Do Neck Tattoos Hurt? Knowing What To Expect

Written by: Claudia

You’ve narrowed down your placement and decided on tattooing your neck. 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.

Do Neck Tattoos Hurt?

Topping the charts as one of the most painful places to get tattooed, a neck tattoo is reported by most to be almost unbearable when it comes to the pain this area feels. Due to the thin skin, prominent bones, and the many nerves that your neck has, this makes for a very painful experience.

tattoo pain chart

The skin in this region is so difficult to tattoo that artists generally work quite slowly, extending the painful experience for their client. You also need to keep in mind that due to movement and exposure to environmental factors such as UV rays, tattoos on your neck tend to fade faster and you will require constant touch ups to keep them looking bright, sharp, and new. In addition, healing a neck tattoo could be a challenge due to movement and bacteria transfer through touching or general exposure.

How Much Do Front and Side Neck Tattoos Hurt?


The front of your neck is considered to be one of the most painful places to tattoo due to lack of muscle mass in this region, many nooks and crannies, your very prominent adam’s apple bone, and numerous sensitive nerve receptors. Coupled with the fact that your throat moves as you breathe and you’ll have the irresistible urge to pull away from the needle, the front of your neck is quite a horrible tattooing procedure.

If this is your first tattoo, your artist will likely recommend that you don’t dive into the experience with a neck tattoo. Not only are they nearly impossible to cover up, but it’s one of the most challenging and painful tattoo regions and without an understanding of your pain tolerance, it could be a choice you regret. Throat tattoo pain isn't fun!


This is a significantly less painful area to get tattooed. The skin here is generally thicker and there are fewer sensitive nerve endings in this region. There are still multiple nooks and crannies and a major blood vessel that runs through this region, which makes for a challenging spot to tattoo.

Back of Neck Tattoo Pain

Due to the fact that it can be easily hidden under hair, the back of the neck has become a popular region to tattoo, especially amongst women. Of course, you must consider that your spine runs through this region, and that will make it a sensitive experience.

In a medical research study where a man stung himself on various parts of his body in order to index the pain levels, the back of the neck ranked at a 5.3 out of ten. This was slightly more painful than the majority of the other regions he tested.

How to Make Neck Tattoos Hurt Less

We’re going to be honest with you: it’s going to be difficult to make this location hurt less. But there are a few things that may help make it more bearable.

Choose Wisely

A neck tattoo is one of those things you cannot hide if you regret it, and it certainly won’t be a pleasant experience. Discuss your choice with your artist who may suggest alternative ideas, or may help you select a location on your neck that will be more tolerable. If this is your first tattoo, go with something small and simple that you can build upon later.

Remember to consider that just because the neck tattoo may look cool on you in your twenties, doesn’t mean it will look cool when you try to pursue that professional career. Neck tattoos cost a lot, hurt a whole lot, fade quickly, and experience a lot of discrimination when you search for employment. Consider that neck tattoo very carefully.

Pick an Artist With Experience

Select a high-quality artist who knows how to tattoo this sensitive area. Ask to see examples of their work, and make sure you choose someone with a gentle hand. You don’t want an artist who will overwork this area and make it more painful for you.

Take Care of Your Body

Leading up to your tattoo, you should be sure to eat healthy, drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, and stay away from blood thinners.

Take a Break

If the pain becomes unbearable, don’t be afraid to ask your artist for a break. We also recommend that you bring snacks with you to the session and a break is a perfect time to have a bite; this keeps your blood sugar high and prevents nausea, dizziness, or lightheadedness during your tattoo.

Try a Numbing Cream

Numbing creams are topical anesthetics that dull your pain receptors, but they also can complicate the tattoo process on this already complex region. For that reason, we recommend discussing this option with your artist prior to using any. If your artist gives you the go-ahead, check out our article, Top Numbing Creams For A Painless Tattoo Experience.

Our Final Thoughts

A neck tattoo is not only a commitment that cannot be easily hidden and may come with employment seeking difficulties down the line, it’s also extremely painful, and due to faster fading times, may even require frequent touch ups. If you’re truly considering a neck tattoo, discuss your fears with your artist who will give you suggestions to ease the pain during the session, or may provide you with alternative ink ideas.

Learn more about the most painful places to get a tattoo

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