How To Numb Skin Before a Tattoo Like a Pro

How To Numb Skin Before a Tattoo Like a Pro

Dec 07, 2022 | Bridget Reed

Tattoos don’t have to hurt. We've got your back (or your arm) if you have an upcoming tattoo appointment and feel a little nervous about it. 

We’ve got you anywhere you’re getting a tattoo. Numbing the area before an appointment can reduce your discomfort during a tattoo session. 

Here’s what you need to know about numbing your skin like a pro before you get a tattoo.

Does Numbing Your Skin Before a Tattoo Really Help?

How To Numb Skin Before a Tattoo Like a Pro

If you’ve had a tattoo and prefer not to feel that sensation again, or if you’ve never had a tattoo and don’t want to feel uncomfortable, you can numb the area. Numbing the area won’t prevent you from feeling every sensation of a tattoo, but it can turn the dial down a few notches. 

Think of it this way: with numbing cream, a tattoo is more of a poke than a punch. It’s similar to how it feels when you put special cream on an itchy ant bite or soothing cream on a sunburn. 

It really sucked before, but the topical gel or lotion you used made it bearable. Numbing cream for tattoos has the same effect and contains some of the same ingredients.

Can Numbing Cream Mess Up Your Tattoo?

Numbing creams and gels that weren’t made for tattoos could mess up your experience. If they have fragrance or artificial ingredients, like some numbing creams used for skin waxing, they might irritate your skin. 

If they’re very oily, they may make it difficult for your tattoo artist to do their job. Numbing creams containing menthol or capsaicin (like muscle rubs) will really burn your skin when you get a tattoo. You should always use a product specifically for tattoos.

Hush tattoo numbing cream is formulated with lidocaine, which numbs your skin. Soothing ingredients like aloe vera, marigold flower, chamomile, green tea, and comfrey can settle sensitive skin during the tattoo process. 

While numbing your skin, you’re giving it what it needs to stay nourished. It’s the perfect combination of ingredients for a tattoo numbing cream.

How Does Numbing Cream Work?

While some tattoo numbing creams (like ours) contain bonus ingredients to soothe and condition skin, their main purpose is to numb your skin. The ingredient responsible for the numbing sensation is lidocaine. 

Lidocaine is used as a local anesthetic. Dentists and surgeons use lidocaine on people who undergo procedures without general anesthesia. It prevents the area from relaying sensation from your skin to your brain.

Topical lidocaine is like a less intense version of a lidocaine shot. It doesn’t penetrate as deeply, but it doesn’t need to. Your tattoo is only going a few millimeters deep into your skin. 

Lidocaine sinks into your skin and reaches the nerves, dulling their response. You won’t feel as much pain when lidocaine disrupts the messages your nerves are sending.

How To Numb Skin Before a Tattoo

If you want to numb your skin before your tattoo, you’ll need to start about an hour and a half before your appointment. You can count your travel time if you’re short on time or if your tattoo artist is far away.

Prep the Area

Your skin needs to be able to absorb the lidocaine. If you have dirt or oil on the surface of your skin, it will act like a barrier. This reduces the amount of lidocaine your skin can absorb. 

Gently wash the area with warm water and mild antibacterial soap to remove debris and oil from your skin. Gently pat it dry with a paper towel.

Apply the Numbing Cream

Apply a thick layer of numbing cream to the area where you will get your tattoo. Give yourself about half an inch of extra room on each side. 

You really need to pack the cream on, almost like you’re icing a cake. It helps to use a popsicle stick or the back of a spoon to slather it on. Don’t rub it in. Let the thick layer of cream sit.

Wrap It Up

Wrap (or cover) the area with food service plastic wrap, like the kind you use before you put your leftovers in the fridge. Keep the wrap secure. 

You can use medical tape to secure the plastic wrap if your tattoo is on an area of your body you can’t wrap, like your chest. If your tattoo is small, you can use waterproof transparent wound dressing. 

You’ll find that in the first aid aisle of any store, right next to the bandages. They’re clear, flexible sheets that stick to your skin. They’ll prevent the cream from leaking out around the edges.

Wait It Out

Tattoo numbing cream doesn’t work immediately. It takes at least an hour for the effects to take place fully. You must leave the cream on for at least 60 minutes, but 90 minutes is even better. If you have a long drive to your appointment, keep it on while you travel. 

Most tattoo artists won’t mind if you show up to your appointment with your numbing cream still on. Call ahead and ask your tattoo artist if you can keep your numbing cream on for as long as possible.

You’re Ready To Go

After the 60 to 90-minute window has passed, take the plastic wrap off. Use a paper towel to scoop off all the numbing cream from the surface of your skin. 

Your tattoo artist can go through the rest of the motions of preparing you for your tattoo. You can use our session bundle of tattoo prep products for the process.

When your tattoo starts, you’ll only feel minor discomfort. It won’t be the full-fledged pain of an un-numbed tattoo. 

You’ll definitely know your tattoo artist is working, but you’ll be comfortable enough to sit through your tattoo session. The numbing cream’s effects will last an hour to an hour and a half from when you wipe it off.

Your artist will give you instructions on taking care of your tattoo, and you should follow them. Ask your artist about our aftercare set. The aftercare set has a special spray that you can use for lingering discomfort after your tattoo. 

In a few days, it’s going to be really itchy. The itch might make you a little crazy, especially since you aren’t allowed to scratch it. Our aftercare spray contains lidocaine to numb the itchy sensation, and it’s an absolute lifesaver.

Never Get a Tattoo Without HUSH

Tattoos can hurt, but they don’t need to. HUSH makes tattoo care products that make the process comfortable. We use skin-healthy ingredients like plant extracts and CBD to care for your skin, while tattoo prep products contain ingredients like lidocaine to keep you comfy during your session. 

Why do things the hard way when you don’t have to?



Aloe vera and the skin | DermNet

Lidocaine: The Origin of a Modern Local Anesthetic | Anesthesiology | American Society of Anesthesiologists

A review of the mechanism of the central analgesic effect of lidocaine | National Library of Medicine

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