Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (2023)

One of the most common questions people ask their tattoo artists is “do tattoos hurt?” The short and painful answer is – yes, they hurt, and sometimes by quite a lot!

Although we can’t give a subjective guestimate about how much pain is “a lot,” because everyone reacts to pain differently, we can list the most and least painful areas that hurt when getting a tattoo.

We’ll also reveal other cool tips and info such as what exactly causes the pain as well as how to minimize it.

Tattoo Pain Chart: Which Parts Are the Most Sensitive (Male & Female)?

Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (1)

To create our tattoo pain chart, we’ve created a tattoo pain scale 1 – 10, so you can figure out just how painful each placement will be.

Furthermore, tattoo pain for males and females can be drastically different. This is down to the shape of our bodies. For example, women tend to have fleshier hips and this extra layer of flesh can make it less painful to get a tattoo here compared to men.

Of course, many tattoo placements are exactly the same for men and women. Ears, knees, faces… we all have them!

Tattoo pain also depends on your own body. Scroll down to read our section on factors that can impact tattoo pain to learn more.

For now, let’s take a look at our pain scale and chart for popular tattoo placements:

  • Mild – 1-3
  • Moderate – 3-6
  • Severe – 6-8
  • Extremely severe – 8-10
Body PartMaleFemale
Rib Cage99
Shinbones and Ankles99
Breasts and Chest89
Groin Area98
Head And Face76
Hands And Fingers77
Outer Thighs35
Outer Shoulder46
Outer Bicep25
Inner Bicep57

3 Least Painful Placements from the Female Tattoo Pain Chart

If you’re a total beginner to tattoos, you might be worried about the pain. Well, no problem. Here are three areas that are low-pain for women – these are typically low pain for men too, but there are some differences depending on your body.

As mentioned above, women tend to have fleshier hips, which means hip tattoos are a little less painful. Chest tattoos, however, are often more painful due to the sensitivity of your breasts. So, here are the 3 best low-pain tattoo placements for women who want to get their first tattoo:

  1. Calves – the fleshy part of your lower leg is a good spot for a first tattoo. It’s easy to cover, it doesn’t get in the way during the healing process, and the actual tattooing itself isn’t too painful. So long as you avoid tattooing directly on the ankle or shin bones, it’s a great placement.
  2. Outer bicep – although we see women favoring lower forearm tattoos, don’t rule out a tattoo on your outer upper arm. This area is usually quite fleshy or muscular, which is good for reducing the pain.
  3. Outer thigh – the top of your thigh or the outer side is fleshy and has few nerve endings. Furthermore, it’s quite a large and flat surface so you can get a large tattoo here! In general, thigh tattoos tend to be quite feminine so they’re more popular with women than men.

We’ve made a lot of generalizations about women here, but you need to ultimately make a decision about your tattoo placement based on your own body. You know which areas are most sensitive for you!

3 Least Painful Placements from the Male Tattoo Pain Chart

Pain is pain – both men and women feel it. But nonetheless, we do have different bodies and that means that some areas are more sensitive to pain than others. We actually found that men find back tattoos more painful than women, perhaps because there’s less back flesh for men in general.

Once again, you need to choose a tattoo placement based on your own body. Here are 3 areas that are typically low pain that you may want to consider:

  1. Calves – just like with women, the fleshy part of your lower legs is a low-pain area that’s great for a first tattoo. You’ll need to shave off the hairs though!
  2. Outer shoulder – your shoulder area is low pain and a great spot for your first tattoo. If you want a really large tattoo, it’s the perfect spot.
  3. Outer bicep – your upper arm is a classic spot for a tattoo and you really can’t go wrong here. The pain levels are quite low too. If you want a half sleeve, consider this placement.

Tattoo Pain Chart: Explained Based on Placement (Male And Female)

Our tattoo pain chart rates each body area from 1 to 10, but why have we given these scores? Well, we spoke to hundreds of individuals who have been tattooed to discover how they would rate the pain experienced when getting their tattoo.

That’s how we’ve created these averages, but what you experience may be different… scroll right down to our section about factors that impact tattoo pain below to learn more.

Rib Cage

Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (2)

The rib cage is one of the most painful areas for getting a tattoo done. Many people who had their full torso tattooed called it the most painful area of all, because of the extremely severe pain. The skin is generally quite thin over the ribs and the needle really hits the area. Furthermore, it’s quite a sensitive area.

As the rib cage moves as we breathe, tattooing gets additionally challenging for the tattoo artist and more painful in the process – make sure you ask for plenty of breaks.

Rib cage, being one of the most painful areas, is rated at 9 for both men and women.

Female: For women, the ribs are also very close to the breasts, which are another painful area. The skin is particularly sensitive, but the same goes for men!

Male: Even without breasts, the ribs can be a very painful place to get tattooed. From speaking to many tattooed people, we have found that whether you are muscular, skinny, or plump, the pain is still pretty high.


Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (3)

The second most painful place is the armpit, and it is often advised against tattooing this area of your body. That is mainly because of the nerves and sensitive skin in this area, as well as proximity to the breast glands.

Many argue about whether it’s the armpits or rib cage that are the most painful areas to get inked. We say that the armpit tattoos sting a bit more, giving it a pain rating of 10 for both men and women.

Female: Women may find this area more difficult because the breast (and “side boob”) may also be included in an armpit tattoo.

