Tattoos are fun and beautiful, but everyone knows they hurt. When you get a tattoo you are asking someone to deliberately stab a needle into your skin and insert ink, often for several hours straight. One of the most common questions in relation to tattoos is how much they hurt. Everyone wants to know what kind of pain they are signing up for, and understandably so. There is virtually no way to get a tattoo without experiencing some kind of pain. It is always going to hurt, but there are many factors that play into the exact level of pain you will feel.

what tattoos hurt the most
what tattoos hurt the most

Some people have low pain tolerance but want a tattoo anyway, so they will ask – what tattoos hurt the most?

  • Head
  • Feet
  • Hands
  • Armpit
  • Ribs
  • Inner Thigh

Every location on the body will hurt a little differently but for the most part, places with very little muscle and fat will be more painful.

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If you are looking to avoid mass amounts of pain when getting your tattoo, there are locations that will be better for you as well as locations you should avoid. There are also design elements that you can take into consideration when thinking about pain, as well as the amount of color, shading, and outlining.

Most Painful Tattoo Locations

While everyone will have varying levels of pain tolerance, there are some locations on the body that will always be universally painful. These are places that you should avoid entirely if you want to keep the pain mild.

what tattoos are the most painful?


The ribcage is notorious for being one of the top most painful tattoo locations. Despite this, it is highly sought after for the beautiful and desirable aesthetic it can achieve. It is also a good spot to hide under clothing if necessary for a job.

The ribs are painful because the rib bones are so close to the surface of the skin. So when you are getting a tattoo, there isn’t much between the needle and the bone. As beautiful as they can be, those with low pain tolerance should avoid rib tattoos.


The head has a complete lack of fat and a real abundance of nerves. This combination is deadly for a tattoo needle. The head, along with the ribs, is widely accepted as one of the absolute most painful locations for a tattoo. Not only is it painful, but many report the noise and vibrations to be rather unnerving. The feeling has been compared to a drill going into your skull.

Inner Thigh

You may not think that this would be terribly painful but the reality is, the inner thighs get very little exposure. Even though there is a lot of flesh and muscle, it is highly sensitive. It will also produce a worse-than-average healing process as it will frequently rub against your other leg.


Hand tattoos can be beautiful, but they will hurt quite a bit. The skin on both the palm and the back of your hands is thin and sensitive. The good news is the hands are not a very large space so the pain likely won’t last too long as the tattoo won’t be too big.


Like the hands, the skin on the feet is sensitive and thin. Not only are foot tattoos notoriously painful, but they also don’t tend to hold up very well. The feet take a lot of abuse throughout the day and the tattoo may damage or fade faster than others.


Armpit tattoos may sound like an odd concept, but people do get them done. It can be a particularly painful one as the axillary gland is located in the armpit and the skin is very sensitive.

Least Painful Locations

If you aren’t particular about where the tattoo goes, you can opt for a less painful location that will make the experience more bearable for you.

Outer Shoulder

what tattoos hurt the most?

The outside of the shoulder/upper arm area has very few nerve endings to cause pain. It is also a big enough space to fit most tattoos. For someone who is not worried about keeping their tattoos covered, it is also a highly visible location that will show off your art nicely. It is among one of the most popular places to get a tattoo.

Outside of Thigh

While the inner thighs may be painful and sensitive, the outsides get much more exposure to the elements and are much tougher. They are also a very fleshy area, usually with some fat as well. This provides plenty of cushion for the needle. Being big enough for pretty much any tattoo, it is a fantastic location for those who fear the pain.

Upper Back

The upper area of the back is another location that is not only large and versatile but contains very few nerve endings. It is also an easily accessible location and you can remain in a perfectly comfortable position the whole time.

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There aren’t too many bones around the stomach area, and most people have an extra layer of fat on the stomach, even if it is small! This soft, fleshy canvas is great for those who hope to avoid experiencing intense pain during their tattoo. It also has the benefit of being private most of the time. It is easily hidden under clothing and you can choose when and to whom it is revealed.


While there are some veins in the wrist area that may be sensitive, the wrist is very small. It won’t be able to fit a very large tattoo, and therefore the experience will be short and sweet. Any pain you do feel won’t last long and you’ll have a lovely image to show off on your wrist, with minimal effort invested.

Behind the Ear

The spot right behind the ear is quickly becoming one of the most popular places for a tattoo. It is a location that is subtle, cute, and easy to hide. It also also known for being very mild on the pain scale.

Back or Side of Calf

While the calf doesn’t usually have as much fat as the thighs, there is a lot of muscle there. The needle won’t be passing over any bone and this makes for a fairly comfotable tattoo. If you are worried about pain though, do keep the design in mind. Be careful that it doesn’t extend around to the shin area, as this will start to get more painful.

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What Tattoo Ink Colors Hurt the Most?

When it comes to getting a tattoo, one of the most common fears is the pain that comes along with the process. However, did you know that the color of the tattoo ink can also play a role in the level of discomfort you experience? Typically, black ink is considered to be the least painful color to get tattooed with.

