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Ouch! Do's and Don'ts of Numbing Creams

This information is for both tattooERS and tattooEES. Because really the tattooing process involves at least two people. Most of the time. Sometimes it also involves three people, but that's...

This information is for both tattooERS and tattooEES. Because really the tattooing process involves at least two people. Most of the time. Sometimes it also involves three people, but that's usually not as fun as it sounds. Kinda awkward actually.

Planning ahead means less pain and frustration for everyone involved. It might sound like overkill to start this process an hour before the tattoo begins, but it's worth it!

You'll need to apply the cream to dry, unwashed skin at least 45 minutes before the tattoo begins.

Forty-five minutes may seem like a long time, but remember that the anesthetic needs to fully penetrate the top layers of skin and get to the subdermal layer -- that's where the needle and ink is going.

Numb HandsDon't forget to wear a glove while applying the cream.

Unless you want to recreate the chili scene from The Office because you can't feel a dang thing after having anesthetized your own hand.

If you would like to recreate Kevin's chili scene from The Office, please have someone record that and send it to me because I'd really love to see it!

Heck, I'll even give you a COUPON toward your next purchase of numbing cream if you send me the video.

Just make sure you don't hurt yourself. That would suck, and I'd probably feel bad after laughing hysterically, but I'd still give you the coupon.

Okay, back to the numbing cream!

Don't rub the cream in like a lotion. Anesthetic cream might feel like a lotion, but it has a completely different purpose, so it needs to be applied differently. Put it on so it's thick enough that you can see it sitting on your skin.

Make sure you cover the entire area that's going to be tattooed, overlapping by about an inch all around.

After you've applied the cream, cover the whole area with plastic wrap, such as Saran Wrap. If the cream dries out, it won't work as well, so make sure the plastic wrap stays where it's supposed to be to get the full anesthetic effect.

When it's time for the tattoo process to begin, unwrap and wash the skin using whatever soap the artist prefers.

Make sure to wash the skin thoroughly, otherwise the cream can interfere with the stencil, making it too easy to wash off.

The anesthetics we sell at Bloody Wolf Tattoo Supply don't interfere with the tattooing process, but please beware of knock-off anesthetic creams. They can cause infection, scarring, the ink can actually be pushed out of your skin.

Even if you decide not to buy your anesthetic cream from us, please make sure you're buying from a reputable source such as or

It'll cost you more to buy cream from legit sources rather than eBay or Amazon, but doing so means you can rest assured that you won't get an infection and that your tattoo won't be damaged.

The anesthetic will last about 4 hours for most people. Redheaded individuals will find that the anesthetic doesn't work as well for them.

The silver lining here is that redheads often have a higher pain tolerance than the rest of us, so that's awesome!

If the anesthetic effect starts to wear off during the tattoo process, take a break. Don't wash the skin again with soap and water -- this will make your skin more sensitive and actually neutralize some of the anesthetics.

That's not a good thing.

Instead apply more anesthetic cream directly onto the skin. Don't worry about the ink and blood on the skin. Anesthetic cream doesn't care about ink and blood.

Let it sit for a couple minutes before washing the skin once again, and then you can get right back to tattooing!

If you're an artist interested in using anesthetic cream and you tattoo wet, consider swapping out your glide of choice for the anesthetic cream.

Some artists don't like the way it makes the skin feel, but it won't interfere with the tattooing process and it keeps the skin "wet" much like glides do while keeping the customer good and numbed up.

After the tattoo is finished, start aftercare as per your artist's normal instructions. If you'd like more pain relief, feel free to apply a very thin layer of anesthetic cream to the tattoo once or twice daily.

Make sure you wash the cream off after 20 minutes. No need to cover with plastic.

It may sound a little gruesome, but your skin is already open and the cream will easily make its way down to the areas of pain because you recently had thousands of holes poked into your skin, opening the way for the cream to do its job.

Lovely thought, I know, but hey, the end result is you have a beautiful tattoo, so don't worry about the details that sound like they're straight out of a HORROR movie.

If you have any questions about anesthetic creams or anything else tattoo-related, please feel free to comment below or send a message to the shop through our website or any of our social media accounts. I'd be happy to help you out!


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