Tattoos are among the most popular body decorations around the world. According to a 2010 study, a whopping 38 percent of people 18 to 29 years old have been tattooed at least once. A natural question to ask is, “Does getting a tattoo hurt?” While most people will say yes, in reality, this is a difficult question to answer. Tattooing involves repeatedly piercing your skin’s top layer with a sharp needle covered with pigment. So getting inked is generally always painful, though people may experience different levels of pain.
The body experiences varying levels of pain when tattooed. While there is no scientific evidence that says which areas of the body will feel the most and least pain when getting inked, Healthline gathered anecdotal data from sites run by people in the tattoo industry. The broad consensus: The least painful places to get tattooed are those with the greatest fat, fewest nerve endings, and thickest skin. The most painful places to get tattooed are those with the least fat, most nerve endings, and thinnest skin. Bony areas usually hurt a lot so your head tattoo is going to hurt! We decided to take a look at some first tattoos people have gotten them and where they put them. Here are the 25 best first tattoos and the least painful spots for them to go.
A Delicate Rose
Let us start by acknowledging that every person experiences pain differently and its intensity can be a whole lot more for some than others. Most people agree that the thigh, the outer thigh specifically, is one of the least painful places for a tattoo. This fine rose would be a smart choice.
Lady in the Leaves
This part of the body is well padded with fat and has few nerve endings. If you’re looking to avoid a ton of discomfort for your first tattoo, consider this placement with a unique, custom design that fits perfectly like this one.
You can go basic or go all in, as you can see this person has chosen the latter with with this impressive neo-traditional tattoo of a butterfly with a human face. This is a remarkable tattoo and one of our favorites on the list. This might be too ambitious for a first tattoo for some, but if you’re up for a challenge, swing for the fences.
Um. Yes, we need this gorgeous teal moth in all of its glory. This tattoo covers a considerable amount of real estate, so that means a lot of tattooing. While there is less detail here than the last, it’s a brave move to go for something so large.
Watercolor tattoos are a huge trend right now, but don’t let the haunting, smoky image fool you. These tattoos hurt just as much as a bolder looking design. It might look light and airy, but it’s going to take a lot of ink to pull it off!
Flowers are always a great thing, right? Take a look at this detailed, but not overly so, bouquet of flowers encapsulated by a diamond. The forearm is an excellent spot for a tattoo for a number of reasons, namely that it’s not too sensitive.
There’s a lot of muscle and thick skin on your forearms, without many nerve endings and they’re generally easy for a tattoo artist to access. No weird stretching or positions are required. This gorgeous bunny with a playful gum bubble would be a fun one.
This tattoo stretches from the wrist to the elbow. You’ll notice if you get something similar that the tattooing hurts most at the extremes here. So, near the elbow and down at the wrist tend to be more tender and cause more pain. If you’d like to avoid that, get your tattoo centered between those two points.
From Russia, With Love
Take a look at this fabulous Russian nesting doll. What a dream! Although this is a rather large tattoo with a good amount of detail because it’s placed on the forearm it shouldn’t be the source of unnecessary discomfort. This is nearly a half sleeve, so maybe you should go smaller than this person did for their tattoo debut.
Move Like Honey
If you’re particularly boney, make sure to get your tattoo sized to not wrap around your forearm. As the needle gets closer to the bone, you’ll notice a completely different sensation! We love this imaginative honeycomb queen tattoo.
The outer part of your shoulders has thick skin with few nerve endings, making it one of the least painful places to get tattooed. Further, you can’t watch the process and psych yourself out which is part of the issue for most people.
See how beautiful this shoulder placement can be? This gorgeous black ink butterflies bring the sweetness with not a lot of pain. If you’re considering something similar, be sure to not let the design extend to the clavicle because that is one of the most painful things in the world to have tattooed.
