Thinking of getting a hand or finger tattoo?

Let’s talk about tattoos, specially small tattoos on your hands.  This article is not for those that have “been there, done that” this is for people curious about getting a finger tattoo or something small on their hand for the first time and have little to no tattoo work done.

First off, let me give you some of my credentials:

I worked in a tattoo shop for 4 years; I managed the shop, I was a not tattooer. Even though I am not a tattooer, I have dedicated a lot of time to learning as much as I possibly could from my colleges and friends who are tattooers. I have also been tattooed a fair bit and though I no longer work in a shop, I remain an avid tattoo enthusiast and tattoos still hold a very large importance in my life.

The rise in popularity of the finger tattoo or hand tattoos

With the popularity of Rihanna and other pop culture icons getting tattoos { and for some reason quite often, but not always, bad ones }, we get a LOT of requests for similar, if not the same, tattoos.

Small tattoos on the finger, the side of the finger or even the side of the hand are a big trend lately.  We get these clients with pictures off pinterest or of their new favourite pop idol & they want that same tattoo so badly or in the same place. { I have a whole other blog about why you should NOT copy someone else’s tattoo }

I generally try to dissuade clients from getting them for multiple reasons and it’s not because I’m against hand tattoos.  I have a few on my hands and do plan on getting larger pieces eventually.

The reason I think it’s a bad idea though?  Experience.

After working 4+ years in a shop  I’ve seen things, I’ve learned things. I’ve talked with clients both from my shop and clients who have been else where.  I have seen close friends tattoos when they were fresh and after they had healed as well as getting my own little dinky hand tattoos

I’ve seen how tattoos look when they are freshly done and I have seen them when they have healed, sometimes they’ve healed well, sometimes they have not.  And one thing is fairly consistent with hand tattoos, especially ones on your fingers,  generally they DO NOT HEAL WELL.

They look awesome when they’re freshly done, but they often do not stay that way.  Some people are lucky and they hold up ok.  Tops of fingers hold ink better than the inside. But often they will still look ‘milky‘ or blurred, it’s the nature of ink under your skin. So when you bring in your image as an example, you must keep in mind, that image was from when it was freshly done. Not many people or artists like to share what they look like after healing.


mischief managed | finger tattoo healed, faded finger tattoo

Things to consider before asking for a finger or hand tattoo

Think about the amount you do with your hands. How do you plan on healing this tattoo? It needs more care to heal because of the high chance of losing the ink.  You need to keep your hands clean & dry.

  • Your hands exfoliate a great deal, so there is a high chance the ink will eventually leave the area, leaving you with a blotchy or faded tattoo
  • You cannot hide your hand tattoos, this can affect getting a job in the future { ethical artists do not want to be the ones who have created a hurdle for you in your future }
  • Any tattoo on the hand, especially the inside of the finger is going to HURT so much worse than most other areas { I know to those that have had more work done, this seems silly, but you have no idea how many hits I get on this article asking of it’s going to hurt. YES, it is going to hurt! }
  • Getting something out of your pocket or purse?
  • Going to the wash room?
  • Doing the dishes? { You can’t just wear rubber gloves, your hands will sweat in them, remember, it needs to stay fairly dry! }

You can’t just wear a bandage or keep your hands covered either, your skin needs to breathe. Too much moisture can push the ink out during the tender healing process.

Generally, we have a rule in our shop, if you don’t have a sleeve, we’re not going to tattoo your hand.  Hand tattoos are traditionally treated as a right of passage or earned.  This is not being snobby, this is tradition and shows respect.

It also the sign of an ethical shop that is not just out to take your money. It’s very much an ethical situation for most artists. There are some places that you can get tattooed that are life changers, artists have the right to refuse service if they don’t feel comfortable placing a tattoo on you in a specific spot. An artist that has zero qualms about placing a possibly life changing tattoo on you is not an artist I want around me.

As mentioned above, you cannot hide your hand tattoos, they are out on display pretty much all the time which means they could potentially get in the way of possible opportunities. I know the world is changing it’s mind rapidly on tattoos, but do you really want to lose out on a big opportunity?

