Despite vowing she’d never get a tattoo, in a recent episode of The Kardashians, Kim revealed she’d had the infinity symbol tattooed on the inside of her bottom lip by tattoo artist Jon Boy. A trend that’s become known as ‘hidden ink’ she’s not the first celeb to stick her lip out for a permanent marker – Miley Cyrus, Kendall Jenner, Kesha and Madison Beer are have all braved the tattoo parlour for some inner pout work.
From symbols to words to abstract designs, there’s a multitude of options to choose from when it comes to inner lip tattoos but with rumours that it’s high up on the pain scale and can fade faster than other areas, there’s definitely some considerations to take before you take the plunge.
Here we ask the top tattoo experts for their advice on inner lip tattoos and if they’re for or against them.
Do inner lip tattoos last?
One of the appealing parts of this kind of tat is that they’re said to fade faster than on other areas of the body and have a shelf life of around five years. Let’s not forget that there’s constant friction against your gums and teeth, saliva, food…our mouths are pretty busy. The skin cells on the inside of your mouth also shed quicker so it’s a bit like a constant exfoliation which could cause it to dwindle over time.
That said, A-list tattoo artist, Mike Love, says that if it’s done correctly, a lip tattoo should last forever. “The ink in this placement does tend to fade and it can spread in places as it can be a little unpredictable as to how it will heal but it’s a permanent tattoo just like anywhere else on your body. If a tattoo artist hasn’t worked on this placement before, they may go too lightly though which could also cause it to fade.”
How painful is an inner lip tattoo?
Despite Kim saying, ‘it was nothing’, inner lip tattoos are said to be one of the most painful as there are so many nerve endings in that area. “Everyone’s pain threshold is different however this is typically a very sensitive spot – I’d rate it a 7/10 on a scale with 0 being no pain at all and 10 breaking a bone. The most common comment is that it feels like a long paper cut on your lip,” explains Mike. Ouch!
You should also consider the fact that you have to hold your inner lip out while it’s tattooed on so that’s an extra level of discomfort to factor in. “My clients find that holding the lip down for the tattoo is actually more uncomfortable than the tattoo itself,” admits tattoo artist, Adam Claridge. On the upside, they usually don’t take very long to administer.
Does it take a long time to heal?
Actually, no – the skin inside your mouth heals much quicker than other areas of your body so you should be ok within seven days although the experts say to expect around a fortnight just in case.
Can you kiss after having an inner lip tattoo?
“No Frenching,” says Mike! “Would you let someone kiss or lick a fresh tattoo elsewhere on your body? I hope not! It’s best to be mindful of the healing process for at least a week.”
What is the aftercare process for a lip tattoo?
Your tattoo artist should give you exact protocol to follow but this will likely include using an antibacterial, alcohol-free mouthwash as there is lots of bacteria in the oral cavity so you need to keep it as clean as possible. “Because you can’t wrap it like a regular tattoo I advise clients to use an anti bacterial rinse regularly throughout the day to keep the area as clean as possible,” says Adam.
Also ditch the smoking or vaping if you can, and be mindful of what you’re eating and drinking. “That area will be a little more sensitive and maybe even swollen for a few days so you’ll want to take it easy on the spice level,” recommends Mike. “I’d also say to avoid on acidic food and consider drinking through a straw too.”
How much do inner lip tattoos cost?
This will vary depending on where you are in the world, the artist and the design. More than the price you should look to see if the tattooist has done these kinds of tattoos before and examine their work rather than their price list.
Are inner lip tattoos on trend?
There was a big surge in their popularity a few years ago and since then it’s been on the backburner however with the latest celebrity reveal on the cards, these discreet designs may start creeping back into the limelight. “I’ve done quite a few now and they’re always fun to work on because you’d be surprised to see what people get tattooed there. It’s somewhere where the designs can be quite silly because they stay hidden away,” says Adam.
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