he stepped onto the professional field. But having sleeves and covering one's entire body are two different matters. Beckham pretty much went from edgy boy-next-door to that guy no one wants to mess with in an action film.
According to his tattoo artist Mark Mahoney, Beckham feels no pain when getting inked. During an interview, Mahoney said, "He picks good stuff, he's got great skin, he feels absolutely no pain. I've tattooed a lot of tattooers on their legs, and they'll wince, you know, but David doesn't ever."
Lil Peep Was Known For His Face Tattoos
Rapper Lil Peep had over 30 tattoos covering his body. It might not come as a surprise, but he was arguably best known for the ink covering his neck and face, particularly the horseshoe in between his eyebrows. According to the rapper, he decided to get it for good luck.
But all in all, a lot of the ink on Lil Peep's body was for no other reason than the rapper being bored, including the big red "A" on his cheek, a symbol for Anarchy.
Angelina Jolie Looks So Different Without Her Major Back Work
When she first broke into Hollywood, Angelina Jolie was this edgy rocker chick. But she didn't really sport a ton of tattoos. Older and wiser with her artwork, Jolie now has over 30 tattoos over her body, with a lot of them located on her back.
Some of the more iconic works the actress has are the Buddhist spell on her left shoulder, the phrase "Know your rights" on the base of her neck, and, on her left arm, the coordinates of where each of her six children were born.
Ariana Grande's Come A Long Way From Nickelodeon
If the tattoos mean anything, it's that Ariana Grande has definitely grown out of her bright red hair days of being a Nickelodeon star. The singer now sports ink from the palms of her hands to the backs of her hands, her arms, rib cage, and even her fingers. Pretty much, little Ms. Ari is tatted up with over 40 pieces.
Some of her more iconic pieces include the large butterflies gracing her upper arm, the crescent moon and sun on her hand, and the Truman Show line "In case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!" located on her shoulder blade.
Scarlett Johansson Looks Different On The Red Carpet These Days
While she certainly doesn't have as much ink as some of the other celebrities on this list, Scarlett Johansson sure looks different without her iconic pieces poking out on the red carpet.
She has two dedicated to her time as an Avenger, a large lamb and rose design on her back, two interlocking circles with an "A" on her ankle, a smaller flower on her rib cage, a colorful sunset on her arm, and a majestic flying owl on her rib cage.
Cheryl Cole's Back Tattoo Transformation
Cheryl Cole, former X-factor judge and ex to One Direction's Liam Payne, has had her fair share of tattoo journeys.
What started as a butterfly, flowers, and tweety bird on her lower back and rear has now blossomed into a garden of roses. She reportedly got the tattoo after a bout with malaria.