Tatts hurt right?? Yes, that is true. But did you also know that exactly where you get tattooed matters when it comes to how much pain you feel? Luckily we’ve got the charts to tell you just where hurts how much. So if you’re a bit sensitive to pain, you’ll find out where to avoid inking, or at least grab some numbing cream first!
Tattoos are beautiful to view but extremely painful to get depending on the placement. Some areas aren’t quite as bad as others but the general consensus is that your going to be in pain for at least a little bit no matter where you get work done. If you’re deciding to get your very first tattoo, we won’t sugar coat it, it’s going to hurt, but it’ll be worth it. It’s good to know this ahead of time so that you can be prepared. If your not one for pain then you may want to reconsider. Or perhaps take an Advil before the artist begins. To describe the pain and the feeling of what it feels like to actually get a tattoo is hard but we will do the best that we can.
Some may say that at first the feeling of the needle going in and out of your skin so many times is more of an annoying pain rather than a grit your teeth kind of pain, but thats only at first. If you are getting a tattoo that is going to take longer than an hour or two, get ready for that annoying pain to be accompanied by some angry pain, and as the tattoo goes on, the grit your teeth pain will show up too.
Some small tattoos can take only a few minutes, and no matter the placement you can typically handle it by closing your eyes and listening to some music. For those hardcore tattoo addicts out there who are looking to get a large piece, some tattoos are begin to get so painful that your body recognizes the pain its being put through and it will begin to reject the ink. When this happens your artist should notice and you all should set up another appointment to finish your tattoo another day.
The best way to describe the annoying pain would be comparing it to taking a piece of glass or a tack and rubbing it against the same spot on your skin over and over and over again. at first it isn’t so bad but after a while, your skin is red, irritated, and recognizing the abuse that its taking. After your tattoo is finished and your endorphins settle, your new piece of art will feel like a really bad sun burn for about the next two weeks. It will even peel like a sun burn. That’s why everyone recommends using ointment to help with the healing and peeling process. Its also important to know that every person has a different pain tolerance and some places may be more sensitive on you than on other people. Just because one person fainted while getting a tattoo on their chest, does not mean that you are going to go through the same thing.
Here are some things to consider when thinking about getting a tattoo:
How well do you handle pain? If you can’t stand to get your finger pricked then getting inked may not be the best idea for you. We’re all about trying new things and are all for getting tattoos, but it’s important to know ahead of time what you as an individual can handle as far as pain tolerance.
Will you be able to sit still even when your hurting? Sometimes even the toughest folks flinch and squirm in the chair. That doesn’t make you less tough, it just confirms you’re human! Most people are going to feel uncomfortable and want to move around. If your artist is really good and won’t be affected by you moving then great but otherwise, try to get the movement to a minimum so that it doesn’t mess up the art.
Do you have a tendency to cry during pain? Tears are totally ok but just know those tears might be streaming especially if you have more of a tendency to let the flood waters go. Try to think about something other than the pain. Bring headphones or somebody to talk to while your getting it done. Keeping your mind off the pain is a good distraction and can help you ignore it. If you cry, just laugh it off. It happens to the best of us but keep humor in there and remember that when the artist is done, you’re going to love the work!
Where do you want to get the tattoo? This will definitely play into how painful your work is. We go into more detail below but something to remember is that if your tattooing on bone, anywhere, it’s going to be really painful. If your inking any fatty tissue, it’s going to be painful. Some spots are worse than others so take a look at the charts, evaluate your own pain tolerance and then make the best decision you can for your body.
How big do you want the image? Depending on the size of the image will definitely impact how much it hurts and how long it hurts. The bigger the image, the longer you’re in the chair and the more pain you will feel. Beauty comes at a price both from your bank account and from your pain level.
What are the different colors you want included? If you shade in one spot the same color then it’s going to hurt because they artist is putting a ton of ink in one spot. It’s in a concentrated area so your skin is going to be more raw and irritated versus just doing line work. If you want a variety of colors, then it’s going to take longer and you’ll be under the needle for a prolonged amount of time.
You’ll see a little bit of variation on the charts in terms of pain level and location. We’ve gathered a few different ones so that all the locations are covered and so that it gives you a general idea of tender spots. Some people can hang with the worst sort of burn and be completely fine while others might pass out.
The following places are the most painful spots to get tattoos:
The elbow hurts quite a bit because it’s right on the bone and doesn’t have a lot of cushion to pad the needle hitting the bone. The feet are known to be pretty sensitive because of all the nerve endings and smaller bones. The ribs provide a pretty rocky area for the artist and it makes it a little more difficult to do a flawless job. The inside of the arm is particularly sensitive because it’s fleshy and hasn’t been calloused by everyday use. The throat is known to be pretty rough since it’s going over your esophagus and the skin isn’t very thick there. The kneecap and pretty much anywhere that’s super bony is going to ask yourself why you decided to get it there. As you are getting a tattoo on a bony area, be ready to feel the needle not only hit your bone, but rattle all the bones that are near it. Also, anywhere where to have extra tissue like your inner arm is going to hurt. For example, if you pinch yourself and it hurts, the chances are pretty good that it’ll hurt when you get a tattoo there. Hands, stomach, neck, back of knee and head are also pretty intense spots to get inked. Out of all of the places to get a tattoo it is important to know that the rumor is that the palm of the hand is the most painful spot to get a tattoo. not only is your hand filled with nerves but its almost not even worth the pain due to the fact that because of the amount of skin your hands shed, chances are that tattoo will be super faded in just a matter of a couple years.
Still painful but not as bad:
For a guy, the chest isn’t as painful as everything else. The calves, shoulder, outer arm and forearm and buttocks. For girls, those areas will vary. The shoulders and back are typically not as painful as other areas. Each person is different but these are the general agreed upon least tender spots.
Surprisingly not that painful:
The inside of the lip is said to be less painful than other areas of the body. The thing about the lip ink is that it’ll wear off more quickly because it’s inside your mouth where food and saliva are constantly hitting it so you’ll have to get it retouched pretty often. Where have you gotten inked that isn’t so bad?
This girl in the picture looks to be getting work done on her side. It has a tendency to be painful because it’s a fleshy spot. What do you think?
As you can see from the chart below, there are various spots where it’s pretty raw to get artwork done. Where would you get yours? It’s completely up to you since it’s going on your body but if it helps you, talk with friends who have tattoos or the actual artist for recommendations for the best spot for your image. They may have an idea in mind that you hadn’t considered and it could make for a really sweet spot.
The red blocks show the most gnarly pain, the yellow is intense pain but tolerable and the green is still painful but not horribly so. Surprisingly did you know that the buttocks and shoulders aren’t typically known as high pain areas?
Below in the chart is the Pain-O-Meter. It is a great gage to tell how you’d hold up under the needle.
This guy is literally covered so he’d probably be a pretty good judge about what is painful and what isn’t. Anyone want to give a guess on how much all that work cost?
- The forearm and the shoulder looks to be the least painful and is equated to an annoying pinprick. Have you ever gotten your finger pricked and drawn for blood at the doctors office? The bark is worse than the bite and it hardly hurts at all.
- The next level is likened to repeated cat scratches. We’ve been scratched by cats and it’s not fun but it’s not the worst pain to ever endure. This is referring to placement on the thigh, calf or top of the foot.
- The next level increases in pain dramatically. Here your going for deep paper cuts to a full on blow torch. That’s scorching pain that’s going to sting for quite a while. Those spots are your forehead, your neck, and outer arm.
- The progression of pain is to be expected and the Pain-O-Meter suggests bringing a piece of leather to gnaw on. That way, you can bite down and not bother the folks around you. Those spots include the pectoral muscles, elbow, kneecap and shin.
- So this is where you crossover to being totally committed because the pain is likened to crying or passing out. And get this- it’s not only accepted, it’s expected! That’s some pretty intense pain right there. Those spots are the sternum, the stomach and the lower part of your foot where your toes are connected.
The Tattoo Pain Chart below does a great job a equating the pain to different things.
- One anchor basically feels like an itch. Take a mosquito for example, it just constantly itches and gets irritated but overall, it’s not painful to be bitten by one. These ares on your body include the forearm and your shoulder.
- Two anchors is like cutting yourself while shaving. Depending on how deep you get cut usually determines the level of pain you’ll have to endure. While it’s not life changing pain, it definitely catches your attention. These spots include your hand, thigh, front of shin and ankle.
- Three anchors is like burning yourself on the stove. Again, it’s hurts like no other in the moment but eventually it fades. It definitely would wake you up if you were asleep. This includes your neck and bicep on your body.
- Four anchors is beginning to really increase in pain levels. It’s likened to multiple bee stings or even stepping on a bed of thorns barefoot. None of this is going to feel good. It’s going to hurt. This includes your chest and stomach, crook of your arm and shin.
- The five anchor pain level is pretty gnarly. You are going to want to shout, cry or pass out. It’s not for the faint of heart and you need to make sure this is what you want to do before the artist gets started. These areas are the sternum, the ribcage and the feet.
Everyone is different so some spots may be more tender to some people than they are to others. It’s also important to know that you’ll be in pain in the chair and then the pain will continue for a couple weeks while it heals. Knowing the facts ahead of time can help you better prepare and endure the hurt. Just keep remembering that after it’s all over, you’ll have a new piece to enjoy forever.
Getting a tattoo is a really fun decision making process. There are lots of factors to consider so most people would probably encourage you not to make a rash decision when going about it. The pain level is pretty steep depending on the placement and the after care can get pretty gnarly especially if you don’t take care it. Be sure to take care of it, keep it clean and apply ointment to keep it hydrated. Protect it from harsh elements and keep it out of the sun when possible. Your skin thinks it’s undergone a trauma of some kind and it’s doing it’s best to heal itself as quickly as possible. If you will do your part in taking care of the area that was recently inked, you’ll love the finished product even more. We’ll leave you with some cautions to pocket when you head to get your work done. Make sure the parlor is clean and that they use sterilized needles. It’s super important to make sure that they artist is using disinfectant too. If you don’t feel comfortable with their level of cleanliness then it’s ok to ask them about it. They will probably be more than willing to show you the steps they go through to ensure the safety of each of their clients. Be sure to ask them for any tips or advice on how to best care for the work once it’s completed. They want you to be happy so that you come back for more work and so that you’ll refer your friends. Tattooing is an awesome past time for us, but it’s also a business for the artist and they want to make sure they have happy customers. Pain is just part of the process but having open dialogue with your artist about their work and sanitation will help keep your mind at ease while your getting your work done. Don’t forget to take a deep breath and have fun!