Anyone planning to get a tattoo needs to accept one simple fact: it’s probably going to hurt. Tattoos essentially involve lots of little needles, moving at very fast speeds, injecting ink into the lower layers of your skin.
The final result might look fantastic, but the process itself isn’t particularly fun to experience, and if you’ve got a low threshold for pain, you need to think long and hard about how and where you want to get your ink in order to minimize tattoo pain.
Various factors can influence the pain of getting a tattoo, such as the size of the tattoo in question and the tattoo artist you use, but one of the biggest factors of all is the location of the tattoo itself, as some parts of the body are far more sensitive than others.
What are the most painful places to get a tattoo?
If you’re eager to avoid too much pain when having your tattoo, try to avoid getting it in a place with thin skin or lots of nerve endings. Here are some examples:
- Armpit – The armpit is a well-known painful spot for a tattoo among ink enthusiasts. It might even be the most painful place of all and many artists will advise you to think twice if you ask them to tattoo you in this part of the body.
- Ribs – Some parts of the back and chest are fine for tattoos, but tattooing along the ribs can be really painful as the skin there is very thin.
- Ankles – The ankles are another painful spot for a tattoo. The skin here, and around the shins, is quite thin, leading to high levels of pain for most people.
- Hands and feet – The hands and feet are quite popular spots to have a tattoo, but they can also be quite painful too. Once again, the skin here is quite thin, especially on the tops of the hands and feet, making it a very painful spot for a tattoo.
- Face and head – The face and head aren’t ideal locations for tattoos if you don’t tolerate pain too well either, due to the presence of lots of nerve endings and sensitive skin.
Least Painful Places
If you want to minimize tattoo pain, try to select a part of the body that has fewer nerve endings, tighter skin, or some fat to help cushion the impact of the tattoo needles. Here are some examples:
- Forearm – Since forearms tend to have a reasonable amount of muscle and thick layers of skin without too many nerve endings, they’re a great spot to get a tattoo with a minimal amount of pain.
- Outer shoulders and biceps – The inner parts of the shoulders or biceps can be quite a painful spot for a tattoo, but the outer areas have more muscle that helps to reduce the pain.
- Outer thigh – The outer thighs of most people tend to be padded with a reasonable amount of fat and muscle, reducing the pain of getting a tattoo quite drastically.
- Calves – Since the calves also have quite a lot of muscle and fat, you shouldn’t have to worry about too much pain when getting a tattoo there.
Where is a good spot for your first tattoo?
If you’re getting ready for your first tattoo and have a low threshold for pain, opting for a spot like the calves, outer thigh, outer bicep, or forearm is a great idea. This will help to reduce your stress levels ahead of the tattoo and make the experience more bearable, allowing you to build up towards the more painful areas later on if you feel ready for it.
What does tattoo pain feel like?
In general, those who have had tattoos say that the pain tends to be the worst for the first few minutes, but starts to fade as the tattoo continues and the body adjusts. Many people say it feels like a stinging sensation, like being pricked by needles or stung by a bee multiple times, while others say it feels more like a repeated scratching. Of course, if you’re getting a tattoo in an area with thin skin or lots of nerve endings, you can expect the sensation to be more intense.
How to predict and minimize tattoo pain?
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when it comes to predicting and minimizing tattoo pain:
- Do your research – Doing your research in advance will help you be better prepared for the tattoo and know more about what to expect.
- Pick the right body part – You can find lists and charts of body parts, ranked in order of tattoo pain, to help you find an area that won’t be too unpleasant.
- Preparing your skin – Before the tattoo, getting a good night’s rest, eating a hearty meal, and avoiding alcohol will help to get your body in the right condition.
- Avoid painkillers – It might be tempting to take painkillers before getting a tattoo, but they won’t really work and can actually make the tattooing process require more time.
- Breathe – Focus on your breathing as the tattoo is taking place to try and take your attention away from the pain.
- Distractions – You can choose to bring along a book, some music, or find some other form of distraction to keep you occupied as you have the tattoo.painful spot for a tattoo