Finger tattoos are sweet, sexy, and a fun twist on self-expression, but they can present a few challenges. On the surface, they are a small tattoo that’s very versatile — they can be inked on top for the world to see, or tucked in between digits for a sneaky hint of style. But if you do a little research, you’ll find that finger tattoos can fade, in addition to other troublesome facts. So, while celebrities like Beyonce and her IV ring finger tattoo have made the look more mainstream, there are many components to consider before you tattoo yourself a full set of brass knuckles.
We got the facts about finger tattoos from one of San Francisco’s best tattoo shopsto help you make a wise choice. Located in the city’s popular Mission District and owned by artist Jason Stein, Cyclops Tattoo has been covering people in beautiful ink for nearly 20 years.
Maybe you’re considering getting a few cute finger tattoos to flaunt your personal style. Maybe you want matching best friend tattoos with your lifelong pal. Maybe it’s your first tattoo and you want to start small. Maybe you are getting hitched and are choosing to permanently ink your commitment on with wedding band tattoos. Whatever the reason, here are 7 facts you need to know before diving in headfirst to this popular tattoo trend.
1. It’s Going To Hurt
FYI: your finger tattoo is gonna sting. Your fingers are full of nerves and the skin lays right on the knuckle and bone. Generally there is not as much fat or muscle to cushion the sensation of the needle. When asked if finger tattoos hurt more than other locations, Stein replied that without a doubt they do.
So, if you’re getting a tattoo on a whim—and pain is not in your purview—perhaps find another body part. The cool thing Stein did stress, however, was that often people get finger tattoos as a symbol of love, commitment, or an important message for the world. He says to embrace the discomfort as, “…it is a symbolic moment. The pain is part of the experience.” This is a fabulously Zen approach that is made possible by the fact that finger tattoos are fairly small and are over quickly.
2. Finger Tattoos Fade
The skin on your fingers takes tattoo ink differently than most parts of your body. Stein suggests this is due to the active nature of our hands, the frequency with which we wash our hands, and the nature of the skin—which is thick but not backed by much fat and has a lot of movement over the bone. Basically fingers are an ideal location for a tattoo to fade. If you decide you want a finger tattoo, expect to get it touched up fairly regularly. Keeping all this in mind…
3. This Is Not the Spot for Perfectionists
The finger tattoo may not be the right place to put that intricate design you’ve been dreaming of. Due to the tricky nature of the skin, Stein says that black ink doesn’t come off very dark, colors aren’t as bright, and tattoo lines tend to be a bit fuzzy. If you are gonna be all super perfectionist and particular about how it looks, don’t get it on your finger.
4. Letters or Simple Styles Work Well
For finger tattoos, keep it simple. For example, line art goes over well and letters look good. Stay away from images and designs that are so small that the ink breaks apart or bleeds and you can’t tell what it is.
5. Basic Tattoo Care for Your Finger Tat
First rule of finger tattoos: keep your hands clean! Especially when you’ve recently gotten your ink. Don’t go boxing immediately after the tattoo parlor. Stein recommends using a fragrance free moisturizer to keep skin supple and protected. His studio, Cyclops Tattoo, provides easy to follow tattoo care tips for keeping newly inked skin clean and healthy.
6. You Need to Commit to Upkeep
If you want your finger tattoo to look good in the long run, you need to get it touched up fairly regularly. You’ll know when it’s time, when the ink fades and it looks more like a tattoo on a 75-year-old sailor than something you had done last year. On the other hand, if right away you see blurring in the lines, or the color didn’t take immediately after your first visit, wait at least two weeks to a month to allow for healing before going in for a clean up.
7. Successful Rings Aren’t Always Full Circle
That’s the awesome thing about ring finger tattoos: They are so different than the traditional diamond wedding ring. When asked about some of the most common wedding band tattoos or commitment ink he sees in his shop, Stein said the most successful are the simple styles that keep to the tops or sides of the finger. Diamond shapes, runes, initials, and dates are all examples of clear-lined tattoos that sit on the top or side of the finger usually look sweet.
Alternately, with ink bands that circle the finger, problems are common. Often, the ink will “fall out” of the fleshy underpart of the finger. This basically means that the color doesn’t stay and you end up with a patchy ghost of a tattoo where your wedding ring used to be.
Now you know the facts, care tips, and best strategy for a successful visit to the tattoo shop for your first finger tattoo. Knuckles up, baby. It’s party time!