How Bad Does A Lip Tattoo Hurt?

Lip tattoos rank high on the pain scale and can fade faster than other areas.

Reviewed by Bianca Lorena Saldes, Registered Cosmetic Nurse Bianca Lorena Saldes Bianca Lorena SaldesRegistered Cosmetic Nurse facebook_iconlinkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MA (Mass Communication & Journalism) Joyce Joyson MA (Mass Communication & Journalism)
Edited by , BTech Anjali Sayee BTech Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English Literature) Aparna Harry MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years

You will be hard-pushed to find a megacelebrity who doesn’t boast of a lip tattoo these days. From Kim Kardashian and her baby sister Kendall Jenner to other stars like Madison Beer and Miley Cyrus, many celebs have braved the tattoo parlor for some absolutely killer lip tattoo looks. These cosmetic tattoos began picking up steam a few years ago and have soared in popularity like no other! They look truly aesthetic and very cool at the time.

There are a plethora of options to select when it comes to getting these tattoos, from simple lip tattoo designs to words and abstract designs. And if you want a hidden tattoo, these are perfect for you! However, these lip tattoos rank high on the pain scale and certainly have that ‘ouch effect’. Not just that, they fade up pretty fast compared to other body part tattoos. Turns out, getting professionally inked on your delicate skin is not smooth sailing, to say the least.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about lip tattoo pain, the different types of lip tattoos, and the health risks associated with them.

Why Do Lip Tattoos Hurt?

A woman receiving a permanent lip tattoo at a salon.
Image: Shutterstock

Do lip tattoos hurt? Yes, a lot! Lip tattoos are considered to be one of the most painful spots on the body to be inked on. Getting inked on your lip skin, be it the outer or inner lips, is painful since the tiny needles need to pierce through the skin so the color pigments are deposited into the area. Lip skin is more sensitive and delicate compared to the skin on the other parts of the body. This makes the tattooing process uncomfortable and a lot more painful.

The lip area is in constant motion during breathing, talking, or eating, making the tattooing process difficult, as it requires fine detailing and a very high level of precision, leading to more discomfort. This tips the lip tattoo pain scale even more. Above all, the skin around the lips is also very soft and bouncy, and that makes it difficult for the tattoo artist to penetrate the skin even with the needles, as they have to constantly stretch the skin a bit to deposit the tattoo ink pigment correctly into the skin. If you are thinking about getting a mouth tattoo done where you color your lips pink or red or as a lip liner so you don’t need to use lipstick anymore, be prepared to feel the pain as well.

And it does not just end here! One has to keep the lips inside-out throughout the lip tattooing process and limit facial expressions, which may be a task for some in itself. Also, the sensitive mouth tissues of the skin have a lot of nerve endings that heighten the pain sensation as the needles stimulate these endings while depositing the ink (1).

protip_icon Pro Tip
Do not consume liquids or foods before the appointment day. It might increase saliva production, making it difficult for the artist to work on a dry surface and reduce the effectiveness of the numbing cream.

So, to answer the question – Are lip tattoos painful? Yes, lips are sensitive, and this makes the process more painful. However, you should always consider factors, such as the aesthetic, style, purpose, and even the type of lip tattoo you want. Now, let’s take a look at the different types of lip tattoos out there.

Types Of Lip Tattoos

Women getting a permanent tattoo on their lips.
Image: Shutterstock

There are various types of lip tattoos. Here is all you need to know about them if you decide to enter the world of lip tattooing:

1. Lip Liner Tattoos

These tattoos help enhance the shape or the outline of the lips. They also improve the appearance of the lips. They can even create a subtle definition and help correct or restore the shape of your lips.

2. Lip Blush Tattoo

Add a super subtle, natural tint to your lips with this tattoo. It helps accentuate the lips by giving them more dimension.

3. Inner Lip Tattoo

These tattoos are placed on the inside of the lower lip skin. They are great for those who want a hidden tattoo.

4. Cosmetic Lip Tattoos

This is essentially a permanent makeup tattoo. You can enhance the natural color and shape of your lips with this lip makeup procedure.

5. Ombre Lip Tattoos

This process involves using two or more colors to create a gradient effect. It helps to create an illusion of volume by adding definition and gives that ‘3D effect’ to the lips.

6. Temporary Lip Tattoos

This allows one to experiment with different lip looks by using lip appliques, lip stickers, or stencils. They resemble conventional lip tattoos and last for a shorter duration.

protip_icon Pro Tip
To reduce the risk of infection, ensure the experienced tattoo artist wears new gloves and uses fresh needles, trays, and inks during the procedure.

These lip procedures and techniques give you stellar results. They will not damage your natural lips if the tattoo procedure is done safely and correctly. However, there are always health risks associated with it.

Lip Tattoo Risks

Doctor applying numbing cream before the tattoo procedure.
Image: Shutterstock

Lip tattoos have many potential advantages. However, it is essential to carefully consider the decision to get a lip tattoo and know about the following lip tattoo risks:

1. Swelling

The lip tattoo procedure involves the penetration of ultra-fine needles into the lip skin to deposit the ink that, in turn, may cause micro-injuries to the skin and lead to swelling (2).

