No matter how many times a newcomer to tattoos may ask the question, the answer remains the same: Yes, getting a tattoo will hurt. That said, the amount of pain someone experiences depends on several factors, namely the placement of their tattoo and whether they opt for a hand poked or machine tattoo.
Compared to a machine design, hand poke tattoo artist Alexis Scordino says that “a hand poked tattoo is a less consistent feeling of pain, where the client is feeling every poke of the needle.”
What getting a hand poked tattoo actually feels like
Talia Missaghi, another tattoo artist specializing in hand poked designs, echoes Scordino, describing the feeling of a hand poked tattoo as more “annoying” than anything else. But, both Scordino and Missaghi are quick to qualify that even though a machine free tattoo won’t have that continuously scratching sensation that comes with a conventional machine tattoo, it will still cause you pain. Again, it comes down to placement.
Missaghi says that some of her clients’ biggest reactions to the pain have been when she has hand poked softer, more sensitive parts of their bodies, including the armpits, inner elbows, and backs of knees. “Hand poke tattoos tend to take longer [than machine tattoos], too, which can cause the area to become more sensitive and therefore may be more painful throughout the session,” she explains.
More painful places to get a stick and poke tattoo…
But just because she’s noticed more of a reaction in these cases doesn’t mean that getting a hand poked tattoo elsewhere will feel like a walk in the park by comparison, Missaghi adds. Hands, ears, and feet, for example, tend to be pretty painful areas for tattoos in general, she says. And Scordino notes that points with a high concentration of nerves or any place where the skin is very close to the bone will likely hurt more than thicker, fleshier parts of the body. In addition to the hands and feet, she notes the ribs, knees, and neck.
…and the least painful place to get a stick and poke tattoo
By this same logic, getting a hand poke tattoo on such parts of the body as the thighs, biceps, and triceps will likely be less painful, Missaghi says, since these areas tend to be less bony and have more muscle mass. Scordino adds that the forearms can be another great spot.
If your main goal when getting a hand poke tattoo really is to reduce your risk of pain as much as you can, placement isn’t the only thing that matters. Namely, make sure you arrive to your appointment adequately prepared. “I recommend that clients take a Tylenol, are hydrated, and eat a full meal before each tattoo appointment to make the process go smoothly for them and the artist,” Scordino says. Missaghi says you can even ask your artist about using numbing cream if you’re really worried.
Wherever you end up getting your next hand poked tattoo, rest assured that your undoubtedly stellar design will make every poke and bit of pain more than worth it.
If you liked our post What’s the Least Painful Place to Get a Stick and Poke Tattoo, you should check out How Long Do Stick and Poke Tattoos Last?