Neck tattoos are a big commitment. If you plan on getting a tattoo on the front or the side of your neck, most people you encounter will notice it immediately — unless you love a turtleneck. No shade.
If you have long hair and get a tattoo on the back of your neck, you have more options for showing it off when you want to and covering it at other times. However, the neck is still a prime spot for body art, so find a design and placement you love before committing to a hyper-visible tattoo (that goes without saying).
Here at HUSH, we believe a big commitment like a neck tattoo doesn’t have to be painful. With our prep products, topical anesthetics, and aftercare products, you can have the neck tattoo of your dreams without the pain during and after your tattoo session.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about neck tattoos and how to combat pain in this sensitive area.
How Much Do Neck Tattoos Hurt?
We’re not going to lie: the neck is considered one of the most painful parts of the body to get tattooed. We might not opt for a big neckpiece for your first tattoo. But we also think every place on the body is special, and if you want to get a tattoo on your neck, you should!
Everyone’s pain tolerance is different. We would never tell you to avoid getting a coveted piece of body art just because of pain — especially because with HUSH, pain doesn’t have to win.
Don’t let potential pain keep you from getting the ink of your dreams — just use HUSH to make sure whatever you choose, whether it’s a popular tattoo or something of your own creation, has the proper care before, during, and after your session.
Why Are Neck Tattoos Painful?
While the amount of pain a tattoo might put you through varies from person to person, generally, the areas with the least muscle and fat and the thinnest skin tend to be the most painful. The neck is one of these areas.
The skin on our necks is thin, and there’s no real muscle mass or fat to protect the tender areas underneath the skin. There are also a fair amount of nerve endings around our neck, which is why some of us squirm when other people touch or tickle our necks.
Each area of the neck is a little different in pain level, but overall, this is considered one of the most painful places to get inked.
Tattoos on the Back of Your Neck
The back of the neck is an increasingly popular location for a tattoo. If you have longer hair, a back neck tattoo is easy to cover up when you don’t want it to be seen, but it’s also a great location to show off when you wear your hair up. Some people even opt for a tattoo behind the ear or in their hairline for a fun peekaboo or personal meaning.
A back of the neck tattoo is usually pretty painful because of the thin skin that covers our spine and cranial nerves. For slightly less pain, you can get inked on the lowest part of your neck near your shoulders, where there’s a little more fat and muscle with slightly thicker skin. But, no pain, no gain, baby.
If you choose to get inked directly on your spine or anywhere else on the back of your neck, you’ll definitely want to use one of HUSH topical anesthetics like our Numbing Gel or Numbing Cream for tattoos for a pain-free sitting — more on that later.
Tattoos on the Front of Your Neck
A front neck tattoo is intense without a topical anesthetic. This area of the body is usually pretty sinewy, with tons of nerve endings and very thin skin.
Some people even find breathing difficult during a tattoo sesh on the front of their neck unless they use a topical anesthetic.
For the back of the neck, you can place your tattoo lower for a little less pain as the skin thickens around the shoulders, but this is not the case for the front of the neck.
As you move lower down the front of the neck, you reach the clavicle, which is even more sensitive than the neck. Plus, you can often feel the needle vibrate through your whole chest — major ouch.
You may want to opt for a topical anesthetic from HUSH for tattoos on the front of the neck. Getting a tattoo is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. Why suffer through a painful tattoo sesh when HUSH has got everything you need?
Tattoos on the Side of Your Neck
Surprisingly, the side of the neck is a less painful spot than the front and back of the neck. Side neck tattoos are in a spot with fewer nerve endings than the front and back, and you don’t have to worry about tattooing your sensitive spine.
As always, we think you should get inked wherever your heart desires, but if you want a spot with naturally less pain, the side of the neck is a great choice.
What Are Some Neck Tattoo Ideas?
No matter which tattoo artist you work with, you will be able to work together to create a badass design. When considering tattooing your neck, it’s important to consider how tattoo designs might look different when you turn your head or extend your neck.
Unlike an area like the leg or bicep, your neck is constantly moving, so think about this as you ponder design ideas for these types of tattoos.
Overall, the best neck tattoos are the ones that are meaningful to you (and that you think look dope). Unless you’re an avid turtleneck wearer, or if you have long hair that covers the back of your neck often, a neck tattoo is one of the most visible tattoos you can choose to get.
A neck tattoo is a big commitment, and people are sure to ask you about what your neck tattoo is and what it means, so make sure you are one hundred percent sure about your design and placement before proceeding with a neck tattoo.
A note on meaning: at HUSH, we don’t think you have to have meaning behind a tattoo. Art is art — sometimes we just want something beautiful to look at.
Tattoos Around the Neck
One of the cool things about a neck tattoo is that you can create a design that runs all the way around your neck. When you do this, there are sure to be some spots that hurt worse than others, but you’ll also get relief from some of the more painful areas as your tattoo artist completes the tattoo.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to a wraparound neck tattoo. Some popular options include a crown neck tattoo that looks like you are wearing a royal crown around your neck, a tribal neck tattoo that can relate to your culture, or even a cool geometric dot work tattoo design.
You could even go for a floral neck tattoo, like a rose neck tattoo with spiky thorns around your neck. The possibilities are truly endless.
Using words or symbols in tattoos is very common, especially when using a meaningful word or quote. Maybe you want to pay homage to a loved one or place a letter or word on your neck that has special significance to you.
There are many options for lettering tattoos, from a thin-lined minimalist black ink tattoo to a bold, colorful option. No matter what you want to say, your tattoo artist will help you figure out how to say it best.
