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Make Your Numbing Cream Work for You

Make Your Numbing Cream Work for You

Numbing creams are a great way to relieve the pain from tattoos, piercing, and chronic pain issues. However, there's a right and a wrong way to use them, and the difference can save you a lot of discomfort and frustration.


Lidocaine creams, unlike liquids applied to broken skin, don't work immediately. The cream needs time to penetrate the top layers of skin, letting the lidocaine do its job down where the nerve endings need it most, in the subdermal layers.

Before beginning, make sure you have plastic wrap, gloves, soap, paper towels, and access to a sink and faucet.

Start the process 45-90 minutes prior to a tattoo or piercing procedure.


Use soap and water (not hot) to wash the area that will be tattooed or pierced or is an area of chronic pain.

Use a clean paper towel to pat the area dry.

Break off a piece of plastic wrap that will overlap the area you'll be applying the numbing cream by at least 1" on all sides.

While the area continues air drying, put a glove on your dominant hand.


Although anesthetic cream might feel like a lotion or ointment, do not rub it in like a lotion.

Gently coat the skin with numbing cream, allowing it to sit visibly on your skin.

Once you've covered the entire area with numbing cream, gently pat the sheet of plastic wrap over the numbing cream, covering the area and overlapping by 1" on all sides.

If the cream dries out, the lidocaine won't penetrate the skin like it should, 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 your tattoo artist prefers.

Make sure to wash the skin thoroughly, otherwise the cream can interfere with the stencil, making it too easy to wash off. I recommend Green Soap, as it leaves no oil behind.

The anesthetics we sell at Sleepy Bee Supplies don't interfere with the tattooing process, but please beware of knock-off anesthetic creams. They can cause infection, scarring, and the chemicals in the creams can push ink out of your skin.

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 costs more to buy cream from a reputable source, 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, but the silver lining is that redheads often have a higher pain tolerance.


If the anesthetic effect starts to wear off during the tattoo process, take a break, but not a long break as this can make your skin more sensitive and gives your body time to create more swelling.

Instead, apply more anesthetic cream directly to the skin. Let the cream absorb for about 10 minutes, wash it off with soap and water, then get right back to tattooing.

Some tattoo artists don't like the way anesthetic creams make the skin feel, so make sure you inform your tattoo artist you've used numbing cream, and that you've purchased it from a reputable source.


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. The tattooing process has already opened your skin, which will allow the lidocaine to penetrate more easily.

If you have any questions about anesthetic creams, please feel free to comment below or message any of our social media accounts. I'd bee happy to help you out!

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