When it comes to getting your first tattoo, it makes sense that you might want something small and easy to hide from certain relatives you know would lecture you for hours about it.
But which spots are the ~most~ inconspicuous? Which placements hurt the most, and which tend to fade the quickest? I spoke with Laura Martinez, co-owner of Fleur Noire Tattoo Parlour, about the best places for a dainty, secret lil tat:
If The Idea Of A Needle Horrifies You
Try: Your inner arm or thigh
Getting a tattoo isn't exactly the best feeling in the world, but if you're especially sensitive to pain, there are areas that generally hurt a little less. “Pain is very subjective and really depends on each individual," says Martinez. "I hear different answers from one client to another, though mostly I can say that ribs, feet, hands and the inside of the wrist are definitely some sensitive areas.” The common factor in all of those is the area has thin skin and the needle will really hit your bones, so somewhere fleshier is not going to be as bad.
Martinez says that she generally recommends an inner arm tattoo for people who want to be able to cover it up but are also worried about pain.
If You Know You'll Be Lazy With Touchups
Try: Your upper back or the back of your neck
If you can barely get yourself to wear your retainer at night or put on moisturizer, chances are you won't be booking it to the tattoo parlor every time your tattoo fades a little. Martinez notes that areas with thin skin – such as your inner finger or inside your ear, or anywhere in your mouth like your inner lip tend to fade faster.
"The skin is really 'alive' in these areas and doesn’t allow the ink to stay thick inside," she says. Thin-skin areas tend to renew themselves more, which means your tat can get a little warped.
Your back and behind your neck are areas that can still be hidden with your shirt or your hair, but usually hold their shape a little longer. That being said, you should still get touchups if you want the ~best~ look.
If You're Out In The Sun All The Time
Try: Your hip, butt, or under-boob.
"Placements that are less exposed to the sun will hold up better over time," says Martinez. While there are plenty of tattoo-specific sunblocks out there, the truth is, if you find yourself on the beach more often than the average person, you might want placements that can more or less be shielded by a one-piece or high-waisted swimsuit.
A tiny hip, butt or under-boob tattoo can be spared the sun's rays a little more easily, plus, if you can hide it in a swimsuit, it's basically invisible.
If You're Always Bundled Up
Try: Behind your ear, or your clavicle
On the other hand, Martinez says that areas with lots of traction (AKA places that rub against your clothes, like your feet) can also fade more quickly.
Even if you live somewhere like New York where it's sweater season 9 out of 12 months, more open areas like behind your ear or your clavicle generally offer up a bit more breathing room even on colder days, and can be covered up with your hair or a turtleneck when your judgy uncle's in town.
If You Really, Really Want It To Be A Secret
Try: Your inner lip, foot or ribcage.
Look, pain-wise and longevity-wise, none of these are the top picks. Your inner lip tat will lose its sharpness the quickest due interactions with saliva and water, and your foot will probably hurt a little more and fade faster from you wearing shoes and socks all the time.
And while your ribcage is an objectively cute place for a tattoo, Martinez warns that it can also be tricky: "The skin is extremely thin and doesn’t always absorb the ink well. The client is also more sensitive to pain on this placement, which can creates small, unexpected movements that the artist has to be able to prevent and control."
But if you're really committed to the idea of a tattoo and don't want to stress so much about anyone accidentally seeing a corner of it, these places have got you covered. Literally.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.