Here's Exactly What Your Tattoo Placement Says About You - Inside Out (2023)

Every tattoo tells a story. Whether your design is highly personal or something you decided to get just for fun, it’s a reflection of you. And part of the beauty of tattoos is that they tell our ongoing stories. We evolve as people. The person you are now and your beliefs, style, and values are likely different from the person you were five years ago. As a result, our tattoos may not always reflect who we are at present. In this sense, a tattoo is similar to a photo in a scrapbook; it reflects only a fleeting moment in our lives.

Typically we use tattoo designs to tell our stories, but what about design location? Does placement also factor into the stories our tattoos tell?The short answer is: yes, your tattoo location can certainly give onlookers some insight into who you are. But there’s no science when it comes to what your tattoo placement says about you.

Perhaps your tattoo location says nothing about you and you chose it entirely based on your artist’s feedback. Alternatively, your placement may reveal quite a lot about your values. Maybe you care deeply about family, for instance, so you got a tattoo dedicated to them and placed it right over your heart. If the descriptions below don’t reflect you though, don’t worry. Ultimately all that matters when you’re getting a tattoo is that you’re happy with the design and where it’s going. With that in mind, we chatted with tattoo artists and clients to find out what you can learn about someone from the location of their ink.

Bold tattoo aficionado: hand, front and side of neck, and face

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Bling bling

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Sporting a tattoo in a central, highly visible location is a bold decision. If you already have (or are considering getting) a tattoo on your hand, the front or side of your neck, or your face, you might be a risk taker and you’re likely very confident in your style. Chances are, according to Mira Miriah, a Brooklyn-based tattooer who recently got her own hands tattooed, that you already have quite a few tattoos and if not, you’re probably an aficionado who plans to get more ink in the future. You know people are going to see your tattoos and maybe you enjoy that thought. You might assume that some of those people will judge you for your tattoo choices, but that doesn’t bother you.

In short, you’re a confident tattoo lover. That’s what your tattoo placement says about you here, and it says it loud and clear.

Cautious client: ribs, inner bicep, feet, and back

I was very cautious the first, second and third time I got tattooed. My first tattoo was on my upper back, and my second and third were on my ribs. Like many other people easing their way into lifelong body art, I chose placements that were easy to hide for my first few designs.

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Speaking with tattooers, this is an approach that many people take when determining the location of their first design. “I still find this very surprising, but I get a lot of first tattoo rib requests,” says Portland-based artist Mariah Woodman. “The torso is a notoriously painful area but I think a lot of people want their first tattoo to be somewhere a bit more private.” If you’re wearing ink on your ribs, feet, inner bicep or back, what your tattoo placement says about you is likely quite simple: you wanted a tattoo in a place that felt safe. This isn’t a bad thing! Tattoos are for you, so do whatever leaves you feeling your best.

Accessorizer: fingers and ears

Tattoos are permanent accessories. If you’re considering getting a tattoo in one of these areas, you’re likely an accessorizer.

Perhaps you enjoy the added flair to your appearance that a good pair of shoes, a hat, a necklace, rings, or earrings can provide. Alternatively, like me, maybe you’ve never been a big accessory wearer but like the thought of having something permanent adorning your extremities so you don’t need to think about what accessories you’ll put on in the morning. Regardless, you’re into visual representations of the self and appreciate a good accessory when you see one.

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Deeply personal or sentimental: thigh, ribs, chest, upper arm

Individuals who get very personal tattoos tend to choose similar locations to those frequented by cautious first-timers. These areas (thighs, chest, ribs, and upper arm) are easily hidden, yes, but rather than reflecting a desire for safety in this case, they more closely reflect a desire for privacy. A friend of mine recently got two very personal tattoos in memory of her grandma in two of these locations. Another friend admits the reason they got their tattoo on their thigh was precisely because it was so personal. It’s a design for them, not for onlookers. And it’s for this same reason that I choose my upper arm for tattoos that remind me of my loved ones.

The loud and proud, and daring first-timer: forearm

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Thank you Zea!

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When asked why she chose the placement of her first tattoo, Woodman explains, “I went with the forearm because I wanted to show it off. I got it on my 18th birthday and although I don’t hate it now, I definitely would have filled that space with something cooler if I had waited a year or two.” Unsurprisingly, the forearm is a popular location for many first-timers who know they’ll end up with a larger collection of tattoos in the future. They want ink they can show off, and this high-visibility, low-pain area is the perfect spot.

But the forearm is also incredibly popular for people who already have ink. In that case, maybe what your tattoo placement says about you is that you’re proud of your designs and want others to enjoy them too.

Already covered: anywhere the ink fits

Sometimes your tattoo placement doesn’t say anything about you. If you’re covered in tattoos, for example, you’ll probably put a new design wherever it fits. Mariah admits that as a heavily tattooed individual, this is something she does all the time. In any case, your tattoo design choices are more reflective of who you are than your choice of placement, and your tattoos tell stories regardless.

If you liked our post, What Your Tattoo Placement Says About You, check out The Best Ways to Prepare for a Tattoo.


Does the placement of a tattoo mean anything? ›

Does placement also factor into the stories our tattoos tell? The short answer is: yes, your tattoo location can certainly give onlookers some insight into who you are. But there's no science when it comes to what your tattoo placement says about you.

What is the most regretted tattoo? ›

Tribal Style Designs

Tribal style tats ranked as the most regrettable content choice overall, according to a survey of 600 people by Advanced Dermatology.

What does having tattoos say about you? ›

The researchers in this study concluded that not only do those with tattoos have higher levels of need for uniqueness, sensation seeking, and thrill and adventure seeking, but they have lower levels of self-esteem, attend religious services less, and are generally much less educated than individuals who did not have ...

What is the most painful place to get a tattoo? ›

The 14 Most Painful Tattoo Spots
  • #1: Armpit. You know how there is a lot of debate surrounding the safety of chemical deodorant? ...
  • #2: Rib Cage and Stomach. Bony and thin skin! ...
  • #3: Collarbone. Bony and thin skin, again! ...
  • #4: Elbows. ...
  • #5: Knees. ...
  • #6: Shins. ...
  • #7: Ankles and Feet. ...
  • #8: Middle of Chest.
22 Sept 2022

Do tattoos have energy? ›

Tattoos are energy hot spots because the ritual of wounding the skin and drawing blood releases intense energy that becomes part of the tattoo. Keep these points in mind as you contemplate getting inked.

Do tattoos affect your spirit? ›

Tattoos increase the proportion of distressing energy in the environment and make the individual physically and spiritually restless. Also, the covering of distressing energy around the individual's body increases by 1.5%.

What are the most overused tattoos? ›

Here Are 25 Tattoo Designs That — According To Tattoo Artists — Are Totally Overdone
  1. The Deathly Hallows symbol. ...
  2. Anchors — usually accompanied by the words "Don't sink." ...
  3. Chemistry formulas. ...
  4. Big cats in crowns. ...
  5. Forests around people's arms. ...
  6. The entire Bible. ...
  7. Little sun/moon combos. ...
  8. Palm trees.
15 Feb 2020

Do tattoos help mental health? ›

Tattoos are a valid tool for self-expression and can be a meaningful way to change your skin. When they are placed on visible parts of the body, like arms and legs, “tattoos can be a [constant, visible] reminder of a person or something they've been through that gives them positive feelings,” says Dr.

What do you call a person who has tattoos? ›

The Meaning Of Words on Instagram: “Stigmatophile: a person who loves tattoos; piercings. #stigmatophile #themeaningofwords #definition #dictionary #stig #tattoo #tattoos…”

What are 3 reasons people get tattoos? ›

Participants reported reasons such as “to keep my mother's memory,” “a way of honoring my first child,” and “presented what I was going through at a certain time of my life.” Some participants (12%) also felt that their tattoos were an extension or expression of who they were.

What is the least painful place on your body to get a tattoo? ›

Outer shoulders

The outer part of your shoulders has thick skin with few nerve endings, making it one of the least painful places to get tattooed.

Where is the least painful spot on your body to get a tattoo? ›

The least painful places to get a tattoo are areas of your body with fewer nerve endings. Think outer shoulder, calf, buttocks, and outer arm. While people generally focus on the location on the body, Stanley Kovak, a cosmetic physician, theorizes that pain is more about size.

What numbs the pain while getting a tattoo? ›

Lidocaine is an FDA-approved topical anesthetic that's super common for preventing pain during tattoos and procedures like tattoo removal, waxing, or microblading. We use lidocaine because of its maximum strength numbing effect without the side effects of epinephrine.

Do tattooed people have low self-esteem? ›

Higher scores in only two out of nine aspects of self-esteem, namely, Competence and Personal Power scales, were detected in people with tattoos [24]. Another study [8] reported that tattooing behavior is not associated with low self-esteem, but associated with a negative attitude to one's own body.

What benefits do tattoos have? ›

But what are the health benefits of tattoos? Tattoos can increase feelings of confidence and improve self-image. Some feel that their tattoos allow them to look more like who they feel on the inside, which can be an essential component of identity.

Do tattoos affect your brain? ›

Research published in The British Journal of Dermatology found that the nanoparticles in tattoo ink are so small they can penetrate through the skin layers and into the bloodstream. These particles have potential toxic effects in the brain, cause nerve damage and may even be carcinogenic.

Do tattoos affect your DNA? ›

Little conclusive research has been done into the health effects of tattoos. But some of the inks tattoo artists use are derived from toxic heavy metals and dyes. These substances have been found to damage DNA and to be carcinogenic.

Do tattoos drain your energy? ›

Energy is depleted (in a longer session) and the body then needs to go onto heal an area which is basically an open wound. It is all about preparation, sleeping well in the days leading up to a tattoo makes a great difference. Eating well is the same, and generally taking care of yourself.

What religion does not allow tattoo? ›

Tattoos have been used for thousands of years as important tools in ritual and tradition. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have been hostile to the use of tattoos, but many religions, in particular Buddhism and Hinduism, make extensive use of them. This article examines their use as tools for protection and devotion.

What age gets the most tattoos? ›

Studies show that almost 30% of people getting tattoos are adults between the ages of 40 and 50. A smaller percentage of 16% are those over the age of 50, deciding to go for a tattoo. But, several questions need to be answered when it comes to this topic.

What is the most toxic tattoo color? ›

Red: Red pigment often causes the most skin reactions and is considered the most dangerous because it contains cadmium, mercury or iron oxide.

What tattoos should you avoid? ›

10 Tattoos You Should Never Get
  • Names of a new boyfriend or girlfriend. ...
  • Crude jokes or images. ...
  • Spontaneous tattoos. ...
  • Fad tattoos. ...
  • Offensive or hate tattoos. ...
  • Tattoos that predict the future. ...
  • Tattoos that you don't spell check. ...
  • Tribal tattoos if they aren't part of your culture.
26 Sept 2014

Is tattoo popularity declining? ›

Tattoos are not going out of style. As stigma wanes and quality standards improve, tattoos are steadily gaining popularity and social acceptance. Tattoos are also known to be part of various cultures going back over 6,000 years, so it is safe to assume that they will never fully go out of style.

What is the most common tattoo for a woman? ›

The heart is one of the most popular tattoo choices, and for a good reason.

Where are tattoos least popular? ›

The world's least tattoo-friendly countries
  • Denmark. Ever since 1966, Danes have been forbidden from getting their face, head, neck, or hands tattooed. ...
  • Turkey. ...
  • Iran. ...
  • Sri Lanka. ...
  • UAE. ...
  • Japan. ...
  • North Korea. ...
  • South Korea.

What tattoo represents anxiety? ›

If you're looking for anxiety tattoos, you've probably seen a lot of options with semicolons. Semicolon tattoos were inspired by Project Semicolon – a nonprofit organization dedicated to suicide prevention. Over time, the semicolon has been used to represent mental health awareness, including anxiety.

Do tattoos raise self-esteem? ›

A study of 2,395 college students found a correlation between tattoos and self-esteem. And the more tattoos, the bigger the confidence boost. Respondents with four or more tattoos had significantly higher self-esteem than those with less. This was especially among those who reported a history of depression.

Are people with tattoos more narcissistic? ›

In particular, the recurrent dysfunctional traits are anxious, phobic, obsessive, somatic and bipolar in subjects with less than 25% of the body surface covered by tattoos, while borderline, narcissistic, antisocial, sadistic and masochistic traits are more frequent in subjects with more than 26% of the body surface ...

What does C's mean tattoo? ›

C/S was also adopted by the Tattoo world and in that world it's interpreted to mean, “Done with respect.” By having a C/S tattoo usually placed on your right hand so it can be seen when you shake a persons hand, it is a symbol to show, you are some to be respected.

How much do you tip a tattoo artist? ›

“A suggested percentage of 20% to 25% for personal services is an accepted standard, especially in these post-COVID times.” Cornolo puts the range between 15% to 20%, but says that it really varies. “Some tip less, and some are very generous."

What does a 2 percent tattoo mean? ›

Those who bear this tattoo, wear it with pride because it points to the victory in that persons life. Most who bear the the mark of the 2% have survived a battle that many will not. The 2% is representative of the mere 2% of people who are statistically shown to have success in drug and alcohol treatment.

What does God say about tattoos? ›

Today they're common everywhere from Maori communities in New Zealand to office parks in Ohio. But in the ancient Middle East, the writers of the Hebrew Bible forbade tattooing. Per Leviticus 19:28, “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves.”

Why do people with tattoos can't donate blood? ›

This is because blood donated by such people carries the risk of being infected. Though people who have injuries, have undergone surgery or any dental and acupuncture procedure in recent past have been on watch list for blood banks, tattooing and piercing too have emerged as risks as both involve the use of needles.

Do tattoos get addicting? ›

The rush of adrenaline and endorphins you feel while being tattooed might also increase your desire for more. Many people enjoy these and other feelings associated with getting a tattoo, but these feelings don't represent an addiction in the clinical sense. There's no mental health diagnosis of tattoo addiction.

What tattoo placements age the best? ›

1 Your Inner Forearms

The inner forearm, also known as “the next place Marci wants a tattoo,” is more or less the only area on the arm that can effectively avoid signs of aging. “The proximal [upper] arms can stretch and contract significantly with changes in both muscle and fat, Dr. Kraffert explains.

Does it matter which way a tattoo faces? ›

In tattooing a general rule is that all designs should face the center of the body (heart). For example, front thigh tattoos should face inwards towards each other. And top outer arms will face forward in the same direction the body faces.

Where should you not put a tattoo? ›

Areas like the feet, hands, stomach, chest, elbow, lips, and inner ear are not good tattoo locations. It's essential to consider a few things when choosing a proper placement, such as pain intensity, practicality, and visibility.

What are the best placements for tattoos? ›

The skin on your collarbone tends to stay right where it is, making it a great place for a long-lasting tattoo.
  • 2: Best: Inner Arm. ...
  • Best: Upper Thighs. ...
  • Best: Hairline. ...
  • Worst: Abdomen. ...
  • Worst: Feet. ...
  • Worst: Inner Ear.
6 Jul 2018

What tattoo color holds the best? ›

Black and gray are the longest lasting color tattoos. These dark shades are dense and bold, making them less prone to fading. Vibrant and pastel colors like pink, yellow, light blue and green tend to fade faster.

Where do tattoos age the worst? ›

Tattoos on areas that see a lot of activity, such as your feet and your fingers, are much more likely to fade more quickly than tattoos on your back or chest, for example. Also, the tattoo design comes into play, too - the smaller and more intricate the detailing is, the more chance it will get blurred years later.

What age should you not get a tattoo? ›

There are some areas that allow this to be done at a younger age with parental consent. However, we don't recommend anyone getting a tattoo younger than 18.

What does a tattoo on your left arm mean? ›

The left arm, instead, tells us about protection

it's the arm you use to protect yourself, and it's also the closest one to what you protect. Therefore, the outer area of the arm is your shield, your first wall on the world.

Do tattoos show dominance? ›

Both men and women rated photographs of men with a tattoo as more masculine, dominant and aggressive. But women assessed tattooed men as worse potential partners and parents than men without tattoos—but having a tattoo did not influence men's ratings along these lines.

Should tattoo be on left or right side? ›

Any arm, right or left, would be good for a tattoo. The choice boils down to your personal preferences. Just make sure your skin is free of moles.

Is it rude to walk in for a tattoo? ›

Many artists find it incredibly rude when they allow someone to get a walk-in tattoo, and they don't tip. Do not come to a tattoo studio under influence of drugs or alcohol. You will get kicked out, for sure.

Which tattoo placements fade the most? ›

While it obviously differs from person to person, there are tattoos that Fredrik identifies as being most likely to fade if inked:
  1. Inside palm tattoos. ...
  2. Hand tattoos. ...
  3. Feet tattoos. ...
  4. Elbow tattoos. ...
  5. Armpit/inside of upper arm tattoos.
21 Feb 2018

What is the least painful tattoo location? ›

The least painful places to get a tattoo are areas of your body with fewer nerve endings. Think outer shoulder, calf, buttocks, and outer arm. While people generally focus on the location on the body, Stanley Kovak, a cosmetic physician, theorizes that pain is more about size.

How Much Should U Tip a tattoo artist? ›

“A suggested percentage of 20% to 25% for personal services is an accepted standard, especially in these post-COVID times.” Cornolo puts the range between 15% to 20%, but says that it really varies. “Some tip less, and some are very generous."


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