You’ve decided that you want to get a tattoo. But you’re also a bit nervous about the pain. And now you’re thinking about how to make a tattoo hurt less.
The pain level of getting a tattoo depends on several factors, such as the location of the tattoo, your pain tolerance, and the amount of time you’re willing to spend in the chair.
The good news is that there are ways to make your tattoo hurt less during the tattoo process (although not a painless tattoo) – read on to find out how.
Table of Contents
- Tattoos are a permanent form of body art that can be beautiful and painful.
- Everyone experiences pain differently, so what works for one person may not work for another.
- Talk to your tattoo artist about what they recommend to help make the experience more bearable.
Pain and Tattoos
Generally, the pain you feel when getting a new tattoo comes from the needle PUNCTURING your skin and depositing tattoo ink into the dermis.
In addition to the pain from the needle, some people also experience DISCOMFORT from the sound of the tattoo gun, the machine’s vibration, or the ink’s smell.
As mentioned, the level of pain you feel when getting a tattoo will vary depending on a few factors.
Here are some things that can affect how much pain you feel:
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1. Pain Tolerance
Everyone has a different pain threshold – the point at which pain becomes too much to bear.
Some people have a HIGHER threshold for pain than others and can sit through a session with little to no discomfort.
Others have a LOWER pain tolerance and may feel anxious or uncomfortable after only a few minutes in the chair.
If you have low pain tolerance, don’t worry. There are ways to make your session more comfortable (which I’ll get into later).
Pro Tip: Try taking pain relief medication an hour before your session to help take the edge off.
2. The Location of Your Tattoo Matters
Have you ever heard of the “tattoo pain chart“? It shows the most and least painful areas to get tattooed.
If you refer to the chart, you will see that some areas are more SENSITIVE than others.
Areas like the ribs, feet, hands, and spine will be MORE painful than others.
Additionally, fleshier areas like the thighs or buttocks will hurt LESS than bony areas. This is because there’s more flesh and muscle in these areas to CUSHION the impact of the needle.
Areas with a lot of NERVE endings will also be more sensitive. This includes places like the wrists, ankles, and sides of the fingers.
So if you’re worried about the pain, you may want to check out the tattoo pain chart and consider getting your tattoo in a less sensitive area.
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3. Size and Detail of Your Tattoo Design
Another thing that can affect how much pain you feel during a session is the size and detail of your tattoo design.
The LARGER and more DETAILED your tattoo is, the longer it will take to complete. And the longer it takes, the more TIME you’ll spend with the needle in your skin.
So, if you’re concerned about the pain, you may want to consider a smaller and simpler design.
4. The Tattoo Artist Matters, Too
Not all tattoo artists are created EQUAL. Some are better than others at making their clients comfortable and MINIMIZING the pain.
If you’re worried about the pain, research and find a reputable licensed tattoo artist with EXPERIENCE in tattooing sensitive areas.
You may also want to ask around and see if anyone you know has had a good experience with a PARTICULAR artist.
READ MORE: Do Piercings or Tattoos Hurt More?
Preparing for Your Tattoo Session
Now that you know a little bit more about the pain associated with getting a tattoo, let’s talk about how to make a tattoo hurt LESS.
Here are some tips to help you make your tattoo experience more comfortable:
1. Choose Your Design Carefully
As I mentioned earlier, the size and detail of your tattoo design can affect how much pain you feel.
So, if you’re worried about the pain, be sure to choose a SMALL and SIMPLE design, mainly if it’s your first tattoo.
Additionally, avoid complex or detailed designs in sensitive areas like the hands, feet, or spine.
2. Use a Numbing Cream
If you’re worried about your pain sensitivity, you may consider using a topical cream.
A few different numbing creams on the market can help make your tattoo experience more COMFORTABLE. Just follow the instructions carefully and only apply the cream to the area where you’re getting tattooed.
Do NOT use these creams if you have sensitive skin or allergies.
Additionally, do not use numbing cream on larger areas, like the back or chest. This can cause adverse effects like lightheadedness or dizziness.
3. Take a Pain Reliever
Another option is to take an over-the-counter pain reliever before getting tattooed.
