Does Tattoo Numbing Cream Work?

Does Tattoo Numbing Cream Work?

May 16, 2024 | Bridget Reed

There’s a debate in the tattoo community about tattoo numbing cream. There are people who feel like a tattoo is supposed to hurt like it’s intended to prove that you’re tough enough to withstand the pain. 

Then there are people who make a lot more sense. The rest of the tattoo crowd feels like it’s stupid to feel pain when you don’t have to. We totally get where they’re coming from.

Tattoo numbing cream is designed to take the edge off, making it a little more bearable to sit through a session. Here’s what you need to know about tattoo numbing cream and how HUSH has you covered. 

How Bad Does a Tattoo Hurt?

Pain is a subjective experience. Some people would say that a tattoo doesn’t really hurt at all. Some people are hesitant to get a tattoo simply because they know they’re not going to like the way it feels. It’s a mixed bag.

If you’ve never gotten a tattoo before, you may not know what to expect. It’s easy to assume that it would feel like a bunch of really quick pricks and pokes since the needle bounces over your skin. 

In reality, the needle is vibrating too fast for you to feel each individual poke. It’s more like a ripping or scratching sensation as the needles buzz over your skin. 

Certain spots are known to hurt more than others, particularly spots closer to the bone. Clavicles, feet, knees, elbows, and ribs can really pack a punch. More padded areas of your body, like your upper arm, thighs, or butt, will hurt a little less. 

What Is Tattoo Numbing Cream?

Tattoo numbing cream is a topical anesthetic cream designed to dull sensations that affect the nerve endings on the surface layers of the skin. It’s not like the kind of local anesthetic a dentist or a dermatologist might give you before a minor procedure, but it does contain some of the same active ingredients. 

Lidocaine is usually the active ingredient in numbing cream. It’s well tolerated and generally regarded as safe for just about everyone. A doctor would have to inject numbing ingredients deeply to make the area completely and totally numb all the way down. 

Injections can even reach muscles. Cream only works on the surface layers of the skin, which is primarily the area that will be affected by a tattoo. A tattoo can still impact slightly deeper than where cream reaches, but most of the pain can be dulled from the top down. 

How Does Tattoo Numbing Cream Work?

When your nerves sense pain, they send a signal to your brain that essentially says, “Oh no, something’s wrong!” and then your body experiences the pain. Not all pain is bad or dangerous; if you have an experienced tattoo artist crafting your piece in sanitary conditions, your body has no reason to worry. 

It will worry anyway simply because it’s programmed to do so. It can’t recognize the difference between safe pain and dangerous pain.

Tattoo numbing cream uses a numbing agent like lidocaine to dull sensations traveling between your nerves and your brain. It doesn’t completely block the signals, and there’s no such thing as a completely painless tattoo

Expect numbing cream to turn the dial down from an intense “11” on the Spinal Tap scale to a comfortable 3, 4, or 5, depending on the area where you’re getting a tattoo. You’ll still know what’s going on, but you’re more likely to be cool with it.

Does Tattoo Numbing Cream Really Work?

Tattoo numbing cream works when you use it as directed. It won’t completely block any and all sensations associated with your tattoo, but it can keep the affected area comfortable for a few hours. The sharpness will basically disappear, leaving you with a dull pressure that’s much easier to withstand throughout your tattoo session.

There are some pretty important things to remember if you want to make the most of your tattoo numbing cream. It can take a while to completely penetrate your skin, so plan to use it about an hour before your tattoo appointment. The area will be nice and numb by the time your artist is ready to get to work on your masterpiece. 

The next order of business: you can’t skimp on the slather. You need to be sure to coat the area with a nice, thick layer of numbing cream to make sure it’s able to work its magic. Think of it like frosting a cake. 

Once you’ve got the area nice and covered, you need to keep the tattoo numbing cream in place. It won’t do you much good if it rubs off on your couch while you’re waiting for your appointment. Covering the area in plastic wrap will keep your tattoo numbing cream locked in while it works its magic.

When you get to your appointment, just remove the plastic wrap and wipe the numbing cream off really well. Your tattoo artist will handle the process of sanitizing and preparing the area once the remaining numbing cream is gone.

HUSH Is Here to Take the Edge Off

HUSH tattoo numbing cream eases the pain with the power of lidocaine while nourishing your skin with active botanicals and soothing the area with aloe. We want you to be happy and comfortable. Your tattoo artist wants you to be happy and comfortable. Most importantly, you want that, too.

As long as you follow the instructions, your tattoo is going to go great. This includes both the instructions for using HUSH and the instructions that your artist will give you for aftercare. 

Speaking of aftercare, we’ve got your back while you’re healing up. Our tattoo aftercare kit contains everything you need to keep your skin comfy and nourished while you’re healing up. 


The mechanisms of pain tolerance and pain-related anxiety in acute pain - Alina Cimpean, Daniel David, 2019 | Sage Journals

Lidocaine (Topical Application Route) Description and Brand Names | Mayo Clinic

General Pathways of Pain Sensation and the Major Neurotransmitters Involved in Pain Regulation | International Journal of Molecular Sciences

Numbing Cream to Prepare for a Needle Procedure (Boston and Waltham) | Boston Children's Hospital

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