Male: Although the pain may be slightly less compared to women if the tattoo spreads down to the chest or side body, the pain is still rated as extremely severe and make no mistake – it’s hard to endure.

Tattoo on Shin and Ankle Bones

Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (4)

Both your shinbones and ankles are covered with a thin layer of skin, which makes tattooing difficult and painful. Both sexes experience a high level of pain on the shinbones, still, men tend to experience a little less pain than women.

On the other hand, women who are more accustomed to waxing or epilating their legs may be a little more resistant to the pain of the tattoo needle. Of course, it really does come down to individual pain thresholds.

Female: Tattooing both the shinbones and ankles is severely painful, the back of the ankles also feels extremely painful. However, the leg area next to the shinbones is less painful compared to the actual shin bone, as there’s more flesh here, which provides relief if you’re tattooing the entire leg.

Male: Both the shinbones and ankles are in extremely severe pain when in contact with the tattoo needle. Nevertheless, the pain on the rear of the ankle is sometimes less severe than what women experience.

(Video) People Describe the Pain of Getting Tattoos | Under the Skin

Tattoo Pain Chest and Breasts

Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (5)

Whether you’re a man or a woman, the pain from getting tattooed on your breasts or chest area is extremely severe. For men, the pain is around an 8, while women experience it at level 9 simply because breasts can be very tender!

Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s a breeze for men…

Female: Women have more flesh around and on the breasts, which makes the pain more severe. It gets particularly painful on the nipples.

Male: Men may experience less pain when tattooing the chest area, depending on the weight and shape of the muscles here. Still, the pain is rated as severe.

Groin Area

Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (6)

Tattoos on the groin area, whether it’s directly on your genitals or is in that crease by your thigh, is going to be incredibly painful. This is a very sensitive area and regardless of how fleshy or boney you are, you’re going to feel every single puncture of the tattoo needle.

Your tattoo artist may offer you some numbing cream for this area. Also bear in mind that not all tattoo artists will be comfortably inking intimate areas.

Female: If the tattoo is more toward the hip or thigh area, with only a small overlap on the groin, then the pain will be lessened – simply because these areas are typically fleshier.

Male: For men, tattoos in the groin area are going to be exceptionally painful – whether it’s more or less painful than for women depends on your pain tolerances as an individual.


Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (7)

The skin that surrounds your hip joints and bone is thin and fragile, full of nerve endings which can easily make getting a tat extremely painful. Males experience the hip pain at level 8, while females experience it at level 7.

Female: The hip area is rated as painful, but still less painful than that of men. This is likely because women tend to have fleshier hips.

Male: The top of the hip may be more painful compared to the rest of the hip area. It can get severely painful when the tattoo is large, and the tattoo artist isn’t taking frequent breaks.

Knees And Behind The Knees

Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (8)

The pain experienced in your knees and behind your knees depends on the conditions of your knees and your pain tolerance. Both males and females have a pain rating of 7 for the knee area. Tattooing directly on the knee cap or veins behind the knee is going to be more painful than those fleshy areas on either side.

Bear in mind that tattoos on the skin of your knees may take longer to heal too, as the skin here is constantly moving and stretching as you walk. This can prolong the pain.

Female: If the area around and behind your knees has a lot of loose skin, the tattooing experience may be extremely painful.

Male: Similarly to the female, loose skin that is easy to stretch could make tattooing a struggle. Luckily, the skin around the knees shouldn’t cause more than moderate pain.

Also Read:60+ Epic Knee Tattoo Design Ideas: Ultimate Guide (2023 Updated)


Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (9)

Elbows are a painful area regardless of biological sex. The elbow bone, or “funny bone” as they say in the UK, lays just under the skin, so the needle is in close contact with the bone when getting inked. Men are rated at level 8, while the women experience pain at level 7.

We based these ratings on feedback from tattooed men and women, so it could just be because women tend to have a higher tolerance for pain than men. Biologically, elbows are the same!

Female: The skin on the elbow bone may be severely painful to tattoo. The area around the elbow itself could result in extremely severe pain too, as the area is quite sensitive in general.

Male: Males generally experience more pain than women in this area. We can’t say for definite why, and remember that it varies between individuals anyway.


Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (10)

A lot of people who tattoo their spine will experience extreme pain, due to sharp nerve endings and how close the spine is to the skin. Being extremely painful area, both men and women experience pain level 9.

A good way to avoid this pain is to get your back tattooed on either side of the spine. For back tattoo pain levels, scroll down.

Female: The thin layer that surrounds the spine could make tattooing so painful that it may bring a tear to your eye!

Male: Some people have commented that back and spine tattoos are more painful for men compared to women, however we haven’t be able to identify a reason why – the spine is roughly the same for men and women, with just variations in length.

Also Read:Top 30 Spine Tattoo Design Ideas For Women (2023 Updated)


Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (11)

Similar to the spine, tattooing the neck can be extremely painful for both men and women. The pain for men and women is 7 and 6 respectively.

Female: Front area is less painful compared to the backside of the neck. This may be because the front of the neck is fleshier. Either way, it’s quite a sensitive placement.

Male: The area around the neck feels unbearably painful, especially on the front, against the Adams apple. Although the spine and back of neck bones are also painful. Pain all round! Nonetheless, neck tattoos are increasingly popular.

Aslo Read:Are Neck Tattoos A Bad Idea?

