Tattoos mean different things for different people: getting tattooed could mean a new beginning for you, a reminder of your goals, or an expression of love or a belief. A tattoo also means pain during and after the process. So, while the outcome is often the most magnificent thing on your skin, you have to be ready to fight or manage the pain that comes from inking.
Which is why you might not believe this now, but you can now get inked all thanks to numbing creams specific for tattoos painlessly. Whether you have a low or a high pain tolerance threshold, your tattoo artist understands the discomfort and pain experienced during the inking process hence the need for the best tattoo numbing cream.
The tattoo numbing cream refers to an ointment, spray, or gel that you apply to the skin before getting inked. The best numbing creams reduce the pain and the discomfort that comes with the needle.
The other benefits of finding the best numbing cream for tattoos include stress-free tattoo making since the tattoo artist doesn’t have to worry about missing a stroke.
If you’ve been on the lookout for the best numbing cream that will work for you or your clients, you’ve probably come across the tens of potentially effective tattoo numbing creams on the market, each promising the best and the longest-lasting effects. It’s easy to get confused about which is the right numbing cream for you, and which isn’t. To help you narrow down your search, I not only endeavor to review 7 of the best numbing creams before tattoo and also the numbing creams to use after getting your tattoo, but I’ll also highlight how the numbing creams work.
How do the numbing creams for tattoos work?
When it comes to a numbing cream’s mode of action, you have to look at the cream’s active ingredients. These ingredients determine how the numbing tattoo cream works. Generally, there are three main types of tattoo numbing creams: nerve blockers, nerve deadeners, and vasoconstrictors.
Nerve blockers – the numbing creams with nerve-blocking action contain tetracaine and benzocaine. These ingredients give the cream some numbing effects, and your nerves will only register a minimum amount of pain. These creams do not send pain signals to the brain, and they don’t prevent your nerves from registering pain – all they do is to block the pain signals from reaching your brain.
Nerve Deadeners – these creams have, and they will deaden your nerves temporarily. These nerves will not register pan. Note, however, that these creams are not effective for deep tattoos.
Vasoconstrictors – these are the numbing creams that act by reducing blood flow to the affected area of the skin. These creams are the most powerful. Besides reduced blood flow, the cream also reduces swelling and bleeding.
Understanding your options is essential in ensuring that the inking process is as comfortable as possible.
Keep in mind that the type of numbing cream you buy depends on the sensitivity of the area being tattooed, your pain tolerance, and the depth of the tattoo.
Top 7 Tattoo Numbing Creams
1. Ebanel 5% Lidocaine Topical Numbing Cream
If you’re looking for a topical numbing cream to reduce inking pain for your next tattoo, you might want to try this 5% Lidocaine maximum strength painkilling/ numbing cream. This cream is not only effective in offering pain relief and comfort on the skin, but also for hemorrhoid and anorectal pain/ discomfort.
It is FDA-approved, cruelty-free, parabens-free, oil-free, and it’s not been tested on animals. It’s also free from harmful chemicals and additives.
It comes highly recommended for its fast and long-lasting action. You will feel numb in 20-25 minutes, and the numbing effect will last between 1 and 2 hours.
Thanks to its liposomal and its deep-penetration, pain relief effects this numbing cream will make the inking process less painful. Liposomal is effective as it penetrates deep into the skin faster, delivering the anesthetic ingredients to your skin tissue fast. The deep penetration is the reason why the skin’s numbing effects last longer.
The anesthetic in this cream is the active ingredient, lidocaine, which works by blocking pain signals along the nerves temporarily. The blocked nerve action comes from the fact that lidocaine stops sodium from flooding the nerve endings at the site of the pain.
You might also like this cream because it’s non-greasy. Unlike other creams on the market, this cream is water soluble, and you don’t have to worry about stained clothes/ beddings.
