Inner Lip Tattoos - 10 Things You Should Know Before Getting One

Written by: Claudia

Inner lip tattoos are super trendy right now. They are small and super discrete, so they often appeal to frequent tattooers who want to add a piece of excitement to their repertoire of skin work, or for first-timers who are just jumping into the tattoo game. But there are definitely pros and cons to lip tattoos, and here’s what you need to know before you rush to book one.

Inner Lip Tattoo Pros

We get it; lip tattoos are hip. Even celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Miley Cyrus seem to have jumped into the inner lip tattoo train. It’s a popular option for a few reasons:

  • It’s discrete. Your tattoo, and the message of it, can remain hidden from everyone. No one will ever know you’re tattooed on your inner lips unless you make the effort to pull the lip down and show them. This is a great way to get a tattoo but not compromise employment opportunities.
  • There’s a low commitment. Believe it or not, lip tattoos fade very quickly. This means that your lip tattoo will not be a lifelong commitment like getting tattooed elsewhere on your skin. If you want something for just a few years, this is a great option. Of course, it won’t fade away completely, so it’s important to keep that in mind.
  • It’s a low-cost option. There’s not much space inside of your lips, and so this will be a shorter and less expensive session out of pocket.
  • Lip tattoos have a quick healing time. Even though you need to be extra careful during the first few days of your lip tattoo, cell turnover inside your mouth moves quickly. In around two weeks time, your lip tattoo will be healed.

Inner Lip Tattoo Cons: Risks and Side Effects of Inner Lip Tattoos

There are quite a few cons regarding lip tattoos that are worth noting.

  • They fade quickly. While many see this as a low commitment option, it can also feel like a big waste of money. They can fade within a few weeks to five years time and touch ups in this region aren’t free.
  • You’re restricted with the design. Don’t think you can get a fancy, dainty tattoo; you’ve got to keep things simple. We’re talking one word, a few simple lines, or an infinity symbol, for example.
  • They’re super painful. If you think tattooing on skin is painful, you’re going to hate sitting for a lip tattoo. This is an extremely sensitive area and you’ll definitely feel it, no matter how short the session may be. See our Tattoo Pain Chart and find out where tattoos hurt the least and most
  • They’re easy to mess up. If your tattoo artist is not experienced in this region or if they’re simply having a heavy-handed day, you risk severe blowout concerns with your lip tattoo. The worst part is that tattoo blowout in this region can appear on the other side of your skin; that means the “bruising” appearance will show up on your chin!
  • There are specialized aftercare instructions. This is the biggest concern of all and we’ll dive into exactly why.

Aftercare and Healing Risks for Inner Lip Tattoos

An inner lip tattoo faces extensive exposure to bacteria, infiltration of external irritants such as food, and infection risks.

  • Infections: Mouths are full of bacteria. Add a kiss from another person or a snack to your day, and you’ve just introduced plenty more. Moist environments are not ideal for healing tattoos, and this can really complicate the healing process of your inner lip tattoo.
  • Swelling: Some swelling with tattoos are completely normal, but the inner lip is very sensitive and this can lead to severe swelling. The swelling can even extend from your lip to your entire face!
  • Allergic Reactions: Every single tattoo you get is a new experience for your body, and no matter how many times you’ve been inked, you put yourself at risk of having an allergic reaction to the ink or the equipment. The mouth is also a sensitive region for all allergy triggers.

Inner Lip Tattooing Step-By-Step

If you still intend to move forward with getting a lip tattoo, you should keep this list in mind:

  1. Choose a simplified design for this complicated region.
  2. Select a tattoo artist with experience tattooing in this region. Be sure to check out a portfolio of healed inner lips work as well.
  3. Stencils have a hard time staying put in wet spaces, so your artist may either freehand your design or trace it with a special tattoo pen.
  4. Despite the pain of the inner lip region, it’s important that you stay completely still while getting inked. This is an easy area to mess up and your artist needs to concentrate.
  5. It’s hard to get a dressing to stay put on an inner lip tattoo, but you’ll have to keep the area clean and likely avoid food for a little while.
  6. It’s important to follow your tattoo artist’s precise aftercare instructions for this tattoo, in order to prevent infection or complications with healing.

Aftercare for Lip Tattoos

While your artist will likely give you very strict and precise aftercare instructions to follow for your inner lip tattoo, here are some other things you need to keep in mind.

  • Be extra cautious with the food you eat. Stay away from high-sugar or acidic foods or you’ll feel the burn! In addition, avoid any crunchy foods like chips which may irritate or puncture the wound further.
  • You’ll have to stay away from kissing for a little bit. Introducing the bacteria from someone else’s mouth into your mouth is putting your tattoo, and you, at risk.
  • You may have to fast for a little bit after your tattoo. Ask your artist how long they recommend avoiding food or drink.
  • You’re going to want to stock up on mouthwash. Unlike tattoos on skin that can be cleaned with antibacterial soap, mouthwash will be your best friend for healing your inner lip tattoos.
  • Stay away from cigarettes! Can you quit for two weeks? You’re going to want to, to prevent complications during the healing of your inner lip tattoo.
  • It’s going to fade and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s simply the reality of inner lip tattoos, unfortunately.

Learn more - Tattoo Aftercare: How Do I Care For My Tattoo?

Our Final Thoughts

Like any tattoo anywhere on your skin, inner lip tattoos are a completely personal choice. If you decide to get one done, ensure you are putting a lot of research into the procedure and selecting an artist with extensive experience in the region. Be aware of the cons of inner lip tattoos and ensure your aftercare is top-notch for this delicate region.


How long do inner lip tattoos last?

Inner lip tattoos can fade within a few weeks to five years time and touch ups in this region aren’t free.

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