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.