The Best Numbing Cream For Tattoos

By Vlad Barikhin, Vlad Blad Irons CEO
April 13, 2024
Table of contents:
Getting a tattoo involves not just a commitment to a design but also enduring the inherent pain of the tattooing process. This is where numbing creams play a crucial role. These topical anesthetics help to alleviate the pain associated with tattoo needles, making the experience more comfortable, especially during lengthy sessions or when working on sensitive areas of the body. Understanding the different types of numbing creams available and how they work can significantly impact your tattooing experience.
«Let's say these are recommendations from an artist to other artists. Let's start with the classics.»
Vlad Barikhin
Vlad Blad Irons CEO
Overview of Different Types of Numbing Creams
Numbing creams for tattoos come in various formulations, each suited to different stages of the tattoo process. Primarily, these creams fall into three categories:

Nerve Deadeners

These contain active ingredients like lidocaine, which temporarily deaden the nerve endings in the skin. They are effective but don't penetrate deeply, so they are often used in conjunction with other types of numbing agents.

Nerve Blockers

These do not numb the skin but instead block the pain signals sent to the brain. Tetracaine is a common nerve blocker that is usually mixed with nerve deadeners to enhance efficacy.


Although not true anesthetics, vasoconstrictors like epinephrine can prolong the effect of numbing agents and reduce swelling and bleeding by constricting blood vessels.

Key Ingredients and Their Actions

Numbing creams primarily function through their active ingredients, which temporarily inhibit pain signals.


Once you have the needle ready, insert it into the machine with the shaft facing up. This orientation is important for proper operation of the SeaWolf rotary machine.


Lidocaine is a common local anesthetic used in many numbing products. It works by blocking the nerve signals in the body, thus providing a temporary numbing effect on the surface of the skin. Lidocaine-based creams are popular due to their effectiveness and minimal side effects.


Another powerful anesthetic, tetracaine is stronger than lidocaine but is used less frequently as it can penetrate deeper into the skin, which might affect the nerves more intensely.


Often found in lower concentrations, benzocaine is effective at numbing superficial skin layers and is commonly used in products meant for the mucous membranes but is also found in tattoo numbing products
The ingredients in numbing creams not only affect how pain is perceived but also impact the healing process of the tattoo. Proper application can minimize discomfort without interfering with ink settlement and skin recovery. However, the misuse of these creams, especially with incorrect or excessive application, can lead to issues such as poor ink absorption or allergic reactions, highlighting the importance of following the product guidelines and consulting with tattoo professionals before use.

Popular Tattoo Numbing Creams

Selecting the right numbing cream can greatly enhance the comfort of getting a tattoo. Below is an overview of several popular numbing creams, highlighting their benefits and potential drawbacks.

Zensa Numbing Cream

Zensa Numbing Cream is known for its high lidocaine concentration, at 5%, which is the maximum allowed by the FDA for over-the-counter products. This makes it highly effective for numbing the skin during tattoo sessions. It also contains Vitamin E to enhance skin recovery and reduce inflammation, making it a preferred choice for lengthy tattoo procedures. However, it is more expensive and requires a thick application.
  • High Lidocaine Concentration. Zensa contains 5% lidocaine, the highest concentration allowed by the FDA for over-the-counter use, ensuring potent numbing effects;
  • Long Duration. It remains effective for over three hours, ideal for longer tattoo sessions;
  • Skin-Friendly Ingredients. Enhanced with Vitamin E, it offers anti-inflammatory benefits and aids in skin recovery.
  • Cost. It is typically more expensive than some other options, which might not make it the first choice for budget-conscious consumers;
  • Thick Application Needed. For best results, a thick layer must be applied, which may require more product per use.

Ebanel Numb520

Ebanel Numb520 stands out for its fast-acting formula that begins to numb the skin within 3-5 minutes, reaching its full effect in about 20-25 minutes. It utilizes advanced liposomal technology to allow deeper penetration of lidocaine into the skin without leaving a greasy residue. While it acts quickly, the numbing effect lasts about 1-2 hours, potentially requiring reapplication for longer tattoo sessions. It might also cause skin sensitivity in some users due to its strong and rapid action.
  • Fast-Acting. Starts to numb the area within 3-5 minutes after application, reaching maximum effect in about 20-25 minutes;
  • Liposomal Technology. Features a patented technology that helps the lidocaine penetrate deeper into the skin, enhancing the numbing effect without greasiness.

  • Shorter Duration. While it acts quickly, the numbing effect may last only about 1-2 hours, requiring reapplication for longer sessions;
  • Possible Skin Sensitivity. Some users may experience sensitivity or a mild burning sensation upon application, likely due to the strong concentration and quick action.

Uber Numb 5%

Uber Numb 5% offers a potent lidocaine-based formula with a 5% concentration, providing substantial pain relief for tattoo procedures. It is enriched with Vitamin E, which helps soothe and reduce inflammation in sensitive areas. The cream is available in a generous quantity, offering good value for multiple uses or larger tattoos. However, its effectiveness may vary, with some users reporting a shorter duration of numbing effect than expected, and its thicker consistency can make even application a bit challenging.
  • Maximum Strength. As with Zensa, Uber Numb also utilizes a 5% lidocaine formula, providing substantial pain relief;
  • Vitamin E Enriched. This addition helps to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation, making it ideal for sensitive areas;
  • Generous Quantity. The cream comes in a large tub, offering good value for multiple uses or larger tattoos.
  • Duration of Effect. While effective, some customers report the numbing effect lasting shorter than expected, which can be problematic during extensive tattoo sessions;
  • Consistency. The cream's thicker texture might make it challenging to apply evenly, which is crucial for consistent numbing.

Each of these products has its own unique set of features and considerations. When choosing a numbing cream, consider the size and location of your tattoo, your skin sensitivity, and how long you expect to be in the tattoo chair. These factors will guide you to the best numbing cream for your needs, ensuring a more comfortable tattooing experience.

Potential Side Effects

While tattoo numbing creams are generally safe, there are potential side effects that users should be aware of. Understanding these can help in preventing and managing them effectively.

Possible Side Effects

  • Skin Irritation. Redness, itching, or swelling may occur, especially in individuals with sensitive skin;
  • Allergic Reactions. Symptoms can include severe itching, hives, or even respiratory issues in rare cases. These reactions are often due to an allergy to an active ingredient such as lidocaine;
  • Ineffectiveness. Some people may find that numbing creams do not sufficiently reduce pain, depending on their skin type or the cream's formulation;
  • Overuse Issues. Applying too much cream or covering too large an area can lead to absorption into the bloodstream, which can cause dizziness, light-headedness, or other systemic effects.

Managing Allergic Reactions and Skin Irritation

  • Test Before Use. Always conduct a patch test on a small area of skin well before your tattoo appointment to check for any adverse reactions;
  • Follow Instructions. Use the cream strictly according to the manufacturer's directions concerning quantity and application time;
  • Stop Use If Necessary. If you experience severe irritation or signs of an allergic reaction, remove the cream immediately using soap and water and discontinue its use;
  • Seek Medical Advice. Consult a healthcare provider if symptoms persist or worsen after removing the cream.


Choosing and using the right tattoo numbing cream is crucial for a comfortable tattooing experience. Numbing creams can significantly reduce pain, but their effectiveness and safety largely depend on proper selection and application.

Recommendations for Consultation with Professionals
  • Consult Your Tattoo Artist. Before using any numbing product, discuss it with your tattoo artist. Some artists may have preferences or recommendations based on their experiences with different products;
  • Medical Advice. If you have sensitive skin, a history of allergic reactions, or are unsure about the suitability of a numbing cream, consult with a dermatologist or pharmacist. They can provide guidance on which products are safest for your skin type and how to use them effectively.

By taking these steps, you can enhance your tattooing experience by minimizing pain while ensuring safety and achieving the best possible results.

Understanding the different types of tattoo machines is crucial for every artist aiming to excel in this field. The journey of exploration doesn't stop here; in the next article, we will delve deeper into the realms of tattoo machine performance and reliability, aiding artists in making informed decisions for their craft.
You might like it