(Video) TATTOO TALK | Full Body Pain Scale | HAYLEE TATTOOER

Head And Face

Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (12)

If we made a chart showing the pain of tattoos on your skull, it would be bright red all over. Your face is covered in delicate nerve endings and the skin on your skull is wafer thin. It’s going to hurt!

Because of the multiple nerve endings on both head and face, both women and men can experience piercing pain when getting their tattoos. For men, the entire face hurts at level 7. For women, the lower facial area is more painful, but overall, the pain experienced is at level 6.

Again, this could just be because women tend to have a higher pain threshold. Ultimately, it comes down to your individual tolerance for pain.

Female: The pain of getting tattooed on the head can be rated as severe, while the area surrounding the mouth and cheekbones can be rated as extremely severe. The back of the head can also be considered quite painful.

Male: The entire head and face may be rated as extremely severe. The back of the head, with fewer nerve endings, may be slightly less painful but it’s still going to hurt like a b***h.

Also Read:Can A Tattoo Cause Nerve Damage?


Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (13)

Ears may not be the most popular area for getting a tattoo, but for those who decide to take this brave step, tattooing the ears can be considered quite painful. The skin is thin and there’s not a lot of fat cells that can ease the pain. Both men and women experience the pain at level 7.

Female: The pain of getting tattooed on the shell of the ears and around the ears can be rated as severe.

Male: The back of the ears and lower part of the ears – the lobes – feels severely painful, while getting the front of the ear tattooed can cause extremely severe pain.


Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (14)

Lips are made of very soft and delicate skin, and are full of nerve endings, which can result in extreme pain especially for those with thinner lips. The tattoo needle can result in bleeding and lip sores, which is not just painful but also inconvenient – talking and eating may be a struggle while the tattoo heals. For both both men and women, lip tattoo pain is at level 8.

Female: The area around the mouth and the lips are rated to cause an extremely severe painful sensation.

Male: Similarly with the female lips, male lips can be painful to tattoo, rated as extremely severe. As mentioned, whether you have thick or thin lips matters more than your gender when it comes to pain.

Also Read:Pros And Cons Of Getting An Inner Lip Tattoo

Hands And Fingers

Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (15)

Similarly to your feet, hands and fingers can be quite popular to tattoo and we’ve seen an upwards trend for this in recent years. However, it can cause severe pain because of the thin layer of skin that surrounds the fingers doesn’t offer much padding for your bones. You may also experience painful spasms and swelling in the area as you are inked and as you heal – talk to your tattoo artist about what to expect.

Both men and women experience pain at level 8.

Female: The inner palm can cause intense pain that intensifies around the wrists. The outer finger and back of hand can also result in extremely severe pain, but typically the softer palm and underside of your wrist are going to be the most painful.

Male: For men, the people we spoke to contested that the underside of your hands will cause little to moderate pain, but the back of the hand and fingers are more painful to tattoo. This could be because the skin is thinner and less fleshy on the back of the hand.

Also Read:60+ Skeleton Hand Tattoo Ideas (and The Symbolism behind Them)


Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (16)

The area around the rib cage is extremely painful, if not more than any other area. The stomach area may cause less pain when tattooed, depending on how fleshy you are. The tighter the skin around the stomach, the less painful it is. Although it should be noted that if you are very skinny and the skin is stretched very taught, this can also enhance the pain. The ideal stomach is not too flabby but with a good layer of flesh for the needle to hit.

The pain males experience is typically rated at 6, while the pain women are feeling is rated at 8.

Female: The lower stomach is more painful for women, as well as the area about abdominal muscles. The rest of the stomach feels less severely painful.

Male: Although the pain still exists, it’s more moderate compared to other areas. This also applies to the side body below the ribs but above the hip bone.


Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (17)

The back is less painful to tattoo than the spine directly, it can even be rated as mild or moderate pain, depending on the size of your tattoo and other factors. Men tend to experience the pain at level 7. The pain for women is significantly lower, at level 5, possibly because women tend to have a little more flesh and fat over the back.

Female: The pain across both the upper and lower back feels mild and moderate in most areas for women. The exceptions would be on the spine directly, the back of neck area, and shoulder blades if they are particularly prominent.

Male: Fewer nerve-endings make the pain more moderate, although in some areas pain may be rated as severe. Genuinely, men experience more pain from back tattoos than women.

Also Read:30+ Best Back Tattoos For Women: Ideas And Symbolism (2023 Updated)

Outer Thighs

Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (18)

Thighs are among the body parts that experience less pain when under the tattoo needle, especially the outer/upper thigh. This is because your thighs are typically fleshy which provides a lot of cushioning for the tattoo needle.

Your inner thighs and the backs of your thighs where the skin is more sensitive, may result in more painful tattoos. Outer thigh pain feels mild for males at level 3, while for women it’s moderate at level 5. Either way, thighs are a great placement for beginners who are worried about tattoo pain but still want a large tattoo on their body.

Female: Women will experience less pain across the entire outer thigh area, as women typically have fleshier thighs.

(Video) Comparison: Most Painful Places to Get A Tattoo

Male: The upper outer thigh feels less painful to tattoo, but the pain is more moderate in the lower thighs near the knee, while the upper area is milder.

Also Read:

  • 30+ Sexiest Thigh Tattoo Designs For Girls
  • Do Thigh Tattoos Hurt? – Everything You Need To Know

Outer Shoulders

Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (19)

The outer side of the shoulders (towards your back and on your upper arms) has a thick skin layer and not so many nerve endings, making it a good area for getting a tattoo that won’t cause too much pain. Men experience pain that is moderate at level 4, while the women’s pain ratings sway towards severe at level 6.