Small Neck Tattoos
Small images are a popular choice if you’re looking for a subtle neck tattoo. Whether you’re looking for a traditional tattoo like a skull tattoo or eye tattoo, or something completely unique, your artist can help come up with a design that you love.
The smaller the tattoo, the less detailed it will be able to be. While tattoo artists can use thin needles to create detailed, realistic art on a small scale, these types of tattoos are more likely to bleed and fade over time, making it hard to figure out what they are.
A simple symbol or image might be best if you want a small tattoo that will stay legible for a long time. Additionally, follow your tattoos up with the best aftercare products to keep them bold and bright.
How Can I Prepare For a Neck Tattoo?
Besides planning your design with your tattoo artist, you can do a few different things to ensure your body and mind are ready for your neck tattoo. HUSH has a few different products for your prep step, which many people often ignore when getting a tattoo!
Prep is key to ensuring a smooth tattoo session, so keep reading to learn how to be prepared for your neck tattoo. While you might anticipate pain in an area as sensitive as your neck during a sitting, HUSH is here to ensure you stay cool, calm, and collected.
Preparing Your Body
Make sure your neck is ready to get inked by shaving and thoroughly cleansing the area. If you grow facial hair, you’ll want to ensure that the area is free of hair, not razor burned. Ouch!
Any open wounds or irritated skin will make for a super painful tattoo experience or even a complete reschedule.
After shaving your neck, clean up your skin with our CBD Foam Soap. This product removes dirt and sweat to prepare your neck for the needle. Also, we blend ingredients that help soothe your skin before getting inked.
What Can I Expect During a Neck Tattoo?
Many tattoo artists know that the neck is a hyper-sensitive area. While your artist will be happy when you come in numbed and ready to go with our lidocaine-based topical anesthetics, they will likely also want to make sure you’re feeling ready.
The Tattoo Process
Your tattoo artist might advise you to sit or twist differently during your neck tattoo session, depending on where the tattoo is on your neck. If you have long hair, they will probably ask you to tie it up to keep it out of the way.
Also, communicate with your tattoo artist about any breaks you might need. Your artist will probably check in throughout your session to see how you’re feeling and if you need to take a breather.
There’s no shame in taking a breather — your neck tattoo is just as badass whether you went straight through on a three-hour session or took a few breaks in between for some water. Plus, your tattoo artist will probably appreciate the break, too.
Relax With Numbing Gel
When it comes to neck tats, don’t be a hero. Use a topical anesthetic to make your neck tattoo session — or sessions, depending on the size of your piece — a happy, pain-free experience.
Our Numbing Gel is a great choice to prep for your new neck piece. This water-based formula is non-greasy and uses lidocaine to numb the area with menthol to cool you down during your session.
For Sensitive Skin: Our Numbing Cream
If you’re prone to things like razor burn or breakouts and have sensitive skin, you might want to opt for our Numbing Cream instead of our Numbing Gel. Both products provide extra-strong numbing power, but our cream is a bit more gentle for sensitive areas of the body.
Neck Tattoo Aftercare
What happens after your tattoo session is just as important as what happens during it. Proper aftercare can be the difference between a long-lasting and vibrant inked creation and a faded, janky piece that you need touched up — or even covered up.
Aftercare is all on you — you have to take care of your fresh tattoo daily. But with our aftercare collection, it’s easy to keep your new neck tattoo well loved.
Make sure you clean your new tattoo frequently with our CBD Foam Soap. This product removes excess ink and blood to prevent your fresh ink from getting infected and also enlists soothing ingredients to calm the discomfort that comes with a new tattoo.
Since the skin on the neck is so sensitive, it can be prone to irritation, especially if you experience facial hair growth. As your neck hair grows back over fresh ink, it can get really itchy and super tempting to scratch.
But resist the itch. Scratching fresh ink can seriously harm your tattoo and your skin. Instead, mist on our Healing Spray and say “aaaaahhh” as you experience maximum-strength relief.
Like our Numbing Gel and Numbing Cream, our fragrance-free Healing Spray uses lidocaine to numb discomfort and itchiness while botanicals soothe and moisturize the skin underneath.
You should also add our CBD Healing Balm to your everyday skincare routine. This product uses a mix of shea butter, other soothing oils, and extracts to moisturize and support the skin, helping maintain the vividness of your older pieces. Plus, while the CBD won’t get you high, you might feel your own type of high from its benefits.
Protecting the Neck
Your neck is constantly exposed to the sun, especially if you get inked on the front of your neck. The sun can cause some serious damage to tattoos, from fading and color bleeding to more intense issues like infections.
To prevent any issues caused by the sun, you’ll need to keep your neck tattoo out of the sun as it heals. For this, you might want to wear a shirt with a high neckline or different types of hats to shield your freshly inked skin. After your tattoo heals, make sure to apply sunscreen daily.
Body art on the neck is an awesome choice. There are so many different ways you can adorn your neck with ink, whether it’s a small, subtle tattoo on the back of your neck you only reveal on your terms or a big piece on the front of your neck you show off to the world every day.
No matter what design or location you choose for your neck tattoo, HUSH is here to ensure it’s a pain-free experience during and after your session. The neck is a sensitive part of the body, so use our topical anesthetics during your session and our line of aftercare products to support your tattoo’s healing so that you can show it off!
Experimental studies on the effect of lidocaine on wound healing | PMC
Tattoo Pain Chart: Where It Hurts Most and Least, and More | Healthline
Tattoo Aftercare: Products, Tips & More | Healthline
Tattoo Sunscreen and Other Sun-Safety Tips to Protect Your Body Ink | Healthline
Neck Tattoo Pain: How Much Do They Hurt? | AuthorityTattoo
Itchy Tattoo: Why It Happens and How to Find Relief | Healthline