Most common question? You guessed it: “Do tattoos hurt?”
In a nutshell:
The level of pain you experience will depend on where and what you’re getting, along with your personal pain threshold.
Here’s a simple breakdown based on my experience as a tattoo artist:
Places That Don’t Hurt (…as much):
- Outer arm
- Outer thigh
If you think about it, these parts of the body are used to being, well…used. The skin is conditioned from being out in the open more often. Nerves aren’t as close to the skin as other parts of the body, making these areas good starting points for first tattoos.
Places That (typically) Hurt More:
- Inner arm
- Inner thigh
- Knees (front and back)
- Elbows (front and back)
Bony areas essentially have less ‘padding’, so they tend to hurt more than more fleshy parts of the body. Skin is more sensitive on inner arms, thighs and joints. They’re less exposed to the elements, so they don’t need to be as hardy as the outer parts. There’s also a lot of motion/friction from clothing in these areas, which can contribute to longer healing times.
Here are places I’ve noticed clients have very different reactions:
Yeah…I’m surprised ribs are on this list too, but the people I’ve inked there so far dealt with it really well. It’s a bony area that’s notorious for being a pain-point – same goes for the wrists. Goes to show that it really comes down to the individual!
Places I Won’t Tattoo:
- Face and neck (nape of the neck is fine)
- Intimate areas
The first two are places I personally don’t want to tattoo. Hand tattoos tend not to heal properly and fade quicker than other areas due to the amount of use and movement they go through. I’m simply not convinced they’re a hygienic place to ink and don’t want my name to something that won’t look as good as my usual work.
…ultimately, everyone’s different, so it’s impossible to predict. What might be agony for one person is a breeze for another. Factors such as weather and preparation (such as eating beforehand and staying hydrated…or not) can affect your tattoo session, as well as location and size of tattoo. Naturally, I try to make things as comfortable for you as possible when you visit NAOHOA, but some things are out of my control.
From 1-10 (10 being the most painful), what was your last tattoo like?