This could be because men often have more muscular shoulders, which provides more padding for the bone.

Female: The outer shoulder pain is moderate and stronger than for men. Clavicle tattoo pain is also higher, as the skin and flesh here tend to be thinner.

Male: The pain in the outer shoulders and shoulders, in general, is rated as mild. It’s a very popular placement for men to get tattoos


Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (20)

The outer bicep is rich in muscles and not so many nerve endings or fat cells. It won’t cause a lot of pain, but you may still be able to feel it. For men, the pain of getting tattooed on the outer bicep is rated at 2, while the pain of the inner bicep is rated at 5. For women, the outer bicep hurts at level 5, while the inner is more severe at 7.

Both men and women can have quite muscular biceps, which may help to reduce the pain somewhat.

Female: Outer bicep for women and the bicep, in general, will cause less pain than other body parts, making it a great place for a sleeve tattoo.

Male: Although the pain is considered mild, it’s still present and can be annoying. Nonetheless, it’s one of the lowest rated pain areas for men and is extremely popular as a tattoo placement.

Sternum Tattoo Pain

Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (21)

The sternum is that place below the breasts (or pecs for men) and in the center of your body. It may overlap with your ribs, or sit in that valley between them. Either way, it’s a very painful spot for a tattoo because there tends to be very little fat or muscle that can provide more cushioning for the tattoo needle.

Men and women are pretty evenly matched for pain in this area, however if the tattoo spills over onto the breast area, it can be even more painful for women. The pain is at a level 8 overall.

Female: At a level 8 pain, the sternum is very painful. It also makes wearing a bra tricky during the recovery phase! Nonetheless, it’s a very popular and trendy tattoo placement that’s growing in popularity.

Male: For men, this tattoo placement is less popular but still very painful. Some men may have more muscle in this area, but on the whole it’s still going to be very painful to get inked over the sternum.

Wrist Tattoo Pain

Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (22)

You’ll notice that most wrist tattoos, both for men and women, are located slightly higher up the forearm instead of directly adjacent to the wrist bone. This is because wrists are incredibly painful places to get tattoos.

On the back of the wrist, you’ve got very thin skin stretched over bone. On the inner wrist, you’ve got incredibly sensitive veins and nerve endings that you don’t want to expose to the harsh pain of the tattoo needle!

Wrist pain is generally rated as a level 6, but you can reduce this number by choosing a very small design and shifting it slightly further along your forearm.

Female: Women who have more delicate and skinny wrists will find the pain is intensified, while women with fleshier wrists will have less pain on the outer wrist area. The inner wrist, with those veins and nerve endings, is always incredibly painful regardless.

Male: For men, the pain of a wrist tattoo really depends on how muscular or fleshy this area is. Even then, it’s still quite a thin-skinned area of your body. Like women, the pain you’ll experience is intense and there are very few ways to get around that.

Factors That Affect Pain Levels When Getting a Tattoo

Tattoo Pain Chart (Scale): What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place (Male & Female) - Saved Tattoo (23)

Like with everything, certain factors affect how much pain you’ll experience when getting a tattoo. These factors vary from person to person, so make sure to read them all and figure out whether your pain tolerance relates to the factors below.


People who are biologically male or female react to pain differently. Although that difference isn’t significant, it’s still noticeable. A study conducted at Stanford University concluded that women react to pain more intensely compared to men.

Still, there’s no definite evidence that women experience more pain when getting tattooed as opposed to men. There’s no evidence to support why differences occur when getting a tattoo, but one factor could be different chemical and hormonal composition.

At the end of the day, how you react to pain depends more on your life experiences and pain tolerance in general. Just because you are a certain gender doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be in more pain!


Anecdotal evidence suggests that people who have older skin have more chance to experience a more intense painful response to the needle than those with young skin. Youth are generally more resistant to pain, intense exercise, etc.

Ah, to be young!

If you’re getting a tattoo later in life, you may want to bulk up a little bit to provide more flesh and fat. But don’t go overboard, as gaining/losing a lot of weight can disfigure the tattoo as well.


Too little fat and flesh can cause the tattoo needle to hit closer to bones and nerve endings, which is going to cause more pain. On the other hand, people with a lot of excess loose skin find that the vibrations of the tattoo needle are painful too. People who have loose skin, which is associated with higher weight and body fat, are typically sensitive to pain.

The optimum body weight is just a healthy BMI! This should provide enough flesh for the most comfortable tattooing experience. Check your BMI here.

Tattoo Artist

Tattoo artists who’ve worked with a lot of people and experienced different pain tolerances are more sensible and careful when tattooing. They’ll best know how to approach tattooing each area of your body, and will know how to plan the right number of sessions to spread the pain out.

(Video) The Tattoo Pain Chart is Lying to You

An in-experienced tattoo artist may not be so sensitive to your pain, and you may need to prompt them to stop when you need a break. This doesn’t make you weak. It’s important to listen to your body and take a break when you need it.


Endorphins are special chemicals that help relieve pain and stress. Our body releases them when it’s under stress and pain to feel more relieved and relaxed. Based on how your body responds to pain by releasing endorphins also depends on how much pain you’ll feel when getting tattooed.

