Think Before You Ink: What You Need To Know About Foot Tattoos

Paper Boat Foot Tattoo @siminamina

When it comes to tattoo placements, foot tattoos are up there in terms of both extreme pain and tricky aftercare.

However, even though a foot tattoo is a challenge to do and to maintain, this hasn’t stopped body art lovers and first time tattooees from slipping out of their shoes and white-knuckling it through the experience. 

A quick search on Google or Pinterest will present you with a myriad of foot tattoo inspiration, from delicate anklet tattoos that weave down the length of the foot and fine line mandala tattoos, to simple moon designs and floral inkings. 

So, is the pain worth it? What can you do to prolong the crispness of a foot tattoo? How can you make the aftercare process easier? Keep reading to get the answers to these questions and more. 

Script Foot Tattoo @physical_graffiti_tattoo

Is A Foot Tattoo Really Painful?

To get a tattoo, ink needs to be driven into the deep dermis layer of the skin through repeated pokes with a needle – so yes, whatever tattoo you get there will be discomfort and some pain. 

However, there are some areas that are known to hurt more than others – the foot is one of these places because of the amount of nerves it has. 

“There are so many nerves concentrated in that area, making it more susceptible to pain. I find most of my clients have an easier time when we are working on the tops of the feet, and a little more sensitive when we move to the sides,”

Anchor Foot Tattoo @highpriestessoriginal

The foot also has very little in the way of fat and muscle, so there is less to cushion the blow of the tattoo needle causing an intense vibration on the bones. 

Thankfully, there are a few things that can help lessen the pain. 

  • Bring headphones and be prepared with your favorite podcast to keep you distracted.
  • Eat a full meal before your appointment to avoid nausea and blood sugar drops. 
  • Get a full night’s sleep beforehand – the more tired you are, the more susceptible you are to pain. 
  • Ask a friend to come with you for support. 

All the nerves in the foot can make for an uncomfortable aftercare period, too. 

Lemon Foot Tattoo @mary.renart

What Is The Aftercare Process For A Foot Tattoo?

Foot tattoos are tricky because you need to stay off your feet after you get tattooed, and keep your feet uncovered to give your new inking a chance to heal. So, this makes wearing shoes and going to work difficult. 

This is one of the reasons why it’s so essential to plan in advance for a foot tattoo, as you may need to arrange to work remotely for a few days or take some vacation days to give yourself a chance to heal. 

Lion Foot Tattoo @fabro.minimalistas

“It may not hurt much the day of the tattoo, but the following day can be rather brutal. Even if it doesn’t hurt, you should go home and immediately apply ice to your tattoo after you leave the shop. Put your feet up and read, play video games; whatever it takes to distract you from wanting to get up and move around too much,”


Keeping your foot tattoo unrestricted is also important so that you don’t shift the ink. Red Mountain Foot Care advises,

“Do not wear clothing or shoes that chafe or rub your tattoo. Open-toed shoes are usually okay. Soft slippers are best.”

Jack ‘O Lantern Foot Tattoo @atttelier.bloem

Also, avoid soaking your new tattoo in water – so, swimming, baths, and hot tubs need to be avoided. Showers are fine, and be gentle when washing your feet – don’t rub your ink with a washcloth, for example, as this could distort your design.

Just use your hands, cool water, and a gentle unscented soap. Make sure all the slimy stuff – the plasma – is gone after you’ve washed.

Then, it’s time to moisturize. Moisturization is an essential part of the aftercare process. Use a fragrance-free lotion on your tattoo; your tattoo artist will probably recommend a brand to you. 

Rose Foot Tattoo @rudrainktattoo

Should You Get A Foot Tattoo In Summer Or Winter?

This can be a tricky decision. 

On the one hand Summer could be the ideal season, as it will be more comfortable going barefoot or with open shoes. 

However, if the sunny season for you means beach days and swimming pools, you’ll need to forgo this summer fun until your tattoo is completely healed.

In Winter, it’s easier to stay indoors until your tattoo is done healing. 

Anklet Tattoo @_gothic_ink_

Weigh the pros and cons and choose a time where you can comfortably spend a couple of weeks indoors with your feet up.  

Tip: Don’t get both feet tattooed in the same session. Having two painful feet that are difficult to walk on will make life more challenging than it has to be. Get one foot done, wait until most of the healing is done, then go in for the rest of your design. 

Berber Foot Tattoos @meriagnello_tattoo

Do Foot Tattoos Fade Quickly? 

The two things that can fade your tattoo the fastest are UV rays and friction. This is why foot tattoos are known to fade quickly. With open shoes the feet are exposed to the sun, and shoes and socks can wear away at tattoo ink. 

Fading can also be brought on by a delicate, fine line tattoo design as this style of tattooing uses less ink, which means the body can break it down quicker. If you’re worried about fading, you can opt for a bolder tattoo design. 

If you do decide on a minimalist tattoo, be prepared to go for touch ups as regular wear diminishes the tattoo. 

And, don’t let the sun’s rays get the best of you; always lather your healed foot tattoo with SPF when you go out. 

Ankle And Foot Floral Tattoo @kelmonsterrr

While scouring Google and Pinterest for the perfect piece of design inspiration for your tattoo is exciting, that’s not really the most important part of the process.

It’s imperative to get familiar with what you’re in store for regarding pain and aftercare so that you can be prepared. The more prepared you are, the higher the chance you’ll end up with a tattoo you’ll love for years.

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