Clearing doubts, where does it hurt more to get a tattoo?
How to answer your clients' leading question?
28 September 2023
As a tattoo artist, you must know that all clients in general have a lot of doubts when deciding to get a tattoo.
You must have been repeatedly asked about the duration of the session many, about the permanence of the ink or the convenient size.
But the most asked question: is it going to hurt much?
Of course your clients want to know the answer. Getting a tattoo consists of piercing the epidermis (the first layer of the skin) and depositing the ink on the dermis (the second layer) with the use of several needles at the same time, around 1.5 millimeters deep and freom 50 to 100 times per second.
That sounds scary! But the enthusiasm to get the body inked always wins.
You know that getting tattooed really hurts, we can say that the pain level will depend on several factors, especially the chosen area.
Learn more to give your clients a better explanation!
Why does it hurt more to get a tattoo in some areas?
The reason why some areas of the body hurt more than others is due to the nerve endings.
As you can imagine, we do not have the same number of nerve endings in our body. In fact, their number may vary and, as a result, some areas are more sensitive to pain than others.
The presence of fatty tissue between the skin and the nerves is another factor. The more fat in between, the less suffering, and vice versa.
There may be a case in which the fatty tissue in the area is almost null, as is the case with the forearm. The pain must be unbearable for your client, right? Well, not reallyt! This area does not have many nerve endings, so it’s not going to hurt that much.
It is not what it seems!
Where does it hurt more, and where does it hurt less?
Taking into account the previous information, we will divide the typically chosen areas according to the level of pain.
Mild Pain: Your client will bear it without any problem
- Arm / forearm / thigh / calf
It is common for your clients to get their first tattoo in one of these areas, since the pain is low. Of course, it can vary depending on the person, but we can say in general terms that the session will be easy and pleasant.
As a tattoo artist, you will even be able to recommend large and detailed designs.
It will hurt a little more when the needles get to places like the armpit, the crook of the arm and the inside of the arm, or even the inside of the thigh.
Moderate Pain: Your client will probably want the session to end quickly
- Chest / tummy / inner thighs and arms / back
You know, the pain increases here. These areas are especially sensitive, either due to the lack of fatty tissue or due to the accumulation of nerve endings.
The important thing is that your client must have greater control of his body. We recommend that you get them to talk so that they are distracted and do not concentrate their thoughts on the annoyance they are feeling. In any case, it’s just not that bad.
In fact, that’s why these areas are normally chosen.
Strong Pain: Your client will definitely want to unplug the machine and run
- Head / neck / armpits / elbows / knees / hands / feet / genitalia / ribs
I think we’ve exaggerated a bit in the title! Or maybe not…
All the painful reasons meet here: many nerve endings, little fat, and skin areas that are too close to the bone! You must have already experienced it with several clients, and you must know that the pain is a real nightmare.
The recommendation is obvious: use everything you have at your disposal so that the person you are tattooing can bear it in the best possible way.
Play the music they like, ask them different questions, teach them breathing techniques, stop every now and then, tell them it's all a matter of mind control, and anything else you can think of!!
It will be a bit of a tense situation, but your client will make it. Although they suffer a lot, tattoos in these areas are excellent. This will motivate you not to give up.
In these circumstances, some people opt for anaesthesia, but that is another story, which we have already delved into.
Other factors that can influence
We have already mentioned the main reason why tattoos can hurt more or less, but we should also mention that there are other essential factors that contribute to the level of pain.
- The depth at which the needle is inserted
It is important that as a professional, you execute the technique correctly and do not insert it too much, but not too little either. As we mentioned above, it should be around 1.5 cm.
- The size of the tattoo and the level of details
It is definitely not the same to make a small tattoo with few details, as a large and very detailed one. For the latter, it will take much longer and your client's resistance to pain will decrease.
- Pain threshold and tolerance
The pain threshold is the minimum intensity from which a stimulus is considered painful. Pain tolerance is the maximum intensity of pain that a person is capable of withstanding. These two factors vary depending on the person, resulting in different reactions from your clients.
- Body comfort throughout the procedure
It is important that your client be sitting or lying in a convenient position that does not cause discomfort during the session. Otherwise, one more annoyance will be added to the pain of the punctures.
- Proper nutrition
Recommend your client to consume food rich in proteins before the session, as proteins increase the body's energy level, helping it to better withstand the pain. In addition, it will reduce the risk of suffering decompensation.
Advise your client well before tattooing
To be a good tattoo professional, you should always provide your clients with all the information you have so that they can clear their doubts and arrive as calm as possible on the day of the session.
So, if you see that a client has doubts about this particular subject, you can count on this note as extra support to guide them in this regard. Keep it just in case! ;). And always remind them that although the pain is temporary, the tattoo is forever.
In the end, tattooing is not only about knowing how to sling ink, you must also know how to deal with clients in the best way and advise them at each stage of the process... Pure methodology! One of the 3 essential skills of any good tattoo professional. Curious to learn how to master this crucial part of your work? In our MasterCourse: Realistic Tattooing, Coreh López develops it in depth.