There are ways to boost your endorphins, however many of these activities can’t be undertaken while you’re actually getting tattooed! If you like to meditate, try clearing and focusing your mind while getting inked. Eating very dark chocolate could help as well. You could also watch comedy shows, as laughing can release endorphins too.

However, check with your tattoo artist before doing any of these things, as they can be disruptive to the tattoo process.

How to Reduce the Pain of Getting a Tattoo

Tattooing is painful, and if the artwork is large, it can also be time-consuming which can make the pain even greater. Here’s are a few tips to help you reduce the pain.

Before the Session

  • Make sure to be sober for at least 24 hours before getting a tattoo.
  • Make sure to get enough of sleep before going to get your tattoo.
  • Make sure to eat before coming to the session.
  • Try to get a morning session because the endorphins are higher at that time.

It’s best to book tattoo sessions in advance, so your tattoo artist can ensure you prepare properly. You might be tempted to consume alcohol or drugs (legal or illegal) to numb the pain that’s to come, however this is not advisable. These substances can actually make you bleed more and prevent clotting, which is important for the tattoo to heal.

Talk to your tattoo artist about what you should do to prepare your skin, body and mind before your first session. This is why we always recommend booking a tattoo rather than getting an impromptu one.

During the Session

  • Bring your headphones and listen to some light music.
  • Play a movie or some funny videos during the session.
  • Use a painkiller like Tylenol or ibuprofen, if your tattoo artist gives the okay.
  • Try out creams that numb your skin and reduce the pain.

If you’re worried about the pain, ask your tattoo artist to talk you through the process before your tattoo session. This can put you in a better mind-frame for getting a tattoo. You’d be surprised by how important a positive and strong mindset can be for reducing the pain you experience!

If you’d like the tattoo artist to use numbing cream, make sure you ask them beforehand so you can find a cream that they approve. Not all tattoo artists will be happy for you to use a numbing cream – some people believe the pain is an important part of the tattoo ritual – so ask instead of assuming.

After the Session

  • You can use painkillers every 6 hours to lessen the pain.
  • Make sure to stay hydrated.
  • Wear loose clothing and rest the inked area as much as you can.
  • Avoid scratching or touching the wound.

Your tattoo will continue to hurt as it heals. It won’t be the same pain as getting hit by the tattoo needle, instead it will be duller. Some people describe it as an itchy, hot, sunburn type feeling. As your tattoo scabs over and peels, it will itch even more. But if you give into the urge and itch it, you could disfigure the tattoo and cause more pain for yourself.

If your tattoo is red, swollen, oozing and has a bad odor, this could be caused by an infection. Monitor your tattoo carefully as it heals and if the pain doesn’t subside, then seek medical attention.

Also Read:Tattoo Pain Management: How to Make Tattoos Less Painful


People who are curious about tattoo pain levels may have a lot of questions. With that in mind, we wrote this frequently asked questions section to help answer all the potential questions you may have.

What does tattoo pain feel like?

Tattoo pain feels different for everyone. What happens exactly is that a needle is going through your skin and embedding ink below the surface to create an image. That said, the primary type of pain will feel like scratching as if a cat is scratching you or you are experiencing constant bee and wasp stings.

Besides scratching, the tattooing process pain feels sharp, and leaves a burning sensation. However, the pain sensation, and the type of the pain you’ll experience is different on different parts of the body.

If the skin is loose, the burning and scratching sensation with intensify. Also, when bone is too close to the needle like on elbows for example, the pain will also intensify. The area may vibrate and move as the needle hits it too, which can be uncomfortable.

When you get into the groove of your tattoo session, you may find that the pain becomes more of a nagging sensation than truly painful. Furthermore, the rush of adrenaline you’ll feel will also numb the pain as the session goes on.

Read More:What Does a Tattoo Feel Like? First Timer’s Guide to a First Tattoo Sesh and Sensation to Expect

Is shading as painful as outlining a tattoo?

People who are keen on getting colorful tattoos are scared because they think that the coloring process, also known as shading, hurts more than outlining the tattoo. However, that’s not true, at least not for everyone. A lot of people say that in most cases the shading pain experience is milder, and the process is more relaxing.

It’s easy to get into a rhythm of being inked after a while.

What to avoid after getting a tattoo?

Of course, you shouldn’t touch and scratch the tattoo, and only touch it when you’re cleaning the wound twice a day. However, there are other things that you can avoid such as direct sunlight, bathing (but just have quick showers), exercising vigorously, swimming, and other things. It’s also important to avoid drinking alcohol.

These activities will either slow down the healing process, disfigure the tattoo, or cause an infection.

What is the most painful place to get a tattoo?

Although it is down to the individual, the most painful places are often considered to be the armpits and the area around the rib cage. For some people, this will be different, but generally a lot of people experience the most pain around sensitive areas of your armpits, which is why they avoid getting tattooed there.

What is the least painful place to get a tattoo?

Areas such as the stomach, outer shoulders, outer bicep, and outer thighs cause the least pain. For women, your back also feels the least painful. Any area of your body that has a good layer of flesh and isn’t overly sensitive (few nerve endings) will be low in pain… although don’t forget that you cannot avoid the pain completely.

When will the tattoo stop hurting?

You can expect the wound to hurt intensively for at least three days after getting inked. As the swelling is going down and the wound is starting to heal, you’ll experience an irritating sort of pain. Although you may still feel discomfort after two weeks, most of the pain will disappear around this time.

