What to Know Before Getting a Chest Tattoo
As far as body parts go, the chest area is one of the biggest canvases you've got (second to your back, of course). That's why it makes such a popular location for a new tattoo: there are so many other, smaller sub locations you can choose. Now, some people take full advantage of this wide range of real estate — looking at you, Pete Davidson and Justin Bieber — and decide to fill up every inch of the space with ink. Then there are others who prefer to keep their chest tattoos relegated to one or two sections, like on the collarbone, along the sternum, or on the pec on either side of the breast.
While this location of body art can be easily hidden under a T-shirt, one of the perks of a chest tattoo is that it can be a conversation starter if you choose to show it off. "A chest tattoo, depending on the season, is one of the first things you see on a person," Jazmin Paulino, tattoo artist at Fleur Noire Tattoo in Brooklyn, NY, tells POPSUGAR. "So be prepared for the attention."
If you're considering getting your own chest tattoo, there are a few things to consider. That's why we asked Paulino to break down everything you'd need to know before your appointment, from how painful chest tattoos are to how much they cost (and everything in between). Keep scrolling for more.
What to Consider Before Getting a Chest Tattoo
We've mentioned this tattoo placement tends to be more visible than others, so you might want to consider that if you work in more corporate environments. In those cases, stick to a smaller design or one that can be easily covered up during the workweek. "If you want your tattoo to be hidden, I wouldn't recommend a large chest tattoo," Paulino says. "Unless you live somewhere where it doesn't get warm and you're mostly in high-neck shirts year round."
Plus, because this is an area that's also more visible than, say, your stomach, it will be more exposed to the sun, so you'll want to make sure to keep the tattoo adequately protected with sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) to prevent any fading.
Best Placements For a Chest Tattoo
There are many areas of the chest that make a great home for a tattoo: above the pectoral muscles, below the pectoral muscles, along the sternum, below the breast bone, spread across one (or both) of your collarbones, near your rib cage — the options are plenty.
What area you choose comes down to personal preference. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder — I truly believe that," Paulino says. "When it comes to the aesthetics of your tattoo, do what feels right for you and your body. My best advice would be to find a design that works with the natural curves of your individual body."
One consideration that might factor into which placement you decide is that some areas hurt more than others (more on that ahead).
How Much Does a Chest Tattoo Hurt?
The short answer: yes, chest tattoos are considerably more painful than other parts of the body. That's because the skin on this area tends to be thinner, and there isn't as much cushion between the muscle and the bone. "Many of my clients find [chest tattoos] pretty painful," Paulino says. "The collar in particular is tough because of the bone, but most people say all of the chest is fairly unpleasant to get tattooed in general. So that's definitely something to keep in mind."
If you have a lower pain tolerance, consider a smaller chest tattoo or a fine-line design to keep your appointment as quick and painless as possible.
How Much Do Chest Tattoos Cost?
As with any tattoo, the price of a chest tattoo will vary based on a host of different factors, including if you're living in a bigger city or smaller town (the former of which tends to run higher). Paulino adds: "Tattoo prices depend on a number of variables, including size, placement, style, details, and artists' rates."
In New York City, where Paulino is based, larger chest tattoos can run you anywhere from $500 or more. A tiny tattoo with little to no detailing can cost closer to $100, regardless of where it is on the chest.
How to Take Care of a Chest Tattoo
The key to a smooth healing process is to closely follow the aftercare instructions provided by your tattooist. "Properly take care of your tattoos post session by following your artists' instructions, and follow up maintaining your tattoos by wearing sunscreen, as well as keeping the area hydrated and moisturized," Paulino says.
This typically includes keeping it out of water for a few days after your appointment, cleaning the wound with fragrance- and dye-free body wash, and avoiding peeling the skin if scabs or peeling occurs. Then, after your tattoo is healed, don't stop the moisturizing. "What's best for your skin in general will be great for the longevity of your tattoos," Paulino says. "Additionally, if you feel like you want to bring them 'back to life' because some years have passed, touch-ups or redos are always an option to get a fresh look."