Reasons getting a hand or finger tattoo might be for you:

  • You have settled into a career or profession that you won’t be discriminated against for having hand tattoos.  And from being heavily tattooed, you understand that tattoos are not perfect.  They will change over the course of your life.
  • You understand your artist is not a computer to replicate exactly what you see on the piece of paper on your skin.
  • You are fine with paying to get it redone, sometimes multiple times, to just try and get it to stay in there {  most shops offer free touch ups but almost never on hands or feet }, which it won’t sometimes, no matter how many times they try to grind it in there for you.
  • You understand that picture off pinterest, it was freshly done, and that tattoo no longer looks as vibrant or crisp. You understand yours won’t either.
  • You didn’t just google “which finger tattoo should I get”

finger tattoo healed, faded finger tattoo

We do make exceptions from this rule from time to time, but it is always a case by case basis.

Generally the more respectful you are and less demanding the higher your chances of your request falling on a sympathetic ear.  Acting like “the customer is always right” never flies well in shops, as you are dealing with artists plying their craft, not selling a pair of jeans.

You can say “it’s your body you can do what you like with it”, but it also the artist name that is attached to every tattoo that walks out the door.  Every time they put out a piece of work, they are putting out a they’re portfolio and their reputation and possibly livelihood are on the line.  And they really don’t want to be responsible for later regrets.

So, before you go into a shop asking for anything on your finger, side of your finger or hand, consider this:

  • Are you ready to have a tattoo out there at all times and it possibly getting in the way of a job opportunity?
  • Are you prepared to properly care for it during it’s very finicky healing time?
  • Are you ok with your tattoo not looking pristine for the rest of your life?

Keep these in mind and after considering all of these things, if you still really want to get your hands tattooed then go down to your local, reputable, clean & safe shop and ask them if they will tattoo you! They may turn you down for all the reasons listed above.  Don’t take it as a slight, take it as them looking out for you.  If they say yes, then good for you!   You probably went in being respectful and well educated and had a good head on your shoulders.  These things will go a long way in shop!

EDIT: Before you leave an angry comment { which I won’t publish, btw }, keep in mind, tattoo artists agree with this, they back me up and they share this article and they get in touch with me to thank me, because all we really want is to help educate people first.

And if you still want to hear it directly from an artist here are two posts from an artists perspective on declining tattoos on ‘Public skin’ {hand/neck/face }:

Adam Sky – Don’t Tell Me I Have To Do Your Fucking Neck Tattoo

Tim Hendricks – In Response…

And one last thing:  many shops are fine with tattooing something simple on a wedding finger that is a major exception. But keep it simple and on the top of the finger. Anything that wraps around will probably be declined as the healing will be terrible. 


kitty signature


instagram | facebook |  bloglovin’ | tumblr  | pinterest | #alternativecurves


thinking of getting a tattoos on your hand or finger // appeared first on

You May Also Like


  1. 2

    I really like this article. So many people NEED this info. I have a hand tattoo and didnt experience any complications. I didn’t have any problems at the place I went because they know me, I have 5 other tattoos from them and they still look good plus I have never had to come to them with complications. So they knewI knew what i was doing. They still give me a card every time and give me the maintenance run down. And any good place should, whether 1 or 101.

  2. 3

    Great article! Well written and informative. I just got the inner aspect of my ring finger tattooed a week ago and was dismayed the healing process has been quite different than the rest of my MANY tattoos. I appreciate the insight. Thanks!

  3. 4

    I Love, Love this article so much!!
    I do not have any tattoos but i wanted my first one to be Promise? on the inside of my pinky finger, right hand, not only because i thought it was cute but the whole “pinky promise?” phrase is something very special and significant to me, but i won’t go into detail. I figured it wouldn’t be all too obvious but i knew it would hurt even though I’m very tolerant of pain. After seeing the before and after pictures I’m second guessing myself. I haven’t gone to my local professional shop yet to get opinions but I’m happy i came across this! Definitely rethinking weather to get it or not. Thank you love! <3

  4. 5
  5. 6

    This definitely changed my view on getting a finger tattoo! I’v had quite a lot of work done and always make sure to use the best tattooer possible when I get inked. I’v been wanting a hand tattoo for a while now – on the side of my finger – that says; be curious. I completely get your point, but then if I would still like something on my hands would you then recommend to get it on the top of the hand instead of the sides (where you sweat more and have more exposure when using your hands)? 🙂

    • 7

      I don’t want to be telling people what to do with their own bodies, that decision is still up to each person. I just wanted to lay out some facts & info.

