The Ultimate Guide to Numbing Creams for a Pain-Free Tattoo Experience

Published on 22/03/2024 by admin

Filed under Anesthesiology

Last modified 22/03/2024

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Embarking on the journey of getting a tattoo can be an exhilarating adventure. It’s a unique form of self-expression, a work of art painted on the canvas of your skin. However, for many, the anticipation of pain can cast a shadow over the excitement. This is where numbing creams come into play, transforming the tattooing experience into a more comfortable and bearable process. In this ultimate guide, we delve into the world of numbing creams, providing you with all the information you need for a pain-free tattoo experience.

Understanding Numbing Creams

Numbing creams are topical anesthetics that block nerve signals in the skin. They contain active ingredients such as lidocaine, prilocaine, benzocaine, or tetracaine — or a combination of these — which temporarily dull the sensation in the applied area. When used before getting a tattoo, these creams can significantly reduce or even eliminate the pain associated with the tattooing process.

How Numbing Creams Work

Numbing creams, often used to minimise pain in various medical and cosmetic procedures, work by blocking nerve signals in the skin. These topical anaesthetics contain active ingredients such as lidocaine, benzocaine, prilocaine, or tetracaine, which temporarily deadens the nerve endings near the skin’s surface. When applied to the skin, the cream penetrates the dermis to reach the nerve endings, preventing them from sending pain signals to the brain. This creates a sensation of numbness in the area of application, making it possible to undergo treatments like tattooing, needle injections, or minor surgical procedures with reduced discomfort.

The effectiveness of a numbing cream tattoo depends on the concentration of the active ingredient, the type of procedure, and the individual’s skin type. It’s important to follow the specific application instructions provided with the cream, including the amount to apply and how long to leave it on the skin before the procedure. Overuse or incorrect application can lead to side effects, such as skin irritation or more severe reactions. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare provider before using numbing creams, especially for individuals with sensitive skin or those undergoing extensive procedures.

Choosing the Right Numbing Cream

Not all numbing creams are created equal, and their effectiveness can vary depending on the individual’s skin type, the location of the tattoo, and the length of the tattoo session. When selecting a numbing cream, consider the following:

  • Active Ingredients: Look for creams with a higher concentration of active ingredients like lidocaine (usually between 2% and 5%) for more effective pain relief.
  • Brand Reputation: Choose products from reputable brands that are specifically formulated for tattooing to ensure safety and efficacy.
  • Reviews and Recommendations: Read reviews and seek recommendations from experienced tattoo artists and others who have used numbing creams.

How to Use Numbing Creams

For the best results, follow these steps when using a numbing cream for your tattoo session:

  1. Patch Test: Always perform a patch test on a small area of your skin to ensure you don’t have an allergic reaction to the cream.
  2. Cleanse the Skin: Before applying the numbing cream, make sure the area where your tattoo will be is clean and dry.
  3. Generous Application: Apply a generous layer of numbing cream over the area. Do not rub it in completely; a thick layer is more effective.
  4. Cover with Plastic Wrap: Cover the cream-applied area with plastic wrap. This helps with absorption and enhances the cream’s effectiveness.
  5. Timing: Apply the cream about 45 minutes to an hour before the tattoo session. The timing can vary depending on the product, so read the instructions carefully.
  6. Wipe Off: Your tattoo artist will wipe off the cream before starting the tattooing process.

Considerations and Precautions

While numbing creams can significantly reduce pain, they are not suitable for everyone. Here are some considerations and precautions:

  • Allergic Reactions: Be aware of any allergic reactions to the active ingredients in numbing creams. Always do a patch test before the full application.
  • Skin Sensitivity: Some people may experience increased sensitivity or a burning sensation after the numbing effect wears off.
  • Effect on Tattoo Process: Discuss with your tattoo artist before using a numbing cream, as some artists believe it can alter the skin’s texture or affect ink absorption.
  • Health Conditions: If you have any skin conditions or are taking medication, consult with a healthcare professional before using numbing creams.


The use of numbing creams has revolutionised the tattooing process, making it accessible to even the most pain-sensitive individuals. By understanding how these creams work, how to choose and apply them properly, and by taking necessary precautions, you can enjoy a virtually pain-free tattoo experience. Always remember to discuss with your tattoo artist before using any numbing cream, as their expertise and experience can provide you with additional insights and recommendations tailored to your specific needs.

As the world of tattoo art continues to evolve, the advancements in pain management open up new possibilities for creativity and expression. Whether it’s your first tattoo or one of many, the right numbing cream can make your journey into the world of ink a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.