The Truth About Tattoo Numbing Cream

One of the things people are most concerned with is ‘will it hurt?”. Maybe it’s because we live in a society which considers pain to be a bad thing. Maybe it’s because people equate pain to intolerable suffering.

In the end, though, pain can actually be a good thing. When you work out at the gym and you’re in pain the next day it’s because you’ve created micro tears in your muscle which will later repair themselves to make your body even stronger. The same goes for tattoos. You might think it hurts at the time, but the end result is (hopefully) worth it because you’ll be left with a piece of art on your body for the rest of your life.

One trend which is making itself increasingly known is the use of numbing creams on tattoos. You might have heard of them go under the name of “topical aesthetics”. Whatever you’ve called these creams, you probably don’t know everything about them.

If a numbing cream is not used properly then the side effects are very dangerous and are even irreversibly fatal. Here is a list of possible side effects:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fluctuating blood pressure
  • Coma
  • Death
  • Seizures 
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Redness
  • Swelling 
  • Allergic reactions; including: hives, swelling of the mouth, etc. 


In 2007, the U.S. Drug and Food Administration released a statement to the public which warned against the use of tattoo numbing creams because they should be used under the supervision of a medical professional.

How to know if you’re not using it properly?

You can know if you’re using numbing cream improperly if you do the following:

  • Leave it on for an extended period of time
  • Put on too much
  • Put on too little
  • Use it on irritated skin


It is through the improper use of numbing creams that the products seep through skin and flow into the bloodstream; thereby becoming fatal.


If you are scared of the potential pain of a tattoo then you should consult your artist to discuss switching the placement of your tattoo. Numbing creams often are not as effective as people or companies claim and it is in your best interest to avoid these creams unless absolutely necessary.


Should You Tip Your Tattoo Artist?

The overall price of getting a tattoo is incredibly expensive. Most artists will go upward of a hundred dollars an hour, and there are even those like Ami James who range around five hundred dollars.

That’s why most people do not consider the value of giving a good tip to a tattoo artist. In truth, the cost of your tattoo only covers that of the ink used (and lost once the cap is thrown out), the disposable needle, the paper towels, the gloves, and sterilization equipment and solutions, etc. At the end of the day, your artist doesn’t necessarily get that much out of the tattoo. Not only this; but in the summer there is most likely an air conditioner running full-time and in the winter, there are most likely heaters available because tattoo ink must be stored at a specific temperature.

Most of the time, a tattoo artist will not ask for a tip but maybe he or she will have a tip jar at the front desk or when you’re going to pay for your tattoo, throw in an extra $20. A small tip goes a long way and it shows that you appreciate the job well done!


The World’s Oldest Tattoos

According to Smithsonian magazine, a recent discover around the Italian-Austrian border suggests that the earliest known form of tattooing occurred over five thousand years ago. This contradicts the well-established thought that the Egyptians trademarked the art of tattooing.

This “Iceman”‘s tattoos are described by Smithsonian as the following: “the tattooed dots and small crosses on his lower spine and right knee and ankle joints […] may have been applied to alleviate joint pain”.

Still, no one can deny the Egyptians’ contribution to the world of tattooing. There is considerate evidence of tattoos on Egyptian women. Between the years 4000-3500B.C., tombs were marked with scenes that illustrate women hosting tattoos on their thighs. Not only this, but we have evidence of tools used for tattooing in Gurob, which is located in the North of Egypt.


Why Tattoos?

Although being tattooed is an incredibly popular activity now, it’s a wonder who thought of it in the first place and why.

In Ancient Egypt, tattoos can be almost exclusively seen on women. Previously, it was thought that uncovered tattoo mummies were dancing girls more; however, the discovery of tattooed women in royal burials dismissed this belief.

The well-known priestess Amunet was originally believed to be one of these royal concubines; however, the inscriptions on her tomb allowed archaeologists to identify her.

What Instruments Were Used?

Like we previously mentioned, tattooing equipment was discovered in Gurob. These instruments are actually flattened needles. Patterns could be created from these needles if they were all bunched and tied together.

This form of tattooing greatly resembles a more modern practise. In nineteenth-century Egypt, tattoo equipment did not resemble contemporary North American tattoo equipment. Instead, needles were bunched together. Ink was made from the smoke black of either wood or oil, as well as breast milk.

Tattoos In Other Cultures

In Siberia, the body of a tattooed Scythian was found to be over two thousand years old. The body is male and has a torso, legs, and arms, covered in tattoos that resemble creatures of some sort.

Herodotus, the Greek writer and historian, even wrote about the practise of tattooing around the year 450 B.C. In his writing, he confirms that tattoos were actually a sign of nobility amongst Scythians and Thracians and that someone with a lower socioeconomic status would not have tattoos.

In Ancient Greece, on the other hand, tattoos were actually called “stigmata” rather than tattoos and one would be marked with them if he or she belonged to something. This sense of belonging could have been attributed to a religion, a god, or to an owner in the case of slavery.

That being said, Ptolemy IV (the pharaoh of Macedonian Egypt) was marked with tattoos and he was clearly not of a lower status. Ptolemy’s tattoos were tokens of his appreciation for the Greek god Dionysus.

The information in this post and featured image are borrowed from the following site:

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