Whether you're getting your first piece or looking to add a new one to your collection, it is no secret that tattoos can be painful. While some of us tolerate pain better than others, there is no shame in trying to find a spot that will result in a less painful experience.

Even if you have many tattoos, you may be surprised to learn which places hurt the most and the least. Take a quick look at the following tattoo pain chart before your next tattoo to learn more about how tattoo pain affects different areas of the body.

Factors Affecting Tattoo Pain

How much pain you feel while getting a tattoo is not solely reliant on its location. In fact, many other factors play an important role. Knowing these factors and how much they can affect your experience can help you better plan and prepare for your next tattoo.

- Placement

tattoo pain chart tattooed leg

Placement is arguably one of the most defining factors of tattoo pain. Each part of your body is unique. How much fat is in an area, how thin the skin is, and even the placement of nerves and veins can affect how well your body tolerates the pain associated with getting a tattoo.

- Artist

experienced tattoo artist myke chambers

Tattooing is an art and requires the skills of a professional artist. It may be tempting to work with someone new to the craft - their rates tend to be lower.

However, a more experienced artist likely has a more refined approach that can result in less pain. How they work is also important. An artist who takes their time is likely gentler to the skin, while some artists prefer a quicker approach or are more heavy-handed.

Read also: First Tattoo: 6 Things Your Tattoo Artist Wants You to Know

- Size and Style

tattoo pain chart belly

The bigger or more intricate the tattoo, the longer that needle will be on your skin. It is not uncommon for the skin to become more sensitive as it spends more time under the pressure and puncture of a needle. In addition, tattoos that require more shading and color can also cause more pain.

Tattoo Pain Chart – Biological Female

Pain chart female


Men and women respond to pain differently, and research suggests that women respond to pain more intensely. However, it's impossible to determine if tattoos hurt women more than males because everyone's pain tolerance is different.

It's also been stated that biological females have a lower pain tolerance than males but are more accepting of pain. While it hasn't been proven, some agree that women experience less pain than their male counterparts on the head, butt, and the back of the legs.

tattoo pain chart tattooed female

Tattoo Pain Chart – Biological Male

tattoo pain chart male

While there is no way to fully determine that men feel less tattoo pain better than women, certain research seems to indicate that this may be the case.

According to the pain chart, males will likely feel more pain with tattoos on the feet, head, buttocks, and the back of the legs. On the other hand, Males appear to experience less discomfort in their backs and fingers.

tattooed man tattoo pain chart male

Where Does It Hurt Most To Get A Tattoo?

While everyone has their own tolerance and individual response to pain, there are a few areas on the body that most can agree are more painful than others. You may want to reconsider these areas if you have a lower pain tolerance.

- Head

Your head has very little fat to cushion some of the impacts from the needle. This means that your bones and nerves are much more vulnerable to feeling pain.

- Hands, Fingers, and Wrists

Much like the head, your hands, fingers, and wrists have very little fat. These areas typically have thinner skin, making them more likely to feel a great amount of pain during the process.

- Feet

It only takes a quick look to notice that your feet have almost no fat on them. Most of us can see the movement of our own bones underneath the skin. This is something to keep in mind as the needle is likely going to put a lot of pressure on your bones and the many nerves in the feet.

Read also: Foot Tattoo Care: What You Should Know

- Ribs and Chest

Men are more likely than women to feel additional pain in their ribs and chest. This is because the bones in these areas are very prominent and not typically covered by much fat. Women can carry more fat in this area, but that doesn't mean they are immune to experiencing more pain.

tattoo pain chest

How Can You Make Your Tattoo Hurt Less?

While it is impossible to make the tattoo experience pain-free, there are a few things you can do to help minimize the amount of pain you feel. Knowing this information can be especially helpful if you feel you have a low pain tolerance or are particularly nervous about your experience.

- Get a Good Night's Rest

Exhaustion and fatigue can greatly affect your mental and physical state. Being in the right state of mind and feeling good physically can make your tattoo session much more enjoyable and even help to minimize your pain.

- Placement

Placement is one of the most significant factors contributing to tattoo pain – this is also true for any pain you may feel after your session. Therefore, choosing an area that has fewer nerve endings and more fat will likely result in less pain.

- Distractions

If you're gearing up for a long session, it is always a wise choice to bring something to keep you busy. This can be your phone, iPad, headphones, a book – anything to keep your mind from focusing on the pain. 

Final Thoughts

There is no way to avoid pain when getting a tattoo – it is part of the experience! But that doesn't mean you don't have any control over your session.

Using these tips and considering the placement of your tattoo will help you moderate your pain. Most importantly, remember that there are no quick fixes. Pain killers, numbing creams, and any other pain dulling attempt are, at the very least, inneffective.

Our mission is to inspire and educate the tattoo community. We have combined our many years of experience in the industry and our love for tattoos to create useful and enlightening content. Join us in this exciting journey in the beautiful art of tattooing.
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- Rasmus Cort Hansen, CEO & Founder