• Lip tattoos are done on either the inside or outside of your lips. Permanent makeup may also be tattooed on your lips.


  • Choosing a reputable tattoo artist and shop can help reduce the risk of complications. Infections are more common with this type of tattoo though, since it’s hard to keep them clean.


  • The mouth is an extremely sensitive area, making tattoos around the lips painful.



  • Lip tattoos fade quicker than other parts of the body. You may need a touch-up every few months, while most tattoos last for years.

A lip tattoo is a professional procedure that involves inserting color pigments into your lips with small tattooing needles. This may come in the form of tattoo art in your lip area or perhaps permanent makeup as an aesthetic procedure called cosmetic tattooing.

Whether you get a tattoo on the inside or outside of your lips, you should know that both can be painful and prone to infection. It’s important to know all the facts about these trendy tattoos to see if they’re worth it for you.

The cost of lip tattooing varies based on the size of the tattoo, the intricacies of the art, and the ink color used. It may also vary among providers.

In general, the cost of permanent makeup ink ranges between $400 and $800, which covers the entire outside of your lips.

Small tattoos inside and outside of your lips may cost as little as $50. Keep in mind that lip tattoos require frequent touch-ups, which may ultimately mean more money in the long term.

Despite the popularity of tattoos, there are still risks and side effects to consider. This is especially true of the ever-so-sensitive lip area. Consider the following risks:

  • Swelling. Tattoo needles create micro-injuries in your skin. It’s natural for your skin to swell up as a reaction to such injuries, but this should ease up within a couple of days. Cold packs can help alleviate swelling.
  • Infections. An infection after a tattoo in the lip area can occur for a few reasons. It’s important to make sure your tattoo artist uses sterilized equipment and needles. You must also follow your aftercare instructions, including using a mouth rinse. Since the lips come into contact with saliva, food, and drinks, this can also increase your risk for infections. Inner-lip tattoos are most susceptible because of moisture and bacteria inside the mouth.
  • Scarring. When a lip tattoo doesn’t heal properly, it may scar. Allergic reactions and infections post-tattooing can also increase your risk for developing scar tissue at the site.
  • Allergic reactions. If you have a history of skin allergies or sensitivities, consider talking to your tattoo artist about using allergenic ink. Signs of an allergic reaction may include itchiness, rash, and hives.
  • Anaphylaxis. While relatively rare, this severe allergic reaction has been previously reported in some people within hours of getting inked. Swelling of your lips is normal after getting a lip tattoo. But if you also notice swelling around your neck and cheeks and experience breathing difficulties, go to the emergency room right away. If left untreated, anaphylaxis can be life-threatening.
  • Blood-borne illnesses. Not using sterilized needles can lead to the transmission of blood-borne illnesses, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.

Of all the side effects from tattoos, one estimate showed that only 0.02 percent are severe. Still, it’s important to know how to prevent these risks ahead of time so you can stay safe.

During a lip tattoo session, the tattoo artist will first draw the design you want. They will then trace it onto the desired area of your lips.

Using new, sterile needles, your artist will then insert the desired ink colors by making slow, methodical punctures in your skin. Once the tattoo is complete, your lips will be covered up with a sterile bandage to prevent infection.

Expect pain as well as some bleeding during the process. You might experience more pain with a lip tattoo compared with other areas of the body, such as an arm or leg tattoo.

It can take about two weeks for a new tattoo to heal, so be sure you understand all aftercare techniques before leaving the studio. Since you can’t clean the inside of your mouth with soap, you’ll need an antibacterial mouth rinse.

The first step is to determine precisely what kind of tattoo you’re looking for, and whether you want it on the outside or inside of your lips.

Don’t brush your teeth or drink anything prior to your appointment. You should expect the process to be painful. Tattoo artists don’t use anesthetics, as these can interfere with the process.

Perhaps more importantly, you’ll want to be prepared for any aftercare instructions your artist recommends, including how to keep the tattoo dry the first day and how to clean it properly. Such techniques will prevent infections.

Finding the right tattoo artist, or aesthetician for permanent makeup, is key to minimizing side effects. Ideally, you’ll want to get the procedure done at a studio with a licensed artist.

In some states, tattoo parlors need to be registered within the state they operate, displaying a valid certificate on site. However, this is not necessary in every state and it is worth checking state regulations regarding this.

You’ll also want to make sure that the artist uses inks meant for tattoos, as well as proper cleaning and disinfecting practices. A reputable artist will wear gloves and use brand-new needles, inks, and trays.

It’s also important to keep in mind that some tattoo artists might be more experienced with tattooing the lip area than others. Before going under the needle, ask your artist about their experience with lip tattoos specifically.

The artist should also have a portfolio of their work available so that you can determine if you like their techniques and artistry. Simply put, not all professionals who work with permanent ink are qualified to create lip tattoos.

Despite using some of the most vibrant colors around, all tattoo ink eventually fades as your dermis and epidermis heal. The same is true of tattoos done on, around, or inside the lip area.

Tattoos done inside the mouth fade the quickest because they’re always in contact with saliva, food, and drinks.

You can ask your tattoo artist for specific design or color recommendations that could help your ink last a bit longer.

You’ll eventually need a touch-up to keep your lip tattoo looking as it did when you first got inked. Due to the likelihood of fading, you should expect to get a touch-up every few months.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll need the entire thing done again, though. Depending on how much your tattoo has faded, you may only need touch-ups for certain colors.

You might also consider getting your lips touched up if you want a different color entirely. This is especially common with permanent makeup.

A lip tattoo can be trickier and more painful than tattoos on other parts of your body. But when done by a reputable artist and allowed to heal properly, a lip tattoo can be an effective artistic expression.

If you develop any issues post-tattoo session, be sure to speak with your doctor right away. They can give you tips for resolving an infection before it gets out of hand and leads to scarring.

Report any adverse reactions to tattoo ink to your doctor as well as the Food and Drug Administration.