How Bad Do Head Tattoos Hurt?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 22, 2020
    Last Updated: January 16, 2021

When considering a head tattoo, you’re probably thinking about how the tattooing experience will feel. The head is known to be an area susceptible to pain, and it’s also pretty bony in most places, which adds up to an uncomfortable tattooing experience. 

Although there is no way to predict the exact experience you will have while getting your head tattooed, there are a few things that you can consider before beginning the tattooing process. It starts by understanding why tattooing the head can have a different sensation than tattoos on other parts of the body.


Getting a tattoo on your head will likely be a painful experience. Be sure to consider your potential tattoo’s size and placement if pain is a factor in your decision-making.

Head Tattoo Pain

The head is one of the most painful areas to get a tattoo. Moreover, this includes places on and around the head, such as the neck, ears and face. The skin near these areas is thinner and nearer to the bone. It is also has more nerve endings. These areas are sensitive because they have no fat to soften the needle’s effects. This may lead to stinging, scratching pains, or vibrations from the needle. 

The experience of getting a head tattoo will be different for everyone. Suppose you are unsure of what to expect when getting inked. In general, getting tattooed on the head can involve burning and stinging sensations. Individual experiences vary widely, though, so reflecting on your personal pain tolerance might be a better way to judge how much a head tat will hurt.

It’s not hard to feel the difference between the skin on top of your head and skin on your thigh, calf or arms. Getting a tattoo in an area with thinner skin and more nerve endings tends to be more painful than other places on the body. As the skin on top of your head is so thin, it is more sensitive to pain.

Are Other Areas of the Body Less Sensitive to Pain? 

If you are concerned about the pain of getting a tattoo on your head, remember that areas with higher fat and more skin, such as the thigh, calves, or forearm, tend to be less painful. These areas of the body also have fewer nerve endings. 

However, much like getting a tattoo on the head, tattoos on the lips, fingers and toes are included among thinner skin areas. These areas tend to lead to a more painful experience, as well. Some of the most popular places to get tattooed involve less pain, however, so consider those alternatives if you’re not dead-set on having a head tattoo.

Take a look at our tattoo pain chart, which ranks the body’s areas from most to least painful to tattoo. The head and face are third on the list, topped only by nipples and lips. Moreover, this means that most people have reported experiencing high amounts of pain while getting a tattoo on their head or face. 

If this seems a bit intimidating, it may be helpful to note that the lower chest, hips and stomach were ranked as the three lowest on the pain scale.

While it is unlikely that you can go through the entire tattooing process without feeling some pain or discomfort, certain areas may affect you more than others, as will your personal pain tolerance. 

How To Reduce Head Tattoo Pain

It takes a lot of energy to get a head tattoo. Although you may think you’re just resting there, the constant poking in the area causes the body to become stressed, consuming a lot of energy. There are ways you can mitigate this, though:

  • Getting hydrated
  • Eating a good meal
  • Sleeping well
  • Avoiding alcohol, pain killers, and anything that thins the blood

Spread Your Appointment

It’s crucial to consider even the smallest factors to reduce the amount of pain during a head tattoo. For instance, how do you feel about the length of the session? Longer sessions in the tattoo artist’s chair are usually more painful and dividing these sessions up into smaller chunks can make it easier for you.

Consider a Tattoo Numbing Cream

For people wanting a little extra assistance for dealing with the pain, a good tattoo numbing cream can really help to take the edge off.

One of the most effective tattoo numbing products currently on the market is Zensa Numbing Cream, which contains the highest level of Lidocaine allowed by the FDA for over-the-counter use. The feedback left by thousands of customers for this product is nothing short of exceptional.

Just follow the instructions supplied with the cream and apply shortly before your tattoo appointment is due to begin so that you can look forward to a less painful and more comfortable tattooing experience. The amount of cream you get in a tube also ensures you have more than enough for a large tattoo.