What To Know Before Getting Inked: Leg Tattoos

Rose Ankle Tattoo @chaewha_tattoo

From leg sleeve designs to just getting your calf tattooed, there are a variety of ways to approach leg tattoos. 

Leg tattoos can be a great way to explore bigger tattoo designs, plus, they are generally less painful than other placements, and the healing process can be a little bit simpler compared to other spots on the body.

Thigh Tattoos

If you’re thinking about getting a large tattoo design, the thigh is a great place to ink.

This section of the body has a large surface area compared to other places, meaning that you can get quite creative and you aren’t held back too much because of design size. 

Owl Thigh Tattoo @rbenderstudio

Also, a thigh tattoo won’t have much of a wrapping effect as with arm tattoos. When the surface you’re getting tattooed is too small to fully hold your choice of design, the ink will wrap around, causing you to twist to be able to take in the whole tattoo. 

After getting your thigh tattoo, the healing process is simple because your new ink is in an easy-to-reach place. You can effortlessly wash, moisturize, and wrap your new tattoo on your leg by yourself – the process for taking care of back tattoos, for example, isn’t that straightforward.

Flower Thigh Tattoo @jamieadair_tattoo

Leg tattoos are also easy to keep out of the sun – you just throw on a pair of pants and you’re good. The same goes for situations where you have to hide your ink. If you’re in a job that frowns upon visible ink, a leg tattoo can be a great choice for you.

Lower Leg Tattoos

As with your thighs, generally your lower leg is a bit bigger than your arms, so you’ve got more space to work with when deciding on a tattoo design. And, if you do choose to go for a bigger, intricate tattoo with tons of detail, you’re going to be in the tattoo studio for a while.

Lower Leg Tattoo @maneentattoo

Luckily, getting your legs tattooed can be a somewhat pleasant experience compared with other parts of your body for two reasons: One, you can sit or lay down comfortably while the artist works, and your hands are free to scroll on your phone or read. Two, it’s not a super painful area to get inked.

Obviously, this does depend on how you handle pain, but your leg does include some layers between your skin and bone. Inking your shin bone or ankle is a different story, though.

Knee Tattoos

While thigh and lower leg tattoos don’t tend to hurt too much, knees can be one of the more painful areas of your body to get inked. This is because there is very little separating your skin from the kneecap, or patella.

When you decide to get a full leg sleeve tattoo, though, a gap in the ink over your knee can ruin the overall look of your design. Luckily, there are ways to lessen the potential pain of your knee tattoo appointment.

Big Cat Knee Tattoos @outofstepbooks

Authority Tattoo recommends taking regular breaks during your session, not drinking alcohol (a heavy night out before your tattoo can result in more bleeding during your appointment as alcohol thins your blood), being well-rested, and booking your session with an experienced tattoo artist.

A tattoo numbing cream can also make your appointment a bit more enjoyable. Best Tattoo Guide has a list of the top tattoo numbing creams on the market.

Ankle Tattoos

If you’re going lower down your leg to your ankle, keep the above tips on reducing pain in mind, as this part of your body can also be a very painful tattoo experience as there’s really just skin on bone in this area. 

Floral Moon Ankle Tattoo @julie.tattooart

The ankle is a great spot for a mini, delicate tattoo. The small surface area can only accommodate certain designs without the image getting warped because of the bone, but there is still a lot to be inspired by: from a minimalist wave, to miniature flowers and a single meaningful word.

Cons Of Leg Tattoos

Besides the pain involved in knee and ankle tattoos, there are some other cons of getting your legs inked.

You’ve Got To Be Okay With Hairy Legs For A While 

During the healing process, it’s important that you don’t shave your new ink.

“You run the risk of slicing the healing tattoo, which can result in some of the ink falling out of your skin,”

Explains LA-based tattooer Dillon Eaves to Dollar Shave Club
Full Leg Tattoos @borndeadclothing

He recommends waiting until there is no scabbing, peeling or shininess on or around the site of the tattoo before picking up your razor – this could be from two weeks to over a month.

Another reason not to shave over a fresh tattoo is risk of infection. When you shave, you can open your skin and allow bacteria to enter – not great for your new tattoo or health.

Choosing Outfits While Healing Can Be Difficult

After your tattoo appointment, it’s important to take proper care of your new ink so that it can heal well. One part of this is not letting anything rub against your tattoo too much. 

So, you might want to pack away your skinny jeans for about a month. 

Full Leg Tattoos @styng.tattoo

“If your new tattoo is on a covered body part please try to wear loose clothing made of soft materials. For example, wearing jeans after you have a thigh tattoo is not recommended – sweat pants or shorts are much better choices,”

Lovin Kitt Tattoo
Castle Leg Tattoo @sneakyroosterstattooclub

Annoying Gaps 

If you’re not yet ready for a large full leg tattoo and are opting for a small design, down the line you could end up with some annoying gaps. 

One tattoo session you may get a traditional sparrow tattoo, and then later come across a floral design you love for another spot on your leg. As time and appointments go by, you may end up with some odd shaped gaps in between your different designs. 

Flower Tattoo @alvina.tattooer

If you’re a fan of a cohesive feel to tattoos, then you may need to come up with a full plan for your leg tats before booking your session.

There are always going to be reasons to get a tattoo and reasons not to – what matters is that you find a design and placement that you love, so that every time you look at your tattoo, you’re happy you went under the needle.

For 10 things to consider before getting inked, click here.

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