Least Painful Places To Get A Tattoo

  • Written By Dan Hunter on May 26, 2019
    Last Updated: January 19, 2021

One of the most commonly asked questions when deciding whether to get a tattoo is ‘will it hurt?’ The answer is plain and simple- yes. There really is no painless way to stick needles into your skin in order to leave a permanent mark.

However, how painful the tattoo feels depends on several factors, including your individual pain tolerance and where on the body you choose to get tattooed. If you are thinking about getting a tattoo and you have a low pain tolerance, it might be wise to consider one of the following least painful places to get a tattoo on your body:

Least Painful Tattoo Spots

The least painful places to get a tattoo are areas of the body that have few nerve endings, high levels of fat and thicker skin. Ideal places for a less painful tattoo include the outer arm, thigh, calf and buttocks.

Upper/Outer Thigh

One of the best places to get inked if you’re afraid of tattoo pain, is on your upper outer thigh. That is because this section on the body has a good layer of fat with very few nerve endings. Having a tattoo on the upper outer thigh has extra benefits.

For example, it is easy to hide tattoos on your thigh, therefore this is an ideal spot for people who need to cover their tattoos for work or other reasons. Also, it’s a fairly large part of the body, which is perfect if your tattoo design is of considerable size, and you don’t want to have to compromise on your work of art due to concerns about the pain.


The most popular area on the body for tattoos, especially first tattoos, is the outer/rear shoulder area. It is one of the least painful places to get tattooed because there are not a lot of nerve endings here and the skin is thick, so the scratching of the needle doesn’t hurt as much. 


The forearm is a great spot for your first tattoo as it has a lot of muscle and thick skin, but not a lot of nerve endings, meaning it’s relatively pain-free. It’s an ideal location for mid-size tattoos with intricate designs, on the grounds that it won’t be as painful when the tattoo artist has to fill in a lot of small details. Forearm tattoos can also be great conversation starters with other like-minded people due to being highly visible most of the time (unless you’re an Eskimo).

Upper/Lower Back

Just like the shoulders, the upper and lower back are favorite locations to get tattooed. The back is one of the largest parts of the body, so people like to get permanently inked there as it gives them a generous-sized canvas to work with.

When it comes to pain, the amount you feel during your tattoo will vary depending on how close the tattoo artist gets to your spine and hips. This is because there are more nerve endings present underneath the skin in these areas, resulting in a higher pain level. 

Secondly, the pain felt can differ greatly depending on your shape and size. For example, a curvier person is more likely to have more fat on their lower back than someone with a slimmer build. Therefore, if you are thinner, you can expect to feel more pain as the needle will meet less resistance as it moves through the skin and closer to the bone.


Calf tattoos are perfect for first-timers, making them one of the most popular areas to get a tattoo. The calf area has smaller clumps of nerve endings underneath the skin, and lots of fat and muscle. This means that getting a tattoo on your calf is a piece of cake when compared to being tattooed on your ankle, for example. 

The calf is yet another area of the body that has a large smooth surface, therefore, it’s a good place to get larger tattoos added, or tattoos that have a lot of detail. Consider the fact that you won’t feel as much pain here if the tattoo artist needs to stop and start to get the detail right, or goes over the skin more than once.

Of course, you’ll be able to show your ink off to other people easily with a calf tattoo, especially in summer.

Outer Bicep

If you want tattoos that will be easy to show off to people, the outer bicep is a highly visible area (if you’re not wearing a long sleeve shirt, of course!) The bonus is- there is a lot of muscle in this area, resulting in a far less painful experience.

Ear Cartilage

As strange as it may seem, tattoos on the ear cartilage don’t usually hurt as much as you might expect. This is because the tissue is generally less sensitive here, and there is no bone for the needle to rattle against. Due to the size of the ear, the tattoo will also be over fairly quickly, meaning you don’t have to worry about the pain building up for hours on end while sitting in the tattoo artist’s chair.

Top Tips For Less Pain

Still worried about the pain of getting a tattoo? Fear not. After the tattoo artist begins the tattoo, your body will naturally try to reduce the pain that you are feeling. Your brain will start producing endorphins, which are the same thing that make you feel great after exercising. As those endorphins flood your body you will feel the pain less and less. 

On the contrary, if you’re getting a large tattoo or sitting for several hours in the tattoo chair your brain will eventually stop producing endorphins. Therefore, it may be wise to see about getting a small or smaller tattoo, if the thought of the pain is troubling you, and especially if this is your first. Nobody can be truly sure of what to expect until they are in the chair themselves, dealing with the penetrating needle.

Whether you opt for a tiny tattoo or brave it with a ginormous full-sleeve, there are some things that you can do before and during the tattoo to manage the pain, such as:

Be Sober

Some people would love to have a stiff drink or two before going to get a tattoo because they think the alcohol will numb them and make the tattoo hurt less. The reality is quite the opposite. Drinking before getting a tattoo is a bad idea and can be downright dangerous.

When you drink, the alcohol thins your blood, meaning that you will bleed more during the tattoo. In addition, the pain will be endured will be much greater due to the fact that your skin might not take the ink well, as a result of the excessive bleeding. This could lead to a horrid looking tattoo.

Be Hydrated

The more hydrated you are, the healthier your skin will be, and the better the ink will take. Tattoo artists advise that you start drinking water at least 24 hours in advance of your tattoo and drink water regularly right up until your tattoo session starts. This will also result in a less painful experience.

Get Enough Sleep

When you haven’t had enough sleep, your body is very sensitive to external stimuli. This is why you find sunlight difficult to deal with or cold intolerable when you’re tired. Heading into a tattoo session when you’re exhausted will make the tattoo seem a lot more painful and you’ll have a harder time sitting still for the tattoo. While it’s always exciting to get a new tattoo, you should be sure that you get a full night’s sleep before your appointment. Or at the very least get a quick nap in before your appointment.

Eat A Good Meal

Just like tiredness, feeling hungry will make you feel the pain more intensely as well. You should never eat immediately before the tattoo appointment, but make sure that you have a full meal two to three hours before your session begins. Plus, it’s worth making sure that your meal contains some carbs. Carbohydrates release their energy slower than any other food group. The slower the carbs release their energy, the more stable and sustainable energy levels of the body.

Take Breaks

If you choose to get a tattoo in a painful area, or if you are having trouble handling the pain, tell your tattoo artist and ask for a break. The break shouldn’t be too long as that will cause the tattooed area to swell making it difficult to continue. However, a quick break for a snack and some juice will boost your blood glucose levels and help you manage pain. That may be all you need to get through the remainder of the session.

If your nerve endings are getting a good workout and you’re finding the pain level difficult to deal with or you need to shift your position, tell your artist. Tattoo artists want you to be comfortable and relaxed so they can create a fantastic piece of art for your body. Don’t be afraid to communicate openly with them and say exactly what you need. After all, they would rather this than mess it up because of your fidgeting. 

Try a Numbing Product

There are many numbing products on the market that are suitable for use on tattoos. However, results may vary.

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. Click here to buy from Amazon

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