For some, going under the gun is a rewarding experience. But there’s no getting away from the inevitable pain; without the best tattoo numbing cream, the sting caused by a tattoo needle can be hard to bear.
The level of discomfort will be more intense depending on the tattoo’s size, design, and positioning. While everyone’s pain threshold is different, where the needle pierces the skin on the body and how long the inking session lasts, will also have an effect.
If you’re opting for some man-sized body art, tattoo numbing cream can be a real life-saver. Hershell Carrasco, the owner of Pachuco Tattoo, says, “I typically do big pieces. Full forms, half sleeves. These are sessions where we’re sitting anywhere from 4 or 6 hours, as long as 10 hours. I personally like to use a tattoo numbing cream…that’s how many of my clients can sit through these sessions.”
There’s no shame in having some help to make it through your ink session. Some tattoo artists, like Oslo’s Electric Linda, even opt to use tattoo numbing cream on themselves. “I always have such pain when I get tattooed… For me, it’s so painful in some places. I just need to have some numbing cream so I can go through with it, and I don’t need to tap out.” If it works for the professionals, it’s good enough for us.
Tattoo numbing cream contains lidocaine which works by blocking impulses (like pain) that travel along your nerves, explains Dr.Jamie K. Alan, of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University. Basically, it can temporarily numb an area of your body and provide relief.
We’re here to help make your next tattoo a less painful experience. To give you more time to check out our 300 best tattoo ideas for men, we’ve taken the stress out of finding the best tattoo numbing creams.
Get the low down on when and how to apply tattoo numbing cream to the skin. Also, check out what to look for when choosing the numbing cream for your next inking. So keep reading and discover the NINE best tattoo numbing creams to help you beat the buzz.
The perfect all-rounder. When it comes to the best overall tattoo numbing cream, it doesn’t get much better than Zensa Numbing Cream.
Zensa Numbing cream is one of the few tattoo numbing creams available on the market that is FDA approved. The vegan formula contains 5% lidocaine and vitamin E and is both steroid and cruelty-free.
The cream is hypoallergenic, sensitive enough to be used in the eye area, and free from blood constrictors, so it will not affect the tattoo ink’s color retention or settling.
An initial application will provide 2-4 hours of pain relief but can be re-applied to extend the numbing action up to 8 hours.
If the next inking on your tattoo wishlist is on the back, chest, or leg, you’ll need a tattoo numbing cream that will go the distance. SAMNYTE tattoo numbing cream boasts an impressive 6-8 hours of soothing analgesic effect to help you get through those long sittings.
The cruelty-free cream combines 5% lidocaine with a blend of natural ingredients. Menthol, vitamin E, and aloe vera have anti-inflammatory properties to reduce swelling and irritation. This double-action formula helps promote healing, which speeds up the recovery process.
To use the product first, clean the tattoo site with warm soapy water, then pat dry. Use the applicator spoon in the box to spread a thick layer of cream over the skin and cover it well with plastic wrap. Apply some pressure to the area and allow the cream to soak for 30-35 minutes. Remove the wrap and blot with a soft cloth to remove excess cream.
You can allow the tattoo numbing cream to sit on the skin for 45 minutes for an even more long-lasting effect.
Dr. Numb is a multi-purpose topical anesthetic cream. It is suitable for treating everything from burning to itching. However, this versatile product is widely used and recommended by tattoo artists thanks to its deep-numbing properties.
This product makes one of the best tattoo numbing creams because it starts to take effect in as little as 15 minutes. It can offer up to 4 hours of blissful pain relief while under the needle.
Application is similar to most tattoo numbing creams; wash the area, apply the cream, wrap well with plastic, and blot any excess product.
We have a top tip for those extra sensitive areas like the knees, elbows, and feet. When washing the area, swap regular soap for Dr. Numb 4% Lidocaine Foaming Soap and then follow with Dr. Numb Cream. You can thank us later.
Tattoo numbing cream needs to be applied and left to soak into the skin before your inking session. Opt for a fast-acting formula if you’re worried about the timing. Get it right, and the pain-relief will kick in right as you need it most. Ink Sribd gets to work in just 15-20 minutes and offers up to 2 hours of numbing effects.
