Ankles and the Feet can be a great place for a concealed tattoo that is special to you. But there are some things to consider before getting inked.

Tips for the Best Foot and Ankle Tattoos

There are a lot of considerations and decisions involved in choosing a tattoo. You have to think about design, color, style, size, and – no less importantly – location. Where on your body you choose to get your tattoos can affect everything from how the design looks to how much it hurts to how easily you and others will be able to see your tattoo. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know if you’re planning to get a tattoo on your foot or ankle so you can be as happy as possible with your final result.

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.

Cons of Getting a Foot or Ankle Tattoo

Before we get into the things you should think about when planning a foot or ankle tattoo, it’s only fair that we briefly discuss the cons of getting a foot tattoo or an ankle tattoo, as it’s important to get the full picture when making a decision as permanent as choosing a location for your tattoo.

The first con worth mentioning is one that is the flip side of one of the pros listed above: subtleness and easy concealability. Foot and ankle tattoos aren’t so easy to see and don’t usually make a big statement. If you want to get a large tattoo or a tattoo that you’ll be able to easily show off to the world whenever you want to, this may not be the best placement for you. Similarly, if you are getting a tattoo to remind you of something that you want to see all the time, you might want to choose a location on your body that is more often in your own line of sight, like your arms.

Another significant con of foot and ankle tattoos is the pain. The feet and ankles are rather boney parts of your body and are known for being one of the most painful spots for tattoos. The feet, in particular, can be quite sensitive and therefore uncomfortable to tattoo. If you’re a tattoo veteran, this may not be too big of a deal. But if you’re new to tattoos, are particularly ticklish or flinch-y, or have a low pain tolerance, you may want to skip this spot.

Beyond that, it’s important to note that foot tattoos are known for fading quickly. After all, these are parts of your body that see a lot of use, wear, and tear on a daily basis. For that reason, and because the skin on your feet is quite thin, foot and even ankle tattoos are particularly prone to tattoo blowout and fading. It takes quite a bit of skill and finesse to do a foot tattoo well, and some artists even refuse to do them. If you do decide that you want to get a foot or ankle tattoo, you’ll definitely want to do your research and make sure you find a tattoo artist with experience tattooing feet and ankles – and one who will agree to do it in the first place.

Lastly, you’ll want to know that foot tattoos can be a bit more prone to infection than tattoos in other locations, so you have to be very careful while they are in the healing process, which can take two to three weeks to be completely finished.

Whew! Now that all of that is out of the way, if you still want to get a foot or ankle tattoo, here are the things you should think about.

Sizing Considerations for Foot and Ankle Tattoos

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.

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.

Additional Considerations

Finally, don’t forget to think about a few more things when getting a foot or ankle tattoo. One is your footwear. If you have a favorite pair of shoes that you wear all the time, you may want to bring them to your tattooing appointment so you can make sure you like how your tattoo placement looks with those shoes on. You’ll also want to check out how your tattoo stencil looks when you’re both sitting and standing, as this can make the tattoo look different and even slightly change where it sits on your foot or ankle.

While your foot and ankle tattoo is healing, you won’t be able to wear shoes or socks that rub onto it, so it might be a good idea to schedule your tattoo appointment for a period of time that you know you’ll be able to stay inside for a while or otherwise for the summer when you can get by with nothing but a pair of flip flops.

Ultimately, the feet and ankles can be a really beautiful location for your tattoo. What’s important is knowing what you’re getting yourself into and making your foot and ankle tattoo designs choices carefully.

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