This is because black ink is made up of carbon and tends to be less dense than other colors. As a result, it requires less pressure to deliver the ink into the skin. On the other hand, colored inks are much more painful to get tattooed with. This is due to the fact that they are made up of many different pigments, each with their own unique chemical makeup.

As a result, different colored inks require different amounts of pressure to be tattooed into the skin. Red ink, in particular, is known to be especially painful. This is because red pigments contain more metal particles than other colors, causing them to be thicker and denser. This means that the needle has to work harder to deliver the ink into the skin, resulting in a more painful experience.

Other colors that have a reputation for being painful include yellow and white, as they tend to be thicker in consistency compared to other colors. However, it should be noted that pain tolerance varies from person to person, and what may be painful for one individual may not be for another.

Also Read: Are Tattoos Hypoallergenic

What is the Most Painful Type of Tattoo?

If you’re a tattoo enthusiast, you know that tattoos are not always painless. In fact, some areas of the body can be incredibly painful to tattoo. So what tattoos hurt the most? It’s not an easy question to answer, as everyone’s pain tolerance is different, but we can give you some insight based on common experiences.

The most painful type of tattoo is typically one that’s done on a bony area of the body, where there’s not much muscle or fat to cushion the needle. This includes areas such as the wrist, ankle, ribs, spine, and feet. The closer a tattoo is to bone, the more it’s going to hurt. Other factors that contribute to the pain of a tattoo include the size of the piece, the intricacy of the design, and the length of the session.

If you’re getting a large, detailed tattoo done in one sitting, you can expect to be in pain for a long time. Another factor to consider is the type of needle being used. Different types of needles have different levels of sharpness, and some are more painful than others. Additionally, some artists may use a single needle for fine details, while others will use a group of needles, which can be more painful.

Ultimately, the most painful type of tattoo is going to depend on a lot of factors, including your own pain tolerance. What hurts the most for one person may not be as painful for someone else. If you’re considering getting a tattoo in a painful area, it’s important to be prepared for the potential discomfort and to choose an experienced artist who can make the process as painless as possible.

Tips for Minimizing Pain During the Tattooing Process

Getting a tattoo is an exciting experience, but there’s no denying that it can be painful. To ensure that your investment in body art is worth it, it’s important to learn how to minimize pain during the process. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your next tattoo session. First and foremost, it’s important to choose the right spot for your tattoo.

Some areas of the body, such as the ribs, neck and feet, are notoriously painful, while other areas like the upper arm, thigh and back are relatively painless. If you’re concerned about pain, it might be best to start with a less sensitive area before moving on to more difficult spots. Secondly, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle leading up to your appointment.

While it might be tempting to indulge in alcohol or painkillers, these substances can actually increase your sensitivity to pain during the tattooing process. Instead, make sure you get plenty of rest, eat a balanced diet, and stay hydrated to help minimize discomfort. Lastly, and most importantly, communicate with your tattoo artist.

If you’re feeling uncomfortable at any point during the session, let them know. Your artist can adjust their techniques, take short breaks, and make other accommodations to ensure that you’re as comfortable as possible during the process. While tattoos are a great way to express yourself, they do come with a certain level of pain. But by choosing the right spot, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and communicating with your artist, you can minimize discomfort and ensure that your tattoo experience is as enjoyable as possible.

The Artist’s Hand

what tattoos hurt the most?

Regardless of the tattoo you have chosen or your desired placement, the artist themselves will be a factor in how much pain you experience. Some artists naturally have a gentler hand than others. Softness can also come from experience. A brand new tattooer is still getting the hang of things and may cause more pain simply due to their lack of training and experience.

Color, Shading, and Outline

While there is no clear cut answer on this, the majority of people say that coloring and shading hurt less than the outlining. An outline is essential for almost any tattoo, but this can still be taken into consideration if the pain is a big concern for you.

Look for simple designs with low detail. Give your artist your ideas and ask them to design you something with a minimalistic outline, if possible. It is important to understand that it will not always be possible to minimize an outline as it simply won’t work for some designs. If you run into this you may have to choose to either bite the bullet or keep looking for a different design.

Breaking the tattoo up into more than one session is also an option. It may cost a little more in the long run, but it may be what you need to get through the tattoo you really want. Many people do just the outline in their first sitting and have it filled in with color and shading at a different date. This will minimize the length of time you are in pain and may make getting the whole design more bearable.

The Pain of Healing

While many concern themselves with the pain of the tattoo itself, they sometimes fail to consider the pain of the healing process. While it will not hurt nearly as much as the application itself, it is normal to experience some soreness and sensitivity while healing.

Depending on the location of the tattoo, it may also be in danger of being bumped or hit at times. Any impact on a fresh tattoo will hurt, and a hard hit can be quite painful for the first minute or so after. This will last for at least a few days while the broken skin starts to heal.

Some pain during healing is normal and should be expected. If the tattoo is extremely painful and/or irritated you should consult your doctor.

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