Aim to arrive for your appointment early and allow the tattoo numbing cream to work its magic while waiting for your artist. This way, you will fully maximize the numbing period.
Ink Scribd adds more than just 5% lidocaine to its formulation. The product also features Arnica and emu oil to speed up the skin-healing process.
Arnica oil works by stimulating the body’s natural healing process. Increasing blood flow to the application site reduces swelling and bruising and alleviates pain. At the same time, emu oil, a key ingredient in Indigenous medicine, moisturizes and minimizes post-tattoo inflammation.
The face is one of the more sensitive areas on the body to get inked. It is also the most challenging body part to hide if you’re unhappy with the result. Face designs are often intricate and precise, so flinching and twitching under the gun is a surefire way to ruin the finished look.
That’s where a tattoo numbing cream comes into play. Medinumb is a general pain-relieving numbing cream suitable for use on the face. Its sensitive-skin-friendly blend of aloe vera, jojoba, and tea tree is non-oily and gentle on delicate facial skin. After leaving a thick layer to soak into the skin for 45-60 minutes, you can enjoy up to 2 hours of pain relief.
Medinumb is ideal for pre-tattooing. Yet, since it is a multi-purpose product, it’s a budget-friendly option and comes in a slightly larger 2-ounce size. This size means you will get multiple uses from one tube.
Base Labs Numbing Cream Kit has everything you need to survive a long session in the chair. It has one of the best values for tattoo-specific numbing creams. A generous 4-ounce tube of 5% lidocaine numbing cream and 98 feet of skin-friendly, non-toxic film wrap can provide several uses.
The specifically designed wrap provided is for use on skin, so there’s no need to raid the kitchen cabinet for plastic food-grade wrap. The tattoo numbing cream is tailor-made for pre-inking usage. Unique ingredients help excel lidocaine’s benefits, like chamomile, hemp seed oil, tea tree oil, and aloe vera.
To boost the numbing power further, you can use warm water to wash the skin before applying the cream and covering it firmly with the skin wrap. Doing this will open the skin’s pores and allow them to absorb the tattoo numbing cream more deeply. Peak numbing effects will begin after 40-45 minutes of soaking and last for up to 4 hours.
There are two schools of thought regarding tattoo numbing cream. Some professionals suggest opting for the maximum over-the-counter dosage of lidocaine, which is 5%. Meanwhile, others believe a lower dosage is better.
Going for a lower dosage of the active numbing ingredient may seem counterproductive, but there’s a good reason behind this thinking. The more intense the numbing action, the more intense the pain will feel as the numbness wears off.
Deeveeant Numbing Cream contains 4% lidocaine. So, if you still have more time in the chair after the numbness wears off, the pain sensation will be less jarring and not seem like such a stark transition.
Do you have a few sessions in the tattooist’s chair under your skin? If so, and you’re looking for a pain relief option to make longer sittings more manageable, this tattoo numbing cream is a great option. It will give you an initial 2 hours of minimized sensation, helping you boost your endurance for bigger pieces of artwork.
Made in the USA and 100% vegan, Uber Numb anesthetic cream enriched with anti-inflammatory Vitamin E will help minimize swelling. It will also help prevent the itchy skin flaking that often follows during the healing process.
After wiping away, the non-sticky, water-based cream will not leave a greasy residue on the skin. It is the consistency that makes it suitable for pre-tattoo applications.
While Uber Numb says the numbing action will last for one hour, many users report up to 4-5 hours of effective pain relief under the needle after application.
To ensure you achieve the maximum level of pain relief, apply the tattoo numbing cream in a thick layer, cover well with plastic wrap and allow to soak for 40-45 minutes. Remove the wrap and repeat the same process. After two applications, you should be able to sit for even the most elaborate rib or stomach tattoos without punching the wall.
Ebanel Topical Anesthetic Cream is one of the most highly recommended, multi-purpose numbing creams by tattoo artists and fellow body art enthusiasts. With over 48,000 reviews on Amazon alone, it’s fair to say this is a cult product.
