Everyone wants to do a tattoo, but only half of them manage to fulfill their wish. Why does the other half back off from the tattoo-making objective? It happens because tattoo procedures are associated with unbearable pain. While some view the pain as a requirement to enjoy getting a tattoo, others find it uncomfortable and frightening. With the advancement in the tattoo culture, many brands have come up with tattoo numbing agents. These numbing agents come in the form of a numbing spray, cream, and ointment.
Among the numbing agents, numbing spray and numbing cream for skin is very effective and widely used by professional tattoo artists. There are a lot of artists who go for numbing spray, while some go for numbing creams. What makes them choose between the two numbing agents? We will draw a comparison between numbing sprays and numbing creams to get clarity on how these numbing agents differ. Before that, let us answer some general questions related to the numbing agents.
Do numbing agents work?
Yes, numbing agents work effectively to reduce the pain during a tattoo procedure. These agents have active ingredients that work to block the nerve signals to the brain. If you are thinking about getting a tattoo, we suggest using a top brand numbing agent (spray or creams) to make the pain bearable. You can also take suggestions from your tattoo artist before purchasing a numbing agent from the market. Many numbing agents are available over-the-counter, and you can also order them from online sites. Some tattoo artists also sell premium quality numbing agents at their stores.
The magic of the numbing agents to numb away the pain lies in the ingredients used while making them. So, what are the ingredients used while producing a numbing spray or numbing creams?
Ingredients in numbing sprays and creams
Some of the active ingredients in a numbing spray and cream are –
Nerve deadeners –
Nerve deadeners use chemicals called Lidocaine. The manufacturers make Lidocaine (tertiary amine) derived from xylidine. Lidocaine numbs the skin by affecting the functioning of nerves. The role of the nerves is to send signals to the brain so that the body can react to all kinds of stimuli, but due to the nerve deadeners, they temporarily shut down. They actively work on the topical levels but don’t penetrate the skin. These chemicals are present in all types of numbing sprays and creams. However, you can feel pain if you only apply Lidocaine as they don’t penetrate deeper into the skin. So, to prevent the aching sensation, Lidocaine is used with nerve blockers and vasoconstrictors.
Nerve blockers –
Nerve blockers work together with nerve deadeners to lessen the tattoo pain. The top chemicals that work as nerve blockers are Benzocaine and Tetracaine. Both the chemicals are PH neutral and actively shut down the nerves on lower levels of the skin. However, they still register some pain during tattoos but prevent your body from flinching. Involuntary flinching during tattoo or piercing procedures can be dangerous, so nerve blockers and nerve deadeners work together to make your tattoo experience more comfortable.
Vasoconstrictors are the most effective numbing chemicals that affect the blood vessels of the body to numb away the pain during the tattoo. Their job is to contract the blood vessels and reduce the bleeding during the tattoo procedure. The most used vasoconstrictor is epinephrine. If you use epinephrine with other numbing agents like Lidocaine and Benzocaine, the numbing effect will last longer. They reduce the absorption capacity by affecting the blood vessels, and therefore, they are the most effective agents.
How to apply a numbing spray or numbing cream?
The tattoo artists should use numbing spray or cream on clean and dry skin. They should first clean the skin with a mild or numbing soap. Then they should apply an adequate amount of cream while gloves or spray the area liberally using the numbing spray. Both the numbing agents are easy to use, but one should use them with caution as too many of the numbing agents can adversely affect the nervous system of the body.
After applying the cream or spray, the skin should be wrapped with plastic and left alone for the ingredients to activate. Then you can wipe it off and start your tattoo procedure. You should at least wait for an hour for the numbing effect to start, or else it won’t last long.
A comparison: Numbing spray vs. numbing cream
You can find numbing creams in all the drug stores and online sites. They have a lasting effect and can be applied easily on the surface of the skin. The activation process of the numbing cream is super-fast and takes a few minutes to take effect. The advantage of the numbing cream is you can easily control the amount you need, and you can even conveniently apply them to the skin.
A few cons of the numbing cream are that it can be sticky and uncomfortable on the skin. Numbing creams also take more minutes than a numbing spray to get completely absorbed in the skin. Another disadvantage of the numbing creams is their reapplication is uncomfortable. You may find your skin greasy and sticky if you reapply the cream.
Numbing sprays are better than numbing creams in terms of their application. Numbing sprays release droplets of numbing agents on the surface of the skin, so they are easy to apply. Due to their construction and function, they require less effort than numbing creams. They get absorbed much faster than the creams. You can feel instant relief from the pain while using a spray.
The best thing about numbing sprays is that you can reapply them whenever required. The cons of the numbing spray include less effectiveness than numbing creams if not used properly. You cannot control the amount of the numbing sprays conveniently, so you need to be extra careful while applying them.