It seems like no matter where you look for tattoo inspiration, you see pictures of attractive, fit young people with cute little designs on their wrists, behind their ears, or on their fingers. And sure these tattoos look great and trendy, but with the prevalence of Photoshop and picture editing software, how do these tattoos look in real life?

I used to turn away finger tattoos altogether, but then I found that my clients were going to get their little cliché words of inspiration on the inside of their fingers elsewhere. Many of them at, let’s just call them ‘questionable’ establishments. So I decided to rethink my position and take a more education based approach.


Here are the facts:

1. Anything you tattoo below your wrist is going to fade. There’s nothing that can be done about this. We use our hands for everything, the constant moving and rubbing works like an eraser to your ink.

2. Some areas will last longer than others. The top of the hand and fingers will last longer than the sides and inside of the hand. This is why rings are a bad idea. The top of the ring will heal relatively well, while the sides and underneath will fade, and I don’t mean fade slightly lighter than the top. I mean blotchy, patchy and messy looking.

3. The hand HURTS. While the top of the hand is definitely the easiest area below the wrist as far as pain goes, the fingers and the palm SUUUUUUUCK.

4. Most people are unhappy with their finger tattoos. This isn’t a statistic I’m quoting; this is just what I’ve noticed with my 15+ years of putting ink in people’s skin. Not to say that everyone is, there are many people who love their finger tats.

5. Some people heal better than others. Don’t ask me why (or how), but every now and then I’ll see someone with a super crisp, super dark design on their finger. When I ask how long they’ve had it, I’m expecting to hear that it’s a new tattoo (they always look great for the first few weeks, then they quickly start to fade). And they respond “a few years.”

6. Finger tattoos are painful and lengthy to remove by laser. Since laser removal works with your body’s own immune system, the further away from your lymph nodes (or your core) the tattoo is, the longer it takes your scavenger cells to travel and digest the tiny ink particles of your tattoo.

Click here to learn more about laser tattoo removal.

So what should you take from all this? I’ll tell you what I tell all my clients;

1. Get it if you want, but be realistic with your expectations. Stick to the top of your fingers, and accept that if you get it on the side of your finger that the bottom half is most probably going to fade, so you might lose the bottom of your “b’s’ and your “y” in baby and end up with ‘hahu’.

2. Don’t do a ring around your finger. The top will heal darker, the sides will fade, and the inside will almost certainly disappear.

3. Make sure you get a good artist with a steady hand. In order for it to stay we’ve got to put the ink in pretty deep. If you go too deep, you can scar the skin.. Finger tattoos are NOT simple to do. So make sure your artist is right for the job.

And most importantly…

4. Don’t get the mustache on your index finger. It’s been done. It’s not funny anymore. So just don’t.


Do you have a finger or hand tattoo?  How did it heal? Let us know in the comments 😉



  1. Andrea Thomas

    I have a ring tattooed around my right index finger that I’ve had for I’d say a good 15 years at least if not more. I originally wanted black but my artist at the time convinced me that blue would heal/fade/last longer and better and he was right. For sure the inside is lighter than the top but overall it’s still held up pretty good considering and I don’t regret it at all. I also have an iron cross on my left hand which has faded quite a lot but also it’s red and black which are the two worst colors for your hand but I knew that going into it as well.

    • robinlabreche

      Well, I would argue that every colour is the worst colour for the hand. :S But you had the right attitude: realistic expectations. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard people in the same boat as you; Got a finger or hand tattoo that faded, and even in spite of their artist informing them of the likely result, they bitch about the artist who did it as if it was their fault. Realistic expectations usually translate to no regret. Good for you!

  2. Sophie

    I have one, that you did, and it healed perfectly! …i have a good tattoo artist 😉

    • robinlabreche

      Hahaha, so that’s why I haven’t seen you since then! 😉

  3. Fred

    Despite the fact that it is difficult to remove a tattoo on the hand/fingers, are the ones that have started to fade easier to remove than the ones that have lasted over the years?


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