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Can You Use Numbing Cream Before Getting a Tattoo?

Posted by Ann V. On 2016 Oct 30th

Can You Use Numbing Cream Before Getting a Tattoo?

Tattooing is a painful task that most of the people deal with by silently sucking up all pain; but people with low pain threshold prefer using topical anesthetics such as numbing cream to lessen the agonizing pain.

People have varied opinions about the use of numbing creams; some use it without any hesitation while others believe it has adverse effects on skin and tattoo. There are a number of tattoo artists who do not use numbing creams and never recommend it their clients.

Everything about numbing cream including myths that might become reality overtime are described below.

How does it work?

Mainly all pre-tattoo anesthetic creams contain lidocaine that deadens nerve endings to decrease pain during the tattooing process. There are also other creams containing epinephrine, tetracaine or benzocaine to make tattooing comfortable for pain-sensitive people. Such creams work more like nerve blockers to lessen the sensation of piercing needles in the body.

Vasoconstrictors are also a powerful numbing agent that reduces bleeding by constricting blood vessels. So a numbing cream with above mentioned ingredients can be used before a tattoo. It is preferable to use water-based numbing cream than glycerin-based cream as it doesn’t makes the skin slippery.

Correct usage

Topical numbing creams relieve you from pain of tattooing only if it is used properly. Cleanse the skin you want to get a tattoo on using soap and water. Always wear gloves before applying numbing cream to prevent your hands from getting numb. After applying cream, cover it with a perforated cloth for a while. It is very crucial to clean it with a damp cloth before an hour to prevent any side effects. If kept for a longer period, it can cause side effects and even slow the healing process.

Tattoo type and place

Effectiveness of numbing creams also depends on type and place of the tattoo being marked. Mainly numbing creams should be used while tattooing on larger and sensitive areas of skin like the back, ribs or hands.


Although numbing creams can be effective if used as directed, but you also need to follow some precautions to get best results in safer way.

It is best to consult your tattoo artist for using numbing creams. Some experts even say that these anesthetic numbing creams don’t numb the entire area you are tattooing but it only diminishes the pain. Before a tattoo session have a full meal along with plenty of water, and stay away from caffeine products.

Tattooing is a passion since ancient times and most of tatted people say that the real meaning of tattooing is to tolerate the pain. Yes, they are true to some extent, but persons with low capacity for pain tolerance can apply numbing creams to lessen pain in tattooing. In all conditions, it is recommended to seek professional help on using numbing creams safely.