Why are face tattoos the latest celebrity trend? How extreme inking went mainstream

Margaret Abrams

Celebrities are always trying to push the envelope, whether that means posting wild notes app apologies or bonkers awards show ensembles.

But the latest celebrity trend is next level and lasts for far longer. Stars including Justin Bieber, Chris Brown and Cindy Crawford's model son Presley Gerber are opting for face tattoos to show they're different - or in Gerber's son's case, how he's 'Misunderstood' (as the ink reads).

(Instagram/Amber Rose)

While the trend has been around for a while (look at Mike Tyson and Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes for '90s proof), it truly took off with the new wave of SoundCloud rappers.

The late Lil Peep had 'Cry Baby' emblazoned across his forehead, rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine has '69' front and center and Lil Xan has 'Candy,' 'Lover,' and black tears rolling down his face.

It seems like every time he posts a new Instagram picture, it's to debut a new face tattoo, which his fans then recreate, some of them with stick-ons, although others make their devotion to their favorite rappers more permanent.

Peep explained, "It was kind of like a push for myself to be successful with the music I was doing because it can make it harder to get a job when your face is covered with tattoos."

21 Savage has a knife on his forehead. Chris Brown just paid homage to sneakers with his face. And Aaron Carter put Medusa on his previously boy band-worthy cheekbones. (He says his mom inspired it.)

Amber Rose tattooed her children's names across her forehead and accompanied photos of the mega ink with a message for her followers, writing, "The moral of the story is do whatever the f**k you want in life."

Pre-SoundCloud, Lil Wayne was known for his teardrop face tats and Gucci Mane stunned when he showed off an ice cream cone on his cheek.

Gucci Mane's spokesperson defended the unpopular ink to Rolling Stone, calling it “a reminder to fans of how he chooses to live his life. Cool as ice. As in ‘I’m so icy, I’ll make ya say Brr.'"

Post Malone might have been the middleman - he's a Billboard 100 star with face tats aplenty, including "Always Tired" underneath his eyes.

He might have started out on SoundCloud, but now he's a superstar. In a GQ video, he explains how Justin Bieber inspired his tattoos, saying, "We was in the studio and I was like, 'Hey, man. Does that hurt?' Because that's when I first had just met him, and he was like, 'No.'"

Now, both men have face tats, although Malone's are certainly more pronounced. He most recently debuted a bloody new one.

But the latest wave to debut face ink is more Spotify than SoundCloud. Many of them go to JonBoy, the unofficial tattoo artist to the stars.

Bieber visited him for the word 'Grace' in delicate, almost unreadable script across his eyebrow and Presley Gerber paid him a visit for his 'misunderstood' ink.

JonBoy spoke about his penchant for tattooing famous faces (including one pencil tat) and said he was intimidated when he inked Bieber's billion dollar mug.

"This is a handsome young man right here! I don’t wanna f**k this up. That was a little nerve-racking. Then I got death threats like, 'What did you do to my husband’s beautiful face!?' I was like, 'I made him like more bada**!'"

Face inking even made its way onto the catwalk in Moschino's New York Fashion Week show last September, where JonBoy himself was drafted in to give the models (temporary) face tattoos that spelled 'New York' and 'Moschino.'

Face tattoos might have become less shocking as they've become more widespread, particularly in pursuit of Instagram likes.

One SoundCloud rapper has Anne Frank across his cheek to prove he's "dying to make music" while up and coming singer Kelsy Karter even faked getting a Harry Styles tat for the clout.

But some think the face tattoo bandwagon should only be jumped on by those with a brand to match.

As one commenter under Gerber's Instagram wrote, "You're not a gangsta or a trap singer like you're a model you're the f***ing Cindy Crawford son stop trying to appear someone you're not you're rich man do something with it."

It's unclear how much longer the face tat trend will last and how much wilder it will get - but perhaps a few of these stars will be racking up some pretty expensive laser treatments any time soon.

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