If the pain gets worse or doesn’t seem to be going away, check for other signs of an infection and seek medical attention if you need to.

Is it normal to feel sick after getting a tattoo?

You may feel a bit sick after getting a tattoo, and even feverish. But those sensations should go away after a few days. As the adrenaline wears off after your tattoo session, you may feel a little unsteady. If there’s a lot of blood or needles make you squeamish, this can also make you feel a bit sick when the session is over.

Importantly, these sensations shouldn’t last for long.

When the tattoo is healing, if the fever rises and persists, as well as the pain and swelling, you should visit a doctor because this may indicate an infection.

(Video) TATTOO PAIN : Most Painful Places for Tattoos

Do tattoos hurt more when you’re tired?

Tattoos generally hurt less during a morning schedule because body is rested and more effective at generating endorphins. Getting your tattoo done when you are tired means that your body is more sensitive and feels more tender so you may experience more pain.


Where is the least painful place for a tattoo? ›

The least painful places to get a tattoo are areas of your body with fewer nerve endings. Think outer shoulder, calf, buttocks, and outer arm. While people generally focus on the location on the body, Stanley Kovak, a cosmetic physician, theorizes that pain is more about size.

Where is the least painful place to get a tattoo for a girl? ›

Outer shoulders

The outer part of your shoulders has thick skin with few nerve endings, making it one of the least painful places to get tattooed. The pain of being tattooed here is usually low to low-moderate.

What is the most painful tattoo spot male? ›

Rib Cage And Chest

The ribs are regarded as one of the most painful areas to get a tattoo since the skin is thin and immediately over the bones. The skin surrounding your ribcage is fragile, with less fat than in most other regions of your body. The ribs have very little cushioning and are just underneath the skin.

How bad does a wrist tattoo hurt on a scale of 1 to 10? ›

The pain is not as bad as, say, having your nerve-rich nipples or lips tattooed. But most people rank it pretty high on the pain chart. People put the pain anywhere between a 5 out of 10 to a “what-was-I-thinking” level of pain. That's a broad range.

Where is the softest place to get a tattoo? ›

The upper thigh and the upper outer thigh have everything that aids comfort levels when getting inked; they are well padded with fat, they have fewer nerve endings, and they're far from any bones, making for a lower tattoo pain scale.

Where do tattoos stretch the least? ›

According to Adrenaline Studios, the upper back and chest, forearms, and lower legs are more resilient to stretching. Tattoos on these places likely won't stretch noticeably.

Where to get first tattoo girl? ›

The most popular spots to get tatted are the side of ribs, just above the elbow, fingers, wrists and straight onto the bicep as well as behind the ears, according to Petersen. But it is wise to choose your spot for more reasons than because it is “in.” That is because not all tattoo placements heal equally.

Is there a painless tattoo? ›

Painless, bloodless tattoos have been created by scientists, who say the technique could have medical and cosmetic applications. The technique, which can be self-administered, uses microneedles to imprint a design into the skin without causing pain or bleeding.

Are tattoos more painful for men? ›

Conclusions: There was no difference between females and males in pain intensity during tattooing. Directly after the procedure, however, pain intensity was higher in women when compared to men. The most important factors increasing pain were time, bleeding, and the level of stress.

Where do guys find tattoos most attractive? ›

Most guys agree that the shoulder, the upper back, or the hip are the hottest places for women to have tattoos (all being rated a 3.3 on a five-point scale). On the flip side, a face tattoo is (pretty unsurprisingly if you ask me) the least attractive to both men and women, being rated a 1.4 on the scale.

Where is the hottest place for a guy to get a tattoo? ›

The back: a top-rated tattoo location for women and men. The hip: a top-rated tattoo location for women. The upper arm: a top-rated tattoo location for men.

What is tattoo pain equal to? ›

Some people describe the pain as a pricking sensation. Others say it feels like bee stings or being scratched. A thin needle is piercing your skin, so you can expect at least a little pricking sensation. As the needle moves closer to the bone, it may feel like a painful vibration.

Do thin tattoos hurt more? ›

While no tattoo will be completely painless, Wiwi points out that fine line tattoos hurt less as they use small needles. However, Boyle points out that placement can greatly affect how much getting a tattoo hurts, not to mention the skill level of the artist.

Is 10 a bad tip for a tattoo? ›

Usually, customers leave 15-20% of the tattoo price. However, if you cannot afford that amount, you can leave a 10% tip. Some customers do not like calculating and just tip $100 regardless of the amount. This is out of proportion with big tattoos, for which you pay more than $1000.

Where is best to get your first tattoo? ›

While upper arms, forearms, thighs, and calves are all great locations, Brodsky says elbow and knee tattooing can be “kind of spicy, but it's still doable.” Tattoos on the torso hurt worse, she explains, because the skin is softer and lighter.

What is the best tattoo to get for the first time? ›

Tiny tattoos are a popular first choice as well. Whether it's hearts, stars, or zodiac symbols, fine line techniques are ideal for a first tattoo because of their delicate design and barely-there size. Another memorable first tattoo choice is a word or mantra that defines who you are.

Will tattoos change if I lose weight? ›

Your tattoo might move around a bit during weight loss. If your skin gets a bit loose during your weight loss, your tattoo might shift. If you are losing weight while also toning or building muscle, then your tattoo might find itself sculpted to your body in a different way.

