Unless you regularly wear crop tops to work, none of your coworkers will know you have a rib tattoo, so it’s workplace and career-friendly. It’s definitely a special occasion tattoo—one that will add a little extra pop in your beach or club pics. Even if your ribcage never sees the light of day, don’t let that stop you from getting a tattoo that will give you a little extra confidence when you look in the mirror. Tattoos don’t have to be all about showing off. It can be comforting or empowering just to know they’re there—even if you’re the only one who sees them.
Celebrity Rib Tattoos
We’re not going to lie—rib tattoos are painful. All tattoos hurt, but the rib cage is one of the most painful places to get a tattoo because the skin around the ribs is so thin. If you’ve never had a tattoo done before, we don’t recommend making a rib tattoo your first one—you won’t have a good idea of your exact pain tolerance yet, and too much pain may cause you to end up with unfinished ink.
Of course, not everyone will experience the same level of pain from the same tattoo. If you know you’re a bit of a wimp under the needle, go for a smaller, minimalist rib tattoo. If you know you can handle your share of pain, you’ll be able to endure a larger, more detailed tattoo, such as one that covers your whole side.
Keep in mind that the healing process won’t be easy. Since your ribs/torso are always moving around, your tattoo will likely twinge a bit for a few days. You’ll want to avoid as much contact with the new tattoo as possible, which can mean skipping the bra and wearing loose-fitting shirts.
Avoid direct sunlight, pools, baths, and rigorous exercise, as all of those can increase the risk of infection. Basically, besides showering, you want to keep your tattoo as dry as possible.As it’s healing, your tattoo is also going to itch. If possible, avoid scratching it or picking at it.
Above all, follow your tattoo artist’s advice and instructions. He or she will likely give you a pamphlet with guidelines on tattoo aftercare and will be able to give you advice based on how their previous clients’ tattoos have healed.
Rib tattoos have become a popular trend in the last decade or so, going hand-in-hand with the side boob trend. They are especially popular among Instagram influencers, but several celebrities have taken part in the trend as well, from Ariana Grande to Rihanna to Lily Collins—and more. Check out some of the best examples of celebrity rib tattoos below:
In honor of her grandfather, Ariana Grande had the Italian word “bellissima,” meaning “beautiful” in Italian, tattooed on her ribs. According to Popsugar, Bellissima was the name Grande’s grandfather called her as a child.
During her relationship and engagement to Pete Davidson, Ariana Grande got a rib tattoo of the word “Always” in her then-fiancé’s handwriting. After their breakup, she had a branch with leaves inked around the “Always” tattoo and posted it on Instagram with the caption, “not a cover up just evolvin.”
Lily Collins, a British actress, adores dainty, fantasy-themed tattoos. One of these tats is a piece she debuted at the 2016 Oscars in a sideboob-revealing gown. Located on the left side of her torso, it depicts a fairy perched on a crescent moon, blowing dandelion seeds into the wind. It is accompanied by a phrase that was mostly obscured by Collins’ dress but ends in the words “fragile thing” written in cursive.
In the summer of 2018, Katherine Heigl posted a picture of her brand-new rib tattoo with the caption, “This pic is all about showing off my super cute kid and my first and only tattoo.” It reads, “Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief,” a line from a Robert Frost poem called “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”
Rihanna chose to express her faith through a rib tattoo in Arabic script that translates to “Freedom in God.” She later added to her rib tattoos by having an image of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti inked above the Arabic phrase. These are only two of Rihanna’s numerous, often famous tattoos, including her sternum tattoo of the Egyptian goddess Isis and her stick-and-poke finger tats.
Since the ribs are such a large part of the body, your options for a rib tattoo are basically limitless. Place it on the side of your ribs or near the front. Ink it big or small. Employ whatever style you choose. The possibilities are endless, so here are some examples to get you started.
Floral Rib Tattoos
Floral tattoos are by far the most popular kind of rib tattoos for women. There’s just something dainty and elegant about having a sprig of flowers inked on your side, and it helps that they look great in pictures, too. With this type of tattoo, it isn’t as big of a deal if the image gets distorted.
This piece by @moleink, a Tampa-based tattoo artist, features a bunch of flowers with an underbust placement.
This tattoo by @atticustattoo is slightly larger than the previous, but with the same placement. It features a variety of flowers, from a rose to sunflower to daisies, with a butterfly perched on top.
This tattoo is a feminine and fun riff off the traditional floral tattoo. It’s also located lower on the ribs, making it easier to show off by wearing a crop top.
This gorgeous rib tat features a delicate sprig of lavender and daisies.
Minimalist Rib Tattoos
Rib tattoos look great on everyone. You shouldn’t have to miss out on the fun if you have a low pain tolerance. Minimalist rib tattoos are perfect for us wimps out there who won’t be able to handle more than a few minutes under the needle.
This tattoo by Backyard Dallas is cute and simple, featuring a double-triangle geometric symbol.
Paper airplanes are a popular tattoo that can symbolize a traveler’s spirit or a carefree attitude, or can simply be a cute, aesthetically pleasing image.
This hand-poked tattoo of a compass rose is the perfect quick tattoo for someone who loves to travel.
Can’t stand more than a few pokes from the tattoo needle? Get a constellation tattoo! You can find dozens of meaningful constellations from ancient Greek mythology, or have your zodiac sign tattooed.