Tattoo Pain Management: Tips for Comfort
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Choose the right tattoo artist
  2. Prepare your body ahead of time
  3. Consider the tattoo location
  4. Use numbing products
  5. Stay hydrated and nourished
  6. Employ breathing techniques
  7. Take breaks when necessary
  8. Distract yourself during the process
  9. Care for the tattoo properly afterwards

Getting a tattoo is a thrilling experience but let's face it — it can also be a bit painful. But don't let the fear of tattoo pain hold you back from expressing yourself through body art! Tattoo pain management is possible, and with the right strategies, you can make your tattooing experience a lot more comfortable. Here are some tips to help you manage your tattoo pain and enjoy the process.

Choose the right tattoo artist

Choosing the right tattoo artist is a game-changer for your tattoo pain management. Not all tattoo artists are created equal, and the skill of the artist plays a significant role in how much pain you'll experience. Here's what you need to keep in mind:

  • Experience matters: An experienced tattoo artist has a steady hand and knows how to minimize pain while inking. They know how much pressure to apply to the skin, which can significantly reduce discomfort.
  • Take note of their equipment: Modern tattoo machines are designed to cause less trauma to the skin, resulting in less pain. Ask your potential artist about the type of machine they use.
  • Don't skimp: It's tempting to choose a cheaper artist to save some bucks, but remember, you're making a lifelong commitment. It's worth investing a little more for an artist who prioritizes your comfort.

Remember, a good tattoo artist will be open to discussions about pain management and will work with you to ensure you're as comfortable as possible. So, take your time, do your research, and choose a tattoo artist who will support you in managing your tattoo pain.

Prepare your body ahead of time

One of the most effective ways to manage tattoo pain is by preparing your body in advance. Here are some simple yet effective steps you can take:

  • Get a good night's sleep: The better rested you are, the better your body can cope with pain. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before your appointment.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine: Though it might seem counterintuitive, both alcohol and caffeine can thin your blood, which can lead to more bleeding during the tattoo process and increase your pain. Stick to water instead.
  • Moisturize your skin: Healthy, hydrated skin can better handle the tattooing process. Start applying a good quality moisturizer to the area you plan to get tattooed a few days before your appointment.

By taking care of your body ahead of time, you're setting yourself up for a smoother tattooing process. It's all about being proactive with your tattoo pain management. So make sure you're well-rested, hydrated, and ready for your big day.

Consider the tattoo location

When it comes to tattoo pain management, the location of your tattoo plays a significant role. Some areas of the body are more sensitive than others, meaning the pain you feel might be more intense.

  • Least painful areas: Generally, the places on your body with a good amount of fat padding and fewer nerve endings — like the upper arm, thigh, or buttocks — are less sensitive and may be more comfortable for tattooing.
  • Most painful areas: On the other hand, areas close to bones or with a lot of nerve endings, like the ribs, feet, hands, or head, are generally more painful.

Keep in mind, everyone's pain tolerance is different, so what might be uncomfortable for one person might be manageable for another. It's all about knowing your own limits and making choices that work best for your tattoo pain management plan.

Use Numbing Products

One of the most effective strategies for tattoo pain management is using numbing products. These come in different forms such as creams, gels, sprays, and even patches. They contain ingredients like lidocaine which can help to block pain signals from the tattooed area to your brain.

For example, a popular choice among many tattoo enthusiasts is a product called "Dr. Numb." It's a topical anesthetic cream that you can apply before the tattooing process begins. After applying it, you should cover the area with plastic wrap to allow the cream to penetrate the skin. Remember to wait for about 45 minutes to an hour before the tattooing process begins.

However, before you decide to use any numbing product, it's important to talk to your tattoo artist. Not all artists are comfortable with their clients using these products. Plus, the use of numbing cream could potentially affect the tattooing process or the healing process afterwards.

Keep in mind, using a numbing product doesn't guarantee a completely pain-free experience, but it can certainly help make the process more bearable and help in your overall tattoo pain management.

Stay Hydrated and Nourished

Think of getting a tattoo like running a marathon — you wouldn't start a race without proper preparation, would you? A key part of this preparation involves keeping your body well hydrated and nourished. Believe it or not, this is a crucial part of tattoo pain management.

Hydration is important because it helps to maintain the elasticity of your skin. Elastic skin is easier to tattoo, and can also reduce the discomfort you might feel during the process. So, make sure to drink plenty of water before your tattoo session.

Additionally, having a good meal before your tattoo session can help stave off discomfort. Eating a balanced meal will provide your body with the energy it needs to cope with the stress of getting a tattoo. Plus, a full stomach can also help prevent you from feeling dizzy or lightheaded during the tattooing process.

However, while it's good to eat before your session, you should avoid consuming alcohol or caffeine. Both can thin your blood and potentially cause more bleeding during the tattooing process, which can lead to a more painful experience and potentially affect the quality of your tattoo.

So, remember: proper hydration and nutrition can make a world of difference when it comes to managing tattoo pain. Keep your water bottle and a healthy snack handy!

Employ Breathing Techniques

Now, let's talk about breathing — something so basic, yet so impactful. Yes, the way you breathe can play a significant role in tattoo pain management. If you're holding your breath or breathing shallowly out of nervousness, it can actually increase your feelings of discomfort. So, let's focus on some breathing techniques that can help.

First, try deep breathing. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, hold your breath for a moment, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. This technique can help to calm your nerves and reduce your perception of pain. Plus, it's a great distraction technique!

Another method is rhythmic breathing. In this technique, you establish a steady, rhythmic breathing pattern. For example, you might breathe in for a count of four, hold for a count of four, and then exhale for a count of four. This can help to shift your focus away from the pain and onto your breath.

Lastly, you can try visualization techniques along with your breathing. As you breathe, imagine the air flowing into your body, carrying away the discomfort with each exhale. Visualization can be a powerful tool in managing tattoo pain.

Remember, it's all about staying relaxed and focused. Breathing techniques are not only beneficial for tattoo pain management but also can be a handy tool for managing stress in everyday life. So, breathe easy and conquer that tattoo session!

Take Breaks When Necessary

When it comes to tattoo pain management, understanding your limits is vital. Even the toughest among us might need to take a breather now and then. And guess what? That's perfectly okay!

Getting a tattoo is not a race. There's no prize for enduring long sessions without a break. On the contrary, pushing yourself too hard can increase your discomfort and even affect the quality of the tattoo. So, don't hesitate to ask your tattoo artist for a small break when you need it.

During your break, stand up, stretch, hydrate, and grab a light snack if you're feeling peckish. This is your chance to recharge and prepare for the next part of your session. Remember, your comfort is key, and a good tattoo artist will understand and respect that.

One important note: Avoid taking too many frequent breaks, as this can disrupt the artist's flow and prolong the session. It's all about finding a balance! Listen to your body and communicate with your tattoo artist for an optimal tattooing experience.

Distract Yourself During the Process

Anybody who tells you tattoos don't hurt is probably trying to sound tough. The truth is, they can be a little uncomfortable. But guess what? Tattoo pain management isn't only about physical remedies — it's also about where your mind is during the process.

One effective way to manage tattoo pain is by distracting yourself. Engaging your brain in something other than focusing on the pain can actually reduce the amount of discomfort you feel. How? Well, our brains are pretty good at multitasking, but they're not perfect. If you're deeply involved in an activity, your brain often has less capacity to process pain signals.

So, what are some good distractions? Listening to music or an interesting podcast can do wonders. You could also binge-watch your favorite series or dive into a good book. And never underestimate the power of a good chat — conversing with your tattoo artist or bringing along a friend can serve as a great distraction.

Remember, the goal here is not to completely ignore the pain but to make it more manageable. So next time you're in the tattoo chair, instead of fixating on the discomfort, try focusing on something that brings you joy or interest.

Care for the Tattoo Properly Afterwards

A key part of tattoo pain management involves what you do after you leave the tattoo studio. Proper aftercare plays a significant role in how your tattoo heals, and consequently, how much discomfort you experience post-inking. So, let's break down the basics of tattoo aftercare.

First up, cleanliness. Keep your new tattoo clean to avoid infection, which can heighten pain. Use an unscented, gentle soap to clean the area twice daily. Be sure to pat it dry — don't rub!

Next: let's talk moisture. Your skin might feel a bit like the Sahara Desert after getting a tattoo. To soothe it, apply a thin layer of a tattoo-specific moisturizer. Steer clear of products with harsh chemicals or fragrances — your skin will thank you.

Now, you might be tempted to scratch or pick at your tattoo as it heals — don't. This can lead to scarring and increased pain. Instead, if your tattoo itches, try lightly tapping or slapping the area. It's a weird trick, but it works!

Finally, protect your tattoo from the sun. Fresh ink is sensitive to UV rays, which can cause fading and increase discomfort. So, slap on the SPF when you go outside — and remember, no sunbathing!

By diligently caring for your tattoo in the days and weeks following your appointment, you'll not only ensure your design looks its best, but you'll also make your tattoo pain management much more effective.

If you found this blog post on tattoo pain management helpful and are interested in exploring more about expressing yourself through body art, check out the workshop 'Expressing Your Unique Artistic Vision' by Michael Ryan. This workshop will provide you with the knowledge and inspiration you need to create meaningful and unique tattoos that truly represent your artistic vision.