When contemplating any tattoo, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. Before it’s time to find the right tattoo artist for the design you have in mind, you need to think about the tattoo’s visibility, the placement thereof, how painful that location is to get inked, the appropriate healing measures you’ll need to take, and more. After all, tattoos are permanent, so you want to ensure you’ve done your research beforehand – especially when contemplating a hand tattoo.
Tattoos placed on the hand or fingers fade at a faster rate than ones placed elsewhere on the body. Skin cells regenerate faster on the hands due to how often they are used in people’s day-to-day lives. Due to their tendency to fade, tattoo studios are hesitant to offer these tattoos as it could negatively reflect on their brand and the portfolio they have developed.
All tattoos are permanent, but are some more permanent than others? When considering a hand tattoo, that very well might be the case. That’s why it’s crucial to keep all the relevant factors in mind when deciding whether or not to get a hand tattoo. You don’t want to find yourself googling ways to get your tattoo removed in a couple of weeks, so it’s best to make an informed decision.
Are Hand Tattoos a Good Idea?
Yes and no; maybe; it depends on who you ask. Unfortunately, there is no satisfactory, clear-cut answer to this question. In order to reach a decision regarding a hand or finger tattoo, you will need to consider the pros and cons in terms of your personal situation.
As the endless stream of Hollywood remakes in recent years, hand tattoos are a new spin on an old classic. Increasingly popular, people are beginning to see hand tattoos pop up more frequently. However, just like many of those remakes, not all hand tattoos get it right. With remakes, there can always be another remake that’s better than the last. Unlike A Star is Born, which has been remade thrice since the original, you only have one real shot at getting your hand tattoo right.
In recent years, hand tattoos have gained popularity as a result of the mainstream entertainment industry. There has always been a close correlation between celebrities and fashion that becomes popular. This is due to the nature of media and how the public consumes it, and what is a hand tattoo but a (permanent) fashion statement?
The trickle down of celebrity fashion statements inevitably starts a conversation about how acceptable these fashion statements are in everyday society and life. A surprising number of celebrities – from Rihanna to Miley Cyrus to double Oscar nominee Scarlett Johansson – are openly sporting hand tattoos these days. However, would you be able to pull it off at work the way they do on the red carpet?
Celebrities can also afford to get tattoos removed. Angelina Jolie once removed a tattoo of Billy Bob Thornton’s name from her left arm. If you’re not at least guest-starring in a television show this year, chances are getting a tattoo surgically removed could set you back a bit. That’s money that could have gone towards another great tattoo had you made the right decision.
Another important voice in this conversation is that of the tattoo artists and parlors. Many tattoo parlors specifically don’t offer hand tattoos due to the common disadvantages associated with them. This means that, should you decide to get a hand tattoo, you’ll need to do additional research to find hand tattoo-friendly parlors and artists.
Before you start reaching out to potential artists and studios about getting your own hand or finger tattoo, here are the real pros and cons of getting one.
The 5 Real Cons of Hand Tattoos
It’s usually preferable to get the bad news first. So, if you’re considering a hand or finger tattoo, these are the real cons that you need to keep in mind while making your decision.
#1 Visibility to the Public
The high visibility of a hand tattoo is unavoidable – unless you end up not getting one. Apart from tattoos on the face and the neck, hand tattoos are sure to capture the attention of those you interact with on a daily basis. Think about it: you’re about to meet someone new, they’re coming towards you, they reach out to shake your hand. The chances are that your handshake will end with a question about your hand tattoo more often than not.
Tattoos tend to spark questions. Whether you like it or not, your hand tattoo will draw comments and questions from various people. While the occasional question about your hand tattoo won’t be as bad as paparazzi harassing you for photos, it’s a factor you should take into account when considering a tattoo on your hand.
#2 Visibility in the Workplace
In line with the above con of getting a hand tattoo, your career plans should be a factor you consider. You wouldn’t want to wear gloves every single day while you’re at work, would you? Some professions, unfortunately, don’t allow for visible tattoos. Due to this, the permanence of a hand tattoo should be carefully considered in conjunction with your future plans for work.
Many police forces would not allow individuals donning hand tattoos to join their ranks, ruling out an entire career path. If you want to go and teach in certain countries, such as the United Arab Emirates or South Korea, you will not be allowed to show any visible tattoos while teaching students of any age. Research any dress code or body decoration limitations that come with certain career paths so that you don’t end up regretting your tattoo.
#3 Visibility to Yourself
If you get a tattoo on an area of your body that is not always visible, chances are sometimes you forget about it. Oh yes, I got that tattoo. Your hand or finger tattoo, on the other hand, will never let you forget about it. When you wash your face or chop carrots for dinner, you will be reminded of it.
This is why it is important that you carefully consider whether you should get a hand tattoo and if you decide you want one, what you should get. If you’ve just gotten into a new relationship, it wouldn’t be wise to get your partner’s name tattooed on your hand. You don’t want to drown your sorrows while being constantly reminded of them each time you take a sip, do you?
The best advice would be to have a longer consideration period for a hand tattoo than you would typically have for other, more discrete tattoos. You could take out a sharpie and draw on a simplistic version of the tattoo you have in mind and see how you feel about its placement and visibility over the course of a few weeks.
#4 They Fade Faster
All tattoos fade, but some fade faster than others. Did you know that it is possible to get a tattoo on the inside of your lips? While it is possible, these tattoos will eventually completely fade within a few years. This is due to the way lips heal and their consistent use when we talk or eat, and their exposure to saliva. Similarly, hand tattoos are known to fade quickly due to how often we use our hands and the hand’s faster rate of skin regeneration.
However, unlike lip tattoos, hand tattoos that fade might leave traces behind despite their tendency to fade. This is thus an aesthetic consideration to take into account. Another is the size of your hand tattoo. Thinner tattoo lines may merge as they age, so don’t go for a design that is too small or with too much intricate line work. This will allow you to successfully touch up your tattoo and keep it looking fresh.
While your hand tattoo will likely look great once it has healed, it won’t always look that fresh. Touching it up regularly to maintain its appearance is also a financial factor you’ll want to take into account. Your hand tattoo may just end up costing more than it’s worth, especially when considered with the other negative factors.
#5 They’re More Painful
If you’ve been previously tattooed, you will be better suited to dealing with the pain of getting your hand tattooed. If you’ve never been tattooed before, your hand might not be the best place to start. Not only will it be permanently visible (until it starts to fade), but it will also hurt to get done.
If you know you have a relatively low pain threshold, a hand tattoo might not be the tattoo for you. The needle used for tattooing your hand needs to pierce your skin to reach the dermis, which is where your pain receptors are located. Furthermore, getting touch-ups will feel the same way, even if you get used to the pain.
You are not allowed to be under the influence of any substance when getting a tattoo – not even aspirin because it thins the blood. When you get a hand tattoo, you will have to sit through the pain. You wouldn’t want to jerk your hand mid-tattooing and ruin a tattoo that is so visible.
The 5 Real Pros of Hand Tattoos
If the cons have not swayed your decision to get a hand tattoo, then you’ll be pleased to know the real pros of getting your hand or finger inked!
#1 It Makes a Statement
It’s possible that the visibility of a hand tattoo is part of your motivation for wanting one. If you’re not worried about what people will think, and you’re in a career field that allows for creative expression, a hand tattoo will help you make a bold statement.
While hand tattoos are increasingly common, you won’t see them everywhere, and you certainly wouldn’t see the same design. Your design, coupled with the placement thereof on your hand, is unique and will allow you to stand out to others. If you’re not shy, go for it and be bold!
While many parlors do not offer these tattoos, the ones that do relish their uniqueness. The chances are that a tattoo artist willing to tattoo your hand or finger is also excited about the creative potential thereof. Having a tattoo artist be as excited as you are for your tattoo is a rare pleasure.