- Oil and grease-free
- Suitable for waxing and inking
- It’s an effective numbing agent, and it lasts for up to 2 hours
- Easy to use
- It doesn’t work on oiled skin – you have to clean the skin with water and soap for it to work effectively
2. Clinical Resolution Non-Oily Numb Master Topical Anesthetic Cream
Looking for a non-oily, highly effective numbing cream to help you through the pain that comes with getting inked or even waxing? Perhaps you might want to try Clinical Resolution Non-Oily Numb Master Cream. This crema is made of 5% lidocaine, a strong pain reliever. It’s easy to use being oil-free, you can remove it easily using water and a facial cleanser.
Its numbing effects are expected to last for at least an hour with numbing effects expected to kick in within 20-25 minutes.
Like most of the numbing creams on the market, this cream is a pre-treatment numbing gel, and it will work well in reducing the pain from getting tattooed.
- It’s easy to use
- It’s oil-free and works fast on clean skin
- Numbing lasts at least one hour
- You could use it before your Brazilian wax too
- No menthol and it’s not smelly
- Relatively expensive for its size
3. Hustle Butter Deluxe – Tattoo Butter
Almost all the numbing creams for tattoos available on the market focus on the numbing effect necessary before the tattoo. However, Hustle Butter Deluxe understands the importance of a local anesthetic before, during, and after the tattoo process, hence their Tattoo Butter. This Tattoo Butter is a luxury product when it comes to tattoo care, hence this cream that works well in every stage of the inking process.
Hustle Butter Deluxe Tattoo Butter prepares the skin for tattooing by making it softer and suppler for superior gliding when you’re being tattooed. This butter also moisturizes and heals the skin after it’s tattooed.
The other positive aspect of this numbing butter is that it doesn’t get rid of the stencil and you don’t have to worry about petroleum buildup or clogging of tubes. By making your skin workable, this butter reduces swelling, redness, and bleeding, while enhancing healing. Also, you won’t have to worry about overworked colors.
You might also like Hustle Butter Deluxe’s Tattoo Butter since it’s infused with nature’s essence and it’s also clinically tested and certified. Some of the natural ingredients of this cream include shea, aloe butter, mango, rice bran oils and sunflower, coconut, and papaya oils. These natural ingredients mean that you don’t have to worry about skin damage and allergies during and after the tattooing process.
It’s also easy to use, and you can apply it on any part of the body. It’s also important to note that the use of this cream will moisturize, lubricate, and enrich the skin by preventing dehydration and adding nutrients to the skin.
- Ideal for use before, during, and after the tattoo process
- It’s easy to use
- It protects the skin, and it enhances skin health.
- It’s made of natural ingredients, and it doesn’t irritate.
- Beautiful and subtle aromas for skin therapy
- Shea and aloe butters are great for the skin
- Best tattoo aftercare product
- It’s soothing
- It only works well during some stages of the tattoo healing process
4. Ora’s Amazing Herbal Natural Tattoo Aftercare Treatment Salve
Even with the best pre-treatment / tattoo numbing gel, you have to buy the best of tattoo aftercare products and this Ora’s Amazing Herbal Natural Tattoo Aftercare Treatment Salve is one of the best aftercare products. The top reason why I think you should consider using this aftercare treatment for tattoos is that this is a natural salve that’s infused with organic herbs to help your tattoo heal faster. Unlike petroleum, this salve will not clog your skin pores, which means faster healing and a low risk of infection.
You might also like this product because it’s free or synthetic chemicals (free of mineral oils, paraben, synthetic fragrances, lanolin, aloe, gluten, grain, and dyes. What this means is that this Ora’s Amazing Herbal Natural Tattoo Aftercare Treatment Salve is what your skin needs to heal. You might also like for its tissue-healing capabilities, as well as the fact that it will reduce inflammation and the risk of infections.
For use, you only need to apply a thin layer of the salve on the tattoo. This application will soothe the area, reduce itching, and protect the exposed/ healing skin without causing any clogging. Also, it will not leach color.
