Tattoo is one of the most phenomenal methods of reflecting your inner self through symbolic art and metaphorical scriptures on your skin with a permanent commitment. While many people are encouraged to commit to such an act, some choose to stay back because of the pain one has to endure during the tattooing process.
The tattoo pain chart comes handy in this regard. According to a research conducted by Statista in 2021, 26% of Americans have gotten themselves a tattoo at some part of their life. The number would have been much higher if the fear of pain was absent from the scene, and our tattoo pain chart will explain to you how you can obtain that.
Apart from the chart’s breakdown, this article tells you the types of pain you’re going to feel during tattooing, and the ways you can minimize that pain using effective methods easily! It’s an overall guide for tattoos that starts from the preparation step and ends with a post-tattoo care guide.
So if you were thinking of getting a tattoo but were afraid due to the aforementioned factors, scrolling till the end of this article should help you gain all the courage you may need!
- Tattoo Pain Chart Classifications
- General Tattoo Pain Chart
- Pain Level 4: Most Painful
- Pain Level 3: Second Most Painful
- Pain Level 2: Tolerable
- Pain Level 1: Least Painful
- Why Does Tattooing Hurt Differently To Each Individual?
- Classification: Tattoo Pain Sensations
- How To Reduce Pain While Tattooing?
- Pre & Post Tattoo Considerations
What Exactly Is The Tattoo Pain Chart?
The Tattoo pain chart is a systematic and constructive approach towards classifying body regions based on tattooing pain level. Some parts of your body are more sensitive than the other, so these parts are better left alone if you don’t want severe pain.
Also, the chart spares you doubt by breaking down the pain levels of each body part for both male and female enthusiasts. Since men and women have separate tolerance levels, thus we’ve generated this specialized knowledge for each group.
With the help of our chart, you’ll be able to assess your pain before getting inked and hopefully your tattoo experience will go as smooth as silk!
Tattoo Pain Chart Classifications
We have classified our tattoo pain chart into three categories: Male, Female and General. Also, we categorized the pain levels into four groups, where Level 4 is the most painful and Level 1 is regarded as the least painful.
Drawing pain level concepts from the Healthline, the male and female sections specifically talk about the Level 4 zones of each group, and the general section discusses pain levels and body areas that are common for both.
Tattoo Pain Chart Male
This section is particularly for the male consumers as it focuses on their unique body parts and their pain level!
Pain Level 4: Most Painful For Male
The five parts below are the most painful areas that a male can get tattooed. It’s guaranteed to hurt severely due to the sensitive nature of these particular regions.
Your armpit is by far the most painful area that you can get yourself tattooed on. It’s so disgustingly unpleasant that even the tattoo artists discourage you to get a tattoo at that place. This is so due to the highly sensitive nature of skin in that area.
Although your knee cap might feel like a comfortable area to get yourself tattooed, don’t be deceived by the rock-solid bone pointing out that saved you from injuries in your childhood. The knee bone is one of the most sensitive areas to needles.
The region behind knee caps features very loose skin. Underneath it, a lot of important nerves pass through a narrow area, so it’s not a very wise and comfortable place to get your tattoo either.
There’s a lot of people with tattoos all over their rib cage, and it can give you a few ideas for yourself. But let us tell you, it causes more pain than most other body parts due to the thin skin sitting right on top of your ribcage.
And during the tattooing process, every time you breathe your chest will move up and down, making it challenging for the artist to work on a flat surface and you’re going to be agonized throughout the process. It’s a highly discouraged area if you’re going for your first tattoo here.
Your groin is another sensitive and risky area for you to get tattooed. A lot of nerves and veins are connected right beneath the skin in this region, and the tattoo needle can feel very painful if it presses on the wrong locations accidentally.
Your hands are one of the display-worthy locations to get tattooed and a lot of iconic arts have been made in this particular area. However, every good thing comes after severe pain will be very true in this case as well.
Since hand skin is very light and underneath there isn’t any strong muscle to support the skin against the needle, the tattooing process is going to inflict you unmatched pain if it’s your first time experience with ink.
Tattoo Pain Chart Female
This section of the chart focuses on the five unique parts to get tattooed on by female enthusiasts.
Pain Level 4: Most Painful For Female
These are the most painful regions of a woman’s body to get tattooed on due to the sensitive nature of the skin and nerve orientation. First timers are highly discouraged to get their first tattoo in any of these places.
You may already know that your nipples are the most sensitive parts of your body. It hurts easily, it responds to touch easily due to the presence of sensors there without any thick layer of skin. If you constantly pierce a needle through that area to get tattooed, the pain you are going to suffer is unimaginable and it can be hazardous to your health as well. It’s a hands down 4 out of 4 painful area to get tattooed!