2. Infection

The lip area is very prone to skin infection because of the high moisture content and bacteria inside the mouth. Also, when the saliva in the mouth comes in contact with the affected area, it may increase the risk of bacterial contamination (2).

3. Scarring

If the lip area does not heal properly, it can increase the risk of scarring, cause textural changes on the skin’s surface, and add to lip tattoo pain level (3).

4. Allergic Reaction

If one has sensitive or allergy-prone skin, they are more susceptible to allergic reactions such as swelling, itchiness, cold sores, or rashes after the tattooing process (3).

5. Anaphylaxis

In rare circumstances, one may experience severe allergic reactions that could cause severe swelling of the neck, cheeks, and the areas of the lips. It may even lead to difficulty in breathing and may prove fatal if left unattended (4).

6. Blood-Borne Disease

Using infected needles or not sterilizing the tattoo machine well before the procedure may lead to the transmission of blood-borne pathogens and cause illnesses such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV (5).

7. Burning Sensation

Some foods you may consume, such as spicy food, might leave your skin with a burning sensation and irritation. It may also lead to inflammation and swelling. It is recommended to avoid eating oily and spicy food for at least a few weeks after getting a lip tattoo.

Additionally, always go to a professional tattoo artist or someone with experience working on lip tattoos to reduce the risk of infections and other complications. Also, it’s important to practice good aftercare to speed up the healing process.

Having said that, one must keep in mind that lips are super sensitive areas, and the pain is definitely off the charts as your lips are punctured with needles to attain the desired look. Here is what you need to know about the pain tolerance level.

How Bad Does a Lip Tattoo Hurt?

A woman undergoes permanent lip makeup.
Image: Shutterstock

Everybody responds to pain differently, it is never the same for two people. Some might not feel the lip tattoo pain at all, while for others, it can turn out to be a ‘breaking the bone’ experience. Lip tattoo sessions, in general, are considered to be one of the most painful sessions one has to undergo. It is basically because the very surface of the lips is different from the rest of the body, which makes it harder for the tattoo ink to settle in or for the skin to heal. Not only that, even the tattoo healing process of these tattoos is pretty slow and time-consuming.

Meghan Hattala, a blogger, shared her experience of getting a lip tattoo and how it helped enhance the appearance of her lips. She writes, “Like all tattoos, this will hurt. In my eyes, the first pass was the worst, but Tara/Julie used numbing cream for the follow-up passes (i).”

Lips do make some of the coolest and sexiest places to get a tattoo, but the process is definitely not easy. Wondering how painful are lip tattoos? Well, the lip tattoo pain is quite intense and might feel like a long paper cut on your lips. On top of that, holding your lips in the same position for an extended period of time can cause muscle fatigue, discomfort, and a sense of exhaustion

Lip tattoos reign high in popularity. However, they fade quickly and can be one of the most painful tattoos you can ever get. Also, they are highly susceptible to infection if not taken care of properly. Hence, it is always suggested to choose an experienced tattoo expert for ink placement as it requires work with your body, so anyone who is not a professional can easily mess them up. Though it really can be more painful than getting tattoos in other parts of the body, it’s definitely worth the pain. Also, practicing proper aftercare practices and taking medication suggested by the doctors can help to manage lip tattoo pain better, reduce discomfort, and ensure a smooth recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the pain last after getting a lip tattoo?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that lip tattoo pain can last for 2 days to 2 weeks after undergoing the tattoo procedure. However, every individual has a different pain threshold, and the intensity and duration of the lip tattoo pain level are highly subjective.

Is there a specific type of ink used for lip tattoos?

Medical-grade pigments, specially formulated for cosmetic procedures and comply with safety standards established by health regulatory agencies, are used for lip cosmetic tattooing. This helps to minimize the risk of allergic reactions and maintains the tattoo’s appearance for longer.

Can I eat and drink normally after getting a lip tattoo?

It’s generally advised to practice caution immediately after undergoing the tattoo procedure. Activities that involve a lot of movement can put a strain on the muscles. Also, eating spicy or acidic food or beverages might cause discomfort and irritate the tattoo area.

Key Takeaways

  • Lip tattoos are popular and are aesthetically pleasing. They are visible yet easily concealable and make for an unconventional choice.
  • Lip tattoos are considered some of the most painful tattoo experiences. It is because it is a sensitive area, has a thin skin surface, and involves constant movement.
  • Different types of lip tattoos include lip liner tattoos, lip blush tattoos, ombre lip tattoos, cosmetic lip tattoos, and temporary lip tattoos.
  • Risks associated with risk tattoos are scarring, allergic reactions, swelling, infection, and blood-borne illnesses.

The YouTuber shared her experience of undergoing a lip blush tattoo. She also took the viewers through the whole process of how to do touch-ups to the same.

Personal Experience: Source


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Bianca Lorena Saldes

Bianca Lorena SaldesRegistered Cosmetic Nurse

Bianca Lorena Saldes is a Registered Cosmetic Nurse and Esthetic Educator with over five years of experience in the field. Her expertise lies in anti-aging treatments, and she aims to help individuals feel confident and look their best. Bianca specializes in dermal fillers and thread procedures and is considered one of the top injectors in the industry. Her work full bio

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