Some of its natural, healthy ingredients include three essential oils: tea tree oil, cedar leaf oil (Thuja), and rosemary oil. For as long as anyone can remember, essential oils have been medically for the treatment of wounds and prevention of infections. This use is seen in this salve as the essential oils soothe, heal, and protect the skin.
Its other ingredients include grapeseed oil with organic calendula, organic plantain, organic comfrey, organic thyme, organic burdock, coconut oil, St. John’s Wort, vitamin E, and beeswax.
- Its infused with natural herbs and oils that encourage healing of the tattoo, while preventing infections
- It soothing
- You only need a small amount
- Suitable for skin abrasions, dryness, cuts, or sores, besides healing tattoos
- Great for pain relief
- No chemicals or additives
- All-natural ingredients
- A little too heavy
5. SUPER NUMB Anesthetic Skin Numbing Cream
If you’re looking for a numbing cream to numb that tattoo pain, laser, waxing, or piercing pain, you might want to try this product. Super Numb comes in a 30mg tube which will cover an area of about 6″ x 6″ meaning that you get to buy the product depending on the size of the area you want to apply the cream.
This cream offers maximum numbing strength when it comes to pain from tattooing, laser treatment, body piercing, tattoo removal, permanent cosmetics, or waxing.
Being a water-based, non-oily product, it’s easy to use, and you don’t have to worry about stains after application.
You might also like this numbing cream because of its long-lasting numbing effects. But for the best numbing effects, you should cover the area you’ve applied a layer of numbing cream with a plastic wrap. Wrapping and the heat from the skin activate the cream and also prevent the drying of the cream. Applied well, the anesthetic will last for 3-4 hours. Note, however, that this duration depends on the area/ part of the skin it’s applied, as well as your skin type and sensitivity.
Super Numb’s main ingredient is lidocaine, and it makes the nerve endings insensitive to pain.
- Works effectively, even on the sensitive areas of the skin
- Numbing effects last well over two hours
- Suitable for waxing, tattoo removal, laser treatment, and other cosmetic applications
- It’s easy to use
- Oil-free meaning no stains and easy penetration into the skin
- Not idea when tattooing large areas because the numbing effects will have worn off before you get tattooed unless the cream is applied in stages
- You need a thick layer of cream for the best effects
6. Lidocaine Blue Gel Tattoo Numbing Cream Gel
Lidocaine Blue Gel is one of the most popular and also the fastest-acting anesthetic that you might want to use to make the next tattoo process as painless as possible. Named after it colorful and bright appearance, lidocaine blue’s common with tattoo artists. This numbing gel is a mixture of 4% lidocaine, 2% tetracaine, as well as a vasoconstrictor. These three ingredients make this one of the most powerful numbing products on the market because it not only reduces the pain significantly, but it’s also helpful in the reduction of bruising, swelling, and bleeding. You might also like it for its prolonged numbing action.
Thanks to its ingredients, it works pretty fast with the numbing effects felt in between 2 and 5 minutes, while lasting up to 2 hours.
The catch, however, is that unlike other numbing creams, lidocaine Blue Gel is only effective if applied on broken skin, thanks to its ingredients. It remains ineffective if it’s applied before tattooing. Therefore, if you have to use this tattoo gel, you should allow your tattoo artist to work on a small area of the tattoo first before they rub the gel on the skin. Also, to avoid potential side effects, you shouldn’t reapply lidocaine in one tattoo session even if its effects wear off. And you should get rid of the excess gel before you recommence tattooing – too much gel makes the skin slippery, and this could make it difficult for the artist to work.
- Fast action means that you don’t have to wait for the anesthetic to kick in
- It’s the most powerful numbing cream for tattoos on the market
- It reduces swelling, bruising, bleeding and pain
- Prolonged numbing effects
- It also works for permanent numbing
- You must have broken skin for it to work
- Too much gel makes the skin slippery
7. TOPICAINE 5 Lidocaine Gel Anorectal Numbing Gel
Looking for a fast-acting topical numbing cream? Perhaps you should try this numbing gel. It has nerve deadening effects for pain relief thanks to its 5% lidocaine, which is also the main ingredient. Thanks to this numbing gel, you don’t have to worry about going through the excruciating pain that comes from tattooing.
