Want Some Finger Tattoos? Experts Break Down Things to Consider

While all tattoo placements are intriguingly beautiful, finger tattoos remain uniquely expressive and trendy. Acting as additional jewelry for the hands, they're beyond the conventional realm of body art but have been popularized in recent years. Just take a look at Rihanna, Ariana Grande, and even Emilia Clarke — their chic and intricate tattoos remain among some of our favorites and a key inspiration for our finger ink vision boards. While this location may not have a lot of canvas to work with, tiny finger tattoos make quite a statement.

But finger tattoos aren't as straightforward as you may think. "Finger tattoos often have a high rejection rate [because of their] high chance of healing with imperfections," New York City-based tattoo artist Gianna Maria Galli tells POPSUGAR. "This is often regardless of how skilled the tattooer is and has more to do with the area."

Before deciding whether you want a finger tattoo, you have to ponder a few factors, including what it will feel like, and the aftercare process. You should also consider what your ink will look like down the road, as tattoos on the hands fade a lot faster than the rest of the body. "I usually just ask folks what level of a perfectionist they are, and if the answer is high, logic often dictates that we tattoo another area," says Galli. "If they can live with imperfections, we'll do it, and most times folks are super happy [with the results]."

If you're thinking about getting a finger tattoo and want to learn more about how long it will last, the healing time, and what designs are most suitable, keep reading.

How Long Do Finger Tattoos Last?

If you're wondering, "Do finger tattoos fade?" the answer is a resounding yes. According to California-based tattoo artist Saem Kim of Feather & Mink, finger tattoos are not meant to last forever and will require touch-ups, especially when a single needle is used. This more delicate but complex approach generally produces a better result. "Our hand texture is very different from other parts of the body and generally hard to please," Kim says. While finger tattoos will almost always require retouching for the best results, the goal is still to have them last as long as possible — this is why she almost exclusively recommends a single needle when tattooing this area.

According to Atelier Eva's guest resident artist Mare the skin is a little thinner on the hands, so your ink will likely look less opaque as time goes on. This is completely normal and should be expected.

Do Finger Tattoos Hurt?

Unfortunately, yes. Due to all of the nerve endings in our hands, finger tattoos can be more painful than other areas of the body. According to Kim, this is the tattoo that hurts the most.

How Long Do Finger Tattoos Take to Heal?

By nature, finger tattoos tend to require the most care. "Because hands get so much action, taking enough time for aftercare can be difficult," Mare says. As is the case with any tattoo, you'll want to be careful during the initial healing process to give your ink the best chance at lasting a long time.

"I recommend people take a week off of work if they are in an industry that requires them to wear gloves or dirty their hands," says Mare. After your ink session, you'll likely leave with a covering over your new designs. It's recommended that you wash your hands that night or the following morning. "Daily washing with a natural/fragrance-free soap for tattoos is a necessary part of keeping them clean as they heal, but you don't want to be doing this excessively as wounds need to dry out to heal," she says. You can keep the skin moisturized by applying a fragrance-free lotion or tattoo-healing ointment a couple of times a day. While your tattoo might appear relatively healed after a week, it will take about a month for the skin to return to normal.

For Kim, a techaderm (a skin-like bandage) is recommended to be worn for at least three days. However, given that you use your hands constantly, this type of wrap can come off easily so it's a bit difficult to commit to this.

Once the tattoo is in the skin, Mare emphasizes that "there are not any long-term aftercare practices that make a huge difference in aging." That said, keeping your hands protected from the sun's harmful UV rays certainly helps keep the ink from fading prematurely.

The Best Designs For Finger Tattoos

While the design, placement, and flow are largely personal, Mare recommends going slightly darker and larger on the hands. This is due to the skin turning over much faster compared to the rest of the body. "Hand and finger tattoos fade more quickly than any other placement," she says. However, the exact location of the ink matters. "The tops of fingers have more longevity than the inner edges or palms."

For Kim, the best designs are usually dot work. "The line work on the finger cannot be as crisp as opposed to getting that same design on your wrist or forearm. Dot designs will be a lot cleaner and may not require retouching."