Does it hurt?

Does It Hurt?

Ask A Stupid Question…

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

It’s a question I’ve heard again and again, as someone with a lot of tattoos. People admire my ink, and then, I brace myself for what I know will be their first question.

“Does it hurt?”

Every time I hear it, my first instinct is to shrug. I mean, of course it hurts; you’re basically having your skin punctured by needles thousands of times. How could it not hurt?

My answer: “Sort of”.

It’s a hard thing to explain. Yes, there is pain, but because of the speed with which the needles enter and exit your body, you barely have a chance to feel the pain, and the vibration of the tattoo gun is far more noticeable.

Every now and then, your tattooist will hit a certain point, which will contact with a nerve, and you might find yourself twitching, or you’ll feel a buzzing run right down your arm and into your hand (this happened to me today).

I am lucky enough that one of my closest friends is a tattooist, and the amount of times that she’s had customers come into the shop asking this question, and they very rarely get the answer they’re expecting (because a good tattooist won’t lie to you and tell you that it doesn’t hurt).

The truth is that the real answer is: “It depends”

It depends on your body type; where the tattoo is; your own personal pain threshold. There are so many factors, (and FYI, no one colour hurts more than another).

The colour myth is one that I find hilarious. The reason white has a reputation for being the “most painful” colour is because white is usually the last colour to be added to a tattoo. By the time the white is added, the skin is likely to be quite sore and irritated because it will have already been gone over at least three times; that’s probably over 3000 punctures with a needle, easily, of course it’s going to be sore, but it’s not the white causing the pain. It would be just as painful at that point if it was black!

So there you have it, yes, tattoos hurt; sort of. There is no other feeling like it, and yes, even though it hurts, I keep going back, because there’s something about going through the pain, and wearing that piece of artwork on my body, that I find thrilling.

Most of my pieces are either personal artworks, or things that have personal meaning to me. I can honestly say that there is not one tattoo on my body that I regret (this is largely due to having to wait at the very least, a few weeks for an appointment). In fact, I would say to anyone considering a tattoo, that if you can walk in off the street and get tattooed the same day, please, think twice. Most of the best tattooists have a waiting list. They have this, because they’re good, and because they’re worth waiting to get tattooed by.

Don’t rush into getting ink, because if you regret it later on, you’re looking at a very lengthy and expensive procedure to either have it removed, or to have it covered up. Neither are recommendable.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that tattoos do hurt; they feel strange to start with, and should only be done if you’re absolutely sure it’s what you want. Please don’t add to the statistic of “people who got crappy tattoos while drunk”, because there are far too many of these people already.


Li Carter is a writer, artist and crafter. She lives in South Wales, UK, with her family, and five rescue dogs. She’s on Twitter @rbcreativeli , Facebook: Rainbow Butterfly Creative, and Instagram @rainbowbutterflycreative and is the author of My Only True Friend: The Beginning. She is currently working on a new series titled The QuickSilver Chronicles. She is the original Rainbow Butterfly, and wants to fill an ever darkening world with a little bit of beauty and creativity.

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