Behind The Ear Tattoos: What You Should Know Before Getting Inked

Fish Ear Tattoo @maasherry

When deciding on a new tattoo, it’s not only the design that matters, but, what arguably may be more important, is the placement of the tattoo. One placement that has been gaining in popularity over the years – especially for mini tattoos – is behind the ear.

Where you decide to get inked plays a big role in what you can get inked – a small, minimalist tattoo may look out of place on a large surface area like your thigh, whereas a highly detailed, realistic portrait would be a challenge on one of your fingers. 

Flower Ear Tattoo @muse_tattoos_

With behind the ear tattoos, mini tattoos are often the way to go. 

Celebrities With Mini Behind The Ear Tattoos

Many celebrities have gotten onto the mini tattoo bandwagon, especially with placing them behind the ear. 

Signer Ariana Grande has a couple of designs behind her ears – one being a lightning bolt behind her right ear, and a bumblebee behind her left as a tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack that occurred at a concert of hers in Manchester, UK. 

Ariana Grande Ear Tattoo @arianagrande

Another signer with tatts behind her ears is Kelly Clarkson – she has both a snowflake and a crescent moon. 

Ireland Baldwin paid tribute to her star sign – Scorpio – with a tiny tattoo of a scorpion behind her left ear. 

Simple tattoos look amazing behind the ear, as you can see from the cursive uppercase “A” singer, Adele, has which is believed to be in honor of her son, Angelo. 

Justin Bieber Ear Tattoo @justinbieber

This is not a placement that is just popular among women – Justin Bieber has a treble clef tucked behind one of his ears. 

Here’s what you should know about getting inked behind your ear:

It Is On Your Skull, So It Will Probably Hurt

When it comes to the scale of tattoo pain, in most cases getting inked on skin that is close to the bone is more painful than getting inked on a spot with a bit of fat and muscle in between the bone and the needle. 

This is because the muscle and fat can absorb some of the shock. 

Getting tattooed behind the ear isn’t just jarring because of the proximity of the tattoo needle to the skull, but also because of the sound. 

Semi Colon Ear Tattoo @morethangreens

“The vibration from the tattoo gun is what does it for most people. The vibrating pain results from the tattoo needles going over the mastoid bone that sits behind the ear. Minimal flesh makes the sensation especially noticeable. The sound of the tattoo gun buzzing right near the ear and the abundance of sensory nerves in and around the ears also lend to the less-than-pleasant experience,”


It goes on to say that what can make the pain worse is the emotional state of the tattooee. 

Prepare For Your Appointment

You’re reading this blog, so that’s a good step! 

Just walking into a tattoo studio without preparing yourself can result in an appointment that doesn’t go super well. 

Black Flower Tattoo @uhhhhtaco

In fact, there is research that shows that negative emotions – such as anxiety, anger, and depression – can make you feel more pain, whereas positive emotions can decrease the perceived pain. 

There are multiple ways to get ready for your tattoo appointment, one of the best ways being a good night’s sleep. Not only will this mean you’re well-rested for your appointment, but sleep can also help you reduce feelings of anxiety. 

Elephant Ear Tattoo @yustattoo

Sleep Foundation explains that sleep deprivation can worsen anxiety. But, how are you meant to fall asleep when you’re already anxious? 

“Both your sleep habits and environment are part of sleep hygiene. Steps to improve sleep hygiene include making your bed more comfortable, eliminating sources of sleep disruption like light and noise, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon and evening,”

Sleep Foundation

Another reason to avoid alcohol before your tattoo appointment is because it thins your blood. Too much blood can obscure the tattooer’s vision and can have a negative impact on the ink.

One thing you don’t want for any tattoo, but especially mini tattoos made up of fine lines, is anything that distracts the artist.

Moon Ear Tattoo @artisticandsadistic

Fine Lines And Shaved Heads

Mistakes happen – but, they’re more likely to happen with fine line tattoos. This is because a thinner needle with a little bit of ink is way less forgiving than a traditional large tattoo with thicker lines. A slight bump can be visible in fine lines.

Also, these delicate tattoos do have a tendency to fade and become blurry quicker than traditional tattoos. 

Snake Ear Tattoo @addictivearttattoo

Tattoo artist, Michaelle Fiore, explained to Bustle,

“These tattoos will either bleed [or] spread overtime, like your average tattoo, or will fall out in places and not look as legible as when first done.”

To help mitigate this as much as possible, do your research and go to a tattooer who is well versed in fine line tattoos. Always check out portfolios!

Snake Ear Tattoo @leonnitattoo

Another aspect of behind the ear tattoos that you might need to prepare for is shaving a bit of your head. Of course, this depends on the design and size of your tattoo. Chat to your chosen artist at length about your choice of tattoo – they will be able to tell you what will work, or if they’re going to have to take a chunk out of your hair. 

Behind The Ear Tattoos Are Perfect For Those Wanting A Discreet Inking 

There is so much to take into account before you get a tattoo, such as how easy it will be to hide your new ink. 

If you have a job that doesn’t condone visible tattoos, or you want to hide your body art from your family easily, then full sleeves or hand tattoos are probably off of the table. 

