The most sensitive zones in your body to the tattooing needles are the soft areas, like the stomach, face, ears, lips, hands, feet and neck, or parts close to the bones and tendons like the ribcage, chest, spine, armpits, and even the ankles. Some people consider the pain a part of the process, other don't. Some people have high pain tolerance, others don't.
This article will help you decide if you should use tattoo numbing cream or not, and what you need to know to apply it.
How Well Do Numbing Creams Work?
Most creams take between 20 to 60 minutes to become effective and last for up to 4 hours. The intensity of the numbing is the strongest in the first 2 hours and can eliminate up to about 80% of the reported pain experienced.
In most cases, you’ll find that these creams will work effectively and are safe for your body. However, each cream does come with warnings if you have certain health conditions, so it’s best to follow those before applying a numbing cream.
Pro Tip: Find a reputable brand with a significant lidocaine level. Around 4% to 5% will work well.
How to Apply
It’s best to time this with the start of your appointment to get the maximum comfort the cream gives you!
- Wash the area thoroughly.
- Wear a pair of gloves, and apply the cream over the area getting inked. About 1mm of a layer on the skin works great.
- Few creams mention this but you can cover it up in plastic wrap, which will activate the cream and speed up the numbing process.
- Remove the plastic wrap from 30-90 minutes. Wash the area well before the tattoo session starts.
Should You Be Using Any of These Pain-Free Options?
This is more of a personal choice. For some, pain is part of the process, while for others, it isn’t. There is nothing wrong with wanting to stay as comfortable as possible during your session. This could prove a boon for you and your artist as they can concentrate on finishing the tattoo and not have to give you constant breaks or continue the tattoo in another session, which can prove costly.
Everyone is different, and there’s no need to worry about what others will think. Not everyone can take a lot of pain from a long tattoo session and that's ok. Speak to your tattoo artist before the session, explain them you don't feel comfortable with the pain and would like to apply a numbing cream you're bought and ask them if they're ok with it - from there, they'll advice you based on their experience.
Some tattoo artists even suggest themselves that it's time to apply a numbing cream or gel toward the middle or end of the session. From experience, they know that certain colors, needles and techniques will increase the pain and a numbing cream is a great help to moving the session forward.
The Psychological Pain
While most of the pain experienced during tattooing is physical, some people have a higher psychological charge which sometimes stops them from getting the tattoos they want. In those cases, reducing the prospect of physical pain can also reduce the psychological pain dramatically.
People who are more prone to anxiety might find the numbing creams a great catalyst to get their session started.
Whether this is your case, or you just want to reduce the pain, there are ways to significantly reduce the discomfort.
Most of these come in creams, sprays, and even gels. Creams are the most popular choice for many people and have proven to work well, and they’re mostly safe when used correctly. However, there are some things you’ll need to know.
What do Tattoo Artists Think About you using Numbing Cream?
This can depend on the artist. Some will appreciate the use of the cream as it allows them to work easier without you twitching or wincing when they hit a sensitive area. Many will recommend the use of a numbing cream for that reason alone.
Others feel that pain is part of this process. If they don't allow you to use it, remind them that the pain might cause delays in the procedure or additional sittings, costing you more. Some artists might tell you that some numbing creams will interact with the ink, in which case you can ask them which brand do they prefer that you use.
How Numbing Creams Work Their Magic
Like most creams, these will need to be applied around 30 minutes before the artists starts laying the ink. This gives it time to seep through all the layers of your skin and spread the numbing sensation.
Products like Lidocaine, stop the nerves from receiving the signals that cause pain. Depending on the length of the session, you may have to reapply.
Another way some of these creams work is by utilizing nerve blockers. This prevents any signals from reaching your brain. Examples of these are Benzocaine, and they don’t really numb the pain as dull it. Some creams come with a vasoconstrictor. While these are stronger, they come with a hefty warning label as they constrict your blood vessels.
Communication is vital, along with knowing your pain tolerances. Don’t sweat the color differences either, as technology has moved forward and most colored inks no longer hurt more than the black. You can sit back in comfort and then with a positive experience over the session.
Should I Bring My Own Cream?
Yes. It's better to buy it in advance, specially if it's a walk-in. If you've already agreed with the artist to apply it, bring it along as most tattoo artists may not have them on hand.
Cost of Numbing Creams
Most creams are pretty effective and range from $10-$50. This can depend on the amount of Lidocaine and the size of the tube you buy.
Do They Affect the Final Result?
A high-quality cream won’t affect your tattoo, and it won’t cause any side effects either. Remember that you get what you pay for, and low-quality creams may not work or affect your new art’s healing process.
To make sure the final result won't be affected by the numbing cream, you should choose trustworthy brand. We personally advise TattooNumbx - it is a product we've tried and love. You can even get 10% off by using the discount code WIZARD10 during check-out.
A reputable cream will give your artist peace of mind as the numbing agent won’t interfere with the ink.
Which Brand should I Buy?
We've had amazing results with TattooNumbx (15$). They have a fair price and result are perfect, that's why we advise this brand to all our friends and family.
By buying from our partners, you're also helping keep TattoosWizard free for all and contributing to the local economy. When you purchase, make sure to apply the discount code WIZARD10 to get 10% off at the check-out.
You also have others brands available like NumbSkin (25$), Samnyte (26$, UberNumb (32$) and NumbMaster (44$).