You know what Rihanna, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus and Cara Delevingne all have in common, besides loads of money and celebrity status? An affinity for finger tattoos. Rihanna has the words “Love” and “shhh…” inked on her fingers, in addition to a lacy, henna-style tattoo spanning her right hand, Beyoncé has an “IV” Roman numeral tattoo on her ring finger, Miley Cyrus has tiny tats inked all over her digits, and Cara Delevingne has finger tattoos of a lion, wasp, dove and heart, among others. While some of these finger tattoos are cute and tiny, others are bold and beautiful, meant to draw attention and make a statement, like permanent jewelry. Whatever their design, finger tattoos have definitely become more popular in recent years, but before you head to the tattoo shop for some fresh ink on your digits, there are a few things you should know about finger tattoos.
1. You may be refused.
First things first. Your tattoo artist may straight up refuse to tattoo your finger. Because finger tattoos tend to be pretty visible, kind of like neck tattoos, many reputable artists won’t even consider giving you one if you don’t already have ink, mostly because they don’t want to be responsible for exposing you to the stigma of having visible ink, nor do they want to do a tattoo that may not last. At the very least, your tattoo artist will likely discuss with you the ramifications of having permanent ink in such a visible location before doing the tattoo.
2. The tattoo may fade or fall out.
The skin on your finger is thin and it moves a lot, so tattoos there fade very easily and don’t tend to last very long. It’s all about managing expectations, says Virginia Elwood, co-owner of Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn, New York, “People may be looking at social media photos of finger tattoos that were probably just done and look really crisp. In two years, they probably won’t look like that.”
3. It’s going to hurt. A lot.
Just ask Rihanna. She has two dozen tattoos and counting, inked on everything from her hands, hip and chest, to her neck, ribcage, wrist, shoulder, leg and ankle, and she still says the tattoos on her fingers were her most painful pieces.
4. You’ll want to apply sunscreen regularly.
Sun exposure is a big reason tattoos begin to fade, and with a tattoo on your finger, it will be exposed to the sun pretty much any time you’re outside. It may be hard to remember to apply sunscreen to your finger, but it will help extend the life of the tattoo in the long run.
5. You have to be careful while the tattoo is healing.
You use your hands on a daily basis, and it’s easy to forget about ink on your fingers a day or two after it’s done. “I always tell people right after they’ve gotten the tattoo to be really aware of mundane tasks like putting your hands in your pocket or doing dishes or washing your baby or yourself,” says Elwood. “If you have a tattoo on your finger that’s a little scabby and you put it in your pocket, you could rip the scab off and that could take some of the ink out.”