The formulation is free from harsh chemicals and contains allantoin. This highly effective skin-calming ingredient helps to promote cell regeneration and wound healing. So it will help to speed up the healing process of your new body art.
The 5% lidocaine in the cream helps to block nerves in the skin, preventing them from sending pain signals to the brain. Ebanel will do this for 1-2 hours before the effects begin to fade.
Remember, tattoo numbing cream should be slathered on, not rubbed into the skin. Imagine frosting on a cake. Just don’t eat it.
What to Look for in The Best Tattoo Numbing Cream
The active ingredient in tattoo numbing cream is lidocaine. The maximum over-the-counter strength is 5%, but some creams contain 4% lidocaine.
If you’re sitting for a very large or intricate piece, the numbing sensation will likely wear off before the end of the tattoo session. Then, you’ll face a period of full feeling returning to the tattoo inking area.
A lower concentration, such as 3-4% lidocaine, may be preferential in this situation. As the anesthetic cream wears off, the change in sensation will feel less jarring and intense. Going from entirely painless to full sensation may make the pain more unbearable. So easing this transition makes sense.
On the flip side, if your tattoo session will only last for up to 4 hours, you can easily find a cream on this list that will go the distance. So feel free to opt for 5% lidocaine strength, sit back in the chair, and relax.
When choosing the best tattoo numbing cream, you have two options. You can choose either a multi-purpose anesthetic cream or a specially formulated tattoo numbing cream.
A multi-purpose anesthetic cream is suitable for tattooing, aches and pains, cosmetic procedures, and general ailments. They are often more budget-friendly and offer good value for money.
Before you rush to add them to your basket, consider that tattoo numbing cream is formulated specifically for the job at hand. Often it will include special ingredients to benefit the tattoo healing process. The cream’s formula will also not hinder ink retention and settling.
Are you looking for a more pocket-friendly option? Then consider one of the multi-purpose numbing creams on this list. Each one is more than capable of doing the job and has been trialed and tested by fellow ink lovers.
However, we suggest if your budget can stretch to it, opt for a targeted, tailor-made tattoo numbing cream product.
Some tattoo numbing creams will numb the area for 1-2 hours. Meanwhile, others can provide up to 4-6 hours of pain relief without re-application.
Chat with your artist to make sure you understand how long the session will take. Doing this is essential since you want to choose a tattoo numbing cream that will remain effective for the entire time under the gun.
When it comes to effectiveness, consider how long it’ll take until the tattoo numbing cream kicks in and takes full effect. Think ahead and plan how long the journey from home to the studio will take. Then work out when it’s best to apply the anesthetic cream so that it reaches peak effect by the time you settle in the hot seat.
You can discuss with your tattoo artist the best time to apply the tattoo numbing cream. Remember, there are no prizes for pretending to be the bravest guy in the studio. Don’t hide the fact you will use a tattoo numbing cream. Creams can affect the way the gun moves on the skin, so your artist should be aware before starting.
Apply a little of the tattoo numbing cream on a small area 24 hours before going under the gun. If there is no adverse reaction on the following day, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.
Wearing disposable gloves, apply a ¼” thick layer of cream to clean, dry skin, 3” beyond the tattoo site. Cover the area with plastic wrap to prevent any air from entering, and secure with soft tape. The numbing effect will generally take around 45-60 minutes to kick in. Finally, wash the cream off, pat dry, and get ready for your fresh ink.
Tattoo numbing cream is a topical skin numbing product. Depending on the brand of tattoo numbing cream you choose, its anesthetic effect will last for 2-6 hours of tattooing. After which, the sensation will start gradually to return to the inked area.
In some cases, the numbing period can be extended by allowing the cream to soak into the skin for longer, or by repeating the soaking process twice.
Face the pain and help prevent the chance of infection with the strongest tattoo numbing cream. Don’t tap out. Instead, opt for a product with a long-lasting effect, such as Samnyte Tattoo Numbing Cream, which contains 5% lidocaine and, according to its manufacturers, lasts for 6-8 hours.
Minimizing the pain will help you sit more still and calmly for your inking, allowing your artist to really nail those intricate and precise sections.