One of the biggest things people focus on when getting a tattoo is the pain. Now, tattoos are infamous for being rather painful, especially if a tattoo is placed somewhere with lots of nerve endings or very thin skin. However, lately there has been an ongoing discussion about pain being related to the color of your tattoo, not just its location on the body.
It seems that colored tattoos tend to hurt more than regular black and white tattoos. Some agree with this hypothesis, while others stick to their experience and claim that there is no difference in pain regardless of the color of the ink.
So we decided to explore this topic and get to the bottom of it for our readers. So, without further ado, let’s see if ink color really affects pain levels while tattooing, or not.
Ink Color Vs. Tattoo Pain
First of all, why do tattoos hurt?
To understand the reasoning behind colored tattoos that hurt more than normal tattoos, we need to look at the real causes of pain during the tattooing process.
Now, the placement of tattoos plays an important role in determining whether the tattoo will be more or less painful. As we mentioned in the introduction, areas of the body where the skin is very thin (chest, neck, armpits, fingers, wrist, thighs, intimate areas, ribs, feet, etc.), or has many endings nerves (the area around the spine, neck, chest, breasts, ribs, head, face, etc.), tend to hurt the most during the process.
According to the tattoo pain chart, these are the most painful areas to get a tattoo;
- Armpits – very sensitive due to incredibly thin skin and nerve endings, for both sexes
- Rib cage – very sensitive due to thin skin and proximity to bones, as well as nerve endings, or both sexes
- Boobs and chest – very sensitive due to thin skin, many nerve endings and proximity to bones, for both sexes
- Shins and ankles – very sensitive due to nerve endings and proximity to bones, for both sexes
- Spine – incredibly sensitive due to the proximity of spinal nerve endings, for both genders
- Groin area – very sensitive due to thin skin and nerve endings, for both sexes
Of course, we have to mention areas like head and face, elbows, knees, inner and back of the thighs, fingers and feetetc However, the pain varies from person to person, and it is not the same for male and female clients.
When talking about tattoo pain, it is surely important to talk about personal pain tolerance. What is extremely painful for some is not at all painful for others.
Additionally, there is the notion of different pain experiences for male and female clients. For example, studies show that women react more intensely to (tattoo) pain than men, which is thought to be caused by the hormonal and chemical composition in men and women.
It is also thought that people with excess weight and body fat tend to be more sensitive to pain than people with lower body weight and fat. So many factors can affect pain levels when tattooing, even before you decide whether your tattoo will be colored or not.
Tattoo needles as the main cause of pain? – Coloring needles
Now let’s talk about the main cause of pain when tattooing; the tattoo needle.
During the tattooing process, a needle will penetrate your skin approximately 3000 times per minute. The rate can of course vary; sometimes the needle penetrates the skin 50 times in one minute, while other times it penetrates the skin 100 times per second. It all depends on the type of tattoo, location, design, your pain tolerance and more.
Now, for black and white tattoos, the tattoo artist can use the single needle tattoo method. This means there is only one needle in the tattoo gun. However, this tattoo needle is actually a group of several needles.
Apart from black and white tattoos, such a needle is also used for tattoo outline or liner, which is done in black ink. Many claim that outlining a tattoo hurts more than coloring since different methods are used for these two processes.
Now, when it comes to colored tattoos, the outline of the tattoo is done using the liner needle. However, coloring the tattoo is actually the process of shading. This means that the tattoo artist uses shader needles to fill in the tattoo and pack the color. Shader needles can also be used for black and gray tattoos.
So since all kinds of needles can be used for color or black and gray tattoos, the pain argument doesn’t really hold.
There is also the concept of needle thickness. All needles do not have the same diameter and do not have the same number of needles. For this reason, some needles can irritate and damage the skin more than others.
However, there is no exact rule for which needles are used for coloring or not. Depending on your tattoo artist’s tattoo technique and style, they may use different tattoo needles for coloring, and the same needles for colored and black and gray tattoos.
So do color tattoos hurt more?
Generally speaking, the color of the ink does not determine the amount of pain you will feel. The color simply has nothing to do with the pain of the tattoo. As we mentioned, the placement of the tattoo, your pain tolerance, and your tattoo artist’s technique are the main factors determining the pain of the process.
Of course, there was a time when colored ink had a thicker consistency than black ink. This was a problem because it took longer for the tattoo artist to pack the colored ink, which in itself hurts. The longer you get a tattoo, the more damage there is to the skin and the more painful the process becomes.
Nowadays, all inks have the same consistency, so there is no problem here. Now, if your tattoo artist takes a long time to complete the tattoo, you will feel more pain as the process progresses.
Also, if the tattoo artist is using a dull needle, chances are the process will hurt more. Sharp, new needles tend to hurt less. Now, as the needle wears, it stays sharp, but it dulls a bit. This small difference in needle sharpness can promote faster skin damage and, of course, cause more pain.
If your tattoo artist uses white ink highlighting, you can expect more pain. It is not because of the needle or the color of the ink, but rather the pain is caused by the repeated penetration of the needle in one place. For the white ink to be fully visible and saturated, the tattoo artist must go over the same area several times. This is what causes skin lesions and pain.
Now, after all this information, we have to point out that there are people who swear that coloring/shading the tattoo hurts more than the line art or the outline of the tattoo. Pain is a subjective thing, so it can be difficult to be exact about whether color tattoos hurt more than regular tattoos.
So to sum up, let’s just say that some people experience more pain with color tattoos than others. And this is a very good conclusion because we feel pain differently than others.
That’s why we mentioned that the pain of a tattoo depends on your personal pain tolerance, as well as your gender, weight, even your experience with tattoos, etc. Thus, what is painful for one person does not necessarily have to be painful for the other person.
Now, saying that color tattoos hurt more just because the tattoo artist is using different colors or needles can be interpreted as a mistake. But, depending on the tattoo artist’s coloring/shading technique, the pain may actually increase. This applies especially to cases where the artist is working with white ink.
Now, when considering getting a tattoo, you should be aware of the pain regardless of the colors of the tattoo or the needle used. If a tattoo is placed in a sensitive place, the process will hurt. Pain is part of the process, so to minimize it, you can choose a different placement, use a CBD spray to numb the area, or simply not get a tattoo.
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