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9 Best Tattoo Numbing Creams, Sprays, and Gels in 2022
While styles and trends come and go in the world of permanent body art, one constant factor in all tattoos is pain. Tattoos hurt. Whether it’s the first tattoo or the fiftieth piece of artwork, once you’re in the chair and that tattoo needle starts buzzing, expect some pain.
However, tattoo shops are offering a variety of different numbing agents to ease the pain and discomfort that goes hand in hand with the tattoo process.
While some old school purveyors of ink feel that the pain of a tattoo is part of the act of earning your tattoo art, plenty of other people love the look of tattoos, just not the pain.
Here we’ll examine the best tattoo numbing creams and what makes them work.
Best Tattoo Numbing Creams
1. Uber Numb Lidocaine Cream
One product that has earned a solid reputation as a go-to numbing agent for tattoo artists around the country, Uber Numb is a fast-acting topical anesthetic produced by UberScientific LLC.
Utilizing lidocaine as the active ingredient, Uber Numb steps up the average 4% to the FDA non-prescription limit of 5% ensuring that the product effectively reduces sensation in the area of application.
Uber Numb lidocaine tattoo numbing cream does take a little while to kick in and should be applied to the desired area an hour ahead of the scheduled tattoo session. Once applied, this product will typically help with pain relief for about an hour, although some people have claimed that the product continued to work for over three hours.
Uber Numb also utilizes propylene glycol which increases skin penetration and ensures that the deeper nerves in the dermis, where the ink is applied, fully absorb the active ingredient, lidocaine.
Another factor that has added to the appeal and helped make Uber Numb one of the most popular numbing agents among tattoo artists is its non-oily consistency. Other products can leave an area of skin slick, creating a more difficult canvas on which to apply tattoo ink. U
ber Numb also contains Vitamin E, reducing inflammation and helping in the skin’s natural healing process.
With hundreds of positive reviews and a 100% money back guarantee it’s easy to understand why so many choose Uber Numb as a topical numbing cream to dull their tattoo pain.
2. Ebanel Numb 520
Produced by Ebanel Laboratories, a world-renowned purveyor of high-quality skin care products, Numb 520 has built a strong reputation among tattoo artists as an effective and reliable numbing product.
Perfect for tattooing, Numb 520 has the maximum non-prescription percentage of lidocaine allowed by the FDA: at 5% lidocaine, Numb 520 is sure to dull the considerable pain of a tattoo.
Another reason this product has become so popular in the tattoo industry is the speed with which the nerve deadeners take effect. Some users have reported feeling the onset of numbness within 5 minutes (!) though the cream reaches full effects after about 30 minutes: less than half of most other numbing creams.
One more factor contributing to Numb 520’s popularity is its creamy texture. Not oily or greasy, Numb 520 won’t interfere with the tattoo process or the absorption of ink into the dermis.
Like other topical anesthetics, Numb 520 lasts for about one hour, though some users have stated that they experienced numbness almost double that.
The number of positive reviews and the trustworthy reputation of Ebanel make Numb 520 a great skin numbing cream for anyone wishing to skip the pain but keep the ink.
3. Dr. Numb
Despite not being developed specifically for tattooing, Dr. Numb has gained popularity in the tattoo process thanks to its effectiveness and widespread availability as a skin numbing cream.
One reason that Dr. Numb has gained popularity among tattoo artists is the fact that it is water, not oil based. This means it leaves a much less greasy residue and doesn’t interfere with the tattoo process. With the active numbing ingredient lidocaine at 5% and utilizing propylene glycol as a penetration enhancer, Dr. Numb quickly and effectively dulls the pain of tattooing.
Dr. Numb cream also contains Vitamin E which helps reduce inflammation and improves the overall healing process of the affected areas.
The limited number of ingredients (only six in all) also makes Dr. Numb hypoallergenic, making it especially suitable for those with allergies to some of the ingredients in other products as well as for folks that simply have sensitive skin.
Available over the counter at pharmacies across the country there is only one real downside to Dr. Numb cream.
While the water-based formula ensures that the product won’t interfere with the tattoo process this also means that is more easily absorbed by the body and has a tendency to wear off faster than other numbing agents. Most users reported the effects lasting about an hour, though others said it lasted significantly less than that.
4. Numb Master
Another water based numbing cream that has gained attention in the market, Numb Master is produced in the United States.
Many people choose Numb Master because of its fast-acting nature: the company asserts that the full effects on pain receptors can be felt within twenty minutes, a claim backed up by dozens of positive online reviews. This is also a popular product for its ready availability.
