31 Beautiful Ear Tattoos That Are Better Than Piercings

Ear tattoos are delicate and often intricate designs that are small in scale, like micro tattoos. For tattoo artists, tattooing on or around the ear is particularly challenging. Not only are ears funny in shape, but they are also harder in parts due to the cartilage that forms them. For a person getting tattooed, ear tattoos are also a challenge because our ears have more nerve endings than other parts of the body. That means that getting an ear tattoo can be an extremely painful experience. Have you ever heard a tattoo gun? When it gets very close to the ear the sound can be unnerving. Imagine being at the dentist’s office and how horrible the drills sound. A tattoo gun is similar, but with the loud buzzing directed right into your ear canal. Many tattoo artists and patrons instead opt for alternative methods of tattooing like stick-and-poke which utilizes the needles without the mechanics of a gun. These make the tattoos more manageable for the person being tattooed and gives the artist the opportunity to achieve a more precise design. Ear tattoos are a playful form of self-expression and people are getting some truly fun ear tattoos these days. Here are our 25 favorite ear tattoos.

A Stencil Inspired Tatt


This ear tattoo was inspired by a stencil intended for painting. The tattoo artist used the stick-and-poke method to create such a sharp design. If you look closely, you can see what look like little specks of paint, presumably from the “stencil.” It’s such a beautiful and unique design.

A Hidden Rose


This charming micro tattoo behind the ear is stunning and looks like it might have been lifted from a piece of wallpaper or china. Tattoos behind the ear are popular for women because they’re easy to disguise behind hair.

A Prideful Rainbow

There are several designs in this “genre” of ear tattoo. Many people decide to show their pride by getting rainbow-colored bands around the outer lip of the ear. Here, the colors seem to flow, organically which makes it much more interesting and kind of weird. Which we endorse!

A Geometric Sick and Poke

Another stick-and-poke job with this amazingly executed tattoo. A repeating geometric pattern looks almost like a checkerboard inside the ear.

A Whole Ear Piece

This person thought to themselves, “Ear tattoo? I’ll show you an ear tattoo!” Part of the ear is blacked out and seems to blend into the honeycomb pattern behind it. There’s also a sharp geometric design that radiates away from the ear toward the cheek that’s beautiful.

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A Vulture Skull

Points for creativity! A cartoonish vulture skull rests directly behind this person’s ear. With minimal shading, this tattoo is fun and pretty unusual.

A Sprawling Slitherer

This cool double-headed snake extends from behind the ear over into it and then there’s an optical illusion that makes it look like the snake is going through the ear. This tattoo was achieved by using a technique called dot work. Do you see all the little, tiny dots? How long do you think this took?

An Understated Design

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Simplicity is bliss and this tattoo capitalizes on the idea with a few lines and dots. This modernist design is probably going to go unnoticed until its pointed out.

A Tiny Tulip

Flowers are popular designs for ear tattoos. Here’s a little 2-D tulip hidden inside the ear.

A Piece of the Puzzle

This piece of a jigsaw puzzle fits right in! This cute micro tattoo inside the ear was probably a pain to get done but the finished product is a fun one.

A Bit of Lavender

This tattoo of lavender is actually a coverup tattoo that was done to cover some scarring this person had from piercings. Do you see any scarring? What an excellent job both covering up what was there before, but also creating the delicate lavender flowers.

A Mandala Ear Tattoo

Traditionally, a mandala is a geometric figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism. Today, the designs are taking the idea and running with it. This loose interpretation around the ear is stunning. It was completed using a dot work technique and seems to fade as it gets closer to the ear.

A Mood

Mental health tattoos are extremely popular. This person got serotonin and dopamine tattooed under each of their ears.

A Safari for the Ear

This giraffe tattoo behind the ear is truly adorable. The giraffe looks like it’s whispering into the ear!

A Floral Arrangement

This super delicate Asian design looks almost as if it’s been painted on like a watercolor. The design wraps around the ear and onto the lobe. What a beauty.

A Wing Thing

Who doesn’t love a butterfly tattoo? These micro tattoo butterflies look like they’re actually just sitting behind this person’s ear.

A Cheshire Cat

We can always get behind an Alice in Wonderland-themed anything, so this tattoo was already a winner. A grinning Cheshire cat behind the ear is a bold choice. It’s slightly creepy but mostly fun!

A Dragon

Similar to the snake tattoo we saw earlier, this dragon’s tail reaches up “through” the ear. Dragons symbolize power, wisdom, and hidden knowledge.

A Seahorse of Course

As you can see, the tattoo artist has used a piece of medical tape to hold the ear out of the way so that they can tattoo. This cute and bubbly seahorse behind the ear is adorable and super easy to hide away.

A Greta Gerwig Fan

We don’t know if this tattoo was inspired by First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, or by Greta Gerwig’s film, Lady Bird. Does it really matter? This fun tattoo is a conversation starter.

A Crescent Moon

We’re all about a cat! While this might not be the Cheshire cat, these two black cats certainly make an impression. This dot work tattoo is so small that the tails of each cat are simply tiny dots! What a stunning little charmer.

A Humming in the Ear

This very realistic looking hummingbird tattoo is a feat to have that much detail and shading at that size. This sweet, micro tattoo looks like it’s about to kiss the ear.

A Goldfish

This is a silly tattoo, but we love it. The cute goldfish with bubbles climbing up from the neck and onto the ear was a cute touch.

A Hidden Skull

Woah! This skill tattoo took some seriously precise linework. We like when spooky tattoos are a little hidden. It gives them an air of mystery and makes them even spookier.

An Adventurer

Micro tattoos on the ears are trending because they essentially take up as much real estate as an earring. This teeny-tiny heart and airplane convey a love of adventure and travel. It’s clear someone like flying way more than us! This tattoo design was most likely achieved using poke-and-stick.

Lavender Ear Climber

There is no longer a need for ear climbers when you can simply get a beautiful lavender flower all the way up your ear. How beautiful is this?

A Thousand Tiny Dots

This ear tattoo seems to be made up of a thousand tiny dots. How cool is this piece of body art?

Tiny Dots, Delicate Design

Simple, yet understated. These tiny dots create a beautiful design around this person’s ear, just like piercings would.

Teeny Tiny Ear Heart

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Teeeny tiny ear ❤️ for Charlotte!

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It may be small and simple but it really adds to the jewelry this woman already has!

A Delicate Flower

How cool is this ear tattoo that seamlessly incorporates a piercing as well.

Shine Bright Like a Diamond

Why wear diamond earrings when you can just get a diamond permanently tattooed on your ear?

Ear tattoos are so much fun and, when taken care of properly, heal faster than a piercing. These tattoos can be hidden behind the year or displayed proudly on the ear. If you’re thinking about getting an ear tattoo, make sure you find an artist with plenty of experience that you can trust. Don’t play it by ear (so sorry)! Most tattoo artists are going to have practice tattooing on ears (pig ears are commonly tattooed for practice before human ones). Once you’ve found someone that you are confident with, have fun with your design ideas and come up with something that you’ll love.

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