This can help MINIMIZE the discomfort you feel during the tattooing process. Just be sure not to take more medication than recommended.
4. Eat a Good Meal
Make sure you eat a good meal before your session.
A full stomach can help minimize the pain you feel during tattooing. Just be sure not to eat anything too greasy or fatty, as this can cause NAUSEA.
Low blood sugar can also intensify the pain, so be sure to eat something substantial a few hours before your tattoo session.
5. Wear Loose, Comfortable Clothing
Wearing loose, comfortable clothing can help you feel more RELAXED during your session.
Avoid wearing tight jeans or other restrictive clothing and anything that might IRRITATE your skin, like wool.
6. Arrive Well Rested
It’s essential to arrive well-rested for your session. A good night’s sleep can help minimize the pain you feel during tattooing.
Pro Tip: Avoid drinking alcohol before your tattoo session.
During Your Tattoo Session
Once you’re in the tattoo shop and ready to start your session, here are a few things you can do to make the experience more comfortable:
1. Breathe Deeply and Relax
Trying to relax during your tattoo session can help minimize the pain you feel. Deep breathing exercises can also help you RELAX.
2. Focus on Something Else
Focusing on something else can also help take your mind off the PAIN.
Some people like to listen to music or watch TV during their sessions. Others prefer to chat with the artist or a friend.
3. Change Your Position
If you feel UNCOMFORTABLE, don’t be afraid to change your position.
This can help you find a more comfortable position and minimize the pain you feel. The less pain you feel, the faster your session will go.
4. Communicate With Your Tattoo Artist
If you’re in pain, be sure to communicate with your artist. They can help make adjustments to make you more comfortable.
5. Take Breaks as Needed
Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for a break if you need a break. Your artist will understand and can help make your experience more COMFORTABLE.
Taking breaks can also help you stay calm and relaxed during your tattoo session.
Pro Tip: Be sure to drink plenty of water during your tattoo session.
6. Avoid Alcohol
You mustn’t drink alcohol before or during your tattoo session as it can thin your blood and make you bleed more.
Alcohol makes your blood thinner and can ultimately blood thinning will make your tattoo experience more PAINFUL.
Pro Tip: Also, avoid too much caffeine, as it can make you more jittery and anxious.
After Your Tattoo Session
Once your tattoo session is over, there are a few things you can do to help ensure a speedy and comfortable recovery:
- Follow your artist’s aftercare instructions carefully to avoid infection and promote healing.
- Apply a healing ointment to keep your tattoo moist and protected.
- Keep out of the sun to avoid fading and infection.
- Avoid swimming and soaking your tattoo in the bathtub or shower, as this can irritate your tattoo and delay healing.
- Don’t scratch or pick at your tattoo, as this can cause irritation and delay healing.
If you have any concerns about your tattoo, be sure to contact your artist or a medical professional.
Pro Tip: If your tattoo starts to itch, try applying a moisturizer or lotion.
Will Tattoos Hurt More For A Skinny Person?
No, tattoos will not necessarily hurt more for a skinny person.
While everyone experiences pain differently, the amount of fat and muscle tissue in an area can affect how much pain is felt.
Does The Size Of The Tattoo Needle Matter?
The size of the tattoo needle does not necessarily matter.
While some people may feel more pain with a larger needle, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and the artist’s skill.
What Is The Best Time Of Day To Get A Tattoo?
There is no “best” time of day to get a tattoo.
Some people prefer getting their tattoo in the morning, while others find it more comfortable to get it in the evening. It would also come down to personal preference when attending the tattoo parlor.
If you’re considering getting a tattoo, you can certainly do some things to make the experience less painful.
You can quickly learn how to make a tattoo hurt less by following the simple tips in this article.
So if tattoos interest you, don’t let the fear of pain hold you back – with a bit of preparation, it doesn’t have to be nearly as bad as you think.
So, did you find the guide helpful? Let us know in the comments section!
- 1. Tattoo Pain Chart: Where It Hurts Most and Least, and More [Internet]. Healthline. 2019. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/body-modification/pain-tattoos-chart