Tattoos have evolved beyond tribal significance or criminal implications. Nowadays, it seems everyone and their grandmother (quite literally, actually) have at least one piece of ink on their body. In fact, some people even choose where they're going to get their work done based on how much they anticipate the process is going to hurt. If you're considering getting inked, you might wonder what are some of the tattoo body locations ranked by pain factor. Common sense might tell you that areas where you have more "meat" are going to provide more cushion than your bonier areas, but nerves can be a tricky thing.
Also, as a disclaimer, everyone's pain threshold is different. I have an almost 6 inch tattoo on the side of my left rib cage and, aside from it being ticklish at times, it really didn't hurt that bad. Yet some people I know have said that anything on their abdomen or ribs has been the most painful for them. It truly all depends.
There are, however, some general guidelines that apply to most people regardless of how well an individual can tolerate being poked by a needle repeatedly. So if you're curious about ranking tattoo body locations by their pain factor, from least to most, check this out.
Whether you're Nicki Minaj or Taylor Swift, the buttocks is one of the least painful places to get a tattoo because of how fleshy it is. Bob Marrama, a tattoo artist of nearly two decades, says that a good rule of thumb is that the fleshier and area is, the less it will hurt to get tattooed there.
Though there is more muscle than fat in most people's calves, the fact that the needle will be nowhere near the bone is what makes this location fairly painless. Tattoo artist James Prideaux told Inked Local that the thickness of skin contributes to the calf being one of the least painful tattoo areas.
So long as the ink isn't being done too close to the bone, the same rule applies, says Marrama, that areas with more fat and flesh are not very painful.
4. Upper Arm
According to Tattoo Paradise, tattoo artists agree that the upper arm is not very painful. However, depending on how close your bone is to the skin in certain areas can affect the pain level.
5. Lower Back
Though you might think that the bones in that area would make for a painful experience, the tattoo artists at Richmond Tattoo Shop wrote otherwise, saying that thicker, tougher skin is low on the pain scale. The lower back, similar to the thigh, has more dense skin that can absorb pain better.
6. Breasts (Women versus Men)
For women, breasts are not very painful to get tattooed at all. But since men don't have much fat there, it can be more painful since the bones in their chest are closer to the surface, according to Marrama.
7. Hands and Feet
According to Inked, the thin skin, ligaments, tendons, and bony structure of the hands and feet are why they're painful locations for a tattoo.
8. Inner Arm
Your armpit and inner upper arm are painful tattoo areas because the nerves there make it a super sensitive location, according to Tat Ring.
Anywhere there's a joint or a lot of bone movement happening, there's going to be pain. Marrama says that the knees (both front and back), elbows, ankles, shoulder blades, and the tops of the shoulders are all fairly painful due to the amount of bone and lack of fat.
10. Face and Skull
Pretty much your entire head is a painful tattoo location for two very major reasons, there are a lot or nerves on your face and the bone of your skull is very near to the surface, according to Inked.
As the Richmond Tattoo Shop noted, ribs are particularly painful because there is virtually no fat separating the bone from the thin skin on the side of your torso.
Similar to the rib cage, Marrama says that your spine is essentially nothing but bones protecting a column of nerves, so it's not surprising the spine is very painful to tattoo.
13. Private Areas
You might not think anyone would tattoo these areas, but the nipples, groin, and privates are ridiculously painful due to extremely sensitive nerve endings, according to Tattoo Paradise. Also, it's probably because evolution has taught humans those areas need to be protected.