21 small tattoo ideas that'll make you book an appointment today

rihanna celebrates new product launch for her fenty beauty brand in los angeles, california
21 small tattoo ideas for every type of personSteve Granitz - Getty Images

What do Hailey Bieber, Rihanna and Selena Gomez have in common? Besides, of course, flourishing beauty brands. Why, small tattoos, of course. The mega-celebrities are dotted with small, medium and large tattoos, that spread from their fingers to the backs of their hands, behind their ears and along their spines. It's enough to light a fire in anyone even flirting with the idea of a small tattoo. But, before we get to the inspiration, let's get the sensible stuff out of the way first.

Aftercare for small tattoos

"The artist will likely apply ointment and dressing, along with aftercare instructions," says Dr Sophie Momen, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic."General advice would be to keep the original dressing on for up to 24 hours (or as guided by your artist). When the dressing is ready to be removed (make sure you wash your hands first), then gently wash the area with a mild, fragrance-free antibacterial soap e.g. the Dr Bronner unscented pure castile soap. Pat the skin dry with a clean towel/ paper cloth," she recommends. "You may notice some oozing of fluid and ink; this is a normal part of the skin’s mechanism in healing the tattoo."

Then, for the next week to two weeks, Dr Momen advises washing the area twice daily with an antibacterial soap – avoiding all loofahs and cloths. Then, when you've finished washing, pop a water-based emollient (like Aquaphor or Cetaphil) moisturising lotion. "Avoid petroleum jelly-based creams," she finishes, referring to things like Vaseline.

Whilst the tattoo is healing:

  • Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing

  • Do not pick scabs

  • Make sure you wash your hands before touching the area

  • Do not submerge it in water (e.g. bath, swimming)

  • Do not use sunbeds or go in direct sunlight

  • Do not let any animal come into contact with the area

Is there anyone who shouldn't get a small tattoo?

Dr Momen says that people with chronic skin conditions should be cautious as there's a chance the skin condition will appear in the tattoo. This includes conditions like psoriasis, eczema, lichen planus, sarcoid and discoid lumps, amongst others. "Other things that would prevent you from getting a tattoo include skin infections, any bleeding disorder (e.g. haemophilia) or chronic infection (e.g. HIV, hepatitis)," she says. "If you have conditions such as diabetes and cancer then it is best to discuss tattooing with your health care provider."

Signs your small tattoo is infected

If the skin around or over the tattoo becomes hot, painful, red or weeping, Dr Momen says that it might be infected and seeking out help from a health professional is crucial.

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