What Are Fingernail Tattoos? Here's Everything to Know About 2023's Hottest Ink Trend

From aftercare to design inspo, this guide has all your questions answered.

What Is A Fingernail Tattoo? Experts Explain

Instagram @pobitattooo/ InStyle

Whether you're looking for some inspiration for your next ink or are just considering your first tattoo, it's sometimes hard to know where to start. To narrow down the options, why not try this season's hottest tattoo trend? Yes, we're talking about fingernail tattoos. If celebs and our Instagram feeds are any indication, it seems like everyone is getting fresh designs on their nails and hands — and for good reason.

Aptly named, fingernail tattoo involves tattoo art drawn on the nail. They're often minimal designs, painless, and easy to get. Plus, the aftercare is pretty low maintenance. So whether you're a tattoo lover or a newbie, adding nail are to your tattoo collectoion might just be the way to go.

To get a better idea of what a fingernail tattoo actually entails, we asked the experts to break it all down for us. See what they had to say below.

What Exactly Are Nail Tattoos?

According to New York City-based tattoo artist Pobi, they are simple tattoos on surface of the fingernail, and not the nail bed. She adds that the process isn't much different than what you would expect from a body tattoo. Your tattoo artist should take all the necessary sanitary procedures, like using sterile needles.

Artists use the same ink they do for skin tattoos, so expect the experience to be relatively similar to what you're used to. As for prices, she says this really varies on the artist and their rates. Make sure to do your research if you're trying to stick to a particular budget.

Do Fingernail Tattoos Fade?

Pobi says that fingernail tattoos can fade just like any other tattoo because the ink sits on the surface of the nail. But if done correctly (and depending on how fast your nails grow), they can last a few months and grow out with your natural nail.

New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD, adds that your nail will usually fully grow out over time in six months and that your designs could look a bit weird when the nail is in that awkward growing phase. So something to keep in mind if you were hoping to keep this new ink for a long time.

What Is A Fingernail Tattoo? Experts Explain

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How Safe Are Fingernail Tattoos?

Dr. Kings says that fingernail tattoos are totally safe as long as they are done at the correct depth. She explains that if the needle is applied too deep, you risk piercing through the nail plate to the nail bed below. Hitting the nail bed can lead to serious risks like infection, bleeding under the nail, and — worst-case scenario — compartment syndrome, a condition that occurs when internal bleeding or swelling tissues causes pressure buildup.

Pobi agrees and adds that there is always a possibility of slightly damaging the nail with the needle moving up and down to create the designs. To avoid as much damage as possible, Dr. King highly recommends going to a licensed tattoo artist who uses sterile instruments and ink and is experienced in nail tattoos.

How Do You Take Care of Fingernail Tattoos?

Fingernail tattoos are low maintenance compared to body tattoos. Pobi says that there aren't specific aftercare products that you need for nail tattoos but suggests putting on a polish top coat to seal in ink and prevent it from fading.

"Getting a nail tattoo is like getting a manicure except it was done with a tattoo machine," explains Dr. King. "You can do whatever you want after getting your nails tatted, just know they will eventually fade [or] grow out." As long as it is done properly — not too deep — then no special care needs to be done from a health perspective.

What Is A Fingernail Tattoo? Experts Explain

Instagram @pobitattooo

Do Fingernail Tattoos Hurt?

Good news: Pobi says that fingernail tattoos don't hurt. "Getting a nail tattoo is actually not painful at all," she says. "The needle only goes through the surface of the nail and does not cause the client any pain." Should you feel pain during the process, alert your tattoo artist right away.

If you're looking for ink inspiration, Pobi recommends letter tattoos, as well as dot and heart designs. Sparkle tattoos are also trending right now, so really, the world is your oyster when it comes to what you might get.

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