You’ve narrowed down your placement and decided on your fingers. 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)
How Much Do Finger Tattoos Hurt?
We are going to be straight with you, right from the start: finger tattoos hurt a lot. In fact, many individuals who have multiple tattoos on their body report their fingers being one of the most painful to have tattooed. This excessive pain is due to a variety of reasons.
Our fingers have very sensitive nerve endings - it’s why we can so quickly feel hot or cold with our hands so easily, and why our fingertips are so sensitive to touch sensations. They also have very thin skin and one of the least amounts of fat out of all our appendages. This makes for very little comforting leeway when tattooing.
In addition, there is little muscle between our skin and our bones, meaning we are likely to feel the full sensation of the needle pressing up against us.
Apart from an extreme amount of pain, there are other factors that make tattooing your fingers not worth the hurt.
- They fade more easily. Because your skin is constantly in movement with your hands, and because your fingers are rubbing up against items like clothing or other body parts, the tattoos on your fingers fade much quicker than other body parts. Some have seen them almost completely disappear in five years. If you work with your hands, they may reject the pigment completely.
- They experience blowouts. Because the skin here is very thin, it’s hard to perfectly locate where to deposit the ink. Blowout is caused when the ink reaches the fatty layer under the dermis, and it doesn’t hold but spreads outwards. This makes your once crisp tattoo look fuzzy or feathered in a month or two.
- They need to be simple. Small tattoos need to stay crisp, and in order to stay crisp, your design needs to be very basic. If you wish your finger tattoos to last, you should also only stick to black lining.
- They’re hard to keep clean. When you get a new tattoo, aftercare must be thorough and that includes keeping your open wound safe, not touching the tattoo, and not putting your tattoo in contact with potential bacteria. This is near impossible with tattoos on your fingers.
- They can get expensive. Tattoos on your fingers continuously need to be touched up, and touch ups after the first are not free. You could be paying $80 or more on a year to year basis for a line and a few dots on your fingers.
- They’re hard to hide. Unlike other tattoos which are quite easy to cover up for work or personal reasons, finger tattoos are impossible to hide without gloves or makeup.
- Not every artist will tattoo fingers. Some artists feel that tattooing such a vulnerable and exposed spot with something that will not keep or last for a long time will try and discourage you from getting these tattoos or will not do them at all, especially if it's your first one.
Learn more about tattoo pain and body placement
Ways to Make Finger Tattoos Hurt Less
If you’re still set on getting finger tattoos, here are some tips to help ease the pain.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine - Stay Hydrated
Alcohol and caffeine will not only dehydrate you but they will also thin your blood, making the tattooing experience more painful. In addition to this increase in pain, your thin blood may not clot as necessary and the ink will have more difficulty holding in your dermis.
Stay hydrated through water consumption, as drinking water also helps the largest organ in your body: your skin. You should consume significant amounts of water for the week leading up to your tattoo.
Another way to hydrate your skin is to ensure you are moisturizing your skin for days leading up to your tattoo session. Use unscented moisturizer twice a day, and make sure your skin is dry before you apply your moisturizer, so it absorbs better. Take a look at our top recommendations for the best tattoo moisturizer.
Try a Numbing Cream
Numbing creams are over-the-counter anesthetics that can be applied 30 minutes before a tattoo session to help dull the painful sensation of tattooing. It’s important to discuss wanting to use a numbing cream with your artist prior to being tattooed, as they can complicate the tattooing process for many artists. Have a look at our article on, The 5 Best Tattoo Numbing Creams For A Painless Tattoo Experience for more information.
Our Final Thoughts
Finger tattoos top the charts as some of the most painful placements for tattoos. In addition to the pain, there are additional factors that need your consideration when it comes to finger ink, such as the fact that they can experience rapid fading, blowouts, and require numerous touch ups. Tattoos are a personal choice, so discuss this location with your artist if it’s something you want to proceed with.