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 ...

Foot Tattoos: What to expect

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.

Why Get a Foot or Ankle Tattoo

First, it’s worth going over the reasons that you would want to get a tattoo on your feet and/or ankles. To start, many people like this placement for its aesthetic quality. Foot or ankle tattoos can be very feminine and delicate, which has a lot of appeal to certain people.

Beyond that, a lot of people choose to get a foot or ankle tattoo because this location is very subtle and easy to hide. You can choose to show this type of tattoo off in the warmer months by wearing shorts and sandals, but, if you want to hide it, it’s incredibly easy to do so with long pants and shoes. This has a lot of appeal for those who don’t want to appear tattooed all the time, for those getting a more intimate and private design, or for people who are new to getting tattooed.

Then, of course, there are people who get tattoos on their feet and ankles because they are tattoo enthusiasts and collectors and want to cover all of their body’s skin with this ancient form of decoration.

Whatever reason you have for wanting to get foot tattoos and ankle tattoos, the following tips should help you with designing a tattoo that you’ll love.

Ready for your own foot tattoo design? Our team of designers is ready to help bring your dream tattoo to life.

Set Your Expectations on Design

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.

One of the things you’ll have to decide when designing a foot and ankle tattoo is the size of the tattoo you want. The main consideration to keep in mind here is that teeny-tiny, detailed, single-needle type tattoos are not a great fit for the ankles, and especially not the feet. This is due to the phenomenon we mentioned above that foot tattoos are more likely to blur and fade faster than tattoos in other places.

For this reason, it’s best to stick to the age-old tattoo mantra when it comes to your feet and ankles: “bold will hold.” Try to pick a medium or larger tattoo design that uses bold, thick lines so that you give your foot or ankle tattoo the best possible chance for survival in the long run. That being said, you should note that you still may have to get touch-ups in the future even if your foot tattoo is large and bold. That’s just the name of the game.

However, if you are particularly concerned about the pain of your foot tattoo and less worried about fading, starting with a small, bold, graphic design can be a good choice as you won’t have to worry about stopping the tattoo halfway-finished because you can’t suffer the pain anymore.

Pain Levels

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.

Preferred Locations for Tattoos on the Foot and Ankle

You may think that the feet and ankles are so small that there aren’t so many parts of them you can tattoo, but there is actually quite a bit of potential variety in where on your feet and ankles you can get a tattoo. Here is a rundown.

Back of Ankle Tattoo

A tattoo on the back of the ankle is a really safe place to start for beginners. It’s not too prominent, it won’t hurt too bad, and it’s not particularly prone to fading. It’s also a larger space relative to this part of the body, which may be a plus depending on the size of the tattoo you want. And it’s a really great placement for if you want to get two matching or otherwise paired tattoos on symmetrical parts of your body – one on each ankle will look great together.

Ankle Foot Tattoos

There are some designs that will look great draping down from the ankle over onto the foot. This is basically the case for any designs that are flowy in nature, like flowers, snakes, wind, or water.

Inner Ankle Tattoo

This is probably one of the least painful spots out of all of the ones mentioned here, and it’s incredibly subtle and discreet, which may make it a good option even for your very first tattoo.

Front Ankle Tattoo

This tattoo location is both a bit more noticeable and eye-catching as well as painful than some of the other ankle tattoo locations, so it’s not recommended for the faint of heart.

Above Ankle Tattoo

This placement that is halfway between the lower calf and the upper ankle is a very popular choice for ankle tattoos. It lends itself well to tattoos that are slightly bigger in size and meant to be seen more easily.

Outer Ankle Tattoo

The outer ankle is another one of the most popular choices for ankle tattoo placements, and it’s very easy to show off to the outside world. It can get a bit more painful around your outer ankle bone.

Around the Ankle Tattoo

One of the coolest parts of ankle tattoos is that you can choose to get one that wraps all the way around your ankle, like an anklet. Depending on the size of your anklet tattoo, this can be more or less painful and bold, but many people opt for something thinner and more subtle.

Top of the Foot Tattoo

The top of the foot definitely has its pros and cons as a tattoo placement. On the one hand, it won’t usually fade as easily as other foot tattoos. But on the other hand, it is considered to be one of the most painful parts you can possibly tattoo on your body.

Outer Arch or Inner Arch Tattoo

While getting a tattoo on the outer or inner arches of your feet won’t hurt quite as much as the top of your foot, it is much more likely to fade very quickly, as this is the part of your foot that gets worn down the most as it rubs against your shoes.

Sole of the Foot Tattoo

The sole of the foot is a pretty controversial placement for tattoos that many artists refuse to do. This is because the epidermis layer of the skin of the bottom of your foot is quite thick to protect them, which makes it very hard to reliably penetrate with a tattooing needle to get the ink to the dermis layer, which is where tattoo ink needs to sit in order to be permanent. Long story and biology lesson aside, tattoos on the soles of your feet are pretty much guaranteed to fade or blow out, they will hurt like hell, and are extremely hard to heal. So even if you can find an artist who will do this for you, be prepared for some challenges.


Another option for foot tattoos are the toes, which might be a bit less painful than other parts of your foot, but not by much.

Before Your Appointment

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.

A foot tattoo is a great spot for men and women. Our team of designers is ready to help bring your dream tattoo to life.

After Tattoo Appointment

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

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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