Shoulder tattoos – 7 things you need to know when deciding


Clients interested in having a tattoo on the shoulder come to me more often – it is easy to hide it under clothes or display it on the beach in summer. The location seems perfect but does it have any downsides?

What answers you will find in this article about shoulder tattoos?

  • What is the meaning of the shoulder tattoo?
  • How much does a shoulder tattoo cost?
  • Tattoo on the shoulder – what to wear?
  • Does the tattoo on the shoulder hurt a lot?
  • Tattoo on the shoulder and the gym,
  • How long does a tattoo on a shoulder heal?
  • Tattoo care on the shoulder – what to do after a tattoo?

If you are looking for inspiration before your shoulder tattoo, check out my portfolio – you can find my works and projects here – on Instagram.

What is the meaning of the shoulder tattoo?

As with most places on your body, so is the shoulder tattoo – the design will matter, not the location. When deciding on a particular design, think carefully as it will be a lifetime choice.

The design does not always have to matter, I often make tattoos that customers like – floral, animal designs, abstracts, etc., but there are also people for whom symbolism matters. It can be the name of a loved one, an inscription that means something to you, or, for example, your zodiac sign.

 tattoo for man on the shoulder
Tattoo on the shoulder made by me

How much does a shoulder tattoo cost?

When asked about the price of a tattoo on the shoulder, each tattoo artist will answer you – it depends. Most often on the size, and thus the time needed to complete it. Even the most simple shoulder tattoos can cost upwards of $100, for many artists it is the average minimum price.

Tattoo on the shoulder – what to wear?

When you go to a tattooing session to get a shoulder tattoo, what should you wear? For the day of tattooing, you might think of something loose that can be easily removed so that the ink doesn’t stain your clothes.

For the first 1-2 weeks, try to wear something looser than tight-fitting t-shirts, later it won’t matter much, but as the shoulder tattoo heals, try wearing something that doesn’t put too much pressure on where you have your tattoo.

rose for woman shoulder tattoo
Rose on the shoulder for woman, tattoo made by me

Pain during the shoulder tattoo – does the tattoo on the shoulder hurt a lot?

How painful is a shoulder tattoo? When getting a tattoo on the shoulder, you can expect a moderate level of pain, due to the proximity of the bones, there are people who feel the tattoo on the shoulder more painfully. But far more painful areas for tattooing are the knees, ankles, and feet. If you are responding poorly to pain, you may also consider tattooing a little lower on your arm where it will hurt less.

chart for man tattoo on the shoulder pain
Tattoo pain chart from healthline.com for men
Tattoo pain chart from healthline.com for women

Tattoo on the shoulder and the gym

With a freshly made tattoo on the shoulder, you should limit the intensity of training in the gym. The shoulder tattoo should not be exposed to irritation, so you can limit yourself to, for example, lower body exercises such as running, squats, and similar exercises.

How long does a tattoo on a shoulder heal?

The shoulder is the part of the body that comes into contact with clothes, so tattoos should be taken care of there properly. Typically, shoulder tattoos take about 3-4 weeks to heal, but it takes up to three months for complete healing under the skin.

Tattoo care on the shoulder – what to do after a tattoo?

First of all, follow the care instructions given to you by your tattoo artist.

Avoid water and sun, and keep your new tattoo clean and give it fresh air frequently. Hear when the tattoo artist gives his shoulder tattoo care tips, they are really important and help reduce pain after getting a tattoo.

Here are some ideas I have tested for your first shoulder tattoo aftercare:

  • Fresh shoulder tattoos are covered with a thin foil for the first 2-3 days, later it is good to let air access them for faster healing.
  • A new tattoo on the shoulder should be washed every day – but gently, do not scrub, just spray it lightly with water, preferably dry with a cotton pad.
  • During healing, which usually takes 3 to 4 weeks, you should avoid swimming, visiting a sauna, or bathing where the shoulder tattoo is completely submerged in water.
  • Choose your clothes so that they rub and irritate the fresh shoulder tattoo as little as possible, be careful not to scratch it as scratching off the scabs may accidentally remove some ink.
  • The skin at the shoulder tattoo site often dries out more, so you can use ointments such as Bepanthen or Alantan on it.
  • The new shoulder tattoo should not be exposed to the sun. Even after it heals, make sure you protect it with adequate sunscreen at all times.

Some of my favourite designs, tattoo books and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

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.

Deasign 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):

Tattoo meaning

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).

Tattoo aftercare

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):

Looking for more info about tattoos? I might have them covered!

I have written almost 100 articles about tattooing – with details about each body part, problems that you might have with your tattoo, designs, styles, aftercare, and much more.

Have a look at the search option and see if you can find what you need here.

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Some of my other articles, check them and see if you could find what you are looking for!

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