Before getting tattooed, it’s important to consider how the areas of the body behave during and after the tattoo process. Some body parts hurt more, take ink differently, are more difficult to cover for work, or wear away faster than other parts. We’ve compiled a list of commonly tattooed areas of the body and important things to know about each of these areas of the body. If you’re still unsure of where to get a tattoo on your body, we will be happy to consult you about your best options.
We’ve also given each body part a “Quality Rating”: a rating for the different parts for quality of the skin and how well a tattoo will hold in that area on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best.
Head Tattoo / Face Tattoo
As a general policy, we do not perform face tattoos at Majestic. We realize that people often later regret facial tattoos, and from a technical perspective, the face does not have good skin for tattooing and is not a good canvas for quality artistic work. We do not often get requests for tattoos on the back of the head, but we are open to the idea. We also will do behind the ear tattoo work, as it is a decent area for small, simple symbol tattoos or initials. The inside of the ear does not hold ink well, and the lines tend to blur quickly.
Quality Rating: 0-3 at best
The neck is a decent area for tattooing as the side of the neck provides a nice canvas, though the skin on the neck will lose its elasticity faster than any other part of the body. We don’t recommend the neck unless you already have other visible tattoos, because it is very difficult to conceal for corporate jobs or other formal occasions.
Quality Rating: 3-5
Back Tattoo / Shoulder Tattoo
The shoulder and back are great areas to get tattoos, though they tend to be more sensitive to the process than the arms. Not a good area for small detail since the skin stretches so much, and are better suited for larger graphics due to wear. We wouldn’t recommend this area for a first tattoo because it is more difficult to reach for tattoo aftercare and you may get less enjoyment from it since it is difficult to see without a mirror. A lower back tattoo is actually in a good area for tattooing, despite its negative stigma as a “tramp stamp.” One common concern for women with lower back tattoos is that they might not be able to receive an epidural in the future. This concern is somewhat unfounded, and worse-case scenario if the needle has to be placed directly in the tattooed area, the epidural would leave a scar that alters the appearance of the tattoo. If this is a serious concern for you, we would recommend getting a tattoo on a different location on the body.
Quality Rating: 7-10
Arm Tattoo / Tattoo Sleeves
This is Adal’s personal favorite for areas to tattoo. Arm tattoos leave plenty of room for creative special effects because of the unique three-dimensional nature of the surface, which can allow the tattoo to be designed and seen in rotation. We like to approach arms in quarters, especially if you are not sure you want a full sleeve. If you do know you want a tattoo sleeve, it is best to approach it in sections no smaller than one quarter of the arm. The inner forearm tends to have the best quality skin for tattoos as it is protected from sun exposure and wear from aging. The arms also tend to be the most tolerable to have tattooed as far as pain.
Quality Rating: 10
A tattoo on the wrist is a popular choice, especially since it tends to be small and fairly simple, and can be covered with bracelets or a watch for work. However, they tend to be painful. The creases near the hand should be avoided because they wear away the tattoo quickly with age. Many people are concerned about wrist tattoos penetrating the veins under the skin, though this would never actually happen because the tattoo needle does not ever go that deep.
Hand Tattoo / Finger Tattoo
Hand tattoos are not recommended, and in the past it was reserved for people who had run out of space on their arms. Fingers aren’t good quality skin for tattoos and don’t hold ink well. The ink tends to bleed and blur with age. Palm tattoos are pretty much out of the question as they get a lot of wear and it is nearly impossible to get the skin to hold ink.
Quality Rating: 0-2
Rib Tattoo / Side Tattoo
Ribs are super painful to be tattooed, though can definitely hold interesting tattoo designs. As a general rule, places where the skin is stretched more tightly over the bone are the most uncomfortable during the tattoo process. Rib tattoos are very easy to conceal and therefore a very popular choice for more conservative tattoo customers.
Quality Rating: 6-7
Chest Tattoo / Stomach Tattoo
Chest tattoos are very painful to receive but they tend to hold pretty well throughout one’s lifetime. Chests make a nice, flat canvas for symmetrical tattoos with the exception of people who take a lot of sun or wear low-cut necklines (or both). Stomach tattoos are a different story as they can be stretched or contorted if the wearer gains or loses weight, especially if the tattoo is affected by pregnancy. But these tattoos are also easy to conceal and therefore are very popular, and often quite sexy!
Quality Rating: 7-9
Thigh Tattoo / Leg Tattoo
Legs are a good but often-overlooked area to tattoo. They are easy to hide if needed, and tattoo “shorts” (full thigh tattoos) are a unique style that’s sure to turn heads. Since it is a large three-dimensional area like arms but bigger, it is easy to get creative with leg tattoos. Knees are a very painful area to be tattooed but some tattoo collectors still love flaunting tattoos on the front and backs of their knees.
Quality Rating: 8
Ankle Tattoo / Foot Tattoo
The best skin to have tattooed on the foot is right on the top, but because this area is bony, it tends to be very painful. Even though they are often requested, the sides of the feet aren’t good areas for tattoos because of callous build-up and the natural toughness of that skin. Ankle tattoos are a popular choice because they are relatively easy to conceal and they can be quite beautiful as they often look like anklets. They are less painful and tend to hold well over time.
Quality Rating: 7