      If you are a moderately or heavily tattooed person and are fully aware of the situation, I think you understand what you are getting into when you want a finger or hand tattoo, what comes with the territory. I mean, I still have finger tattoos, even though I know the down side to them. To me, it was still worth the risk & pain.

      This article is more for people with little or no tattoos. If ultimately you still want to try and get it done, by all means, ask a shop. I’d rather people were educated first before they go in, so they can have a real discussion about it instead of being outright dismissed or taken advantage of.

      Finger tattoos have become trendy and sometimes people don’t think through the implications having such a visible tattoo can bring. I’m just urging individuals to be cautious when jumping into a trend that is, for all intended purposes, for life.

      • 8

        So glad I read this article, thank you for your honesty and informative article.?I honestly had not even thought of the consequences you have brought up. I really don’t need the hassle. Plenty of other space to express myself. Thanks,

  6. 9

    hi, nice informative article….i was wondering if there is a difference in lasting power of the tattoo being on the finger vs. being on the top of the knuckles…traditional knuckle tat……..also, how long do yo thin a knuckle tattoo will last…ten, fifteen years?? i know it is all relative…maybe just a generalization?
    thanks so much.

    • 10

      They tend t stick better on the top of the finger as opposed to the side or palm side of your finger.

      Honestly, if it stuck after the first six months, then you should be in the clear. It means it was properly applied and you healed it well.

  7. 11
  8. 12

    I have about 8 tattoos so far, and most are fairly large and easily visible, but I was warned by a friend that hand tattoos are frowned upon by the “tattoo community” unless the person with them is already heavily tattooed (at least on their arms). I understand this- even simply from an aesthetic perspective- and I don’t think I’d consider myself heavily tattooed at this point because my tattoos are kind of spread out. The thing is, I don’t want a BIG hand tattoo (at least not yet); I simply want a very small simple graphic tattoo on the back of my middle finger, between my knuckles. Others’ opinions aren’t what drive me to get/not get tattoos, of course, but do you suppose that would be “frowned upon”? I want to be respectful, and I don’t want to seem as though I’m only getting it because it’s trendy. Does anyone have further input?

    • 13
    • 14

      I’d say it really depends on your current position or on what you want to be “when you grow up”. There’s more flexibility in certain career fields than there are in others. Engineers (think: NASA), mechanics (not just auto), military (with the exception of hand and neck ink – at least in the States), and other professions where the majority of their time is spent outside of a board room or handling high-ranking individuals, have the creative leeway with their ink. They are looked at for their skill as opposed to their presentation.
      In contrast, look at an administrative person, teacher/professor, office worker, salesman, etc. You are the face of your company and many companies are still owned by those from generations where tattoos hold a negative association, or they just plain don’t like them. Added bonus, even if it’s owned by a young CEO, you are still the face of the company and their expectation is for visual professionalism. We can’t all work for Google where just about anything goes.
      What I’m trying to say is simply this: You have to make the decisions of altering your body by taking into consideration the long-term.

  9. 15

    So well written! Very informative. I love ink, on myself and others. Unfortunately as you have stated, not all employers feel the same way.

  10. 16

    Well done on coming from a shop that’s not just out to make big bucks and actually have some scruples. I agree wholeheartedly that people should not jump on the tattoo band wagon. I personally have no tattoos that are copies. However I do have 18 of the things. I’ve seen my artist turn people away for wanting to be a sheep and was glad that they did ad I would be happy with the knowledge that when my children are older they are not going to let them walk in and do anything too stupid lol.

  11. 17
  12. 19

    I loved this article. Kinda wish I would have seen it 20+ years ago when I got my tat done on my middle finger….lol Not that I regret getting my tat, I don’t I love it. But I have had to have it touched up twice and it still needs to be touched up again. But for it being over 20 years old it looks pretty good. If I would have seen this article before I got my finger tat I probably would have waited to get it. I would have still gotten it, just not at such a young age. I was only 18 now I’m 41.

