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What Is Tattoo Numbing Cream?

What Is Tattoo Numbing Cream?

Tattoos are a $3-billion-per-year industry. It’s safe to say people love getting inked! There are many different reasons to go under the needle and permanently ink your body with a meaningful image. Some use tattoos as self-expression, while others want to pay homage to people they love. Whatever a person’s reason for getting a tattoo is their business – and it’s their choice if they want to go through the pain to get it done. 

Most people who have tattoos will describe them differently when it comes to pain levels. Some might say they barely felt the process, while others will swear up and down it’s the worst pain they’ve ever experienced. So why is there such as discrepancy? Put simply, it’s because people feel pain differently. However, no matter how you slice it, tattoos cause at least some amount of pain.

The good news is that numbing cream is something you can use to combat this effect. This kind of cream helps people who want to get inked in a less painful way do just that. But what is tattoo numbing cream, exactly? And how does it stop the pain that occurs during a tattoo? Read on for all you need to know.

Why are tattoos painful? 

Tattoos are essentially an injury to the skin. During a tattoo, you have needles piercing in and out of your skin as many as 150 times per second. That’s a lot of jabs in an incredibly short period! The needles used in tattooing also have to pierce far enough into the skin to reach a deep layer so that the tattoo itself is both visible and doesn’t wash away.

Unfortunately, that layer in the skin is right next to your pain receptors. So when those needles are doing their thing, pain receptors are being set off and sending signals to your brain that something hurts, and you need to take notice of it. 

Pain receptors help keep you safe in that they alert you to things that could potentially cause you serious harm. But since there’s no way for the body to tell the difference between the pain caused by a tattoo and the pain caused by a more serious threat, the message to the brain is the same. 


Image by Steven Erixon on Unsplash: How can I get a tattoo without it hurting? 


What is numbing cream? 

Tattoo numbing cream acts as an anesthetic. When people think of anesthesia, they generally picture surgeries or procedures that require them to be “put under” for a period of time – this is known as a general anaesthetic. The type of anaesthetic used in tattoo cream is different, however; it’s called a local anesthetic. It’s similar to an epidural because it targets one specific area of the body.

When it comes to tattooing, instead of an injection, numbing cream is applied topically to the area and soaks into the layers of skin that feel the pain. Essentially, tattoo numbing cream helps keep you chill and pain-free during your tattoo experience.

The reason why tattoo numbing creams work is because of their medicinal ingredients. The most notable ingredient in numbing creams is lidocaine, which works by blocking the nerve endings on pain receptors from sending messages to the brain. The injury is still happening, but the nerve endings have no way of knowing, so they don’t alert you to it. 

Other ingredients can have the same effect, some of which are also used in tattoo numbing creams. These include: 

  • Benzocaine 
  • Pramoxine
  • Dibucaine
  • Tetracaine 

Along with the numbing agent, some tattoo creams will also contain epinephrine (adrenaline) to ensure that the numbing agent stays confined in the area where you need it to be. It does so by constricting cells at the site so that when the lidocaine enters the cell, it has a tough time flowing out of it. 

Is numbing cream worth it for tattoos? 

Whether or not numbing cream is worth it depends on the person and their experience. Say you have many tattoos, and you’ve gone through the process relatively comfortably each time. In this case, numbing cream probably isn’t something you need to use. However, if you’re worried the pain will be almost unbearable, there’s nothing wrong with using a little cream to keep yourself more comfortable during your piece.

There are also some other things to consider when using tattoo numbing cream. For example, some anecdotal evidence suggests the cream can hinder how the skin holds onto the ink. However, there is no clinical evidence to support that using numbing cream will compromise how cool your new ink looks.

Another thing to consider is the tattoo artist: do they allow their clients to use numbing cream? You’ll have to investigate with your chosen artist beforehand, because some are wholeheartedly against numbing cream. 


Image by JJ Jordan on Unsplash: Is tattoo numbing cream worth it? 


Is it safe to use numbing cream before a tattoo? 

The use of numbing cream before a tattoo is typically considered safe. There are certain caveats, however. For example, low-quality tattoo creams may lead to adverse effects. You also may experience an allergic reaction if you’ve never used tattoo numbing cream or its ingredients in the past. For this reason, it’s best to test your numbing cream beforehand on a small patch of skin so you don’t break out in a rash or any other allergic reaction symptoms before going under the needle. 

You may also want to consider how often you use it. Using numbing cream too often can negatively affect your health. If you get a new tattoo every few weeks, always using numbing cream to get rid of the pain, you may run the risk of experiencing toxicity from the ingredients. Toxicity can come with symptoms such as: 

  • Dizziness
  • Sensory issues
  • Blurred vision
  • Tinnitus 
  • Nervousness
  • Muscle twitches
  • Seizures 

Generally, though, if you use numbing cream sparingly, you should have no problems whatsoever.

What is the best tattoo numbing cream? 

Finding the best tattoo numbing cream isn’t always easy. You want to ensure that the ingredients are correct, the quality is good, and the company you’re buying it from is reputable. There are many over-the-counter options, but they are not all made equally, so be sure to do your research.

GenBoost has recently launched its own high-quality numbing cream to help people easily get through tattoos. This cream can also ease the pain of piercings, microblading, and other injections. 

Tattoo numbing cream can be a significant help when going through the pain of a tattoo, but remember: high-quality cream and sporadic use are the best way to go. 


Featured image by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

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