Where not to get a tattoo? ›

So what are the worst places to get a tattoo on the body? Areas like the feet, hands, stomach, chest, elbow, lips, and inner ear are not good tattoo locations. It's essential to consider a few things when choosing a proper placement, such as pain intensity, practicality, and visibility.

How do tattoos look when you lose weight? ›

How Weight Gain Affects Tattoos. Only in cases of extreme weight loss or weight gain will you see a noticeable difference in a tattoo design, says celebrity tattoo artist Dillon Forte: "Weight change has virtually no effect on the tattoo unless the weight gain or loss is like 100 pounds.

Do tattoos make you hotter? ›

IT'S debatable whether getting inked makes you any cooler, but it certainly makes you warmer, especially during exercise. Scientists have discovered that tattooed skin sweats barely half as much as pristine areas.

Do girls like guys with muscles? ›

Research shows most women are attracted to men who are more muscular, stronger, and leaner than men who are smaller, weaker, and fatter. Research also shows that to maximize your attractiveness to women, guys only need to gain about 20 to 30 pounds of muscle and reduce their body fat percentage to 8 to 12%.

Do people find tattoos hot? ›

Previous research has also found that women tend to look more favourably on men with tattoos, associating them with “good health, masculinity, aggressiveness and dominance,” according to one study. Type's recent survey also found that only 39% of men were attracted to women with tattoos.

How much do you tip a tattoo artist? ›

It is customary to tip tattoo artists for their time and skill. A general guideline is to tip between 15-20% of the total cost of your tattoo, but you can adjust this amount based on your personal budget and satisfaction with the service.

What age do most people get their first tattoo? ›

According to a YouGov survey, half of people with tattoos in America and Britain got their first by the age of 21. A closer look at the US data shows that 39% got their first tattoo between 15 and 19, and one in four went under the needle after they turned 30.

When should I not get a tattoo? ›

If you have a medical problem such as heart disease, allergies, diabetes, skin problems like eczema or psoriasis, a weak immune system, or a bleeding problem, talk to your doctor before getting a tattoo. Also, if you get keloids (an overgrowth of scar tissue) you probably should not get a tattoo.

How do you prepare for tattoo pain? ›

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, may help ease the pain following a tattooing procedure. However, it is unclear if acetaminophen can effectively prevent pain from tattooing procedures. Instead, some tattoo artists recommend topical skin-numbing products.

What can I take before a tattoo to ease the pain? ›

If your tattoo shop doesn't have it, you can get 4% or 5% Lidocaine over the counter yourself. And if you think you might be super sensitive, you can get up to 20% Lidocaine prescribed by a doctor to numb things out even more.

Is there a tattoo without blood? ›

The microneedle tattoos are applied without any pain. Scientists have developed a method for creating tattoos without pain or blood, and they believe it may have both medical and aesthetic uses. The Georgia Institute of Technology in the US has developed the technology that may soon lead to simple tattooing operations.

What hurts worst to tattoo? ›

The most painful spots to get a tattoo are your ribs, spine, fingers, and shins. The least painful spots to get a tattoo are your forearms, stomach, and outer thighs.

Why do girls sit better for tattoos? ›

We conclude three interesting facts from this research. Women feel pain more intensely than men, therefore having a lower threshold for pain; HOWEVER, women do bear the pain in a much more internalized manner giving the impression that they feel less pain...tolerate it better.

Do tattoos hurt more on muscle or fat? ›

Do tattoos hurt less on fatty areas? One of the biggest factors that affects tattoo pain is where on your body you get a tattoo. Fatty areas with thick skin are the least painful because they are able to cushion the sting of the needle.

Do guys look hot with tattoos? ›

Key points. In a study, women rated tattooed men as healthier but not more attractive than men without tattoos. Men viewed tattooed men as more attractive but not healthier than men without tattoos. Women judged men with tattoos as worse potential parents and partners than men without tattoos.

Do guys prefer girls with tattoos or without? ›

Men Think Tattooed Girls Are Easier

How can a tattoo be a determining factor for this conclusion? It can't. However, this study showed that when girls wore tattoos they were solicited by men 23.67 percent of the time, but when the same girls didn't wear tattoos they were solicited by men a mere 10 percent of the time.

Where are secret areas for tattoos? ›

The 15 Best Spots to Hide a Tattoo if You Want to Keep It on the...
  • On your chest. ...
  • Inside your lip. ...
  • On your neck. ...
  • Inside your arm. ...
  • On your upper thigh. ...
  • Underneath your finger. ...
  • On the side of your finger. ...
  • On your collarbone.
Jan 6, 2021

Where on your body is the best place to tattoo a date? ›

Clients most typically request this on the side of the shoulder over the medial deltoid although the space over their heart is also commonly chosen as a place for dates.

Do girls think guys with tattoos are hot? ›

– The Research. According to a Polish study published in the Personality and Individual Differences journal, women don't find tattooed men more (or less) attractive. They do think men with tattoos are healthier, more masculine, dominant, and aggressive, but that they make worse partners and parents.

What hurts more linework or shading? ›

Tattoo Shading

Color and shading simply provide more dimension than line work. Contrary to what you might expect, many people report that the shading hurts significantly less than the outlining of the tattoo. If you've already made it through your line work, pat yourself on the back.

How deep do tattoo needles go? ›

A Tattoo needle penetrates 5 layers of the epidermis

That may sound like a lot of skin, but in reality it is only 1/16th of an inch, about 1-2mm. That's pretty tiny. It goes through five layers of the epidermis, through the dermal layer, and into the topmost layer of the dermis.

