Foot Tattoos: What to Expect

John Dietrich

Thinking of adding a foot tattoo to your collection? We’ve put together some need-to-know info to help you go into the appointment knowing what to expect, and how to handle your new tattoo. Read on to find out how to rock your new ink and keep it looking its best.

Set Your Expectations on Design

Mandala Foot Tattoo

Not every kind of design is going to work on your foot, so be realistic in what you want to have done. Your artist can help you come up with a design that fits the area perfectly, so be open to their opinion and whatever changes they suggest you make in order to make it work. Something to note is that ink bleeds more on this area than some other areas of the body because feet are constantly in use. It’s a great area to get inked if you’re looking to showcase your body art in the summer, but you need to be sure to take care of it and protect it as best as possible.

Placement is key when it comes to foot tattoos. Some areas of the foot are more prone to friction and rubbing than others, which is something else you want to remember when thinking of your design. Similar to the palms of the hands, the bottoms of the feet are guaranteed to see some fading. The skin is shed quicker and the cells renew more frequently, so tattoos on the soles of your feet won’t last as long as, say, one on the tops of your feet or ankles. Consider what kinds of shoes your normally wear, and how frequently they’ll come into contact with your tattoo, especially when it’s new.

Pain Levels

Man screaming in pain

We’re not gonna sugar coat this – it’s going to hurt. A lot. Feet are one of the most painful spots to get tattooed because of the lack of muscle and fat tissue under the skin. The close contact with the ligaments and bones in that area make tattooing there hurt like hell. The end results are worth it, but before you jump into getting a foot tattoo, know that it will not be an easy experience.

 

It’s tolerable, but if you’re scared of the pain you do have a couple of options. One is to choose a different location for your tattoo. If you’re looking at getting a big piece with lots of shading and detail, but are wary of being able to handle how much time it will take (translate to: how long you can handle the pain of the session), you might want to decide how badly you want that design specifically on your foot. The other is to consider taking ibuprofen and using a numbing cream before you get inked.

Before Your Appointment

Tattoo on foot and ankle

Prior to your appointment there are a few things you want to do to ensure your skin is in good shape to be inked. First and foremost have a shower, because you won’t be able to for 24-48 hours after you get your tattoo. Go in to the appointment with clean, hydrated skin. Drink water, and make sure to eat. This is especially important with a tattoo in a spot that’s going to cause more pain, because it decreases your odds of passing out and feeling lightheaded, (depending on how your body handles pain). Bring a drink, bring a friend if you need the moral support, and have your money ready. If you’re unsure of how you’ll handle the pain of the tattoo, use a numbing cream on the area you’re having inked 20-30 minutes before you arrive to your appointment, and take ibuprofen.

After Your Appointment

Skeletons Kissing Across Feet Tattoo

Tattoo aftercare is essential so make sure you understand and follow the steps that your tattoo artist gives you. Ask any questions you might have, and do not skip this part. Not only do these steps help your tattoo heal and keep it looking good, it prevents infection and adverse reactions in your skin. Keep on whatever adhesive or cover your artist puts on the tattoo for a minimum of 24 hours. Once you remove it, give it a good wash with a gentle, unscented soap.

One key thing to keep in mind with new foot tattoos is footwear. You won’t be able to wear any shoes you want – closed shoes are basically off-limits for roughly 2 weeks. Bring a pair of flip flops or open-faced sandals to wear out of the appointment, and be prepared to wear these kinds of shoes for the next little while. Running shoes and sneakers are a no-no while your foot tattoo is healing. It depends on which part of your foot you have the tattoo on, but in general, the safest bet is to bring flip flops. Any shoe that creates friction where your tattoo is should be avoided while it heals.

Making It Last

Skeletons Kissing Across Feet Tattoo

How you take care of your tattoo during the healing phase has a huge impact on the longevity of the design, but it’s placement plays a role as well. Some areas will inevitably encounter more friction so odds are you’ll need a touch up down the road. Work with your artist to come up with a design that’s more likely to age well, and are less likely to succumb to bleeding ink and fading too badly. As long as you follow their advice and take good care of the ink, your tattoos will stay looking good for years to come.

Foot tattoos are great for the summer, but keep in mind that you’ll need to take proper care of them. For the first couple of weeks avoid water and sunlight, and wear open shoes that won’t rub on the area. Be prepared for some pain during the tattooing process but know that it’s temporary and it will be over soon! If you’re getting a foot tattoo this summer make sure you follow your artist’s aftercare advice, and you’ll be able to proudly show off your new ink in no time.

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