They are my favourite type of tattoo and although full hand tattoos come with an array of challenges, they are still a popular tattoo with guys. When done right, full hand tattoo designs on guys look amazing!
Although they are arguably the most used part of our bodies, our precious hands are delicate with thin soft skin and intricate bone structure. This area of the body is unlike large flat and fleshy surfaces such as the arm, legs, chest and back, which are easy to tattoo. The combination of skin and bone on the hand makes it especially hard to ink and many tattoo artists refuse to do full hand tattoos. If you are going to get one, it is imperative that you work with a tattoo artist who has extensive experience with hand tattooing.
Full hand tattoo designs for guys need to be planned and designed specifically for that particular hand. The form your hand takes and the way your skin stretches when your fingers are curled or in a fist shape all needs to be taken into consideration when planning the design.
As mentioned earlier, we use our hands a lot, they are constantly working, whether it’s at a computer typing, lifting weights at the gym, cooking or driving, hands are constantly in use. This constant usage means the healing process takes much longer than tattoos on other parts of the body. This healing time is something that needs to be taken into consideration when getting a hand tattoo.
To ensure your tattoo keeps its shape and heals correctly, you’ll need to reduce the use of your hands, which will require you to change your daily routine and lifestyle. The majority of the redness and swelling lasts for up to 2 days, however residual swelling can last up to 7 days due to the sensitive nature of the area. You might need to take some time off work or school and/or have someone help around the house for a few days after getting the tattoo. The main objective here is to keep infections at bay and avoid as much pain as possible.
Another obvious but overlooked element by clients is that due to hands being washed regularly, full hand tattoo may require some touch ups to truly look it’s best. Getting these touch ups is not a reflection of the tattoo artist (provided they are experienced), it’s the nature of a hand tattoo and a completely normal process.
A tattoo artist is likely to charge you for the full hand tattoo touch up sessions, so please factor this into your budget. To maintain the beauty of a hand tattoo, like most tattoos, touch ups will be needed over the years more so than tattoos in any other area. The number of touch up sessions required will be dependent on how well you heal, the design, the tattooing technique (fine linework, dot art, sketch work, water colour techniques will require more touch ups than bold designs) and also your occupation. If you are a tradesman for example, your hands are more exposed to the elements and therefore may require more touch-ups.
Some workplaces have bans on hand tattoos, especially in industries such as the military, hospitality, medicine, law and other traditional work places. Although hand tattoos are becoming more acceptable with employers, there are some that still prefer no visible tattoos.
When looking at costs, full hand tattoos take about 2 hours to complete in the initial session and can cost around $200, however be prepared to pay more for an experienced and talented artist. A hand tattoo is not one to go cheap on.
So, how bad do hand tattoos hurt?
Hands are a reasonably painful area to tattoo; the skin is thin and sensitive, it’s bony and there are a lot of ligaments around them. Also, touch ups mean you might need to experience the same pain a few times. So be prepared, it will hurt, but it will be worth it in the end.
You want to get your hand tattoo right the first time as there is no room for error or a cover up tattoo. Best way to do this is with a temporary tattoo in a similar style to the tattoo design you want or a henna tattoo of your actual full hand tattoo design. Henna tattoos are a great way to get used to a hand tattoo and they fade away in about 2 weeks. Lastly, you could also get a tattoo artist to simply draw it on your hand with a temporary tattoo pen. These options are great ways to road test a few different designs so you are absolutely sure of the full hand tattoo design before getting inked.
Remember, not only are hand tattoos more difficult but they are also more exposed- everyone seen your hands, so you need really do your homework before you ink them up, otherwise you may end up with a design you don’t like. Have a look through the full hand tattoos in the gallery below for some inspiration: