Numbing cream can be used to reduce pain from tattooing, with the main ingredient being lidocaine- a 'local anaesthetic agent commonly used for local and topical anaesthesia'. While there is some support for numbing cream within the community, the verdict on whether they're necessary is still up for debate.
An ongoing issue prevalent in the discussion is the percentage of lidocaine. Medical research suggests that the most efficient manner of getting lidocaine into the body is through subcutaneous injections, but as this method isn't available in the tattooing space- artists and clients are left with the topical application option. While this may seem like an easy alternative, topical creams tend to contain less lidocaine to be effective, making the whole process pointless to some.
Additionally, due to the lack of regulation in the industry surrounding such products- the chances of people buying them on the black market are much higher. Products purchased and prescribed outside of the medical field include a range of additional agents that are harmful to the skin- which is why buying products from the dark web is a big no.
Another problem artists may encounter is the alteration of skin texture. It is often recommended that numbing cream is applied 2-3 hours before an appointment to give it time to penetrate the skin. Additionally, it must be wrapped in cling film to ensure the cream doesn't evaporate. Again, although this seems straightforward, it's not always the case. After leaving the cream on your skin, the area becomes puffy, which causes the ink to not sit as well and hindering the tattooing and healing process.
Ultimately, there is a ton of misinformation and red flags that people should look out for when using numbing creams. For the many reasons listed above, Debut chooses to go numbing cream-free. But if you're considering them, make sure you buy them from a reliable source, apply them before your appointment and do your research!