Do color tattoos hurt more? ›

However, some people do report that color tattoos are more painful than black and grey tattoos. This may be because the process of applying color to the skin involves multiple passes with the tattoo needle, which can be more painful than applying black ink.

Do tattoos hurt worse than a shot? ›

What does tattoo pain feel like? Even though needles produce tattoos, it doesn't feel like you're getting stabbed. It's nothing like getting a shot, either. The artist is actually drawing on your skin, so it feels like that — but more burn-y.

Do small tattoo needles hurt less? ›

However, one thing is for sure: single needle tattoos hurt more than those with a standard tattoo machine. The reason is that each needle punctures the skin individually, resulting in a more intense sensation.

Do small tattoos hurt more than big ones? ›

Tattoo Size

The larger the tattoo, the more discomfort that may be experienced, as bigger tattoos involve more needles, ink, and session time.

Do you tip for a $1000 tattoo? ›

Yes, in most cases you should leave a tip

For example, if you were charged $1,000, the artist may only be getting about a $300 paycheck for their work. Next, most artists are required to pay for their own equipment.

How much do you tip on a $1000 tattoo? ›

How much do you tip for a $1,000 tattoo? You would tip around $200 - $300 for a $1,000 tattoo. So, the final price you'd expect to pay for the service is $1,200 - $1,300.

Do you tip on a $500 tattoo? ›

Cornolo puts the range between 15% to 20%, but says that it really varies. “Some tip less, and some are very generous." For instance, you might wonder how much to tip for a $500 tattoo. In this case, tipping anywhere from $75 to $125 would be appropriate.

Where is the easiest part to tattoo? ›

The areas that are least painful to get tattooed are the ones with most fat, thickest skin and few nerve endings such as the forearm, upper arm, thigh and calf according to Petersen. Also, know that tattoos take a while to create, probably even longer than you think.

Where is the safest place to get a tattoo? ›

Best: Shoulders & Calves

Since the skin on the shoulders and calves isn't as affected by aging, tattoos in these areas tend to stay put, Palomino says. Compare this to the areas that tend to see a lot of change over the course of your life, like your abdomen.

What is more painful outline or shading? ›

Contrary to what you might expect, many people report that the shading hurts significantly less than the outlining of the tattoo. If you've already made it through your line work, pat yourself on the back. You've likely conquered the most painful part already. You can do this!

How much money should I bring for my first tattoo? ›


In 2022, you can expect even the smallest, simplest tattoos to cost at least $50-100. A palm-sized tattoo usually runs between $200-500, and medium to large tattoos (about 8”) usually range from $300-600.

Will my tattoo change if I lose weight? ›

Your tattoo might move around a bit during weight loss. If your skin gets a bit loose during your weight loss, your tattoo might shift. If you are losing weight while also toning or building muscle, then your tattoo might find itself sculpted to your body in a different way.

How much should a first tattoo cost? ›

There is a lot that goes into figuring out the cost of your new tattoo. It isn't a straight forward answer. Things like materials, size, location, and type of tattoo affect the price. On average you can expect to charge $50-100 for a small tattoo, up to $200 for a medium tattoo and over $250 for a large tattoo.

What's a good first tattoo? ›

Tiny tattoos are a popular first choice as well. Whether it's hearts, stars, or zodiac symbols, fine line techniques are ideal for a first tattoo because of their delicate design and barely-there size. Another memorable first tattoo choice is a word or mantra that defines who you are.

What is the safest tattoo? ›

Black remains safest. Blue and green inks with copper phthalocyanine pigments are safe too.

What tattoo colors last the longest? ›

Black and gray: Black and gray inks are the boldest and most dense; thus, they are the most fade-resistant colors. These are suitable for any skin tone, especially with tan or black skin. With proper aftercare, black and gray colors last for up to 10 years or longer before requiring a retouch.

What are the most tattoo friendly states? ›

There are plenty of states that are well-suited to tattoo artists. Some of the most tattoo-friendly options include Florida, California, Oregon, and Texas.

Do thinner or thicker lines on tattoos hurt more? ›

Fatty areas with thick skin are the least painful because they are able to cushion the sting of the needle. Areas with thin skin and little fat are the most painful, because the pain gets down to the bone.

Do thin line tattoos hurt more? ›

While no tattoo will be completely painless, Wiwi points out that fine line tattoos hurt less as they use small needles. However, Boyle points out that placement can greatly affect how much getting a tattoo hurts, not to mention the skill level of the artist.


1. Most Painful Tattoo Spots
(Cody Pratt)
2. the LEAST PAINFUL TATTOO placements
(Shelby Downey)
3. Most Painful Tattoos on Ink Master 😵 Part 2
(Ink Master)
4. The Most Painful Tattoos #2 | Tattoo Artists Answer
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Greg Kuvalis

Last Updated: 03/02/2023

Views: 5615

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (75 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Greg Kuvalis

Birthday: 1996-12-20

Address: 53157 Trantow Inlet, Townemouth, FL 92564-0267

Phone: +68218650356656

Job: IT Representative

Hobby: Knitting, Amateur radio, Skiing, Running, Mountain biking, Slacklining, Electronics

Introduction: My name is Greg Kuvalis, I am a witty, spotless, beautiful, charming, delightful, thankful, beautiful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.