There are some captivating and intriguing wrist tattoo designs that’s going to win your heart at first glance, but you know very little about the pain behind this beautiful piece of art. Yes! Your wrists belong to the most painful area of tattooing as well, due to thin skin and numerous glands and arteries running underneath.
Your tattoo artist must be very sensitive while utilizing this area, but it’s still going to hurt a lot more than anticipated!
Your breasts are composed of loose skin, glands, nerve endings and dense fat. There’s no hit of muscle in this area, and no matter how attractive breast tattoos may look like, they surely do hurt like hell while getting them.
The process itself is inconvenient for the artist, as the breasts tend to wobble around and putting pressure requires delicate care and precision. On top of that, the sensitive and light skin will give you pain no matter how firm of a grip they are placed under during the process.
Underboob area should hurt the same as your rib cage because of the same reason: thin skin over the cages and the heaving from your breathing unnerving the needle gliding over. It’s a highly discomfortable area too, other than pain, because you are going to constantly keep your breasts out of the way for the tattoo artist to function efficiently.
Based on our assessment, females are prone to pain on the abdomen area more than males. This is because of the sensitive skin and the type of muscle build-up underneath. However, if you are a gym enthusiast and have a stronger muscular base in that area, it’s going to hurt significantly less. But for the ones with a regular body, it’ll cause you more pain that you might have imagined!
General Tattoo Pain Chart
This section of the chart discussed about the painful body areas in general, because these regions hurt more or less the same regardless of sex. It’ll give you a comprehensive idea of the areas you can opt for your first tattoo and get away with the least amount of pain.
Pain Level 4: Most Painful
This pain level is universal for both male and female consumers altogether. It’ll hurt you like hell and first timers should precisely avoid these specific regions to spare you some agony.
Ankles and Shins
The ankle and shin area are covered with a very thin layer of skin. There’s little to no muscle underneath and everything is arteries and nerves. So it causes major pain while getting tattooed in these areas and experts often discourage performing their operation here, regardless of sex or body type.
Your feet are some of the thinnest areas of your body. There is a very low proportion of skin-meat-bone in this region which renders it an unpleasant spot to get inked in general. Trying a needle out on such a surface is surely going to hurt a great deal, thus we’ve categorized it under the most painful area of getting a tattoo.
If you touch your lips right now, you’ll feel that the layer of skin is lighter than any other part of your skin. This is why in winter you can peel off the dry skin so easily, and based on these inspections you’ll realize why it’s going to be excruciating getting a tattoo on these delicate bits of your body.
Your neck is a very dangerous territory for tattoo operations, not only because of the thin skin and lack of muscle underneath, but also due to all the important nerves and veins that pass through this area. You should gain a good knowledge of why this part of your body is so important for you before choosing to get tattooed here, and know this, it’s not going to be remotely comfortable.
While your back has muscles built on separate portions, the spine region however is somewhat exposed and you’ll be able to sense your vertebrae with your fingertips. When such is the case, it’s a very painful area for getting tattooed as you’re going to feel the needle through on your spine directly.
As you may haven’t realized, your head skin sits directly above your skull and underneath is the part that controls everything that you think and do. With such a thin layer of skin that doesn’t cover any significant muscle at all, you’re going to be in for an agonizing journey should you choose to get a tattoo there.
This may come as a shocker! Since it’s okay to get tattoos on biceps or forearms, the elbow in the middle is ranked within the highest level of pain. This is due to the edge of your humerus bone sticking out at the joint which is a very sensitive part of your body. Tattoo needle there can put you off severely because it often causes unimaginable pain.
Pain Level 3: Second Most Painful
This pain level won’t cause you excruciating agony, but you’re going to still feel the needle pierce through your skin and the process is going to be somewhat difficult to go through with.
Your face is the first region among this category. Although the face has soft skin as well, the fat padding underneath makes the tattooing process somewhat tolerable, although it won’t be pleasant I give you that. First time tattooers are still discouraged to go for this area because you wouldn’t want your first tattoo experience to be your last one.
There’s a wide array of aesthetic design choices for your fingers, but little do you know the story of pain behind each getting each style. Your finger skins are thin and are not supported by a dense layer of muscle underneath, as it sits right on top of your bones. So you’re going to be in for a hurtful journey while getting your desired tattoo design there.
Your hips are a fine place to get tattooed because of the fat layered under the skin, but the hip bones are not so pleasant. The skin is adjacent to the bones below which makes it a very sensitive spot for getting a tattoo. But the thick layer spares you a little bit of pain, thus it’s categorized under pain level 3.
You might be surprised to know that your inner thigh area belongs to this category of pain in the tattoo pain chart. Most often the inner portion of a body area features thin and sensitive skin than the outer. That’s the way it naturally goes, and you’re going to be miserable during the tattoo session in this tricky area.
