“Beauty is pain” – it’s a well-known saying and a common response when something that is supposed to enhance our appearance causes pain. For many, tattoos are highly coveted pieces of artwork that they wear with pride. But, they don’t come easy. Tattoos, when applied properly and by a skilled artist, are beautiful but still painful. Tattoos hurt – everyone knows this. Which tattoo hurts the least? Some parts of the body are less painful than others, however, and many people use these locations first. 

So, what tattoo hurts the least? For most people, the shoulder is the least painful place to get a tattoo. This makes it a popular choice for first tattoos as well as for those with notoriously low pain tolerance. 

While the shoulder is a good default location for anyone who doesn’t want to suffer too much pain, there are a lot of factors that go into how much pain you’ll experience during a tattoo. Some have to do with things outside of your control, while others are up to you to take care of. Read on to learn how to minimize the pain during your tattoo. 

Least Painful Locations For A Tattoo

If you want a tattoo that doesn’t hurt too much, it’s best to start with a less sensitive location. In addition to the shoulder, there are some places that are better for pain. There are several factors that contribute to whether a spot on your body is going to hurt quite a lot or very little: 

  • Thin, papery skin will hurt more than thicker, tougher areas. 
  • Areas where bones are close to the surface, such as ribs and knees. 
  • Anywhere where the skin folds, such as behind the knee or inside the elbow. 
  • How much muscle is underneath the skin.
  • How much fat is in the area. 

When you take the above factors into consideration, there are some locations that will be much less painful than others. That being said, however, it’s important to remember that everyone’s body will react differently. What is painful for one might not be nearly as bad for another. 

which tattoo hurts the least?

Thighs. The thighs are large, smooth surfaces with a good layer of fat. This makes it a great place for large and/or multiple tattoos that won’t be too painful. 

Upper Back. The upper part of the back is another smooth, flat surface with thicker skin which won’t make for a terribly painful tattoo. 

The Stomach. The stomach is also smooth and fairly flat. The skin is flexible and most have an extra layer of fat over the abdomen. This helps to absorb the blow a little and make the experience less painful. 

Fingers. While finger tattoos are small and will often fade fast due to the wear and tear of general life, they don’t usually cause much pain.  The skin is relatively thin, but the fingers get a lot of exposure to the elements which makes them tough. Finger tattoos are also going to be small and therefore, whatever pain you do feel won’t last very long. 

Wrists. The wrists are another place where tattoos are usually small and simple, therefore not taking too much time to complete. There are also very few bones and not too much muscle around the area, so it won’t be too sensitive. 

Where it will get sensitive is the area right below your hand where there are a lot of folds and wrinkles when you bend the wrist. Most tattoo artists don’t recommend putting ink in this area, however, as the constant movement of the wrist isn’t good for ink longevity. 

Hips. Like the thighs, the hips are smooth, flat and are a little fattier. As long as you avoid tattooing over the hip bone directly, the hip area will be milder in terms of pain. 

How to Reduce Tattoo Pain 

Even once you’ve chosen a location that is as pain-free as possible, there are still some things you can do to reduce the amount of pain you feel during the tattooing process. Follow all of these tips and suggestions for the best tattoo experience.. 

Tattoo on Healthy Skin

Many people choose to get tattoos over old scars or injuries. If the markings are large, obvious, unattractive, or otherwise bothersome to someone, putting a tattoo over them can work a miracle for their confidence and self-esteem. 

However, tattooing over scars is going to be extremely painful no matter where on the body the tattoo is, or what the design looks like. If you’re willing to suffer through this for the sake of covering a scar, then that’s up to you. But, if you’re looking to minimize the pain, put the tattoo on healthy, undamaged skin. 

Sleep Well

Make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before your tattoo appointment. The stronger your body is, the more it will tolerate without breaking down. Not only will a good sleep help keep the pain levels down, but it’s healthier and safer overall. 

If you’re tired and weak, your body won’t handle the tattooing well and you could lose consciousness. 

Eat Well

This goes hand in hand with sleeping well. Eat a good, solid, large meal before going in for your tattoo appointment. This will also help keep your body strong and allow it to handle the process to the best of its ability. 

If you’re going in for a long sit, consider bringing some food to eat halfway through. You’ll have to step out of the tattoo station to eat it, of course, but it’s important to maintain your strength throughout the tattoo if it’s a long one. 

Hold Still

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind. No matter how much you do to prevent it, all tattoos will hurt some. If you’re experiencing a lot of pain during the tattoo, you either have to suck it up and sit through it or ask the artist to take a break. Moving while the needle is still working on your skin is one of the worst things you can do. 

A big enough movement will cause unnecessary pain as well as potentially ruin the design if your movements cause the ink to go where it’s not supposed to. 

Avoid Color

Sometimes, the color is what makes the tattoo. However, color is going to be more painful than simple black and grey. If you’re extremely concerned about pain and you want to do everything possible to avoid it, don’t get color. 

If it’s your first tattoo, start with black and grey and see how you handle it. If it’s not as bad as you thought, you could consider trying color next time when you’re more prepared for what a tattoo feels like. 

Another option is to do your color tattoo in two sittings. On the first one, do all the outlining and any black and grey shading.. Once you’ve had a chance to recover and heal a little bit, go back and have the color done separately. This will break the pain up into shorter stints. 

When to Use Numbing Cream

Some people may wonder why more artists don’t use a numbing cream, spray, or another numbing agent. If it would allow everyone to avoid the pain of a tattoo, shouldn’t it be used all the time? 

The reality of numbing products is that they can potentially affect the outcome of the tattoo in a negative way. Some people have reported ink spreading more in a tattoo that was applied on numbed skin. It can also make the tattooing itself more difficult, which can, in turn, cause the final product to be of lesser quality. 

Whiile it may make take the pain levels down, it’sd smarter and better for the quality and health of your tattoo to avoid any numbing products.

Does Your Weight Affect the Pain Level? 

Many assume that the skinnier you are, the more a tattoo is going to hurt. This is not necessarily true. Much of the pain you experience during a tattoo has to do with nerve endings, which will be present no matter how much weight you have. 

Having an extra layer of fat around bonier areas of the body might lessen the pain of a tattoo slightly, but that’s the only real effect your weight will have on the pain. 

What Tattoos Hurt the Most? 

If you’re looking to get a tattoo that doesn’t hurt too much, the best thing you can do is to select one of the locations discussed above. However, if none of those locations work for you or they aren’t good for the design you want, you don’t have to rule the tattoo out completely. 

If the least painful locations are out of the question, you can still make an effort to avoid the places on your body that will hurt the most. There are plenty of places on the body that are more of a “medium” pain level. It won’t be a total breeze, but it won’t be excruciating either. 

Anything with very thin, sensitive skin will be quite painful. Additionally, anywhere with prominent bones that are close to the skin will hurt. Depending on the design, your artist may be able to avoid going over the bones in a certain area while tattooing very close to them. 

The most painful locations include: 

  • Ribs
  • Head
  • Face
  • Feet
  • Back of the knee
  • Inner elbow