A numbing cream is a popular option for those who are getting tattooed. Does Tattoo Numbing Cream Work? Does it numb the pain? Does it make your tattoos look better? Does tattoo numbing cream reduce healing time and make you less likely to get an infection or disease from the needles used on you during the process of giving you a tattoo? These are all questions that people ask, but there isn’t much information out there about whether numbing creams really do provide lasting relief.
The best thing to do if you’re unsure is to try one yourself and see how well they work for you!
Tattoos are undoubtedly a really elegant form of body art. Unfortunately, the bummer with them is, they hurt a lot. While many people are okay with that, people like you and I are not. But what to do? As the adage goes, “You will never learn how to swim without getting your feet wet.”
Guess what, it doesn’t have to be that way anymore! Today, I’m here to finally put an end to one of the most debated topics among tattoo enthusiasts – if tattoo numbing creams really work.
I’ll be going through all the nitty-gritty details as well as the complexities of tattoo numbing creams, to make sure you know everything about them by the time I’m done. And last but not the least, I’ll also be answering some commonly asked questions in the FAQ sections to top it all off.
Believe me, this article will serve as the perfect introduction for your journey through painless tattoo sessions! Without any further delay, let’s get started.
Credit: Instagram @ revealtattoosupply
Does Tattoo Numbing Cream Work?
Depends. Do you want the short answer or the long answer?
In a nutshell, yes, they do a great job at pain reduction. But you have to keep your expectations in check.
Why so? Let’s check out the full answer.
You need to understand the fact that tattoo numbing creams relieve the pain associated with tattooing, but they may not eliminate it. You definitely won’t be feeling the acute pain caused by the needle. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be feeling any sort of discomfort at all.
In other words, they will not make the pain go away totally, but make it much more bearable instead. And that’s a lot better than what you’d normally feel without numbing creams if you ask me.
Apart from this little catch, tattoo numbing cream is brilliantly designed to take care of the pain. You don’t have to take my word for it. In the next section, we’ll be learning about how exactly it works so you can see it for yourself.
How Does a Tattoo Numbing Spray, Gel, or Cream Relieve Tattoo Pain?
Whether it’s a tattoo numbing spray, gel, or cream – more or less all tattoo numbing agents work by preventing the nerves from letting your brain know that it’s hurting in that area. Generally, there are three kinds of elements present in a tattoo numbing ointment. Nerve deadeners, nerve blockers, and vasoconstrictors.
“Okay, but what do these annoyingly hard-to-pronounce things do anyway?”
Right, I’m getting to that now. Let’s check out the general ingredient list of a tattoo numbing agent.
- Nerve deadeners: The purpose of the nerve deadener element is to “deactivate” the nerve. Even if it does register any pain – it won’t be able to send the pain signal to the brain. Lidocaine, an incredible ingredient that is the holy grail for numbing creams, is typically used for this purpose.
- Nerve blockers: Nerve blocker ingredients resist the nerve from feeling most of the pain, but not all of it. As you can guess already, nerve blockers aren’t that powerful on their own. So, they work hand in hand with the aforementioned Lidocaine to produce the best results. Tetracaine and benzocaine are two ingredients commonly used for this purpose.
- Vasoconstrictors: Last but not the least, Vasoconstrictors (Epinephrine is used in most cases) play an incredibly important role in the pain-numbing process as well. How so?
- It makes sure the blood vessels of the place constrict, enabling the numbing cream to last way longer. On top of that, it also does a great job at reducing potential bleeding and swelling that occurred during and after the tattoo appointment.
As we’ve just seen, the aforementioned ingredients work together to produce the numbing effects and make the tattooing process a breeze.
When to Use Tattoo Numbing Agents (And When to Not!)
Oh, that’s an easy one to answer. If you’re one of those people who are terrified by the sight of needles and the feeling of pain or discomfort it produces – always, always use skin-numbing creams during your tattoo sessions. The fear itself is a lot to process. Trust me, you don’t want the pain to worsen the experience any further. Accept this blessing from modern medical science, and your life will be a lot better.
So, now you know when to go for tattoo numbing agents – every single tattoo appointment. Here comes the second question, when can using tattoo numbing agents be a bad idea?
If the skin is in bad condition.
Skin-numbing creams are chemical agents that may harm the skin if it’s already damaged somehow. So as obvious as it is, if you have any sort of superficial injuries in the place, do not apply numbing cream there. And you probably should postpone the tattoo too, until the skin heals.
But other than this one thing, there are generally no other conditions that would require you to not use numbing agents.
Do Tattoo Artists Usually Use Skin-Numbing Creams During Tattoo Sessions?
Good question. Unfortunately, they rarely do.
The reason behind that is purely economical – adding tattoo numbing agents to the package would drive up the prices astronomically. Given how most people are okay with the pain, tattoo artists simply don’t bother supplying the customers with skin-numbing creams.
Another reason can be that a lot of tattooists don’t believe in painless tattoo sessions. According to them, actual tattooing should be painful and they insist on letting it be. However, that’s a very ignorant way to view things.