Using a 5% mixture of lidocaine, Numb Master is right at the limit of FDA approved non-prescription levels of lidocaine topical numbing cream, making it available over the counter.
While it is not marketed specifically for tattoos, it has found a place in the industry, as well as being a popular choice among aestheticians for other painful procedures like micro blading and waxing sensitive areas.
Much like tattoo artists, these other professionals enjoy the clean, non-oily characteristics of Numb Master. The Vitamin E and aloe vera within the cream also help with the natural healing process and promote healthy skin.
5. Hush Anesthetic Tattoo Numbing Gel
Hush Gel has rushed to the head of the pack thanks to clever marketing and undeniable results. Many artists use Hush exclusively, and for good reason.
Using a mixture of 4% lidocaine, Hush Gel doesn’t have the highest percentage of this active ingredient, but it does not disappoint in terms of effects as a tattoo numbing gel.
It also utilizes a variety of botanicals and natural anti-inflammatories like aloe vera leaf extract, chamomile extract, green tea leaf extract and menthol to improve the absorption of lidocaine as well as taking advantage of the natural cooling properties of these plants.
This gel is neither oily nor greasy, which will make your tattoo artist’s job easier, and a happy artist is a good artist. Hush is also free of preservatives like parabens making it a safer, more natural product than some other numbing agents on the market.
Many people also choose Hush because of the wide availability of the product. Approved by the FDA and having a lidocaine level within OTC parameters, Hush can be purchased at a variety of brick-and-mortar distributors as well as online.
Because of this availability, as well as the ease of use, many people actually choose to apply Hush at home, before a tattoo session, although it is important to always inform your artist of any numbing agents that are used before they begin the tattoo process.
6. H2Ocean NOTHING Tattoo Glide and Soothing Balm
H2Ocean have built a name for themselves in the tattoo industry by producing several reliable and effective treatments for skin before, during and after the tattoo process.
The NOTHING Glide and Soothing Balm is a great product that works as a secondary agent, meaning that it must applied to already broken skin.
While some people don’t like the idea of having to start a tattoo-and feeling some pain-a secondary style tattoo cream can be more effective than a strictly topical anesthetic cream. Secondary products also typically work faster, thanks to the more direct contact with the deeper layers of skin and the blood stream.
NOTHING Glide is a non-petroleum based product, meaning that it won’t leave any greasy or oily residue and won’t interfere with the tattoo process. In fact, H2Ocean describe it as a “glide” that improves the way the ink interacts with the skin and makes the process easier for the artist.
NOTHING uses a 4% mixture of lidocaine making it available over the counter, increasing the appeal of this high-quality product.
With a long list of positive reviews from clients and tattoo artists, NOTHING Tattoo Glide and Soothing Balm continues to gain a reputation as a leading brand in the industry.
We’ve mostly looked at numbing agents designed and marketed specifically for tattoos, but that isn’t to say that there aren’t products with broader uses that can’t be utilized for numbing the skin before a tattoo.
One of these broad-spectrum topical anesthetics that people have been using for years is Aspercreme. Utilizing a 4% mixture of lidocaine, Aspercreme is widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies around the country.
Along with lidocaine, Aspercreme also contains trolamine salicylate, an analgesic that is used in a variety of dermatology and skin care products.
When properly applied Aspercreme can provide the desired numbing within an hour, with the effects lasting for another hour. Non-oily and non-greasy, Aspercreme is commonly used for a variety of aches and pains.
As with all topical anesthetics, it is important to notify your artist that you are planning on using it for a tattoo, as it can affect the surface of the skin and the way ink is absorbed.
8. Deeveeant Lidocaine Numbing Cream
This is an interesting product that has gotten a lot of attention in the tattoo industry of late.
Deeveeant Numbing cream is fully FDA approved and utilizes a 4% lidocaine mixture, making it available over the counter without a prescription.
Lidocaine’s numbing power along with the dual penetration enhancers, caprylyl glycol and hexylene glycol, ensure that Deeveeant’s anesthetic effects are effective and long lasting.
While there are many different numbing agents on the market these days, Deeveeant claims that what sets their product apart are the powerful botanicals that are contained within the cream.
Tea tree oil and jojoba oil are incorporated in Deeveeant and are well known for their use in other skin treatments like acne, eczema and psoriasis thanks to their natural hydrating qualities.
Deeveeant is a non-oily and non-greasy cream that will not interfere with the tattoo process and begins working within the hour-although many users have stated they waited a bit longer for better results.
While it has gained popularity in the tattoo industry, Deeveeant Lidocaine Numbing Cream is just as popular and useful for other aesthetic and dermatological procedures like microblading and waxing.
