You’ve narrowed down your placement and decided on tattooing your bicep. But now you’re wondering about how much it will hurt. Our Tattoo Pain Series of articles looks at the most popular tattoo locations and gives you the rundown on what you can expect in regards to pain.
Table of Contents (clickable)
Bicep Tattoo Pain
We will let you know the good news right off the bat: your bicep is one of the least painful areas to tattoo. In fact, during a medical research study where a man stung himself with a bee on various body parts in order to measure the pain index, the bicep, or upper arm, ranked at only a 2.3 out of ten. The bicep was tied as the least painful with two other regions.
Of course, pain is an individual experience and what is least painful for one person may be very painful for others. And there is no doubt that tattoos, in general, are quite uncomfortable or irritating, at the very least. But you can rest assured that a bicep tattoo will be uncomfortable but completely tolerable.
Inner Bicep Tattoo Pain
It’s worth noting that the inner bicep ranks a little higher on the pain scale for a few reasons. The skin here is thinner, it has less exposure to external irritants which usually help strengthen skin, and the main nerves of the arms up the inside of the bicep rather than the outside.
How to Make Bicep Tattoos Hurt Less
You cannot make the pain of tattoos vanish entirely, but if this is your first tattoo and you’re still a bit worried about it, the good news is that the bicep falls really low on the pain scale - you’re already off to a great start!
When it comes to tattoos, mind over matter is not just a cliche; it really does help you tolerate a higher pain threshold. Even Spine-Health.com states that, “You can train your brain to manage the sensation and occurrence of [...] pain with a combination of deep focus, breathing, and imagery techniques.” Distracting yourself during the session with music, a movie on your phone, or chatting to your friend or the artist can also help minimize the pain.
Another way to determine your own individual tolerance for a bicep tattoo is to choose a design that is simple, uses less shading, and less coloring. The needles used for these details are square-ended and composed of multiple needles in one head, and this can increase the pain to feel like it is stinging, burning, or as though you’re being scratched over and over. A simpler design also ensures that your adrenaline and subsequent tolerance stays high and doesn’t crash while the session is still underway.
You may also want to consider using a numbing cream for tattoos on your bicep prior to getting tattooed, but only if your artist gives you permission to do so. Numbing creams, while effective topical anesthetics that help dull pain receptors, can sometimes complicate the tattooing procedure and often make the experience more painful when it wears off. Be sure to discuss your intent to use a numbing cream with your artist beforehand.
Eating healthy, drinking a lot of water before and during your session, and moisturizing your skin for a week leading up to the tattoo will also help make the experience less painful. In addition, you should avoid alcohol and blood thinning medication which could make the tattooing process more uncomfortable for you.
Last but certainly not least, and quite honestly the most important advice of all, select an artist who is experienced, of high-quality, and fully licensed and certified. Cheap tattoos and inexperienced artists will not only overwork your skin during the session, but their work may also complicate the healing process or could lead to infection. Always remember that a cheap tattoo isn’t good, and a good tattoo isn’t cheap.
Check out our Tattoo Pain Chart to see how much tattoos hurt on different parts of the body
Our Final Thoughts
Whether this is your very first tattoo or your tenth, you can be sure that a bicep tattoo may be an uncomfortable but completely tolerable experience. With one of the lowest rankings on the pain scale, a tattoo on your upper arm is worth the few hours of minor discomfort. Remember that the more complicated your tattoo, the longer your session, and the more painful the experience may be, overall.