Do tattoos hurt? It is only natural, tattoos do hurt. Think about it, needles are making tiny holes in your skin and inserting ink for tattoos into your epidermis. This layer of skin is filled with nerves, so there is going to be some level of pain involved. However, with a bit of planning, preparation, and a few tips, you can minimize the pain involved in getting a tattoo. While the amount of discomfort you will experience depends on your personal pain threshold, following these tips can help decrease the pain of your next piece:
According to an article in the Journal of Neuroscience “It is [a] common clinical experience that anxiety about pain can exacerbate the pain sensation.” Meaning that if you are anxious about getting a tattoo or the pain you may experience when getting a tattoo, you may actually experience more pain!
The best way to put your anxiety at ease is to do your research! Make sure to research your tattoo artist carefully, including reading reviews, getting personal recommendations, and viewing a portfolio of completed work in a style similar to the one you plan to get. When you visit them, make sure all needles and tubes are new, all non-disposable equipment is sterilized, and they use only the best black tattoo ink or color tattoo ink. Understanding what to expect, how to prepare for, and how to take care of a tattoo will help decrease your anxieties and, in turn, your pain.
Choose the Right Location
One of the major factors to consider when trying to keep a tattoo relatively pain-free is its location. Although there are many facets to what makes particular areas of the body more painful, as a general rule of thumb, the more boney and the more nerve endings a location has, the higher the level of pain that will be involved. More fleshy areas will likely be less painful. If you have a lower pain threshold choose an area like your bicep, shoulder, outer thigh, forearm, or calf. Avoid areas that are more boney like your elbows, knees, hands, feet, or ribs. Tattoos on more sensitive areas like the groin or inner thighs will also be more painful. Choosing the right placement can make all the difference when it comes to the level of discomfort you will experience when getting a tattoo.
Consider the Size
The size of your tattoo is as important to consider as the placement. Consider starting small with either a tiny stand-alone piece or something that can be expanded upon later. Smaller tattoos take less time, have less detail, and heal faster. Therefore small tattoos minimize both the initial pain that you will experience as the tattoo is being done as well as the soreness that will last a few days as your tattoo heals. This is an especially important consideration for your first tattoo, as it will give you an idea of how the tattoo process feels for you and what your level of pain tolerance is.
Think About the Style and Colors
Aside from the size of your tattoo, the style will also determine the type and intensity of pain you will experience. There is no real consensus about whether outline or shading hurts more. However, there is some agreement on the type of pain that is experienced with each. Lining and fine details are often described as a sharper deeper pain or a sting. On the other hand, people report shading to feel more like a shallower raw burning or scratching.
While the composition of colors for tattoo ink does not make a difference in how much a tattoo is going to hurt, how light or dark the colors are may play a part. Because light colors sometimes take more passes or saturation to show up properly, an artist will have to go over the same area more times to get lighter colors to pop or use more ink. As an example,black tattoo ink may be dark enough on the first pass whereas a light yellow tattoo ink or white tattoo ink may take several passes, thus prolonging the pain.
Make Sure Your Tattoo Artist is Skilled
The skill level of the tattoo artist you choose is going to play a major role in how painful your tattoo is. A skilled tattoo artist will ensure that all the equipment is in tip-top shape and all disposable items like needles are new. This completely eliminates any potential pain that can be caused by faulty equipment or dull needles. An artist that is overly heavy-handed or unskilled may “overwork” the area. Overworking the area won’t just cause more pain as the tattoo is being completed, it can also lead to complications like scarring and infection. Making sure that you choose a skilled artist will give you the best possible chance of having great results both aesthetically and pain-wise.
Aside from the major points discussed above, there are other ways to minimize pain when getting a tattoo:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for breaks. A good artist will communicate with you, so make sure to let them know if you are feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed.
- Moisturize and hydrate ahead of time.
- Wear loose-fitting comfortable clothing.
- Make sure you are fed and well-rested.
- Make a playlist of music that helps you feel chill and bring headphones.
- Consider a topical numbing cream. Make sure to ask your artist which one is ok to use.
- Follow all aftercare instructions and use a great aftercare product.
Making sure that you are prepared, carefully considering where and what to get tattooed, and following our other tips will help ensure that your tattoo experience is as pleasant as possible. With ways to minimize pain, it is no wonder that people who get one tattoo often end up addicted and end up getting more! To stay up to date on our latest tattoo tips and product updates, follow us on Instagram or Facebook. To learn more about the best selection of vegan tattoo ink and organic tattoo ink, check out our FAQ section.