#2 Touch-ups are Opportunities
Going for the occasional touch-up at your local tattoo studio is a chance to get another tattoo. Ask almost any individual with a tattoo, and they’ll probably tell you about how excited they are for their next one. What better chance to get another tattoo than while touching one up?
When you go to the tattoo parlor, you pay for the disposable equipment used during the tattooing process, such as needles. By going for your touch-up with a two-stones-one-bird attitude, you could save some hard-earned bucks. The reverse of this logic is also true. When going for any tattoo, ask about touching up your hand tattoo as they are prone to fading.
#3 The Fading Could Be in Your Favor
Hand tattoos fade faster than others; it’s an undisputed fact. However, you could use this fact in your favor. While a hand tattoo would take very long to completely fade, the natural fading thereof means changing the design up slightly or covering it with a different design is more easily possible than with other tattoos. Adding onto or renewing your hand tattoo design will keep your hand tattoo looking fresh and unique!
#4 The Pain is Brief
Our hands are certainly not our biggest body part, meaning the size of a tattoo located on this region of your body can only be so big. While a hand tattoo is painful, it is a brief pain. Though the pain of getting a sleeve may not be as painful on certain parts of your arm, the time it takes to finish will have you feeling that pain.
Coloring in and shading tattoos also takes longer, so this is a factor that will contribute to how painful getting your hand tattoo will be. A simple black ink tattoo, common with hand and finger tattoos, will not take very long to complete. You will surely forget all about the pain of getting it once you get to see your design in all its glory.
#5 You Only Live Once
Is getting a hand tattoo on your bucket list? While there are possible drawbacks to take into account when deciding on whether or not to get your hand-inked, you only have one life to get a hand tattoo. If you don’t sufficiently research a hand tattoo, you might regret it, but if you do your homework and get it done properly, it’s something you will cherish for the rest of your life.
Tattoos are more than simple body decorations; they are imbued with memories and meaning unique to you. It is an experience that will stay with you forever, and your hand tattoo could be truly symbolic to you. Every time you look at your hand, it could remind your personal mantra or any design that you dream up. The creative power is in your hands… and it could be on it too!
Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you
Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.
Design and tattoo ideas
For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):
- Great Book of Tattoo Designs, Revised Edition: More than 500 Body Art Designs (Fox Chapel Publishing) Fantasy, Celtic, Floral, Wildlife, and Symbol Designs for the Skin by Lora Irish
- The Big Book of Small Tattoos – Vol.1: 400 small original tattoos for women and men by Roberto Gemori
- Tiny Tattoos: Over 1,000 Small Inspirational Artworks by Rebecca Vincent.
If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).
The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):
If you’re playing around with the idea of getting a hand tattoo, you’ll need to weigh your options and make a careful decision. Hand tattoos are more than permanent; they are permanently visible. The advantages and disadvantages of these tattoos need to be carefully considered.
Depending on your professional line of work, both presently and in the future, hand tattoos may be frowned upon and may even disqualify you from certain lines of work. The tattoo’s positioning is certain to capture both your attention and those you interact with – you should be prepared for questions about what it means to you and why you got it there. These questions, as much as tattoo enthusiasts may loathe them, are inevitable, especially when they are blatantly visible. These tattoos could also be painful and are prone to fading, meaning many artists do not want their personal brand associated with hand tattoos. This means it could take longer to find a suitable artist willing to tattoo your hand in the first place, let alone the inevitable touch-ups.
If you decide a hand tattoo is the one for you, there are also advantages to this type of tattoo! Whether you want to stand out or you’re looking for a symbolic reminder of something, hand tattoos are a unique form of self-expression. Not everybody gets a tattoo, but not everybody who gets a tattoo gets a hand tattoo. Your hand or finger tattoo will make you stand out even in the presence of others with tattoos! While there might be more maintenance costs due to touch-ups with these types of tattoos, your one-of-a-kind tattoo will be worth it.