There’s one avoidable fact about every tattooing experience.
There will be pain.
It could be mild throbbing or borderline intense. While numbing creams and gels work wonders for longer sessions, where you choose to get tatted holds just as much importance in determining how much it will hurt.
Pain feels different in all parts of the body. A small anklet tattoo could put you in a world of hurt. Whereas a larger shoulder piece could be a smooth sailing experience. And the rib cage? We won’t even go there.
If you’re new to tattooing or are preparing yourself for a day-long session, pick your spots carefully. Read on to discover the least painful places to get a tattoo.
At the end, we’ll reveal the one spot on your body where you’ll experience no pain at all!
Forearms (and arms in general) are one of the most popular locations on the body to get tattooed. Not only can you receive the tattoo comfortably (sitting up or lying down), but they also cause little discomfort.
Layers of muscle and fat in the forearm help to mitigate the pain as the needle penetrates the skin. As a result, the pain turns into more of a burning or scratching sensation. It’s less concentrated and more dispersed across your muscle tissue.
2. Outer Upper Thigh
Thighs are thick, no matter what your body type is. This muscular, fatty section of the leg is a great spot to ink medium-sized pieces. But why this spot in particular?
Outer thighs have relatively few nerve endings, making for a less intense experience. Be wary of getting close to the inner thigh though, as this area is loaded with nerve endings. Ouch!
Shoulders are another place on the body where nerve endings are sparse. Where the shoulder lacks in nerve endings it makes up for in skin thickness. Shoulder skin tends to be quite thick, creating an additional barrier between needle and nerve.
Most people describe shoulder tattoo pain to be relatively moderate. Expect a dull sensation of background pain. A great spot to get your first tattoo.
You might be seeing a trend now. The more muscular an area is, the less painful your tattoo will be. Biceps are springy and filled with enough flesh to act as a buffer during the tattoo process. Like the forearm, getting tattooed here will be a breeze.
For the least amount of pain, opt for the outer bicep. Beware the elbow though. The closer you get to it, the more likely the artist will buzz their needle across a bone.
There’s nothing wrong with getting a little Dali on your derriere. Gluteus makes it onto our least painful list; all the more reason you should get the butt tattoo you’ve always wanted.
As you’re well aware, our behinds make for great cushions. There’s enough of the good stuff to make the ideal canvas for any tattoo artist. And the pain is manageable too.
These things are all muscle. Calves are a great spot for beginner enthusiasts. Nerve endings are minimal, and there’s plenty of cushion to help mitigate the needle pain.
Staying in the thick part of the calf will help if you have a low pain threshold. Avoid applying designs that get close to the ankle or wrap around to the shin.
7. Upper & Lower Back
The thick skin in the upper and lower back areas make these great areas for low to moderate tattoo pain. Although the spine is quite bony and contains many nerve endings, tatting around or avoiding this area can help you manage the pain. For the lower back, make sure your design doesn’t get too close to your hip bones.
8. Ear Cartilage
Although not the most common place to get inked, ear tattoos are a growing trend and we can understand why.
Ears (cartilage specifically) have barely any nerve endings, making for a relatively low pain experience. Ears also have very little surface area, which means you won’t be in the chair for a long time. Like piercings, ear tattoos are a great introduction for someone new to body art.
Keep in mind that the needle will be close to your ear. Some say that the continuous buzzing could be quite an annoyance.
Honourable Mention: Nails!
Who would've thought to ditch the nail polish and just tattoo your nails instead? Although not as permanent as your average tattoo, nails are technically the least painful place to get a tattoo on your body.
There are no nerve endings on the surface of a nail, just on the skin under it. Therefore these quick tattoos can be a fun alternative to getting your nails done, especially if you’re after a more intricate design.
Pain is unavoidable, but it can be mitigated. Pain is also relative. So if you want to get that neck tattoo, by all means go for it!
If you're interested in learning more about the types of pain during the tattoo experience, check out our tattoo pain chart. And when you’re ready to get back in the chair, find a studio near you via our blog.