9. Greencaine Blast
One more product that can be found in salons and beauty parlors as well as tattoo shops, Greencaine Blast is gaining popularity thanks to its effectiveness and reliability.
Produced in the United States in an FDA approved manufacturing facility, Greencaine Blast can be used for painful procedures like microblading, permanent makeup and waxing, as well as tattoos.
Utilizing a 4% lidocaine content Greencaine Blast falls below the FDA non-prescription limit, making it widely available at salon supply stores as well as a variety of online merchants.
Different products require different application procedures: some should be rubbed in, others should be covered with plastic wrap and left to sit. When applying Greencaine Blast, a thick layer should be spread on the desired area and then left to sit for about an hour, at which point the full effects of the numbing agent should be felt.
One of the most important things to remember when using any topical anesthetic is to follow the directions. Sometimes what may seem like common sense may not apply to a specific chemical reaction.
Tattoo Numbing Cream FAQs
How Does Numbing Cream Work?
At this point there are dozens of different products on the market designed specifically to dull the pain of getting a tattoo, not to mention the myriad of other topical numbing agents used for less specific purposes.
In order to make a more informed decision when looking for the best numbing cream it is best to gain a better understanding of the most common active ingredients used in these topical creams.
Lidocaine, benzocaine and tetracaine are the active chemical agents that cause the desired numbing effects. These are all similar molecules that have been used as local anesthetics in the medical field for years; in fact, lidocaine has been used extensively since its first synthesis in 1946.
These chemicals work in a similar fashion on the human body by blocking nerve the nerve signals of the affected area and thus dulling the pain in a location without any cognitive side effects.
Along with these active ingredients-which usually only make up somewhere between 2-20% of the cream depending on which chemical is used-numbing agents utilize a variety of other compounds to aid in the absorption of the active ingredients.
Known as drivers or penetration enhancers, propylene glycol and ethoxydiglycol are two of the more common chemicals used to help the skin absorb the active numbing agents.
The combined effect of these different components allows topical anesthetics to numb the skin and dull the pain of tattoos.
Do Numbing Creams Really Work?
Short answer: Yes, although there are some things to keep in mind before slapping on some cream and heading to the tattoo shop.
The first thing to know is that these creams do not act instantaneously. Depending on the product and which chemical is used to create the numbing effect, this can take anywhere from 20 minutes up to an hour to kick in.
The amount of time it takes for a numbing cream to activate is also dependent on the driver that is used and the overall formulation of the product. Once active, most numbing agents last between one and two hours, making them most effective for smaller tattoos.
What other considerations should I have for tattoo numbing cream?
Besides price and effectiveness, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering using a topical anesthetic for a tattoo.
There are some more serious safety concerns that must be addressed when it comes to these products.
When using any of these numbing agents some form of anesthetic compound is being absorbed into the skin, and in turn, into the blood stream. When properly used, the risk is small, but if precaution isn’t taken there are some side effects that can lead serious health problems.
According to the FDA, the overuse of these numbing agents-specifically in peoples using them for cosmetic procedures-can lead to seizures, heart attacks and death. That’s why, with a few notable exceptions, these products should be applied only once, before a tattoo with no additional applications taking place during a session.
Products that use secondary agents that must be applied to broken skin like Vasocaine and The Original Blue Gel function differently and can be “topped” once after the initial application.
Because of the risk posed by the overuse of these products it is of the utmost importance that all directions for each individual product are read and thoroughly understood as well as discussing this option with your tattoo artist before the session takes place.
One of the first and simplest of these concerns is to wear gloves when applying any numbing agent. While this may seem redundant-they are called numbing creams after all-the amount of people who apply a numbing agent without protection and then are unable figure out why they can’t feel their fingers is surprising.
This is also another reason why it is important to let your artist know that you are using a topical anesthetic. Even though they will be using gloves, you don’t want the person inking you to get numb fingers 45 minutes into a tattoo.
There is another reason why it is best to sit down with your artist and discuss your intentions to use one of these products. While there isn’t much strategy necessary when applying a small tattoo, larger work can require a bit more planning.
Most of these products last between one and two hours, and anyone who has had a large sleeve or back piece done knows this will not last an entire tattoo session.
In order to make the most of the numbing effects of these creams and gels many artists will suggest a client applies the product to the areas of the body that are the most painful and start the tattoo there.
For example, if you plan on getting a sleeve done, apply the numbing cream to the crook of the elbow and the armpit where the artist can start while the effects are still intense. As they fade, the artist can move to less sensitive areas that don’t require the use of anesthetics.
Now that you’ve reviewed the best tattoo numbing creams, do you need more information for your tattoo decision? Click on the links below for more quality information: