The 12 Most Painful Places To Get a Tattoo

The 12 Most Painful Places To Get a Tattoo

Jun 15, 2022 | Bridget Reed

If you are a sadist, deep-trance-tattoo-meditator, or just a thrill seeker looking to get the most painful tattoo possible – it’s hilarious that you’ve made it onto our site. We welcome all, but make sure you don’t buy any of our amazing numbing products or you won’t feel a thing! 😉 

If you are looking to avoid tattoo pain, you are in the best place possible. We are going to let you know the most painful places for a tattoo and how to magically boost your pain threshold if you still want to get a tattoo in one of these areas.

#1: Armpit

You know how there is a lot of debate surrounding the safety of chemical deodorant? It’s all because your armpit is kind of like a vortex into your body. Blood vessels, nerve endings, and lymph nodes. Getting an armpit tattoo won’t only hurt, but it will be difficult because of the placement.

#2: Rib Cage

Bony and thin skin! Going over the ribcage is painful. You have probably heard people crying about how just getting that one little cursive word hurt so bad. They aren’t being dramatic. A tattoo on the ribcage is going to hurt. Try it, and you’ll see. 

#3: Collarbone

Bony and thin skin, again! The collarbone sits right under the skin. If you are going with a machine tattoo – the vibration of the machine is going to reverberate in your collarbone and shake you all the way up your neck. The result will fall somewhere between “wildly painful” or “shiatsu needle massage.” Funny thing, the collarbone is alao an erogenous zone. More nerve endings = more sensitivity. Read: A collarbone tattoo will be an interesting time for sure.

#4: Elbows

You might have thought because of that whole “pinch my elbow, it doesn’t hurt” thing that an elbow tattoo would be chill. Although elbows don’t have a lot of nerve endings, you won’t find them on the list of least painful places to get a tattoo — elbows see a lot of wear and tear, but they are still very painful areas to tattoo. The bone proximity and lack of fat growth are what does people in. 

#5: Knees

Knees have a similar thing going on here as with the elbows. There’s not a lot of fat growing over the kneecaps. The bone is right under. You might even feel reverberations all the way down your shin when getting body art on the knee or the back of the knee.

#6: Shins

You might have some meatier areas in the back of your leg, but the shin bones aren’t a major fat storage location. With so little fat, you better prepare for the pain you’re going to feel if you have a tattoo planned for this interesting location. With such a thin layer of skin, it’s gonna be an ouchie.

#7: Ankles and Feet

You’re starting to see the trend here, right? Skinny areas of the body with the bone close underneath are not friends of the tattoo process. Your ankles and the tops of your feet are super bony and don’t have the thick skin of your other extremities. The bottoms of your feet have over 7,000 nerve endings, making it a super sensitive and even potentially ticklish area to get tattooed. For a chance at less pain, add some of our tattoo numbing products to your cart — your tattoo artist will be thankful you don’t kick them in the face as a reflex.

#8: Middle of Chest

The sternum, or the bones that run up through the middle of your chest and connect to your ribcage and collarbone, is another area that’s skinny and bony. It’s also one of the more popular tattoo spots. If you run into your breast tissue while you’re tattooing, it might be a bit fattier tissue, but the skin here can also be more sensitive. 

#9: Face

We call these job-stoppers. The face in general is a more sensitive zone, but specifically getting tattooed over the forehead, cheekbones, and nose is going to feel less than pleasant to say the least. Also, the pounding of the tattoo needle will vibrate your head. You’ll probably feel like your brain is shimmying around, causing a whole different type of pain.

#10: Inner Thighs

Okey, this area may not be so bony or skinny, but it is super sensitive. Run your fingers up your inner thigh and then run them up your upper outer thigh. Feel the difference? Now think about that happening — but with needles! A tattoo in this area will be less than fun. Get some numbing gel on those legs!

#11: Head 

If you want a tattoo design you can easily cover with the time it takes to let shaved hair regrow, then getting a head tattoo is an easy choice. Of course, your skull checks all the boxes when it comes to potential tattoo pain. But, it’s still a common area for tattoos thanks to its hideability and simultaneous auto-badass potential. If you’re getting a head tattoo, use a numbing gel — you can thank us later. 

#12: Groin

We don’t need to include a lot of details about the pain involved with a tattoo here. The groin is one of the most sensitive areas of the human body, so you can expect this to be one of the top most painful locations to get a tattoo. Steel yourself for this one. This is gonna hurt! 🙈

What Makes a Tattoo Painful?

Tattoo newbies love to ask: does getting a tattoo hurt

Some people love to tell you how they fell asleep during their tattoo, while others have half-finished tattoos because they couldn’t sit for the whole session. The level of pain someone feels depends on that person's pain tolerance, the kind of tattoo they are getting, and the placement of the tattoo. 

The part of a tattoo that would cause pain is most likely the recurring needle pokes. If you have a huge piece with lots of solid color – that tattoo machine is working like a tenderizer on your skin. Have you ever stubbed your toe? And then you hit it 15 times more once you stub it? Bueno, a similar concept happening here.

How Do You Reduce Tattoo Pain?

If you want that art in a certain place, get it. If it’s going to make you happy every day to have that art with you on your lower back or outer shoulder or inner bicep, get it! Don’t let the idea of a little pain hold you back. One painful day or a couple painful sessions are short-term — your tattoo is forever. 

Don’t not get a tattoo because it is going to hurt. Yes, you should expect a bit of pain, but you can reduce tattoo pain using safe numbing gels and creams, breathwork, and taking breaks. 

We’ve formulated a handful of products to make your tattoo experience less painful. Take a look at our Numbing Gel or Numbing Cream that contain 4% lidocaine and other soothing botanicals. Ask your tattoo artists if they’re okay with you using a numbing product in that area ahead of time, then apply an hour before your tattoo session to help numb up the area that will be tattooed. 

(We’ve also made it way easy for you by bundling everything you need for your Tattoo Sessionde nada.)

And yes, just breathing right can help. Don’t hold your breath. If there is an extremely uncomfortable part, and you can’t handle the amount of pain you’re feeling, practice deep, repetitive breathing. If that’s still not doing it – take a break! A little break can reset your nervous system.

In Closing

Of course, you can’t test or measure how sensitive a part of the body is. There are too many variables and pain is too subjective. If it’s your first tattoo, the anticipation can almost make it seem worse. 

You might get a full-blown ribcage piece and feel nothing, but typically, you’re in for a lot of pain if you neglect to use one of our numbing products. Keep that in mind when trying to make choices based on this list. And never deny your inner tattoo enthusiast because of pain. 

Use our goo if you want a tattoo in a painful place, and you might just be one of those people talking about how you fell asleep during your shin session!


Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Axilla - StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf

The Anatomy of the Elbow | Washington University Physicians

Podiatry: Foot Facts | Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS

Anatomy, Thorax - StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf