Inner lip tattoos. A weird tattoo desire that feels a little edgy but cool. Celebrities have them, weird emo people have them. People get all kinds of stuff tatted, some say “kook,” or funny slang or swear word. A friend of mine has had hers for 5 years and it says “omg.” Nothing too meaningful.
For three years now, I had been wanting an inner lip tattoo. Something about that hidden spot that no one can see unless you show them has been calling me and urging me to pull the trigger and get one.
I would put polls on my Instagram story of what it should say, out of interest and curiosity. I got many funny and stupid answers, some too inappropriate for this article. I finally decided on the word “ A$AP,” an acronym I’d been thinking about for forever. Now before you judge it as some stupid acronym concocted by a teen, it actually does have meaning. The word A$AP is from my favorite rapper A$AP Rocky, who is a part of the rap group A$AP MOB. The acronym A$AP, to them and me, means Always $trive And Prosper. This has always resonated with me and been something I held in esteem. So that was what I decided to tattoo on the inside of my lip.
My friends thought I was joking at first, but fully supported it when I said I wasn’t.
We started calling tattoo shops near PLNU, asking if they even did the inner lip tattoo, as they are a difficult location to stick ink in. After two nos, we got a yes from a shop located next to Ortiz’s Taco Shop on Voltaire Street.
I called them and asked when I could come in. They told me that their guy that has done them for customers in the past will be in at 2pm, so I could come then. My friends and I went to Convoy Street for some bomb asian food, got a late lunch/early dinner, then we drove back to Point Loma, and got to the shop at 4:15.
I walked in, met the guy and told him I wanted the word A$AP, with the S as a dollar sign. I talked to him about how long it should last, the price, etc. I signed the release forms, and then sat in a chair and rested my chin on the blue leather rest in front of me. He swabbed my lip down and told me to keep it as dry as possible. He held my lower lip down with one hand, and the tattoo gun in the other.
My excited group of friends stood behind the counter behind him, nodding encouragement and taking videos to show people that their friend got an inner lip tattoo. The other tattoo artist leaned on the counter to my right, smiling excitedly as well, with a bit of mischievousness in his eyes.
Anxious, I asked my artist if I should expect a lot of pain, to which he replied no, there’s not a lot going on nerve-wise in a lip. I nervously nodded my head and he began. I was clenching my hands together so tightly the nervous sweat made them slippery. The buzz started, in tune with my own anxiety, and it finally hit my lip.
At first all I heard was the buzz and a slight tingling sensation on the inside of my lip. I could barely feel it. Now I’m not sure if it’s my high pain tolerance, or I was so fueled by my anxiety that any feeling was dimmed. But it barely hurt. It wasn’t comfortable, but it didn’t register as extreme pain that I would cry or grimace over.
He did the “A” and “$,” and then paused and said “two $ [signs] right?” My eyes widened, stomach dropped, and I made eye contact with one of my friends in shock. I quickly replied “no, no, no, only one: A-$-A-P,” to which he paused and then laughed deeply and said, “I got you for a moment huh?”
I nervously laughed and said, “Yeah haha.” He then told me that he would be putting a small gap in between the A$ and AP, so it would be even. I was so adrenaline high that I just nodded and said ok without much thought registering. I put my head back down and he finished the AP. He wiped the excess ink off and said, “you’re all done, go take a look in the mirror”.
I excitedly stood up from my chair and walked to the mirror against the wall. As I’d stood up, I noticed the expression in my friends faces had changed, a mask of excitement concealing nervousness. Ignoring this, I walked to the mirror and pulled down my lip. For a moment, I wasn’t sure if I was seeing it right, and a million thoughts went through my head. The urge to cry, throw a fit, get mad, all raced through. In my reflection, I saw a lip that read “A$ AP”, with a glaring gap in the middle. Aware of everyone’s eyes on me gauging for a reaction, I turned around and said it’s wonderful and thanked the artist. He nervously called me back over to finish wiping the lip and making sure it was all good.
He said we were all done, and then I payed him a flat $100 (way too much). He grabbed his card and quickly told me to wash it lightly with mouthwash in the evening, and then my entourage and I walked out into the parking lot.
My four friends that accompanied started barraging me with questions. “Did it hurt? Are you mad? What do you think about it? You should ask for a refund. He totally thought it was spelt with two $’s. Here lemme take a picture”, etc.
Despite being upset over the awkward space, I was exhilarated that I had finally gotten my inner lip tattoo. Over the next few days, the ink faded and it’s barely visible now, two weeks later. When I watched the video, one can noticeably see his hands shaking in the “AP” part of the tat, and that he got nervous with my reaction in the end. I was polite about it, and will be going back for a free touch up on for the AP to be done correctly, without a space. I feel he owes it to me. He only went over it once with the gun, so I’m not surprised it faded so quickly. I’m going to get it retouched so it lasts the year I was expecting it to.
My experience with the inner lip tattoo wasn’t the best, purely because the artist didn’t ask for a written copy of what I wanted the word to look like, thus almost misspelling it.
But if you are thinking of getting an inner lip tattoo, go for it. It’s fun and a great story, and you can be dumb and get that tattoo in college that your parents told you not to get and they will never know.
Just choose your shop wisely, make sure your artist knows exactly what you want, and that you aren’t paying more than $90 for it, since they’re small and easy to do.
Good luck and have fun choosing what to get!