  13. 20

    I consider myself to be moderately tattooed- and have always said I want my wedding date on my ring finger. Having read this, I am reconsidering it – and thinking about other options. I have a half back piece, both ribs, both hips and the beginnings of both legs (these will be full sleeves when completed). Thank you for an informative piece!

    • 21

      I got my wedding stone tattooed on my finger as I was always taking off and forgetting my ring when gloved up. There are some lovely options if you want to get something for the top of your wedding finger. That is one of the biggest exceptions for finger tattoos.

  14. 22

    I’m one of a fortunate few that my far-side middle finger tattoo healed perfectly and has maintained its stark ink for some time now, but even with my luck I know I will have to get it retouched at least once in my life. And admittedly, everyone experiences pain a little differently. For example! I’ll probably postpone getting another tattoo on my foot for a long time, get another piece on my ribs instead, but my finger merely tickled. Plus I’m fortunate with my work that my tattoo really doesn’t show at unless I point it out.

  15. 23
  16. 25

    The best advice I’ve seen yet on these kinds of tattoos. I’ve been a tattoo artist over 20 years and have owned a large tattoo shop for almost 10 years. Hands and feet are a regular request, often people thinking it’s a simple way to get a tattoo until we explain all the potential issues. Your info is helpful for everyone and I thank you for it….penelope

  17. 26

    I feel like a lot of people don’t know this. it’s almost common sense, all tattoos fade over time. but if you get a tattoo on your foot or hand it’s going to fade a lot faster because you use your hands and feet a lot. duh. I have a tattoo on the top of my foot and the place I got it finished offers free touch ups ? but that’s going to be a pain getting it touched up to keep it looking nice. it was also very annoying during the healing process, you have to make sure you don’t accidentally scrape something on the top of your foot and you can’t wear socks or shoes that cover the tattoo. I love my foot tattoo and all but sometimes I wish I would’ve put it on my foot.

  18. 27

    Lovely article! I have four hand tattoos and I love them dearly. I have been very fortunate with the healing process and I didn’t find them painful but every experience is different! I am also lucky in that my work does not mind at all, in fact two of the four are science related and are often a talking point at conferences! I totally agree with what you have said, some that I have seen are unrecognisable, blurry or simply distasteful, which is such a shame as they can be so beautiful if done properly. My artist mentioned to me that his main problem is people asking for designs that are simply too busy or complex to fit onto such a small area!

  19. 28

    I stumbled accross this and found it interesting. I have found that basically 100% of people I know with hand tattoos seriously regret them unless they have serious work done. Employment is an issue but for most, it is as simple as they got something they thought was cute or whimsical at a young age and later in life, they didn’t feel the same way. This is obviously different from someone who has committed their body to art. I don’t even plan on getting a tattoo, I just have always loved the art form. As a Muscian, I get to see all sorts of amazing work as well.

  20. 29

    Im glad I read this before deciding on my tatoo on my hand, it really put some real perspective in my mind and now I am considering it again and where else I could get it that could still work.
    I have already spend time thinking about what I want and is quiet unique and special to me based on my life experience so I now I have to re think where to put it so I dont regret it!! Thank you so much !!

  21. 31

    So, I just got a tattoo on the outside of my pinky finger. A Cresent moon and some stars. The artist did mention that it may fade and he would touch it up for free when the time cam. My issue is, it’s been a week today and it already looks like it’s half gone! Some stars are blurry and two are just scratchy looking and disappearing. After A WEEK! I’m realize finger tattoos have their down sides but, I’m on the fence about whether this is just my bad luck with this tattoo, a bad artist or the combination of both? Not sure whether I should go back to have him fix it. What if it looks worse? What would you suggest?

  22. 32

    I have to highly agree with this article. I have 4 tattoos on some of my fingers. They will look like the bees knees, until completely healed. The “B” on my “Born to Die” looks like a “P” now. I have had people ask my why my finger says “Porn”.

    Think it through. I am in a position in my life where I can have visible tattoos within my profession, however that does not mean my future careers will be the same. Wait it out awhile and think about it. Draw something similar to what you want on your finger, then do what you normally would with your hands. Watch how many times that surface of your finger is touched and such.