The last part in this list is your inner bicep area. No matter how much muscle you build on your biceps region, the inner part is always more sensitive and prone to pain. Although it’s going to be less severe than the level 4 areas, you’re not going to like getting inked here due to the kind of pain it’ll inflict.
Pain Level 2: Tolerable
The pain level 2 areas mark the body areas that can withstand pain much better than the previous two levels. You’ll be able to tolerate your tattoo needle for a longer amount of time and as a first timer you’ll get away without any traumatic experience.
Shoulders are also an optimum spot where you’ll be able to withstand the pain inflicted by the tattoo needle. If the artist manages to work around the joint that sticks out, you won’t really feel much of a significant amount of pain getting tattooed here. But it should be handled carefully nonetheless.
Your calf has a nice padding of muscle, fat and a thick skin to be tattooed on, and since it’s not a tricky area to reach and design, you’ll overall have a better experience getting a tattoo in this sector. Tattoo artists enjoy gliding their machine over such territories, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it not to be too unpleasant.
If you ask a tattoo artist which portion they prefer to draw on for first timers mostly, a big portion of them would reply that butt is their favorite. There’s a reason behind it too. Though butt doesn’t have a high tolerance to pain, it offers a good, meaty foundation to be tattooed upon.
The artist can firmly place the concept and run their needle without any interference, and you won’t feel as much pain like you would do on your sensitive areas. Only thing that’ll hurt you here is suspense, as you won’t know what actually is going on back there!
Pain Level 1: Least Painful
Getting tattooed on the following locations should hurt the least amount and every first time tattoo enthusiasts should start off their tattoo journey from one of these locations for a significantly painless experience.
Upper and Lower Back
Your upper and lower back areas are some of the most comfortable areas to get your first tattoo, and the comfort is both for you and your artist due to the position and the thick layer of muscle foundation underneath. These areas contain some of the thicker skin of your body with layers of fat below, so a tattoo needle doesn’t feel as painful as other sensitive areas.
The thigh region is packed with solid muscle and is a dream part of your body to sting the needle in and generate some fine crafts. The outer portion is highly preferable because of the nature of skin as well as the muscle density in that specific part. You’ll feel very little pain getting inked there, and the amount you’ll feel, you’ll surely be able to tolerate quite easily.
Your outer bicep is one of the least painful areas to get tattooed on. Because of muscle buildup underneath, you will feel significantly less amount of pain while tattooing here despite the thin nature of the skin. Tattoo artists enjoy creating their craft in this area, and first time tattoo receivers are often encouraged to try this region out for a fine experience overall.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter and the dark mark tattoo fascinated you, then you’re in for some good news! Because, your forearm belongs to the least painful zones of tattooing! As there is a thick layer of muscle allowing your motor activities, it prevents agonizing experience while getting tattooed. You are highly encouraged to get your first ink-work right on your forearm!
Why Does Tattooing Hurt Differently To Each Individual?
Every person is unique in their own way, the way they think, act, behave, and they are different in their physical tolerance level as well. Although it can’t be stated with utmost certainty, there are some aspects that contribute to this for the larger portion. In this section, we’ll discuss those aspects and figure out the reasons tattooing hurt everyone differently.
As you’ve picked up earlier in our article, sex is one of the crucial aspects of tolerance level. Very generally speaking, males have a higher tolerance level than females biologically. It’s not always the case, but broadly these are the way tattoo artists have reported on the matter.
While one research claims that it’s true that women feel pain more severely than men, another research states that women can handle pain better. So in the end, you can’t really differentiate it so neatly like black and white.
Experience is a twofold aspect in case of tattooing pain. On one hand, your experience makes you more tolerant as you’ll know the degree of pain and the entire proceeding from your previous experience. It strengthens your mind and prepares you precisely for the upcoming pain.
On the other hand, the experience of a tattoo artist is of utmost importance. Getting inked by an experienced artist deals less pain than someone who isn’t so skillful with the needle. You can verify the experience and certifications of the tattoo artist you’re hoping to go to beforehand for a better outcome overall.
There’s a direct correlation between age and tolerance. Researchers claim that middle-aged people are more tolerant to needle pain than teenagers or elderly people. It’s because of a lot of things like physical condition, mental state and a generic approach towards trying out something that can inflict pain.
Weight comes in as a valid factor due to larger chunks of fat under the skin reduces pain to a certain degree. Also, a higher weight implies loose skin, which often becomes challenging for the tattoo artist to perform on. It’s a win-loss combination to have a higher weight for tattooing.
Classification: Tattoo Pain Sensations
Now we are going to take a look into the different sensations you may experience during your tattooing or after completing the ink-job.