In case you have any doubt, I assure you that aesthetic tattoos don’t necessarily have to translate to pain.
Can you bring your own tattoo numbing cream?
Yes, almost all tattoo shops are okay with the customer bringing their own numbing cream. That being said, you should inform the tattoo artist beforehand as they may need to make some preparations on their end.
Are Tattoo Numbing Creams Safe for Your Skin?
Yes, tattoo numbing creams are absolutely safe for your skin as long as you’re keeping a few caveats in mind. Have a look at the guidelines given below.
- If you have any skin sensitivities or allergies, it would be best to do a patch test with your numbing cream of choice first before going all in.
- If the applied area starts swelling excessively, the tattoo numbing cream may have triggered an allergic reaction. In that case, wash the cream off the skin immediately and seek emergency medical attention.
- Never use any sort of numbing agents on open wounds.
A Dark Secret About Tattoo Numbing Creams (That No One Else Will Tell You!)
While tattoo numbing agents may be a wonderful invention, they do come with a major disadvantage. Luckily, the amazing set of pros outweigh the only con it has. So, end of the day, it’s still totally worth it.
But hey, that’s just one man’s opinion. Let me tell you what it is so you can decide for yourself.
After the numbing effects are gone, the pain may be amplified
Here’s the thing. If you don’t use any tattoo numbing cream, the pain during the tattoo session would be increasing gradually until it hits the peak. As much as it hurts, the pain levels wouldn’t be increasing abruptly.
But that’s not the case if you do use skin-numbing agents. They won’t let you feel any pain during the tattoo session, but the pain is going to start all at once as soon as the numbing effects are gone. To some people, that may feel like a more intense version of the actual pain.
However, if it’s of any consolation – at least it’s a good thing to be able to avoid the pain during the tattoo appointment, especially if you’re scared of the tattoo needle.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Should you use tattoo numbing cream for tattooing or laser tattoo removal?
Yes, you definitely should if you have a low pain tolerance or a fear of needles.
Whether you’re receiving a new one or getting an old one removed, tattoos always hurt. Why go through all the pain and feeling of discomfort when you can skip the horribleness altogether?
Using numbing cream during receiving the tattoo somewhere sensitive like your elbows or ribs would be a very wise decision too, for the same reason.
Not to mention, tattoo numbing creams don’t even cause any issues to the tattoo or the skin. There are no dangerous side effects, making it a total win-win for everyone. Go ahead, use tattoo numbing cream every time you’re getting or removing a tattoo!
Why do some tattoo artists refuse to use tattoo numbing cream?
Most of the tattooists wouldn’t have an issue with you using numbing cream, but some tattoo artists strongly discourage it. While there can be a plethora of reasons why here are some common ones:
1. Some tattooists tend to be a bit of a traditionalist. They believe you need to enjoy the pain of the tattoo process, almost turning the experience into a form of masochism.
2. They think it’s a pain in the neck and will make the tattoo process take longer. Although that’s solely caused by ignorance. Because you can apply numbing cream yourself before the tattoo session and then wipe it off after it’s done. The tattoo artist doesn’t even need to spend their own time on it.
3. Some tattoo artists think it messes with the tattoo. But in reality, no such thing ever occurs. Tattoo numbing cream would never fade your tattoo.
Is it bad to use tattoo numbing cream?
No, not at all.
It does not carry any health hazards and is perfectly okay to use on your skin. Generally, over-the-counter tattoo numbing ointment is just Lidocaine-based topical anesthetic cream which healthcare professionals often suggest for having a comfortable tattooing experience.
The chance of facing adverse effects is very low, as long as you’re following the instructions of medical professionals.
What can I take before a tattoo to ease the pain?
There are a variety of numbing options to choose from that may be used alongside tattoo numbing cream.
But before I get to that, please be noted that you should not go for generic over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, paracetamol, or aspirin. They’d delay the blood clotting process significantly making you bleed more and hence, the overall process would hurt more.
The worst part is that your tattoo may get ruined too. The same goes for alcohol, make sure to not drink at least 24 hours before the tattoo session.
Prescription drugs like Valium and Tramadol will be of help but as they may have some side effects, ask your doctor if it’s okay to use them. Lastly, meditation works wonders for some – do try that as well.
If you have read till this far, congratulations! By now, you should’ve got your answer to the question we originally started with – if tattoo numbing cream really works.
Let’s take a look at what else I’ve covered in the article, shall we?
We’ve learned how tattoo numbing agents work in-depth along with the roles of the active ingredients present in them. After that, I’ve discussed some other important topics like when you should use numbing creams, if tattoo artists usually use them, and most importantly if they’re safe for your skin.
You found the dark secret about tattoo numbing creams quite insightful, right? Lastly, the FAQ section should answer any remaining questions you may have had.
Please remember that I’m not a pharmacist and I have no clue about your medical history. Do not treat any of this as medical advice. May your future tattoo appointments be fully painless!