Best Tattoo Numbing Cream Of 2017

Best Tattoo Numbing Cream Of 2017

Despite their unique and desirable aesthetic, tattoos require a rather painful process. Depending on where on the body the tattoo is being placed, you can experience significant pain and discomfort. Luckily, there are options to reduce or outright eliminate the pain so that you can be at ease while you get inked.

The best tattoo numbing cream will make getting a tattoo more bearable by desensitizing an area of skin. They act like a local anesthetic, allowing the tattoo needle to enter your skin repeatedly without having to feel the pain.

How Do Tattoo Numbing Creams Work?

There are a variety of different numbing creams available on the market, but most work in similar ways. Typically, creams are classified by how they achieve the numbing sensation. Manufacturers will often combine different numbing methods to create their own unique formula.

Nerve deadeners are one of the most common types of creams available. They work by temporarily dulling nerves in the skin that register pain. They typically sit on top of the skin rather than soaking deep. This is beneficial because it can prevent potential issues, but it doesn’t numb the skin completely.

Nerve blockers are a bit different in that they still allow the skin to register pain. However, the pain signals coming from these nerves never make it back to the brain, preventing significant pain. While they work alone, these creams are typically combined with nerve deadeners.

Finally, vasoconstrictors are the most powerful option. They contain an ingredient that temporarily constricts the blood vessels in the applied area. This helps reduce bleeding and swelling. It’s also often used with other methods. Check out this video to learn a bit more how local anesthetics like Lidocaine work on a cellular level to prevent pain.

What to Look for in a Tattoo Numbing Cream

The first thing to look for when searching for a tattoo numbing cream is the active ingredients. One of the most effective ingredients to use is called Lidocaine. It’s an amid-based local anesthetic that acts as a nerve deadener. The ingredient creates a barrier that prevents an electrical signal from building up in the nerve endings. It’s often paired with another similar ingredient, Prilocaine.

Benzocaine is another common ingredient found in numbing creams, though it’s a bit rarer. It’s typically used to alleviate pain in superficial wounds. It’s a nerve blocker that prevents pain signals from reaching the brain. Creams that act as vasoconstrictors will contain Epinephrine. While it’s not necessary, this ingredient can be quite effective in numbing the skin and can prolong the effects of other ingredients. It can also make tattooing easier on the artist as it leads to less bleeding.

Another thing to look out for is the pH level of the cream. It’s recommended to go with an option that has an alkaline level of less than 7. Anything higher will change the skin’s surface properties, which may affect the ink. It can alter the brilliance of the ink, making the final tattoo look dull.

Common Issues

Not every tattoo artist will be supportive of your use of numbing cream for many reasons. It’s not uncommon for creams to affect the way an artist does their job. Even with gloves, tattoos can feel the effects of the cream in their fingertips. They can also leave an oily texture on the skin that can decrease an artist’s precision.

Furthermore, many creams can wear off after as little as 30 to 45 minutes. If you plan on getting even a medium-sized tattoo, it can take two hours or more to complete. It also takes up to 30 minutes to feel the numbing effects after application. Therefore, a tattoo session with numbing cream would be considerably longer than normal.

The nature of topical anesthetics also poses a potential issue. They’re designed to sit on top of the skin. With a tattoo needle consistently penetrating the skin, there’s a possibility that the ingredients will get deeper than it was designed too. This could result in possible side effects like increased irritation and a spread of the active ingredients.

How to Use Tattoo Numbing Cream

Applying numbing cream is relatively simple, though it does require preparation ahead of time. Before application, the skin should be cleansed with a basic green soap. It’s important to use soap that doesn’t have anything that will affect the brilliance of the ink or the effectiveness of the cream. Soaps that are neutral in pH balance are best.

Once clean and dry, apply a thick layer of the cream. Unlike traditional lotions, it’s best to avoid rubbing the mixture into the skin thoroughly. Depending on the formula, it can take about 30 minutes for the numbing effect to kick in. Some creams may require protection from evaporation with plastic wrap. Once it absorbs, clean off the excess product so that none remains on the skin. The cream doesn’t have to be on the skin once it’s absorbed to be effective, so the area needs to be free of product for the tattoo artist.

Top Tattoo Numbing Creams

A variety of topical numbing creams is available to reduce the pain of getting a tattoo. While most contain the popular active ingredient Lidocaine, differences in concentration levels and numerous additives make each product unique. Here are 5 of the top tattoo numbing creams. They can prevent pain by deadening the nerve endings while also providing many other benefits based on their formulas.

1. TKTX Tattoo Numbing Cream

TKTX Tattoo Numbing Cream

This 10-gram tube of numbing cream from TKTX can provide up to 4 hours of numbing for a large tattoo. It contains a relatively small percentage of Lidocaine. However, it also utilizes the strength of Prilocaine and Epinephrine. It uses an equal 5% of the Prilocaine to create a strong nerve deadener mixture. A small 1% of Epinephrine may help reduce bleeding and swelling.

This cream penetrates deeper into the skin than other creams to manipulate the nerve endings as well as blood vessels. The cream has a water base, so it doesn’t leave the skin oily and slippery for the tattoo artist. To get the best results, it’s recommended to apply a thick layer of cream over the skin and cover it with plastic wrap. This process can prevent evaporation while encouraging slow and proper absorption into the skin.


