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Issues With Finger Tattoos

Q. Hey Jinxi, I love your site and have a question about getting tattoos on your fingers. My husband and I recently went to our favorite tattoo shop on our anniversary to get wedding band tattoos, only to be told that they won't tattoo fingers because the ink doesn't hold well. Do you find this to be true with yours? Do you have to keep getting them touched up? I'd really like to know your thoughts on finger tattoos.  -  Wicked Princess
A. This is a great question and is sure to elicit different responses depending on who you ask. Fortunately, my own experiences with finger (and hand) tattoos have been positive ones. Steve and I both received our first finger tattoos when we had matching ring finger designs inked on our 12th wedding anniversary. We were warned by the artist at the time that finger tattoos DO fade over time and would probably do so more quickly then other areas of the body. Many factors can cause this:

  • the skin on fingers is much thinner than other areas and is prone to sweating
  • the fingers are utilized, washed, and scrubbed so often
  • hands and fingers tend to be in the sun on a regular basis
  • the area that you are tattooing is such a small spot, especially if you are hoping to add any sort of intricate design
  • as the tattoo is healing, there is more likelihood that it will "blow out," due to the small area given to tattoo on

We took this advice to heart and were prepared ahead of time for the necessary touch-ups our ring designs might require in years to come. The following year, on our 13th anniversary, we had 13s tattooed on our middle fingers, right next to the initial ring design. Later that year, we also each tattooed our left thumbs with a pinstripe design that included the year we were married, 1991, near the top. Of these three tattoos, I had the trickiest time getting my thumb to stay vivid, though I recently had it touched-up and it looks bright and sharp once again.
Last year, I added j boo to my right hand (as in Jinxi Boo) in a dark bold font and it still looks fantastic.  As I have suggested in other writings, be sure that you seek out the correct type of artist for each particular project. By the time I added my j boo text, I had found an artist who was well-known for his font work and this made him a great match for my project.
You will oftentimes find artists who are reluctant to tattoo certain areas of the body; which commonly include faces, heads, hands, and fingers. All of these areas are sensitive and are utilizing skin areas that are different than more common spots. Because of this, the healing process may be trickier and may result in a less clear representation of their work if that same design was placed on skin in more conventional spots. Couple this with the reasons listed above and you will find that it is not atypical for an artist to take a pass on the project. Note however, that there are plenty of artists who will ink your fingers and who will do it well. I think it's best to just recognize that each tattooist has different guidelines and different fortes, accept it as such and get right back out there to find the best person for the job if you understand beforehand some of the difficulties that might accompany a finger tattoo.
If you do decide to ink your fingers, be prepared to carefully follow your artist's aftercare instructions and schedule touch-ups down the road if you want to keep them looking vibrant. It might not always be necessary, but there is a good chance that it will be. The sun can be a huge tax on your art and your skin in general, so wear sunscreen on your hands whenever you can (I never leave the house without sunscreen applied to all of my exposed skin and tattoos). And lastly, be sure to shake hands with, thumbs up incessantly, or habitually wave to everyone you can, so you can show those finger tattoos off and proudly display your new additions.


Last updated on April 4, 2013 by Jinxi Boo