Beauty

17 Behind The Ear Tattoo Ideas Perfect For Minimalist Ink

Discrete and chic.

Discrete and chic behind the ear tattoo designs for minimalist ink inspo.
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When considering tattoo placement, you’ve got your obvious places like the legs, arms, and back — but those looking to take advantage of prime, tucked away real estate might consider behind the ear tattoos. That smooth spot near the nape of the neck is perfect for minimalist ink that coyly peaks out from underneath strands of hair and shirt collars. As artist Diana Divina of Fleur Noire Tattoo in New York City says, “Behind the ear ink is a really fun way to accentuate a part of your body that you probably never think of.”

The discrete placement makes these an easy introduction for tattoo newbies, too, or anyone who favors less in-your-face art. “They’re usually cute, quaint, and very easy to hide,” says artist Ilia of High Hopes Tattoo in NYC. “For some people, they’re also seen as a sort of accessory, much like a sparkly earring.”

If you’re wondering how much it’ll hurt to tattoo a spot that’s so close to the bone, Ilia says to keep in mind it depends on an individual’s pain tolerance — that said, you can expect most of the discomfort to come from the vibration of the machine versus the needle itself. Another plus, according to Ilia? “Behind the ear tattoos are [done] relatively fast, so if they hurt, it isn’t for long,” she tells Bustle.

Before you head out for that appointment, both artists say to keep aftercare (and pre-care) in mind. Ilia recommends washing your hair the day before you get the tattoo to avoid unnecessary irritation as your ink heals. To that point, Divina adds to avoid using harsh skin and hair care products around the area while it’s healing. Behind the ear tattoos can age well, but Divina says sun protection is key. “If the area is constantly exposed to sun, you can expect fading in that area in the same way that you would with a hand tattoo,” she says. So be sure to regularly apply SPF once the tat is healed. She also notes that if you opt for a fine line tattoo (a popular pick), it’ll likely require a touch-up at some point.

Now, the fun part: Scroll on for 17 behind the ear tattoo ideas that just may inspire your next piece of body art.

1

Pigmented Flowers

Florals are a favorite among tattoo lovers. For a dainty take on a classic, consider adding color — this pink and purple tat makes for a gorgeous pop.

2

A Linework Globe

Perfect for someone who loves to travel, this fine line behind the ear globe design features a teeny airplane buzzing around the world.

3

A Tiny Airplane

Another idea for the globetrotter? Consider a micro-sized airplane. Let it serve as permanent inspo for traveling to new places.

4

Butterflies

Double up on the charm with a pair of simply drawn butterflies, like the ink seen here. Whether you’re into nature or the ’90s aesthetic, the pretty insect is great for a discrete tat.

5

Twinkling Stars

If you want something super dainty, consider a behind the ear tattoo like this one that features a cluster of delicately twinkling stars.

6

Initials

Pair text and florals with ink that showcases an initial coming out of a flower. Whether you go with your name or the initials of someone you love, letters are always great for a more subtle design.

7

A Sea Creature

For a whimsical tattoo idea, get an outline of your favorite animal. If you’re a lover of marine life, this simple line tattoo showcases a cute, cartoon-like stingray.

8

Morse Code

Go for something less obvious with a Morse code tattoo. The red ink of this piece adds extra intrigue.

9

A Flying Swallow

Birds are a popular tattoo theme and can be an ideal choice for behind the ear placement. Get in on the trend with a dreamy behind-the-ear swallow design.

10

Religious Text

You could consider symbolizing your religion with your ink. This spiritual tattoo features a cross and the word “faith” written in pretty fine line cursive.

11

Lightning Bolts

Opt for a tattoo like this storm-inspired ink that features bolts of lightning for an edgy design that extends towards the neck.

12

Musical Notes

Perfect for the music lover or musician, this behind the ear tat features quarter notes, eighth notes, and other symbols.

13

Zodiac Sign

Show off your zodiac sign with a tattoo like this one that showcases the Leo symbol flanked in flowers.

14

Constellation

The sky provides tons of tattoo inspo. One chic and minimalist example is a constellation tat. This Big Dipper design works well tucked discretely behind the ear.

15

A Simple Heart

Heart-shaped ink has won the hearts of countless tattoo lovers. Keep things clean with a simply drawn line tattoo like this hollow heart placed behind the ear.

16

Angel Number

If you’re into numerology, a vertical 444 angel number tattoo — which symbolizes manifestation and protection — is the perfect fit for this placement.

17

Fruit

A whimsical behind the ear ink idea to consider? Get an outline of your favorite fruit. This strawberry tat is adorable and discrete.