The 7 Best & 6 Worst Places On Your Body To Get A Tattoo, According To Tattoo Artists
While you can obviously get a tattoo anywhere you like, it's good to keep in mind that some areas of the body aren't always the most ideal places for tattoos, especially if you're worried about it fading or stretching as the years go by. For that reason, you might want to avoid areas that naturally change with age, or ones that might be affected by pregnancy.
But most importantly, when it comes to a tattoo's longevity, take into consideration how much sun exposure the area might receive. "While you can always protect your tattoos with sunscreen, it may be a good idea to choose an area of your body that's usually covered up by clothes if you want your ink to stay looking fresh for years to come — especially if you're getting a color other than black," Leo Palomino, a tattoo artist at Atomic Tattoos in Orlando, tells Bustle.
When going for a colorful tattoo, "a location that doesn't get a lot of sun exposure is best for the longevity of the color, as sun exposure causes colors to fade," Palomino says. "Light colored inks will fade more quickly than darker colors will."
The size and shape of the tattoo can also affect how great it'll look in ten or twenty years, so definitely discuss all of these factors with your tattoo artist, before getting inked. They'll help you wade through all your options, and help you choose the best tattoo location. Here are a few of the best and worst locations when it comes to the longevity of a tattoo, according to experts.
1. Best: Outer Collarbone
If you've been daydreaming about getting a tattoo on your upper chest, it may be a good idea to go for the outer collarbone. This area tends "to be least exposed to the sun," Palomino says, since it's easily covered up by shirts and scarves. It's also an area where skin is least likely to stretch as you get older, which is another factor that can affect how a tattoo holds up over time.
2: Best: Inner Arm
If you're always out in the sun, you may want to avoid getting a tattoo on your outer arm, and instead choose a more protected spot. "Your inner forearm is practically immune when it comes to sun exposure," Palomino says. Without the constant onslaught of UV rays — which break down the ink — tattoos in this location tend to stay looking fresh.
3. Best: Back
Again, thanks to the fact it's often covered up by clothing, the back tends to be a prime spot for long-lasting tattoos. This area isn't, "typically exposed to UV rays on a regular basis," Palomino says. And it tends to hold up well as aging occurs.
4. Best: Upper Thighs
Similarly, Palomino says the upper thighs tend to be protected from the sun, so if you want ink that'll stand the test of the time, this may be your best bet.
Of course, that doesn't mean you have to hide your tats under clothes all the time, or worry 24/7 about how they might look in twenty years. All you have to do, when you do decide to show them off, is apply a liberal amount of sunscreen to keep your skin safe — and you'll be good to go.
5. Best: Hairline
"A tattoo right below your hairline on your neck will stay looking newer longer as it doesn't have a lot of sun exposure," Palomino says. And this is especially true if you have longer hair that you tend to wear down, as that'll help protect it even more.
6. Best: Upper Ribcage
"A tattoo on your ribs ... that doesn't extend too far out towards your abdomen is a good location," Palomino says, since it's often covered up with clothing, and thus protected from the sun.
But even more important, if you get pregnant, this is one spot on the abdomen that isn't as likely to stretch. Of course, if that does happen, it's not a big deal. But if it's something you're concerned about, talk with your tattoo artist to figure out a way to avoid areas that may stretch or fade over time.
7. Best: Shoulders & Calves
Since the skin on the shoulders and calves isn't as affected by aging, tattoos in these areas tend to stay put, Palomino says. This is compared to areas that tend to see a lot of change over the course of your life, like your abdomen. While your stomach may stretch during pregnancy, for example, your calves and shoulders often won't.
8. Worst: Abdomen
Again, it's obviously not a big deal if your stomach tattoo ends up stretching out during pregnancy. Not only will it bounce back, to some degree, but it's a small price if you want to have a kid.
That said, it may be something worth considering before you get your next tattoo — if you think you might like to have a baby someday. "Even with constant moisturizing during this time, you can still face a warped or blown out tattoo as a result of the skin stretching," Palomino says. So ask your tattoo artist for their advice.
9. Worst: Crease Lines
Anywhere skin tends to stretch or bend on the body is best avoided, due to the fact the moving skin makes it difficult for tattoos to heal properly. And that can affect how they end up looking years down the road.
"Crease lines such as on your wrist, armpit, and joints such as knees and the outside of your elbows are another location in which healing is hindered," Palomino says. "These spots are frequently stretching. The constant pulling of the skin causes cracking of the tattoo, slowing the healing process, and causing damage to lines and color."
10. Worst: Fingers & Hands
Thanks to direct sun exposure, hand tattoos tend to fade quickly. But there are other factors to contend with, too. "You are constantly washing [your hands], which sloughs off skin more quickly and causes [tattoos] to fade and blur faster than other parts of your body," Palomino says.
So if you're concerned about how a tattoo might look once you're older, consider avoiding the backs of your hands, as well as your fingers. "The palms of your hands and fingers wear out quickly, [since] the skin is also different and it is difficult for the ink to take easily," Palomino says. "Tattoos on the sides of your fingers and the inside of your palms are guaranteed to fade shortly after healing. Tattoos on your fingers and palms are novelty and do not look good for long."
11. Worst: Feet
While you can always get a foot tattoo, and then touch it up later on if it starts to fade, this may be one spot to avoid if you want ink that's low maintenance.
As Palomino says, tattoos on the ankle, sides of the feet, the top of the foot, and around the heel may require more touchups as they are exposed to constant rubbing from your shoes and socks. "They can [also] be exposed to dirt and bacteria, and again, you have constant movement at your ankle," Palomino says, all of which can result in faded tattoos.
12. Worst: Inner Ear
Inner ear tattoos can look great when they're first done. But they aren't built to last. As Palomino says, "The inside of the ear does not hold ink well and the lines tend to blur quickly." So if you aren't keen on constant touchups, this may not be the tattoo location for you.
13. Worst: Areas That Rub Against Clothing
Think twice before getting a tattoo in an area that has a lot of friction. "Any area of the body that commonly rubs against other body parts [such as] in between fingers, thighs, armpits, and [the] inner biceps will generally be likely to fade quicker," Palomino says. "Similarly, areas where the tattoo is exposed to constant rubbing will possibly fade more quickly, such as ... the waistband of your pants, bras, and belts or other areas where your clothing fits tightly and rubs against your skin."
While you can obviously get a tattoo wherever you like — and touchup any ink that starts to fade — it's still a good idea to consider location if you want your tattoo to look good forever. It can help to follow these tips, and ask your tattoo artist for even more advice when it comes to the perfect placement.