Rose Ear Tattoo @brutally_alluring

Mini behind the ear tattoos are discreet and simple to hide if you have long hair – you just wear your hair down and the tattoo will be covered up. 

There is another way to hide tattoos: makeup. There are a host of concealers and foundations that can make your skin look like it has never seen a tattoo machine. Obviously, you can use makeup to cover up any size of tattoo, but small tattoos are the simplest.

So, if you’re someone who will need to cover up your tattoo often, a tiny tattoo might be the way to go. Elle has a list of the best concealers and foundations that can cover the most elaborate of body art.

Pink Roses Tattoo @mimi_d_tattoo

Also, because the surface area behind your ear is small, you most likely won’t want to add onto the design later down the road. In this case, you won’t have to worry about the design blocking something new that you want to get inked, such as if you were to get a small tattoo on your arm when you want a sleeve later on. 

It Is Easy To Forget About

As your tattoo is tucked away behind your ear, it’s really easy to forget about it – you never see it, after all.

This can be a bit troubling when it comes to looking after your tattoo.

Wine Tattoo

If you want your tattoo to remain crisp, you’ve got to take care of it by protecting it from the sun. 

“UV rays from the sun will fade your tattoos if exposed to a lot of direct sunlight. When you leave your ink out in the sun, those UV rays are absorbed and essentially break up the pigment in your design,”


Fine line tattoos already have a tendency to fade without adding the sun’s rays into the mix, so remembering you have a tattoo behind your ear and putting on sunscreen is vital for a tattoo that stands the test of time and UV rays. 

It’s not only fine lines that have a tendency to fade quicker than traditional tattoos, but color tattoos also have a difficult time maintaining their vibrancy.

“Light colour inks look nice and vibrant. When paired with darker colour ink, it adds an accent or highlight to the design. Generally, it’s white ink that fades the fastest. Next, comes yellow, light green, pink, and similar light colours,”

Tattoo Moisturiser
Mandala Ear Tattoo @psychodelink_tattoo

However, one aspect of placing a tattoo behind your ear is that this part of the body doesn’t really rub against anything, which makes it a great spot for ink. Areas of the body that get a lot of friction and sweat tend to result in tattoos that fade faster. 

Behind The Ear Tattoo Aftercare Tips

Another time it’s essential to remember you have a behind the ear tattoo is when it comes to the healing process. 

Prayer Ear Tattoo @therealguadalupe

While the time it takes for a tattoo to heal completely differs from person to person, it usually takes around two to four weeks before you can stop giving it a ton of aftercare attention. 

Authority Tattoo breaks up the healing stages into three parts: the oozing, swelling, and redness stage; the itching and flaking stage; and the last stage where the tattoo may look fully healed, but the deeper layers of skin are still busy repairing. 

Horses Ear Tattoo @_dr_woo_

When stage one kicks in after you leave the tattoo studio, you basically have an open wound that is susceptible to infections. So, it’s important to keep the area of your new tattoo clean by washing it with gentle soap and keeping it well moisturized. 

“To do this, use warm water and sensitive fragrance-free soap. Apply it using circular motions with your clean fingers. Always ensure the water isn’t too hot as this could cause further damage to the wound,”

Authority Tattoo
Floral Ear Tattoo @uhhhhtaco

For a list of some of the best tattoo aftercare products recommended by experts, click here for Allure’s list.

During the first two stages when your tattoo is busy scabbing up and then flaking off, you’ve got to be extra careful when washing your hair. You don’t want shampoo getting into your open wound. 

Also, it may be best to avoid curling and straightening irons while your tattoo is healing – one wrong move and a burn from a hot hair styling implement could seriously damage your new ink.

Worded Ear Tattoo @_dr_woo_

How do you know when your tattoo is fully healed? Tattooholic says to look out for when your tattoo stops peeling,

“If your tattoo has stopped peeling, including the thin white pieces of skin like a sunburn then it’s probably healed. The shedding process removes the last of the damaged skin from the tattoo process and seals the ink under the new epidermis so that it remains permanent. This also applies to scabbing. Any scabs on top of the skin that remain are a sign that your tattoo isn’t healed yet.”

Behind The Ear Tattoo Ideas

When it comes to designs that work well placed behind the ear, it’s mostly mini tattoos. Small symbols that define an aspect of your personality or experience is an amazing way to go with this placement. 

Sun sign or moon sign symbols could be the perfect choice for you if you feel connected to your zodiac. You could go the flower route – each zodiac sign has a specific flower associated with it. 

Zodiac Ear Tattoo @blackhousetattoo

Certain animals and insects can work well as mini tattoos, such as butterflies and dragonflies.

“Butterflies are associated with transformation, growth, and change, as well as freedom,”

The Trend Spotter

This is the same for dragonflies, as they also go through stages to become the colorful insect that we see. 

Simple images such as a crescent moon, an anchor, or a star can be an impactful, yet delicate, body art addition behind the ear.  

At the end of the day, what matters is that you choose a design you love, and one that you can see yourself loving throughout the years. 

Butterfly Ear Tattoo @jmunztattoos

With this in mind, don’t get swayed by tattoo trends. Do your research and figure out what you truly like.

If you want a mini tattoo to add to your collection of body art, or you want an easy-to-hide inking, then behind your ear is a great placement to consider.

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