Sigh of Relief: Numbing Creams Take Sting Out of Tattoo Procedures

Sigh of Relief: Numbing Creams Take Sting Out of Tattoo Procedures

Fresh off his appearance at the Grammy's and a string of hits including "How Would You Feel" and "Shape of You,"English pop star Ed Sheeran is assembling quite an elaborate collection of hits to match a myriad of tattoos painted on the front of his body and along his arms.

Image via: MTV

Each of the some 30 images is either connected to his family, achievements or memories, but all are associated with "horrific pain." Anyone who has surrendered limbs and body parts in exchange for tattoos can certainly empathize with the British singer-song writer.

Thankfully, a good numbing cream can go a long way toward comforting the transition from the passion for a getting a tattoo to the reality of enduring some level of pain during and after the procedure.

How Tattoo Anesthetics Work

Numbing creams contain a local anesthetic -- like lidocaine, benzocaine or tetracaine -- that are responsible for preventing nerve endings from transmitting pain signals to the brain.

Technicians use these creams in laser treatments, body piercing, waxing and even medical procedures. The problem is that many of these numbing creams are not designed for tattoos.

Availability of Tattoo Numbing Products

Sean Hoy, the owner of Ink-EEZE, wasn't thinking much about numbing creams when his idea to manufacture sunscreens to keep tattoos looking their best led to a company centered around tropical ointments, such as lotions and gels, that could make the entire ink process much more pleasurable.

His company, based in Lake Forest, Calif., boasts ointments and numbing sprays that can be found on the workstations of some of the top tattoo artists in the world. Ink-EEZE even went a step further. Hoy completed the cycle by developing daily moisturizers and sunscreens that help to keep tattoos at the top of their game, long after the body image has left the parlor.

"There's no right or wrong method for preserving tattoos," said Gustavo Mitchell, president of Monster Steel, an e-commerce provider and supplier for the tattoo industry including Ink-EEZE numbing gels and ointments. "Some people prefer ointments; others will stick with lotions."

Mitchell said Ink-EEZE numbing gel is an anesthetic applied prior to a tattoo or piercing procedure to deaden the epidermis. He said the cream will not completely eliminate sensations, but rather prepare the skin for a procedure. "Creams should not cover more than 20 percent of the body at a time and will not affect the quality of tattoo work," said Mitchell.

"Some numbing creams are gel-like," said Mitchell. "Others, are designed to soothe and contain ingredients, such as aloe vera."

Fast-acting sprays can be used during a procedure with varying results, depending on where the tattoo is inked. Some locations can be more painful or just too tough to stomach.

Ask Sheeran, who recently had an image of the Sagrada Familia, an elaborate Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, etched on his belly. He confessed that he "passed out".

Watch Ed Sheeran giving, instead of getting, a tattoo

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