The Least Painful Tattoo: How to get prepared for Tattoo Pain.

To whom tattoo will be least painful.

This article I write in opposition to what you might be searching for. Most the people will look for a least painful place to get a tattoo. To start with something relatively easy, or they are just afraid of tattoo pain in general, and they do not want to face the discomfort.

Let me tell you, that in my opinion when you are adequately prepared, pain does not matter. Don't get me wrong, you should be prepared the best you can to reduce this necessary part of tattooing. But you shouldn't make tattoo decisions based on how painful the place is or a particular tattoo. Pain is temporary, and a tattoo is a permanent change to your body. In compartment – tattoo pain is not an essential factor.


Men or women?

This seems to be endless debate among the customers. Who takes pain better, which sex?

Women say that they have to deal with the pain of labor, so they are naturally well equipped for dealing with soreness in general. On the other hand, men suppose to be warrior descendants being able to deal with endless discomfort. So who is right?

Experience and guts tell me to stand on the side of men. And according to Scandinavian Journal of Pain I am right. Women pain threshold is lower as tested in different conditions. But still, I wouldn't want to encounter labor – no thanks!

But even observing my customers every day I can tell the difference. Although I have seen a few really tough women, men, in general, are ready to sit a bit longer through tattooing.

Relax, anxiety and cognitive rehearsal

In a few situations our tattoo will be least painful.

First and the strongest one is relaxation. If you are relaxed, you slept well, you have no stress, you are going to have less pain during your tattoo. According to the Journal of Psychosomatic Research being relaxed has the most significant impact on dealing with pain. And again this corresponds to what me and my wife say to our customers daily: no stress before, no hassle, prepare food, make this day an fantastic event, do not plan anything else for tattooing day, sleep and eat well before, and relax – we did this thousands of times, and everyone was happy so you will go through it too.

In the same science magazine, authors state that anxiety help to deal with pain, but only on a male portion of the population. So looks like if you are a man, you want to threaten a bit? I actually find this amusing, maybe I should scare my male customers a little, to help them deal with pain.
The third thing having an impact on your pain threshold is the cognitive rehearsal. But what does this scary word mean?

Cognitive rehearsal is a technique used in therapy where the therapist and patient work together to find ways in which a certain problem can be handled. By 'rehearsing' ways of dealing with a particular situation, the patient is then better equipped for when such situations should arise.


This helped again only male part of the population. So if you are a man reading this article, you should do better on the next tattoo session, as you actually do what is advised to help with pain.
In the end, the most critical factor here is to relax.

Younger or older?

Who feels more of tattoo pain? Teen or grandpa?

According to PainMed there is no correlation between age and pain. So, in fact, it does not matter how old are you, you still have the same thing to deal with.

And that is probably true, but I personally think that research does explain important experience factor that may affect the outcome. From my experience, I can unequivocally say that older people in general deal with pain much better. I believe it is due to other pain occurrences in their life, to which they can relate tattoo pain. On the other hand, people over 60 years old are getting relatively small tattoos, as skin does not allow too crazy designs at this point. So maybe they can deal really well with 3h tattoo pain, but the 8h tattoo would be the same problem as for a younger guy.

Marijuana does not help.

I am not a smoker, but I am not an adversary either. So If someone likes to smoke it – it is his decision I do not judge - probably cigarettes are much more harmful to health.

But when it relates to tattoo session – I advice honestly – do not do that. Do not smoke marijuana before the session. I don't have any scientific documents on this, only my experience and this proves that every time my customer smoked before tattooing session, he couldn't handle it. If I had to explain this, I would say that is because after they smoke, they lose willpower needed to deal with tattoo pain. There is no focus, no orientation for the goal.

Will power is the key

Everything is in your head, our pain thresholds seems to be similar.

Continuing on my personal observations, I can say that customers who are dealing with pain best, do not even talk about it. It seems that they have an attitude towards finished tattoo, an image of them having great art, they are focused on other parts of the experience, contact with the artist, observing how design arrives. Pain seems to be something utterly irrelevant to them. I meet that kind of people once in a while, they are fantastic to work will, and it is hugely motivating for an artist to see this attitude. Please notice that I am not saying that those customers don't feel anything – they feel, and I can see it sometimes, but they will make everything in their power to make it irrelevant and do not disturb work of an artist.

Skin preparation.

It is often a forgotten area, but a customer can make his experience much more manageable by simply taking care after his skin before tattooing. Use body lotion after each shower. Make sure you have no skin problems like rush, minor pimples. Stay away from the sun for a good few weeks before, so your skin is not irritated or dry. Those simple precautions can make magic.

Don't be a pussy.

And that applies to all the tattoos of all sizes. Did you decide upon this tattoo? So swallow it, and do not cry like a baby. Don't allow yourself to overreact. Honestly, through the last decade, I noticed that pain threshold is disintegrating. People who could do 8h now do 4. Those who could do 4, do maximum 3. And when tattoo session was considered harsh after 7h, now 3h is the breaking point. I think it is because with the popularity of tattoos – motivation went down. Now people who were only thinking about getting tattooed, are publicly motivated to get one. What was once a domain of hard-core, now is mainstream. That is ok for everyone. But you want that mighty hardcore tiger on your arm? Then sit like a stone, and you may squint your eye once, but not more. Tigers are big cats after all ;)

Closing thoughts.

Would you like to have the least painful tattoo?

Then do not drink alcohol or smoke marijuana before. Sleep well, have a good meal before. Relax. Park your car for 24h, have food with you, make sure no one will interrupt you. Take your favorite pillow with you. Have full trust in the artist, and forget about the pain completely. After all, a few months from now, when you show your new tattoo on the beach pain you went through will have no value. Only jaws dropped in the sand of people watching you will matter.