  23. 33

    Very informative article. I just got three words on the inside of three fingers. They were my my 7-9th tattoos. I talked with the artist before hand, let him know I was going into it understanding the pros and cons, that I knew it wasn’t guaranteed (no free touch ups). I have both forearms tattooed, and most of mine are visible. I work in a bank, and made sure to research and ask about the policies on visible tattoos upon hiring (none of the face, none in appropriate). The fingers are actually healing better than my other tattoos have in the past, I am very pleased. I certainly wouldn’t recommend fingers tattoos to a first timer, I have had very visible ink for years. I knew what I was getting into. This is the type of article people need to read before going ahead with their work! Thanks!

  24. 34

    This is a great article. Thank you you for posting it. I want a tattoo on my hand but after reading this I have a better understanding of why I shouldn’t

  25. 35

    I’ve been thinking of getting a small hand tattoo for a long time. I was wondering. In the post you seem to mostly talk about tattoos on the side of fingers. Will tattoos on the palm side of a finger fare better or worse than the side?

  26. 39

    Thank you! If only I had found this before I got my finger tattoo. Its one of the worn off ones that looks completely crap! Not the cute Pinterest pic I had imagined! It’s crap your getting hate over this, just for the record. Keep up the awesome posts xx

  27. 40

    Thank you for this! I’ve recently requested a small, inner finger tattoo from my artist and he declined (I have a fair number of tattoos). He listed all of the points you did and ended by saying he refuses to do them (he receives many requests) and tries to dissuade people from going elsewhere for them…. I now understand why!!!
    Thanks for being so honest! This has been quite informative….!

  28. 41

    As someone who got their first tattoo on their foot (at the age of 17 no less, no id even requested at the place I went, should have been thei first warning sign ) I am happy you are sharing this information !!
    All I have now, of course , is a small black blob (should be a small lizard)
    The “artist” doing it never even mentioned it to me, it was not until I went for my second one that I learned what a bad spot it was (different place and much, much better artist )
    He suggested I get it removed and forget even trying to cover it (or, adding it to the tail end of a larger lef tattoo (which is what I chose to do)
    Too much wear and tear on those two areas on top of it.

  29. 42

    I want to get a simple cross tattoo on the top of my wedding finger, but I’m a little concerned about healing. I work 35 hours a week in a deli, so my hands are in latex gloves 99% of the time, which makes them sweat. Usually I also have a “cutting glove” on, which is pretty much a thick fabric glove that keeps us from cutting ourselves when we make sandwiches or clean slicers. This makes them sweat more and might rub on the tattoo. Also, because of my job, I wash my hands A LOT!

    That’s all great for my customers, but not so great for healing a finger tattoo. How would I get the tattoo to heal well with the stuff I put my hands through? I could put a bandage on it while I’m at work, but it still needs to breathe, and that may make it sweat more.

    After I have kids, I’m going to stay home with them and only work 1 day a week at the deli. Would is be more advisable to wait until then?

  30. 44

    Just found this article when searching Google for related stuff. I’ve got both my arms completely tattooed and have literally just booked to have my knuckles done. I’ve spent over a year considering it, drawn them on loads of times and love how they look but I’m still nervous about having completely visible tattoos. I’m also nervous about what my parents will say, they’re completely fine with tattoos and I’m a 25 year old guy but I know for them permanently visible will be a biggy.

    I definitely agree that people need to put some major thought into hand tats and it annoys me when I see people with no other coverage with them as I do feel they have to be earned also.

    Great post and great blog 🙂

  31. 45

    I want to get a small tattoo (two short words) on the side of my hand, below my pinky. How do you think the healing and lasting result will be on this one? Better than fingers?

  32. 47

    Hi! Just wanted to say that I’ve been considering a tattoo on my ring finger for awhile (small pattern on top of the finger) and just wanted to say thanks for being so blunt and honest about the process. I appreciate it, your blog really helped me gauge the risk/reward.

  33. 48

    Thank you for posting this! I went into my tattoo shop and asked about getting a ring tattoo. He told me he would do it for me but he wanted me to think about it before he did. He explained that hands heal differently, often need touched up and he didn’t want me mad at him or upset with the result. I told him I appreciate him not just trying to make a buck and after I thought about & researched it I’d let him know. I only have 5 tattoo’s and one was done by him but he just earned my trust in a MAJOR way. I appreciated his honesty and yours in this post. It helps me understand and helps me in makeing the right decision for me.