Burning pain is a common sensation while getting tattooed. It doesn’t remain on the ink-lines, but spreads out on a small radius of subsequent areas. Although not severe in level, this pain remains even after the tattoo process is finished, and you’ll be somewhat annoyed to have this going on for a longer period of time.
This type of pain is more prominent and common during regular tattoo sessions. It feels like scratching with nails but not just once, rather it keeps on going. If you’re up for a larger tattoo or a vibrant one, you’re more likely to feel this sensation, as larger tattoos require more time and colors or shades require the use of multiple needles.
Dull pain is the kind of aching that your mind attempts to set in the background as part of a defense mechanism. When you get stressed, needled and your body starts feeling the pain, it releases hormones like endorphins or adrenaline. These help with the pain by separating it from your mind, and throughout the process you’ll feel a dull pain at the back of your mind.
Stinging pain is a sharp sensation that is somewhat equivalent to multiple bees stinging at the same time. This sensation varies to a degree based on the experience of the artist, but there’s no escaping this pain if you are set on getting tattooed on your skin.
This is the immediate pain you’ll feel when the tattooing process begins. This feeling makes you want to recoil, or even scream in agony. If the artist is using less needle, then it becomes more apparent.
The vibrating or throbbing pain generates from the motion of the tattoo machine. It vibrates due to the constant movement of the needle, and a continuous contact with skin at this motion creates this unique sensation of a vibration that can very often be painful.
How To Reduce Pain While Tattooing?
You can take a number of measures to minimize your tattoo-inflicted pain during the process. They are briefly discussed in this section.
Ask your artist to take short breaks at regular intervals. Breaks help your skin breathe and the pain build up is halted to a certain degree.
Getting tattooed by experienced artists ensures the least amount of pain during the procedure, because they know the best way to maneuver their needle on your skin.
Stay Sober & Hydrated
Drink plenty of water and do not consume alcohol before getting a tattoo. Being intoxicated during such a process can increase pain level by a large margin.
Use Numbing Agent
You can use numbing agents to tone down the pain level, but it won’t completely separate the pain from your body.
Pre & Post Tattoo Considerations
Let’s take a look at the things you should consider before getting your tattoo, and the care routine you can follow after getting it done!
Go through this final checklist before you enter the tattoo shop as it’ll help you in the long run. Firstly, check if you have a medical condition like allergic reactions or delay in blood clotting. These can affect your health and you should consult your physician before getting inked.
Secondly, remember that your tattoo is almost a permanent commitment, and removal is not always a viable option due to a number of factors. Lastly, consider the placement of your tattoo, the visibility with certain dresses and should it violate any codes at your workplace or if the symbol offends anyone in general. Keeping these at the back of your mind will save you a lot of trouble in the future.
Your tattoo aftercare helps you minimize the agony of the tattooing process and helps you heal better & faster. Initially, your tattoo artist will mop your tattoo area after completion and place a bandage over the place, with something like a Saniderm. Take a look at our Saniderm guide for a detailed understanding on how to use it properly.
After bandage removal, use an antibacterial soap to wash the area. Use lukewarm water and soft, cotton cloth to mop it gently until it’s completely dry. Avoid any sun exposure or dipping into the swimming pool with a fresh tattoo as it can cause all sorts of infection and pain that you don’t want with your newly made tattoo.
In this section, we’ve attempted to answer a few commonly asked questions on the internet to offer you a better understanding of the tattoo pain chart’s concept.
Q: What is tattoo pain equal to?
A: It’s not a measurable phenomenon to be honest. But if you really want to compare, then the degree should be equivalent to a cat-scratch or the aftermath should equate to the sensation of a first-degree burn. Remember, it’ll vary from person to person!
Q: Can you use numbing cream before a tattoo?
A: Yes you can! Numbing cream can somewhat ease the extremity of pain, but it won’t minimize it completely.
Q: How long does a small tattoo take?
A: It depends on the complexity of the design, but based on the size it shouldn’t take more than an hour to complete a small tattoo.
Q: Can you take painkillers before a tattoo?
A: You can take regular painkillers before a tattoo, but it’s not going to help in mitigating all the pain. You’ll still have to go through the stinging sensation regardless of the medication you are on.
The tattoo pain chart is a lifesaver for the ones who feel discouraged getting tattooed considering the associated pain. Our chart should help you out in picking your body part for your first tattoo, and the way it’s organized, both male and female enthusiasts can easily identify their tolerance level with its aid.
Our article has broken down this chart with expert analysis so that you are able to gain a better conception of pain’s relation with certainbody parts in terms of tattooing. We hope that going through our all-inclusive article has helped you make up your mind for your upcoming tattoo, and as they all say – there’s no gain without pain, the question is whether you can tolerate it.