Have you ever? This adorable little knitting squirrel is the thing of dreams. A tidy little tattoo like this one might look small, but the amount of detail means added time for the tattoo artist to complete it. Keep that in mind when you’re thinking about how basic or detailed you want the end result to be.
Is this the best rose tattoo that’s ever been put on skin? Perhaps! We love this design, but we caution you that the stem for the rose, here, comes uncomfortably close to the collar bone. If you’d like to avoid that pain, don’t extend a design up to that point.
Take a Hike
We’ve included this tattoo as somewhat of a cautionary tale. The bicep, in general, is one of the least painful places to get a tattoo. But, the inside of the bicep is not ideal. Your inner bits are some of the most sensitive and so, here, would be a no-go for most people. The closer you get to the armpit, the more unbearable it will become.
Here’s a good example of a mellow bicep placement that’s more on the outer portion. This is a fun design because cacti can prick you just like a tattoo gun. If your hobby involves plants, consider a personalized tattoo to match it.
Art is an excellent source of inspiration and we find a clock in the style of Salvador Dalí. Keeping the tattoo a modest size and lower down the arm is a smart move. Consider getting an object or motif inspired by your favorite artist as a tattoo.
Here’s a tattoo placed in the exact right position on the bicep. This one would probably be the least painful of all of these bicep tattoos. Even though it is large, it found a happy home without many nerve endings. Be sure to get your feminist tattoos, people. They rock!
There is a significant amount of fat and muscle on the calves, and few nerve endings, so calf tattoos usually aren’t too painful. Further, you’ll often be asked to lay on your stomach to get a back of the calf tattoo which, generally, helps people to cope.
Yes, these back of the calf tattoos are where it’s at! Take a look at this minimalist floral design that stretches up the leg. As with all tattoos, keeping this away from any bones or connection, meaning the ankle or crook of the knee, will serve you well. Do exactly as this person has done.
Bloom Some More
Wow! This extremely colorful geometric design is breathtaking. While this is a very complex design, its placement should mean you can chill for the majority of it. Shading is generally a different sensation than the actually lines, so prepare yourself to feel all sorts of feels when you get inked.
How sweet is this slice of melon? Pass the salt! This juicy gem is placed on the side of the calf away from the knee. This probably won’t hurt too much for most people. However, there’s a lot of shading in this design so choose something less detailed if you’re worried.
The further away you tattoo from the bones and nerve endings in your spine and hips, the less pain you’ll feel. This makes the majority of the back an ideal location for a big, bold tattoo. We love this geometric floral design and the colors chosen for it.
Get the Crane
See how this big crane’s wing cups the shoulder blade? Getting a tattoo here is a smart idea and will allow you to go wild with the design because there’s so much space to work with. However, we caution again that a tattoo this large is a huge commitment no matter where you put it.
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Sagittarius energy right here, with this constellation tattoo. You can choose something modest in size as this and feel happy about the outcome without having to lose painful hours of your life. A tattoo that honors your astrological sign is a fun a brilliant choice that we encourage.
There you go! We showed you 25 excellent tattoos and described the least painful places for you to get them. The upper and lower back, the calves, outer biceps, outer shoulder, forearms, and upper outer thighs are your safest bets. Be bold! Be brave! You got this!
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 A Delicate Rose
- 2 Lady in the Leaves
- 3 Butterfly Dream
- 4 Bejeweled Moth
- 5 Watercolor Teapot
- 6 Geometric Bouquet
- 7 Bunny Bubble
- 8 Cosmic
- 9 From Russia, With Love
- 10 Move Like Honey
- 11 La Luna
- 12 Butterfly Kissed
- 13 Cute Creation
- 14 Every Rose
- 15 Take a Hike
- 16 Prickly
- 17 Dalí Time
- 18 Don’t Touch
- 19 Wild
- 20 Bloom
- 21 Bloom Some More
- 22 Marvelous Melon
- 23 Botanical Beauty
- 24 Get the Crane
- 25 Zodiac Attack
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