How to Use Tattoo Numbing Cream for a Pain-Free Experience


How does tattoo numbing cream work?

Tattoo numbing creams & ointments cause numbness in the desired area and provide a pain-free tattoo experience, even in sensitive areas such as the inner arm & rib cage.

Simply apply the numbing cream to the tattoo area before sitting and enjoy your session pain-free.

The active ingredient is lidocaine, a local anesthetic that blocks pain signals at the nerve endings in the skin. It is commonly used in minor medical procedures, does not cause unconsciousness, and is completely safe. 

How long does tattoo numbing cream last?

Tattoo numbing cream lasts 4-6 hours if applied properly. For half & full sleeves or large chest & back tattoos that require longer sessions, you’ll have to take a short break during the session and reapply the cream as needed. 

How do you apply numbing cream to a tattoo?

The day before

The numbing cream process actually begins a whole day before your appointment.

Spot test the numbing cream on the area that will be tattooed the next day. This is to test your skin’s reaction to the numbing cream. Some minor localized redness is normal. 

The last thing you’d want is to experience pain during your tattoo because you forgot to test the numbing cream the day before.

As well, it’s important to avoid drinking any alcohol, beer, or milk for at least 24 hours before your appointment. Alcohol will reduce the effectiveness of the cream, causing pain and other negative side effects. 

Here are some other tips for tattoo preparation.

The day of 

1. Wash & exfoliate the area

Use soap, water, and an exfoliator to remove any dirt or dead skin from the tattoo area. Be thorough as any debris left behind could reduce the effectiveness of the numbing cream.

2. Apply thoroughly with a glove

Apply at least 60-90 minutes before your appointment and be sure to use a glove to prevent numbness on your fingers and/or hand. 

Apply a thick amount of numbing cream (about 3mm) to the area and rub in thoroughly. It should be thick enough to see on your skin, not rubbed in like lotion or sunscreen. 

We recommend covering the entire area plus an extra inch on each side to be sure the entire area is numbed properly. 

3. Cover with plastic wrap

Cover the entire tattoo area with saran or plastic wrap. The wrap prevents the numbing cream from drying out and any debris from entering the area. Leave the wrap on until your artist is ready to begin.

4. Wait to sit

For our Signature and Signature+ Numbing Cream, we recommend waiting at least 60-90 minutes after applying for the best results. Keep the area covered until your session begins. 

5. Enjoy your tattoo pain-free

Once you and the artist are ready to begin, remove the wrap and wipe away all of the numbing cream using a paper towel. Though the cream is gone, you will experience full numbness and allow the artist to proceed without distraction.

One dosage typically lasts for 4-6 hours, long enough to sit for most small to medium-sized tattoos.

For larger tattoos that require more time in the chair, you’ll need to reapply the numbing cream. Just as before, use a glove to apply a thick amount to the remaining area, cover for just 20-40 minutes, and then resume the session.

Because the skin is already open, the numbing occurs much faster. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When should should I apply the cream?

We recommend applying numbing cream at least 60-90 minutes before your appointment begins to ensure full numbing. Leave it on until you're sitting in the chair. If you’re reapplying during a long session, wait at least 20-40 minutes before resuming the artwork.

Do you wipe off numbing cream before the tattoo?

Yes, the tattooed area must be completely clear of any cream and shaven of any hair before the session. 

And don’t worry if you haven’t shaved, most artists will likely do it themselves to ensure their needle penetrates properly.

Once you’ve waited the recommended amount of time after applying, simply wipe away the excess cream with a paper towel. At this point, the area should be completely numb and will remain so for at least 4-6 hours. 

Should I tell my tattoo artist that I plan to use a numbing cream?

Absolutely. It will give them peace of mind knowing that you’ll be completely numb, free to work without being disturbed by pain or discomfort. 

If in doubt, it’s always best to ask your artist during your consultation before using numbing cream. Most will be okay with it, though some may be reluctant.

Regardless, a simple conversation will go a long way to save you both some awkwardness.

Can you apply numbing cream during a tattoo?

Yes, you can re-apply numbing cream during a tattoo, but wait at least 20-40 minutes before resuming your session. It will take less time to activate as your skin is broken. But if you didn't start your session with the cream, it will be rather ineffective if you apply it halfway during your session.  

Where can I buy tattoo numbing cream?

 You can buy tattoo numbing cream at Numbed Ink; some studios may also supply their own if you ask.  

***Disclaimer: Numbed Ink Company LLC assumes no responsibility for allergic reactions or adverse effects of any kind, please read the ingredients and instructions for use carefully before use and ask any questions you may have. If you have ever had any skin problems or allergic reactions, then consult a doctor before use.

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