Needles hurt, but they don’t have to. Try using the best numbing gel for tattoos before you get inked.
It contains a topical anesthetic that blocks pain signals.
Numbing cream works for tattoos, piercings, microblading, and vaccinations. With that said, you might be wondering which is the strongest numbing gel for tattoos.
After all, there’s a limit to what you can buy over-the-counter. Let’s talk more about topical anesthetic products.
What kind of anesthetic is in numbing gel?
In most cases, you can use numbing gel before a tattoo. But please tell the artist what you used.
Better yet, ask the artist if it’s okay because sometimes numbing cream can make it harder to tattoo. It depends on the ingredients. (If the formula has epinephrine to constrict blood vessels, it may cause problems for the tattooing process).
The gel’s primary ingredient is likely to be either lidocaine or benzocaine, as those are anesthetics. They block communication from the nerves to the brain, which is why the skin feels numb. Both work equally well (1).
The anesthetics begin working in a few minutes after you apply them. They reach maximum strength after about half an hour. Then, the effects last for an hour or longer. Some numbness may linger up to 3 hours (2).
When is tattoo numbing gel dangerous?
Neither lidocaine nor benzocaine should be used on large areas of the body (3).
No, we couldn’t get a doctor to tell us what a “large area” meant. For example, does a full sleeve tattoo count?
The official directions provided by medical sources also say to never cover topical anesthetic with waterproof coverings. Yet, many of these products say to wrap the skin with plastic wrap to concentrate the effects of the numbing gel.
The problems begin if the skin stings and turns red. If the effects worsen and the skin swells, wash off the gel immediately.
If you find that you have trouble breathing, rapid heartbeat, a rash, a sudden headache, or other allergic symptoms, get medical help immediately.
On the bright side, neither lidocaine nor benzocaine is addictive (4).
But if you find you can’t tolerate topical anesthetics, you have alternatives. Clove oil, menthol, and ice will all numb the skin temporarily. You might also find relief by taking an anti-inflammatory about half an hour before you get inked.
How to use numbing gel for a tattoo
Numbing gel is made to be used before the tattooing process, not after. Don’t put it on an open wound like a new tattoo as it can get into the bloodstream. (There’s one exception in the reviews below).
First, you’ll need a pair of rubber gloves to keep your hands from going numb – unless you’re tattooing a hand, of course.
Wash the skin and shave it. Make sure any oil is gone, and the skin is dry. You can make double sure by wiping it with alcohol. Don’t put on moisturizer.
Finally, put on the gloves and apply the gel according to the instructions. It’s that easy. The package should say how long before the procedure to use the product.
Is there a difference between numbing gel and numbing cream?
As you’ll see in the reviews below, we’ve chosen the best numbing products for tattoos regardless of whether they are gels or creams. Both are equally effective – more so than a spray, for example.
In general, gels are quick-absorbing and non-greasy. They’re great for oily skin. But numbing creams also sink in rapidly because they are lightweight compared to an ointment. They’re helpful for dry skin (5).
Best Numbing Gel for Tattoos in 2023
Hush Anesthetic Tattoo Numbing Gel
Hush gel is frequently recommended by tattoo artists. It’s safe for sensitive skin and free of epinephrine. With soothing botanical ingredients, it helps speed up the healing process.
The non-greasy gel contains aloe to relieve inflammation and redness. Moreover, the numbing effects last up to 2 hours. That’s twice as long as most competitor products.
None of these excellent features are surprising as it was created explicitly for tattoo artists and clients.
It’s made in the USA in an FDA-compliant facility for safety. It’s also packaged with a child-resistant cap.
Reviewers say that it helped them tattoo sensitive areas like the inside of the wrist and the rib cage.
Uber Numb 5% Lidocaine Topical Numbing Cream (Non-Oily)
Uber Numb contains the maximum amount of lidocaine sold without a prescription. The pain relief reaches full strength after 20 minutes and lasts for as long as an hour.
It’s formulated to reduce inflammation with vitamin E and allantoin gel. The cream is water-based and helps moisturize the skin without feeling greasy.
What’s nice is that it doesn’t leave a residue on the skin or stain clothing.
It’s made in the USA and backed with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Numb Master 5% Lidocaine Topical Numbing Cream
When numbing creams all promise the same things, you have to look at the details to choose between them.
Besides the price, you might consider how long before the anesthetic takes effect. Or you might think about how long the effects last. This cream promises to work within 20 minutes and lasts up to 2 hours.
Its longevity is due to liposomal technology that keeps it from fading. Check out the ingredients. It lists cholesterol, and that’s part of the magic.
The water-based cream doesn’t contain oils or parabens. Instead, it has aloe and allantoin to calm the skin and promote healing.
Users say it deadens sensation as promised.
Lidocaine Plus with Lidocaine 4%
You might be tempted to skip this cream as it only has 4% lidocaine. But don’t judge it by the number because it works just as well as other products with a 5% concentration.
What matters is the rest of the formula. This odorless cream is packed with aloe vera. It absorbs quickly and soothes inflamed skin while the artist is working.
Dr. Numb 5% Lidocaine Topical Anesthetic
Within 15 minutes, your skin will be numb after you apply Dr. Numb. The loss of sensation will continue for a maximum of 4 hours. The average, however, is about an hour.
This is a Canadian-made product recommended by healthcare professionals across North America. It’s hypoallergenic for sensitive skin.
It has a silky texture that won’t leave the skin greasy or sticky.
If you have a long tattooing session planned, bring the anesthetic with you. Apply it about 30 minutes before the artist reaches each new sensitive area.
