17 behind the ear tattoo ideas that are perfectly delicate


When considering placing a tattoo, you have your obvious places like the legs, arms and back – but those looking to take advantage of prime real estate might consider tattoos behind the ear. This slick spot near the nape of the neck is perfect for minimalist ink that shyly pops out from under locks of hair and shirt collars. As an artist Diana Divina of Black Flower Tattoo in New York says, “Inking behind the ear is a really fun way to accentuate a part of your body that you probably never think about.”

The discreet placement also makes it an easy introduction for tattoo beginners or anyone who prefers less conspicuous art. “They are usually cute, quaint and very easy to hide,” says the artist Ilya of High Hopes Tattoo At New York. “For some people, they’re also seen as a kind of accessory, a bit like a sparkly earring.”

If you’re wondering how much it’s going to hurt to tattoo a spot so close to the bone, Ilia says to keep in mind it depends on the individual’s pain tolerance – that said, you can expect most of the discomfort to come from the vibration of the machine versus the needle itself. Another plus, according to Ilia? “Behind the ear tattoos are [done] relatively fast, so if they hurt, it’s not for long,” she tells Bustle.

Before heading to that appointment, both artists say to keep aftercare (and pre-care) in mind. Ilia recommends washing your hair the day before tattooing to avoid unnecessary irritation while the ink heals. At this point, Divina adds, avoid using harsh skin and hair care products around the area while it heals. Tattoos behind the ear can age well, but Divina says sun protection is key. “If the area is constantly exposed to the sun, you can expect discoloration in that area the same way you would with a hand tattoo,” she says. So be sure to apply SPF regularly once the tattoo has healed. She also notes that if you go for a thin line tattoo (a popular choice), it will likely require a touch-up at some point.

Now for the fun part: Scroll down for 17 behind the ear tattoo ideas that just might inspire your next piece of body art.


pigmented flowers

Flowers are a favorite among tattoo lovers. For a delicate take on a classic, consider adding some color – this pink and purple tattoo makes a great pop.


One line drawing globe

Perfect for someone who loves to travel, this thin line behind the earball design features a small plane buzzing around the world.


A small plane

Another idea for the globetrotter? Let’s take a small plane. Let it serve as a permanent inspiration to travel to new places.



Double the charm with a pair of simply drawn butterflies, like the ink seen here. Whether you love the outdoors or the 90s aesthetic, the cute insect is ideal for an understated tattoo.


twinkling stars

If you want something super delicate, consider a behind-the-ear tattoo like this one that features a cluster of delicately twinkling stars.



Pair text and flowers with ink that showcases an initial emerging from a flower. Whether you choose your name or the initials of someone you love, letters are always ideal for a more subtle design.


A sea creature

For a whimsical tattoo idea, get a glimpse of your favorite animal. If you are a sea life lover, this simple line tattoo showcases a cute cartoon-like stingray.



Go for something less obvious with a Morse code tattoo. The red ink in this piece adds extra intrigue.


A flying swallow

Birds are a popular tattoo theme and can be an ideal choice for placement behind the ear. Step into the trend with a swallow design behind the dreamy ear.


religious text

You might consider symbolizing your religion with your ink. This spiritual tattoo features a cross and the word “faith” written in fairly thin cursive.



Go for a tattoo like this storm-inspired ink that features lightning bolts for a bold design that extends towards the neck.


Music notes

Perfect for the music lover or musician, this tattoo behind the ear features quarter notes, eighth notes, and other symbols.



Heaven provides tons of tattoo inspo. A chic and minimalist example is a constellation tattoo. This Big Dipper design works well discreetly behind the ear.


a simple heart

The heart-shaped ink has captured the hearts of countless tattoo lovers. Keep things clean with a simply drawn line tattoo like this hollow heart placed behind the ear.


angelic number

If you love numerology, a vertical angel number 444 tattoo – which symbolizes manifestation and protection – is the perfect fit for this placement.



A whimsical idea behind ear ink to consider? Get a glimpse of your favorite fruit. This strawberry tattoo is adorable and understated.


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