Think Before You Ink: Wrist Tattoos

Dainty Wrist Tattoo @orma_tattoo

Dainty, minimalist ink is all the rage, with tiny tattoos taking center stage in the world of body art for a few years now. Fine line details often look best in smaller placements to avoid too much blank space. The wrist is one of these locations. 

However, as with every tattoo placement, there are pros and cons to choosing this spot. If you are someone who is thinking about getting a wrist tattoo, there are certain aspects such as pain level, aftercare, and the risks involved that you should be aware of before booking your appointment. 

Rising Sun Wrist Tattoo @billythekidtattoo

Do Wrist Tattoos Hurt?

When it comes to tattoo placements and pain, the thinner the skin and closer to the bone the skin is, the more getting inked there will hurt.

So, the wrist does tend to fall on the more intense side of the pain spectrum because of the ulna, or wrist bone. When a tattoo needle goes over this area, the vibrating sensation can be quite painful for some people. 

The pain experienced during the wrist tattoo process could also be due to the closeness of the nerves in this area. As Healthline explains,

“In the case of the inner wrist, the proximity to the palmar cutaneous branch of the median nerve likely has something to do with it. The palmar cutaneous branch is a nerve that, well, branches out from the median nerve throughout the palm of your hand. The nerves send signals between the central nervous system and the palm, making the area especially sensitive to pain.”

Moon And Star Wrist Tattoo @traitsdunion_tattoo

If you tend to have a low pain threshold, you don’t need to give up on your dream wrist tattoo just yet – there are ways to lessen the discomfort, one being to eat a meal. Low blood sugar increases your sensitivity to pain, so make sure to eat something substantial before your tattoo appointment. 

Also, rest as much as possible the night before your appointment.

“It is incredibly important to be well-rested so that you can be alert and in-tune with your body. As you are getting tattooed you want to be able to read the signals your body is sending you and react appropriately,”

Playhouse Tattoos

Being exhausted can make you more prone to feeling pain.

Tiny Red Heart Wrist Tattoo @evatatts

Is There A Risk Of Blowout With Wrist Tattoos?

Tattoo blowout is when the lines of a tattoo become blurry and smudged during the healing process. 

This smudging effect happens as the ink travels further past the layers of the skin it was meant to stay in, instead spreading out on fat and veins. 

Due to the thinness of the skin around the wrist, there is an increased chance of tattoo blowout. 

“It is much more likely that due to the extreme thinness of these areas of skin, the needle will protrude into the lower layers a lot more easily and thus potentially cause a blowout,”

Authority Tattoo
‘Focus’ Wrist Tattoo @julesdry

There are other factors that can contribute to tattoo blowout, such as being tattooed by an inexperienced artist. Professional tattoo artists who have experienced tattooing wrists are far less likely to puncture the skin too deeply or stretch the skin too much.

One of the best things you can do to ensure a positive tattoo experience and walk out with a design you’re happy with is to book your appointment with a professional. 

Another important factor for tattoo success is aftercare.

Tulip And Zodiac Sign Wrist Tattoo @batalichev

How Do You Look After A Fresh Wrist Tattoo?

Tattoo aftercare is pretty standard across the board, with artists adding or subtracting some steps according to their preferences and experiences.

Basically, you’ve got to wash your fresh tattoo regularly with fragrance-free soap, pat dry gently with a paper towel (never rub your tattoo with a towel, as this can displace the ink and distort your design), and moisturize the area while the tattoo is healing. 

Taking the time to do this can avoid infections and ensure the healing process goes off without a hitch.

3 2 1 Wrist Tattoo

However, wrist tattoos tend to need a little more TLC because of the high mobility of this area.

“We recommend keeping a close eye on how often the area is in contact with surfaces and doing your best to avoid unnecessary contact or flexing. High-motion areas are more prone to abrasion and infection due to consistent contact and flexing,”


Tip: Don’t skimp on the sunscreen. Liberally apply sunscreen while your tattoo is healing and afterwards. The sun’s rays can break up the ink in your skin more quickly.

Word Wrist Tattoo @juniejunie_tattoo

What Tattoo Designs Work Well on The Wrist?

The wrist is a placement that’s almost always in your eye-line, so this makes it a popular placement for a meaningful tattoo, such as a quote or word tattoo.

If you feel connected to your star sign, a zodiac glyph (or symbol) is the perfect option for a meaningful, minimalist tattoo.

Another classic, simple tattoo design for the wrist is a crescent moon tattoo, which can be symbolic of growth and creativity.

If this is going to be your first tattoo, it can be worth it to go small, as Bustle points out,

“…getting a minimalist tattoo is one of the best ways to go about your first ink job. You can get your feet wet by starting off small, and always add to it later. Plus, minimalist designs can be exquisite despite their simplicity.”

Crescent Moon Wrist Tattoo @handpokeme

While small tattoo designs work well on the wrist because of the small surface area, larger designs can look amazing here, too. If you’re fine with having a tattoo that is difficult to cover up, you can opt for a larger flower or plant design that looks to grow down from the wrist to your hand, and up the wrist to your forearm. 

Tip: Don’t wear any jewelry before your wrist tattoo appointment. If there are any indentations on your skin, the stencil can get distorted resulting in an off kilter tattoo.

Wrist And Forearm Flower Tattoo @zeeyeart

No matter what placement you choose for your tattoo, there will be pros and cons. Do your research so that you can find a location with cons you don’t mind.

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