Dr Numb Topical Anesthetic Foaming Soap
In the introduction, we said to never apply topical anesthetic to an open wound like a new tattoo. If it gets in the bloodstream, it can cause all sorts of havoc.
On the other hand, you can use this antibacterial soap with lidocaine. It takes away the itch and pain without damaging the ink.
It’s handy before piercings because the numbing sensation doesn’t need to last as long.
MAXOCAINE 4% Lidocaine Roll-On
If you don’t have disposable gloves, you can still use this roll-on anesthetic. The applicator keeps your hands clean.
Although it was designed for treating joint aches, sprains, and arthritis, it takes the edge off getting a new tattoo.
What’s interesting is that one application could alleviate pain for up to 8 hours. But it wouldn’t necessarily numb the skin entirely for that long. Instead, it treats the problem with arnica, Boswellia, and MSM. It’s like a topical anti-inflammatory.
It provides an immediate cooling sensation with menthol and soothes the skin with aloe.
Furthermore, the roll-on is made without parabens, artificial dyes, and GMO ingredients.
Everyday Medical Numbing Cream – 4% Lidocaine
This numbing cream has an intriguing blend of lidocaine and botanicals. It’s not oily, plus it has glycerin to keep the skin hydrated.
The label explains that it speeds up skin cell regeneration with clove oil. There’s also jojoba oil with vitamin E to calm inflammation.
Meanwhile, licorice reduces redness while tea tree wards off infection.
Fans say that it works very well for tattooing sensitive areas like the back.
TOPICAINE 4%- Lidocaine Gel
It’s always convenient when a product comes with a satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not pleased with how this numbing gel performs, you can get your money back.
It’s transparent and sinks in fast but won’t dry out the skin. One reviewer used it for foot tattoos and was happy with how well it worked.
Numbskin Numbing Cream 5% Lidocaine
Numbskin says their cream works up to 4 hours. It’s suitable for tattooing, laser hair removal, piercing, and other procedures.
It’s made in Canada and comes with a child-resistant cap. (That’s essential as topical anesthetics can seriously harm little children if they consume them).
The directions say to wipe the skin with a damp cloth for maximum absorption. That’s a little different from the norm.
But the rest of the steps are the same. Apply a layer of the cream without rubbing it in completely. Then, wrap the skin in plastic to keep it wet while it starts working. Don’t remove it until the artist is ready to start work.
Derma Numb BEFORE Tattoo Anesthetic Gel
You’ll feel it the moment you put on this gel because it has menthol in it. It’s instantly refreshing.
While the lidocaine starts blocking sensation, aloe, yarrow, and yucca extract keep the skin healthy. The numbing effect should last an hour.
As the formula was made for tattooing, it shouldn’t affect color packing or shading. But one artist disagrees and says that it alters the consistency of the skin.
We recommend speaking to your artist about this product before using it.
Zensa Numbing Cream 5% Lidocaine
This product claims to be the “most natural numbing cream on the market”. We’re not going to dispute that as the list of ingredients is very short, and we’re not chemistry majors.
At any rate, it has vitamin E, which is essential for the healing process. It also comes with a federal government certification proving its efficacy. It’s FDA-approved and Health Canada-Certified.
The cream takes about half an hour to absorb and affect the skin. After that, the numbness lasts for at least 3 hours. Therefore, it’s ideal for tattoos and tattoo removal.
If you don’t love it, it comes with a money-back guarantee.
Base Labs Numbing Cream for Tattoos
This numbing cream has 5% lidocaine, menthol, aloe, and chamomile. The blend deadens pain after 15 minutes. Then, it works for a maximum of 4 hours.
It’s packed with other natural ingredients like clove oil and hemp seed, yet it’s not greasy.
Happily, it comes with a satisfaction guarantee, no questions asked.
UltraNumb Anesthetic Skin Numbing Cream
Wouldn’t be nice if you could tattoo the back of your arm or your foot and not feel it?
Follow the directions of this numbing cream, and your wish may be granted. One jar can cover up to 16 square inches of skin.
Two hours before getting tattooed, put on a thick layer. Once it absorbs, apply another layer and wrap it with plastic. The skin should stay numb for up to 4 hours.
Ebanel 5% Lidocaine
Ebanel’s anesthetic gel completely numbs the skin within 20 to 25 minutes. The skin stays dead to sensation for up to 2 hours.
It features liposomal technology to help the lidocaine penetrate to where it’s needed, then work for as long as possible.
This is a California-made product that’s enriched with healthy ingredients like aloe and vitamin E.
Ink Scribd – Topical Pain Treatment for Tattoos
Take up to a full year to try out this topical anesthetic. That should give you time to experience using it for more than one tattoo. If you don’t love it, they offer a full refund.
It contains 5% lidocaine to provide up to 2 hours of pain relief. There’s also vitamin E for faster healing.
Don’t let the pain stop you from getting a tattoo. Numbing gel stops your skin from complaining to your brain.
It makes it possible to be fully present watching the artist work.
Topical anesthetic exists to make your life easier. Take advantage of it and go get inked.
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2148990/ Clinical effectiveness of lidocaine and benzocaine for topical anesthesia, by A.L. Rosa, et al., published in Anesthesia Progress, Summer 1999, accessed December 30, 2020
2. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-8532-9170/lidocaine-topical/lidocaine-topical/details accessed December 30, 2020
3. https://www.drugs.com/mtm/benzocaine-topical.html accessed December 30, 2020
4. https://psychology.stackexchange.com/questions/19135/can-you-get-addicted-from-using-topical-or-local-anaesthetics-to-ease-pain accessed December 30, 2020