Full Guide to Tattoo Placement

So, you’re looking to get a tattoo. That can be quite the decision, especially when knowing that tattoo will be stuck on your body for a lifetime. It’s not like you can just rub that artwork off.

Full Guide to Tattoo Placement
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However, even though we are hoping for the best possible results, that doesn’t mean that thousands of people out there haven’t regretted their entire experience.

Before getting a tattoo, it is essential to do your thorough research, looking into other people’s experiences and preparing yourself for any scenario. Something that should really be considered before even thinking about getting your tattoo done, however, is the tattoo placement.

It seems to be the one thing that people disregard or if you are thinking about placement, you are disregarding its importance.

A number of factors play into tattoo placement which all revolves around design, finish, health, pain tolerance – the list is endless. Before making that drastic decision to get that tattoo, first consider these key points. By doing so you will be in for a nicer tattoo experience.

Why is Tattoo Placement So Important?

This is a question which you may be wondering – why is tattoo placement such a big deal? It is because of what can happen if you don’t take the proper precautions to ensure the best possible results.

We cannot forget that a tattoo is not temporary, it is for life, and you want to make sure that you walk out of that tattoo parlor as joyful as you were the moment you walked in.

Full Guide to Tattoo Placement
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Changes in the Body

The body part the tattoo is on may have an effect on the overall look of that chosen area, and we’re not just talking about the design of the tattoo. The purpose of getting your tattoo is not only to show off your new artwork, it also simultaneously draws attention to the body part the work has been done on.

This is a risk because it can either make that area look amazing or ten times worse.

If a tattoo is poorly drawn then this could make the shape of that body part change. For example, if this was done on your thigh then the leg may look larger than it actually is. Likewise, if you receive a beautifully designed tattoo in an area you’re comfortable with, it will most likely naturally draw attention to that area.

With a tattoo there is that added threat of the proportions of your body changing, and this may make some people uncomfortable. For others it may be a positive thing and benefit the way you see yourself.

You may also want to know if you’ll feel comfortable with the size you are choosing as this too can affect the way your body parts can look. If you have a smaller frame and are wanting a large art piece along your arm, know that this may change the size and shape. It is important to prepare for the aftermath.


Another major thing to think about before delving into getting your tattoo done is ageing. You may fall in love with your new tattoo, but just know that it won’t always look like that. As you grow older you will of course get wrinkles, your skin will become looser and this in turn can stretch out your tattoos.

You want to plan out your tattoos accordingly, thinking far into the future and thinking about how your tattoos will change along with your skin.

Skin is the central tell all that you are getting older, but there is no need to be alarmed since it happens to all of us. Your skin is the body’s biggest organ and as we age the skin increases in elasticity, and with your skin moving so will your tattoo.

It is inevitable that with age your tattoos with morph, however you are able to choose certain areas of the body that have less chances of stretching too rapidly. For example, a small tattoo on your wrist or inner arm is less likely to show the age of the tattoo as much as other areas such as the stomach (this is very much so prone to stretching, especially as we gain weight the older we get).


The body is a blank canvas, but every part of that canvas is more painful to get tattooed on than the other. The reason for this is because when tattooing the artist is essentially removing layers of the skin with a tiny needle.

Areas of the body with less fat, more nerve endings and thinner skin is known to cause the most pain for a person as the sharp needle is taking layers from sensitive areas. Before choosing a spot to have your tattoo, think about the potential pain.

This is an especially effective point for people looking to have their very first tattoo. It will be painful wherever you get your tattoo done, but you don’t want to have an awful experience because you chose the worst spot.

Areas such as the foot, elbow, ribs, and spine are just some examples of painful places to get tattooed. If you want to play it safe choose a place such as the forearm or thigh, areas with more fat and further from the bone.

Full Guide to Tattoo Placement
Credit: jayprick_tattoos

Of course, some people may be having a tattoo on their ribcage and feel absolutely nothing. This is because people have different pain tolerances. It is completely random and dependent on the individual. You may assume it is because a person is used to it, having tattoos done all the time, but even grown men with a full body of tattoos can admit to feeling tremendous pain.

Beware of the Sun’s UV Rays

Just imagine it. It’s summer and you’re wanting to show off that perfect summer body. And no, I’m not talking about flat abs and a skinny waist, I’m talking about having that fresh new tattoo ready to show off to the world.

You’re relaxing on the beach, lounging around and sunbathing without a care in the world. But what you don’t know is what you’re doing to your tattoo.

The sun is the biggest reason for a fading tattoo. The UV rays from the sun which your tattoo is exposed to can break up the pigment in your tattoo design, so when looking into placement consider places which will not always be in direct sunlight.

That’s not to say that you have to wear your thick winter coat and cover yourself up just to protect your tattoo – tattoos fade and that is inevitable. But if you don’t want to speed up the process then look into finding places on the body that will not be directly targeted by the sun.

The chest is a good place because the majority of the time you will be wearing a shirt, unless you are at home (where you are not in direct contact with the sun’s rays) or you are at the beach. The legs and feet are also ideal places as they are always covered and will not be exposed as easily.

Areas such as the hands, forearm, and face are places of concern for they are always on show. If you are someone who is living in a warmer state or country, consider these points before moving forward and deciding on your placement.

Full Guide to Tattoo Placement
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How Do I Prevent the Sun from Destroying my Tattoo?

If you are still desperate to have that tattoo but you are worried about the sun causing premature fading, there are several ways to conserve the purity of your tattoo.

Remember to moisturize the skin often: moisturizing the skin will not only keep you looking youthful but will also be very beneficial to your tattoo. By doing this you are preventing the skin from drying out and are hydrating the area where the tattoo is located.

Wear sunblock: sunblock is the number one tool for protecting your tattoo. It has always been essential to apply sunblock to the skin in order to stop any blotchiness or anything harmful such as skin cancer, however sunblock is also good for your tattoo as it is known to prevent wrinkles.

Tattoo artists would usually recommend using a fragrance-free sunblock with natural ingredients – it is the safest option – but that doesn’t mean that it will cause any harm if you don’t follow these rules. Fragranced sunblock will be okay to use if that is your only option.

Wait until it’s winter to get your new tattoo: your safest option is to wait until it is winter to get your tattoo done. New tattoos are particularly vulnerable and require extra care. Getting your tattoo done in the winter means you don’t have to be afraid of the sun affecting your tattoo.

Tattoo Placement Ideas

Now we have explored all of the precautions and considerations into getting a tattoo, let’s have a look at the specific placements of tattoos and where would be great spots to have them.

Everyone has a preference; some enjoy big art pieces and some others prefer to be discrete. Here are a number of different placement ideas along with styles to choose from to help you decide which is the perfect fit for you.

Behind the ear

Full Guide to Tattoo Placement
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Although this will be a painful one (close to the bone), this is a great place to have your tattoo if you are wanting to have something discrete.

It will usually require a simple design as there is only so much space the tattoo artist can work with. This placement of tattoo is easily hidden with long hair and gives you the choice to hide it away or show it off. It is a unique placement and in an area nobody would think of.

Back of the arm

The back of the arm is perfect for bigger designs and is the perfect place to locate your tattoo if you’re wanting to make a bold statement for everyone to see. This is a great amount of surface area for the tattoo artist to work with too.

You can also be creative with tattoos on the arm – you can choose to maybe have something that wraps around the arm like a snake or you may want to make a bold statement and have a portrait.


If you’re not too worried about practicality and are just looking for something fun and easy, the fingertip is a great place to start.

Of course, with a fingertip tattoo you are limited for design choices and it will have to be a simple design, but the results are sure to turn out looking as cute as ever and is a fun little addition to your tattoo collection.


This is another tattoo that is easy to hide if you don’t want your tattoo to be noticeable everyday, but is in a place that will be sure to make a statement.

A spine tattoo in a beautiful backless dress will definitely be making jaws drop. This, however, can be painful as the needle will be working very closely to bone.

Spine tattoo


Sternum tattoos are all the trend nowadays. It’s not uncommon to hear girls talking about them or flaunting them while wearing gorgeous plunge tops.

This tattoo placement is close to the heart and is most definitely the best tattoo if you’re looking to stand out. Typical tattoos which will suit the sternum area include butterflies, flowers, and beaded designs.


The thigh is another perfect place to get a tattoo and will be bearable for those looking to have their first ever tattoo. It is near fatty tissue meaning you will find the tattooing process a little easier, you can keep it discrete by wearing jeans instead of a skirt, and it is a great area for tattoo artists to work with.

With a thigh tattoo you are not limited to design – big or small, detailed or simply, the choice is yours!

Final Thoughts

There has been a lot learnt about placement. It is important to understand that the placement of a tattoo is very important for your tattoo and for your health. It is important to take the proper precautions both before and after having the tattoo to ensure a positive experience.

Full Guide to Tattoo Placement
Credit: sadnessink

Deciding a design is a difficult enough task. How big should I have it? Will be people notice it? Will this tattoo impact my career goals? There are many things to take into consideration when going through this process.

The placement of a tattoo is a lifelong commitment and covering up that tattoo (especially if you’re wanting something big and colorful) will be a challenge. By taking time to study the ins and outs of tattoo placement and gaining knowledge, you will have a better chance of receiving an end tattoo result that makes you comfortable and happy.

If in doubt, there is always the option to speak and seek advice from your tattoo artist. Remember, they are professionals, and the job they do on you is something only a highly skilled tattoo artist can take on. They have been thoroughly trained to understand the dangers of tattooing and have had experience in dealing with clients both good and bad.

Once you know what you are looking for and are certain this is where you want your tattoo, take the plunge, go for it, and walk proudly with your new tattoo.

Megan Ivy