Everything to Know Before Getting a Hand or Foot Tattoo, According to a Celebrity Tattooist

When thinking about your next tattoo, deciding on the design to get is only half the battle — the other half is landing on a placement. Hands and feet are ever-popular locations for tiny tattoos, but not all artists like to work on these areas. The reasoning behind this is multilayered, but in short, your hands and feet just don't make for the best, or longest-lasting, spots for body art. Still, we understand the appeal of getting a cool finger tat or Barbie sole ink.

Ahead, New York City-based celebrity tattoo artist Keith "Bang Bang" McCurdy explains what you should know before booking your appointment.

The reason some tattooists recommend you steer clear of this type of tattoo comes down to the ability to get ink to stay. "Hands and feet are the most high-motion of areas on your body," Bang Bang said.

This is coupled with the fact that the sides and bottoms of your hands and feet don't retain pigment the same way the rest of your body does, which is why the palms and soles of your feet tend to be lighter than the rest of your skin. "As the body doesn't hold pigment in those areas naturally, it's hard to get it to do it artificially."

Important Factors to Consider When Getting a Hand or Foot Tattoo

If you're still interested in getting a tattoo in one of these areas, there's a couple of things you should know beforehand. "Clients should know that tattoos on the hands and feet tend to require touch-ups at a higher frequency than other tattoos because of the skin density, texture, elasticity, and motion," Bang Bang said. "When we do a tattoo, we expect 95 percent and up of everything we tattoo to stay the way we tattoo, but when we tattoo hands and feet that percentage is more like 85 to 90 percent because of that high motion forcing pigment out."

All tattoos fade slightly over time, but ink located on your hands and feet will require regular visits back to the tattoo parlor to keep it looking the way it did when you first got it.

Do Hand and Feet Tattoos Hurt?
While pain is very dependent on an individual's tolerance, Bang Bang did note that due to the increased number of nerves in these areas, it's more painful than other tattoo placements.

The Best Candidate For Hand and Feet Tattoos

If you're younger, you have a better success rate for tattoos on your hands and feet. "As you age, your skin loses elasticity and it becomes increasingly hard to tattoo your body, especially areas like your hands and feet," Bang Bang said. In terms of placement on these tricky areas, Bang Bang recommends getting ink on the tops of your feet and backs of your hands. "The sides and bottoms are not ideal because skin is not consistent."

You should also be someone who limits their sun exposure, as the sun is the number-one enemy of all tattoos, no matter where they are on your body, but hands are naturally more prone to overexposure. To help slow down fading due to the sun, you'll want to apply sunblock on your tattoos daily. But, as Bang Bang said, "there's nothing else that you can do to stop the eventual change" that will occur over time.