  34. 49

    Thanks for this article! I really wanted to get a moon tattooed on the inside of my ring finger. It’s a very meaningful symbol to me, and getting it on my ringer finger would also be highly meaningful (as in, if I can’t get it there, there’s not really a point in getting it). I work in a field where having a visible tattoo like a wrist tattoo just wouldn’t work, but something small on my finger would. After reading this, I’m thinking about skipping the tattoo altogether. The only other place I could really conceal it consistently would be my heel, and if that exfoliates just as quickly as a hand, there’s no point. The tattoo would also lose a lot of it’s meaning by being on my foot. lol I don’t want my crescent moon to turn into a black blob in a year! Thanks so much! 🙂

  35. 50

    I am so glad I read this. I don’t have any tattoos. My husband and I were considering getting matching finger tattoos. After reading this, I think I will wait for various reasons (i.e. I have 2 small children so I need my hands a lot, I am not settled in a career yet, and I don’t want to make an impulsive decision based off a cute Pinterest pic). Thank you so much for writing this, for taking the time to keep people informed and not full of regrets later.

  36. 51

    What a wonderfully written piece. After getting tattoos for many years and recently embarking on a full leg stocking (that was meant to be a project till I was 30) I decided I really wanted the palm of my hand tattooed.

    I thought long and hard about this and considered having the small 4cm cat whiskers elsewhere including my wrist but my curiousity about the pain levels of a hand tattoo won out and not fancying a small wrist tattoo I broached the subject with my much loved tattooist who remarked I was mad!

    She made her thoughts well known…
    Had I considered how it may age/wear/heal?
    Did I know how much it probably would hurt!
    If it dropped out I was not to blame her etc.

    So after all of that we got on with it 🙂 and I’m still as pleased with it today as I was 7months ago, need a tiny touch up on 1 line but the rest hasn’t gone anywhere.

    As for my job prospects…I’m a psychiatric nurse, my palm tattoo isn’t that noticeable but it is a great ice breaker when I need it to be, but I fully support the thinking of no sleeve/significant tattoos no hand tattoos, they are always there and do attract judgements. Even a feminine leg sleeve draws comments and stares so hands need serious consideration.

  37. 52

    Hi! Advice on the wedding band tattoo thing?

    I get pretty severe migraines, many of them because the nerve that runs through my left hand/arm through my neck and up my head gets pinched off in various areas (mostly at the base of the neck, but still…) and long story short, I can’t really wear jewelry on my left hand without courting danger. I’ve been married for years and while my husband doesn’t care that I don’t wear my ring very often, I would still like to have something on that hand that I don’t have to worry about causing or promoting a migraine. I started using henna awhile ago, but it doesn’t last, and now I’m considering getting it permanently done. It’d be my first tattoo.

    After reading this, I’m honestly wondering if it’s something you’d recommend against? I admit, part of it is because I want to be able to be “lazy” and not have to deal with rings or henna all the time. But do you think it would require enough touching up so as to not be worth it? I’m fine dealing with pain along that nerve if it’s a once or twice thing … but suddenly the idea of having it redone once or twice a year makes my head spin. Would it have to be that often? (I’m thinking a simple thin band, probably in dark blue).

    Thanks for any advice!! 🙂

    • 53

      If you stick with getting something like a simple design or symbol on the top of your finger, it may heal up fine. Everyone heals differently. I have my wedding stone tattooed on my finger and I’ve not had to touch it up at all. But be aware, the lines may bleed or blur. Tattoos on the hand are always a gamble, the best you can do is ask a reputable artist if they are willing to tattoo you and to follow their instructions for healing.

  38. 54

    Thank you for this! I was considering getting the word SALT on the tops of my fingers for my next tattoo but now I understand that I perhaps need a bit more experience with tattoos before I commit to something both as public and as painful as that would be. My two current tattoos are already in very public places(inner forearms) but I understand that having something on your fingers makes way more of a scene in public. Perhaps a place more like my shoulder would do better.

Comments are closed.