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Tattoo FAQ 12: Will a tattoo on the foot fade faster than a tattoo somewhere else?

Original question from our visitor: I'm wondering if locating a tattoo on the top of the foot is "unwise". SOME artists have told me it won't hold up well--others said they do lots & they are fine---is it true that it will fade faster--and if so, how quickly?? --how long is it reasonable to expect a tattoo to stay sharp (anywhere) comparatively? Are we talking 10 years on a thigh as opposed to 5 on a foot? I'd appreciate any help since it may affect my final decision whether or not to get one ......thanx


A foot tattoo much like a hand or face tattoo is something that you will first need to find the artist willing to do it. There are sometimes legal restrictions but more often than not, more of a moral reason do not do it seems.

Morally, and I’m going just on what I have gathered from the artists I know, is that they feel a responsibility to the art and to the customer. Having a tattoo done in a place on the body that is highly visible, will impact the wearer for the rest of their life whether they realize that or not from the get go. An artist knows this and will also perhaps choose not to be the one who places something on someone who may not understand its ramifications for various personal reasons of the tattooist. This seems to especially true if it is the persons very first tattoo. Many artists would rather you go ahead and “find someone else to do it” because then the responsibility is off of them as the artist who can later be accused of “ruining your life”. It still is not good for the art itself to have unhappy tattooed people but an artist cant control that anyway. They just suffer from it (my opinion).

For first timer’s, the healing process is something that no one can impress the importance of until you go through it and if you have followed everything to the letter that your artist has told you to do, it should come out just fine. Sometimes, it’s not the perfect ending and touch ups or other methods of corrective measures are needed. There are going to be easier places on the body to heal up than others. The foot ranks to most as the worst healing area because you simply can NOT wear shoes or socks for minimum of 2 to 3 weeks, some say 3 months, to keep the area free from rubbing, growing bacteria, or having the proper air circulation. Sure you can get it in the summer, but you also need to stay out of the sun and sand and dirt and basically should remain inside the house with it elevated and clean. This is after all just a “pretty injury” and you need to treat it as such.

We abuse our feet and hands everyday with use. We can’t help it. This is going to reflect on the ink obviously. Even the best-placed tat with impeccable lines will run the risk of wearing down and looking blurry later. Between this and ink migration, it’s a very non-desirable placement for many artists. This is their heart and soul and bread money. They know you are going to be the walking advertisement for their work. If it looks bad, they look bad. Simple as that. You as the wearer have more control over the finished product and how it remains, and the artist might need to see that you already have a lot of ink that you have had for years and know how to take care of it properly and understand the responsibility of healing it properly.

Touch ups are not always part of the deal with these higher risk areas. Find that out first before hard feelings occur later. Some artists charge more for a foot tattoo than the same design being placed elsewhere.

So to sum this up for a foot tat:
1) You need to ask the artist if they can and will do it first.
2) Accept a long healing period with no shoes or socks to avoid infection and rubbing.
3) Even a healed tattoo can be rubbed the wrong way and lose color. Be aware of this in shoe and sock selections.
4) Touch ups will most likely cost you simply because this is a high-risk rub area.
5) Diabetics must inform their artist of their condition. There is a problem with healing and there are rules/heavy suggestions in place that do not allow a diabetic to get tattooed below the knee.
6) Pain… This is a very painful spot. Besides the mental aspect of having a life-changing tattoo on a very public display, the pain in these areas is said to be the worst. Being experienced in getting tattooed is preferred.

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