Its lidocaine action will kick in after about 30 minutes or one hour. Once you’re fully activated, the numbing effects will last anything between 1 and 2 hours. You might also like this numbing gel because it is non-oily meaning that tattooing over this cream will not be an issue from your tattoo artist. Also, being oil/ petroleum-free, the gel will not clog your skin pores or affect the healing of the tattoo.
The gel also comes with soothing and cooling effects to enhance your comfort during the tattoo process. The soothing comes from the use of active ingredients with soothing effects like aloe, alpha-bisabolol, jojoba oil, and shea butter.
- It’s easy to use, and its numbing effects last for more than an hour
- Suitable for permanent makeup, laser hair removal, or electrolysis treatment
- It’s soothing
- Not a tattoo numbing cream specifically, but it’s very effective in blocking the pain and discomfort during tattooing
- It only comes in a 30g tube, and it will run out pretty fast
- Numbing effects don’t last as long as you’d want, especially for big tattoos.
Tips for Buying Tattoo Numbing Creams
Check the active ingredient before buying
Since some of the best numbing creams contain lidocaine, this search shouldn’t be too difficult. Besides lidocaine, you should also look out for the other ingredients often. Natural ingredients, herbs, and essential oils are preferred because they have soothing effects, and they will speed up itching, besides reducing the pain. You should steer clear of products with parabens, petroleum, and synthetic additives/ fragrances, as well as the animal-tested products.
Buy an oil-free numbing cream
A non-oily or an oil-free numbing cream means that you don’t have to worry about your skin’s pores getting clogged and at risk of infection after getting your tattoo. It’s also important in ensuring an effortless inking process; if the area to be tattooed is oily, then it means that your tattoo artist will have difficulties making the perfect strokes.
How fast will the numbing effects kick in?
What happens when you buy a product with an advertised activation time of 25 minutes only for the numbing effects to kick in 40 minutes later? TO avoid the pain and embarrassment that comes with delayed numbing, you should read reviews to make sure that you know exactly how long you need to wait for the cream to be in effect.
How long will the numbing effects last?
First, it’s important to remember that the duration of your inking process will depend on the size and the complexity of your tattoo. If complex, you might have to buy a numbing cream whose effects will last for more than 2 hours. Also, remember that the numbing effects will depend on your sensitivity to pain and the sensitivity of the area you’re getting the tat. Generally, a numbing cream whose effects will last less than an hour should be avoided.
If you’re going to buy an aftercare product, make sure it has natural and safe ingredients that will encourage the healing of your skin with as little pain and irritation as possible.
How to Use Numbing Cream for Tattoos
Many things affect the tattoo cream you buy, but the most important consideration is how effective the numbing cream is. The effectiveness is important because you have either a low pain tolerance threshold or a high threshold for pain tolerance.
The seven products reviewed above are some of the best numbing creams for tattoos
Application of tattoo numbing gels
Unless you’re using the Lidocaine Blue Gel which should be applied on broken skin, you should apply the numbing cream one hour before your appointment. The reason for this is that most of the numbing creams take a while to be fully activated.
- Before application, wash the area to be tattooed carefully with water and soap and then dry it out well.
- When dry, apply the numbing cream in layers of the same thickness
- Next, apply a cover on the area with the cream. You could use a plastic wrap as your cream cover
- For maximum effects, consider applying another layer 30 minutes to your appointment
- Just before your appointment, wash it off.
Keep in mind that besides creams, there also are tattoo numbing sprays you could try.
From the reviews of the best tattoo numbing creams above, it’s easy to tell which product works well for you and which won’t. Just be careful about the ingredients in the numbing gel and make sure that the tattoo cream you choose will provide a comfortable and pain-free process.