  • Contains 5% Lidocaine and 5% Prilocaine to act as nerve deadeners
  • Contains 1% Epinephrine to serve as a vasoconstrictor
  • Water-based formula doesn’t leave skin oily
  • Combination of ingredients can provide up to 4 hours of numbness


  • Requires thick application
  • Needs to be covered with protective wrap to ensure proper absorption into the skin

2. PreTat by Tat Balm Numbing Cream


This combination of ingredients can help to reduce swelling and bleeding. They can also contribute to fighting off infections after the tattoo is completed. It contains Propolis, which is extracted from the Colza Seed. The natural extract can heal the tattoo site faster. The inclusion of witch hazel also makes the formula have a low pH. This can prevent degradation of ink quality as it enters the skin.While most numbing creams rely entirely on chemical ingredients, this numbing cream combines the effective topical anesthetic with a bevy of natural ingredients that can reduce the chances of unwanted side effects while possibly improving the healing process.


  • Contains Lidocaine
  • Can increase numbing effect with multiple applications
  • Utilizes natural ingredients
  • Low pH balance due to Witch Hazel
  • Can naturally prevent swelling and excessive bleeding


  • Thick formula can be difficult to apply
  • Requires use of plastic wrap to prevent evaporation of product before it absorbs

3. Anesten Topical Anesthetic Cream


The main ingredient of the Anesten numbing cream is Lidocaine. In fact, this particular formula contains a high concentration of the ingredient at around 10%. The high percentage of the numbing agent can make the effects last for much longer when compared to other products. It’s a multi-purpose topical anesthetic, so it has a very basic and versatile formula.

It does, however, contain methylparaben. This anti-fungal ingredient is safe on the skin and can help reduce the chances of irritation. The simple formula absorbs quickly into the skin and could last for over an hour if properly absorbed.


  • Contains 10% Lidocaine
  • Contains anti-fungal methylparaben
  • Can absorb quickly into the skin
  • The high percentage of Lidocaine can result in prolonged numbness before the sensation fades


  • Doesn’t contain any additional active ingredients
  • Can produce an oily feeling on skin

4. Emmaus Plus Topical Anesthetic Numbing Cream


With 9.6% Lidocaine, this topical anesthetic can numb the skin for an extended period of time. The high concentration can provide hours of numbness when applied heavily. The cream absorbs fairly quickly into the skin after application, though it does take upwards of 30 minutes for the active ingredient to take effect.

It doesn’t contain any additional ingredients other than additives and preservatives. It’s versatile and can be used for a number of other applications. The cream comes in an easy-to-use tube that contains more than 15 grams of product. It has a thicker consistency than other options on the market, increasing visibility on the skin. Covering the cream with a solid material like plastic can help lengthen the period of numbness to over 3 hours.


  • High Lidocaine concentration of 9.6%
  • Thicker consistency may make application easier and more uniform
  • Covering the cream to prevent evaporation can prolong numbing effect
  • Non-gritty texture


  • Large tub lid can have air leaks if not secured tightly, resulting in the cream losing its effectiveness over time

5. Topicaine Numbing Cream



From Tropicaine is this lighter numbing cream designed for a number of uses. It has a relatively low concentration of Lidocaine at around 4%. After absorption, you may still feel a slight tingling sensation from the needle. However, the ingredient is contained in a microemulsion of various additives. Additional ingredients can promote proper absorbing and soothe the skin.

It contains ingredients like aloe vera oil and jojoba oil. In addition to numbing the skin, the formula can alleviate minor irritation and help speed up the healing process. The exact amount of numbing time you can achieve depends entirely on how long the product is left. It can provide about twice as much numbing time as the application time. While you can control how much numbing time you get, it’s recommended to leave the product on for at least 30 minutes to an hour.


  • Contains 5% Lidocaine
  • Utilizes aloe vera and jojoba oil to provide soothing properties
  • Doesn’t leave behind an oily texture on the skin after removal
  • Numbing time is based on how long the cream has to absorb into the skin


  • Can take up to an hour to fully absorb into the skin
  • Requires cleanup after application


All of these creams can help to manage pain during a tattoo session. They all contain one of the most effective ingredients: Lidocaine. However, the numbing cream from TKTX is the clear winner because it includes a couple of other numbing agents. In addition to Lidocaine, it utilizes Prilocaine and Epinephrine. This combination effectively deadens the nerves and controls the blood vessels.

Both you and your tattoo artist can benefit from using the tattoo cream. You can feel a noticeable reduction in pain while the tattoo artist will have less swelling and bleeding to deal with as they create their art. While it may have a lower concentration of Lidocaine and is relatively simple regarding formula, the additional active ingredients can get you through any tattooing session.

[A good similar reading: Best Freckle Removal Cream]

Whether you’re getting a small tattoo on a sensitive part of your body or have to endure a few hours on the other end of the needle, this numbing cream can help you finish the session so that you can admire your new piece of body art. It’s simple and effective, and you will notice a huge difference.

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