The Best Places on the Body To Get Your First Tattoo

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Now I am going to preface this with something that you probably don't want to hear. All tattoos hurt, no matter what. A tattoo by definition is pain; it is a magical combination of blood, needles, and ink that are all used to create beautiful works of art. The pain is just part of the price you pay to have such a unique and gorgeous addition to your body. Yet not all tattoos are created equal and some areas on the body are better suited for inking than others.

For a tattoo virgin, you want to ease into the world of tattooing with an area of the body that is less sensitive to needles on the skin. When I hear that someone got their first tattoo on their ribs or feet, I automatically cringe. Despite the fact that these areas are some of the most popular places for a first tattoo (you can thank tumblr and Pintrest for that), they are also some of the most painful places to get a tattoo. The ribs, hands, feet, knees, and elbows are considered to be some of the most painful places on the body to be tattooed because they are extremely boney and don't offer much cushion for the impact of a tattoo needle.

By contrast, areas that are more "meaty" tend to be less painful and are recommended for people who have never gotten a tattoo before. One exception is the underside of the upper arm—while it's certainly not boney a ton of nerves run down there so it can also be excruciating. Every tattoo is going to feel painful for a rookie but hopefully this list will help to guide you if you're nervous about the pain.

Note: the pain rating scale is relative and everyone's body takes pain differently. You may find that a tattoo on your thigh hurts way more than one of the same size on your ribs. In the end, after the artist puts down their machine and wipes down your tattoo, the pain of being tattooed is essentially over with. After your tattoo heals you'll probably forget how painful your tattoo was in the moment and will be itching to get your next piece.

Wrist

Compared to many other parts of the body, the wrist is not a bad spot for a first tattoo. The skin is thinner on the wrist which makes it hurt a little bit more than some places, but because the wrist is smaller it will be a relatively quick process. It tends to hurt more the closer you get to your hand, so if you are still nervous try asking your artist if your design can be moved up slightly. Pain Rating: 5 out of 10.

Compared to many other parts of the body, the wrist is not a bad spot for a first tattoo. The skin is thinner on the wrist which makes it hurt a little bit more than some places, but because the wrist is smaller it will be a relatively quick process. It tends to hurt more the closer you get to your hand, so if you are still nervous try asking your artist if your design can be moved up slightly. Pain Rating: 5 out of 10.

Thigh

This is without a doubt one of the easiest places to get a tattoo. Maybe I am a bit biased because it was my first tattoo, but getting a thigh piece is really no big deal. A thigh tattoo is also a great place to get a tattoo because the positioning allows you to lie down comfortably and because it's not on your torso, you can use your breathing to help deal with the pain. Bonus points for men—you're never going to have a professional job that lets you wear short shorts so this is 100% concealable. Pain Rating: 3 out of 10

This is without a doubt one of the easiest places to get a tattoo. Maybe I am a bit biased because it was my first tattoo, but getting a thigh piece is really no big deal. A thigh tattoo is also a great place to get a tattoo because the positioning allows you to lie down comfortably and because it's not on your torso, you can use your breathing to help deal with the pain. Bonus points for men—you're never going to have a professional job that lets you wear short shorts so this is 100% concealable. Pain Rating: 3 out of 10

Shoulder

The shoulder isn't too bad for a first tattoo. While it is technically on your shoulder blade, the muscle provides a bit of cushioning for the needles. The shoulder is ideal for a first tattoo because it allows for someone to get a large scale tattoo without committing to having visible tattoos. Unless you're wearing a tank top, a shirt with an open back, or are shirtless, you will most likely be able to easily hide this tattoo from view. Pain Rating: 4 out of 10.

The shoulder isn't too bad for a first tattoo. While it is technically on your shoulder blade, the muscle provides a bit of cushioning for the needles. The shoulder is ideal for a first tattoo because it allows for someone to get a large scale tattoo without committing to having visible tattoos. Unless you're wearing a tank top, a shirt with an open back, or are shirtless, you will most likely be able to easily hide this tattoo from view. Pain Rating: 4 out of 10.

Forearm

This area was a breeze to have tattooed. The forearm is a soft and fleshy area that takes well to the stress of a tattoo. This area is also great for a first time tattoo because it doesn't swell up too much and it is easy to avoid sleeping on at night. Pain Rating: 3 out of 10.

This area was a breeze to have tattooed. The forearm is a soft and fleshy area that takes well to the stress of a tattoo. This area is also great for a first time tattoo because it doesn't swell up too much and it is easy to avoid sleeping on at night. Pain Rating: 3 out of 10.

Calves

This muscular area of the body is superb for taking the impact of a tattoo machine and you'll be happy that you got your first tattoo on your calves. The calves offer a great canvas for a first time tattoo because they essentially offer the same dimensions as an arm piece but give you more opportunity to be subtle with your body modifications because it's easily coverable. The calves allow you to lie on your stomach during a tattoo and one might even find themselves drifting off during the process. Pain Rating: 4 out of 10.

This muscular area of the body is superb for taking the impact of a tattoo machine and you'll be happy that you got your first tattoo on your calves. The calves offer a great canvas for a first time tattoo because they essentially offer the same dimensions as an arm piece but give you more opportunity to be subtle with your body modifications because it's easily coverable. The calves allow you to lie on your stomach during a tattoo and one might even find themselves drifting off during the process. Pain Rating: 4 out of 10.

Bicep

The bicep is a great place for a first tattoo, especially if you want to cover a lot of ground in one sitting. The bicep, like the thigh, is fairly muscular which means that a tattoo machine won't be running against your bones. The bicep is also an excellent place for a first tattoo because it allows you to get comfortable in a chair and to easily talk with your artist to pass the time. Pain Rating: 3 out of 10.

The bicep is a great place for a first tattoo, especially if you want to cover a lot of ground in one sitting. The bicep, like the thigh, is fairly muscular which means that a tattoo machine won't be running against your bones. The bicep is also an excellent place for a first tattoo because it allows you to get comfortable in a chair and to easily talk with your artist to pass the time. Pain Rating: 3 out of 10.