Use Face and Body Products for Your Tattoo Session and Press Pause on the Pain
Remember when the only folks who had tattoos were burly bikers and salty sailors (plus the occasional floozy)? Of course you don’t, because those are horrible stereotypes that have been roundly disproven. Shame on you! But at the very least, you might remember when tattoos conferred a certain bad-assery to the wearer. Having a tattoo meant you had endured tattoo pain – real pain – and lived to tell about it. Of course not everyone can handle that distinctive buzzy-bee sensation.
I might be aging myself here, but if you remember the TV show Happy Days you might remember the episode where Richie (a very young Ron Howard) attempted to get a tattoo to impress a girl (which always works by the way). He endured one single dot before he bailed. The message? Richie just wasn’t man enough to handle the tattoo pain.
Of course “acting manly” during a tattoo session is another ridiculous stereotype that deserves to be scrapped. Tattooing hurts and how you deal with that tattoo pain is a personal decision that doesn’t have anything to do with your testosterone levels. I know Viggo Mortenson made it look easy in Eastern Promises but let’s remember that we shouldn’t base our pain threshold standards on
- an actors portrayal and 2. what a Russian mobster can handle.
The pain caused by tattooing is manageable, albeit very uncomfortable and occasionally very painful. Does tattoo pain hurt as much as breaking a bone? No. How about getting shot? Probably not (no personal experience there). Wasp sting? In the ball park. Natural childbirth? I would rather have my knee ditch tattooed and re-tattooed for 19 hours straight than go through giving birth again. So yes, childbirth wins in the more painful than a tattoo department hands down – sorry gangstas. So if you take something to alleviate the pain of being tattooed does that make you less manly? Well, does getting some pain relief for giving birth make you less of a mom? Hell no.
Getting tattooed hurts and everyone handles the tattoo pain differently. Also some parts of your body hurt WAY worse than other parts when it comes to going under the needle. Some of the worst bits? Hands, feet, knee ditch (tender squishy patch behind the knee-cap), ribs, armpits, elbow, neck – the list goes on. The most painful tattoo pic I have ever seen was posted by the amazing Kelly Doty. Some poor soul had her tattoo under his nail bed. Yes… under. His hand was tattooed and then his fingernails were removed to have the nail beds tattooed (insert silent screaming here). Ow f–king ow ow OWWWWW!!! That dude wins the pain threshold game. Good luck torturing him for critical info – he ain’t going to break. Also he might have a future career with the Russian mob.
There are always people who squawk about toughing out the pain of being tattooed and not reaching for the “bitch spray”. To these people I say – shut up.
Using pain relief while being tattooed is a very good idea for several reasons;
1. You can sit longer and better. Less writhing and twisting, gasping, and needing to take breaks. If you go in for loooong sessions like I do this is the difference between having a really productive session and having to tap out. So for all you chest beater/he-men out there you want to know what makes you look like a sissy? Tapping out. My preferred Face and Body product for long sessions with multiple passes is definitely Sustaine. This blue goodness, this soothing miracle in a bottle, is for broken skin and it takes the red-hot fire poker feeling away. If you are getting color and shading done and your artist is making multiple passes in the same area you want Sustaine in your corner, believe me.
2. Pain relief can assist with healing in the long run. By managing your pain levels during a tattoo you help your body stay out of the danger zone. Mild shock occurs when you are subjected to pain for a long period of time. You get shaky, your immune system gets heavily taxed, and you basically feel like ass. This will contribute to increased inflammation and generally inhibit your bodies natural healing systems from kicking in fully after a tattoo.
For me the toughest part of a tattoo is the outline. Those long, bold passes, big needles, and the depth all combine to make line work hurt like hell. For this phase I like to bring out the big guns in a little package – Face and Body Super Trio. Super Trio is for unbroken skin and packs a powerful pain relief punch. Tell your artist you will be using Super Trio before they set up, that way it has time to sit on your skin and work its numbing magic while your artist gets ready.
3. Professional tattoo artists use pain relief while being tattooed too! Still worried about not feeling manly enough? Stop it. Every professional artist I have worked with has; had pain relief on hand, used pain relief themselves, thinks pain relief is a good idea if you need it. The important thing to remember is Not All Pain Reliefs Products Are the Same and over the counter stuff from the drugstore is not that effective.
Bacitracin – the stuff you spray on scraped knees – is a pale cousin to my favorite spray from Face and Body – Swipe. Swipe is what bacitracin wishes it was. It goes on fast and delivers relief quickly. Have your artist keep a bottle at hand for quick spritzes on those tough spots that are making you all squinchy. Because Swipe is formulated for tattooing and piercing it offers more pain relief and staying power than its poor drugstore cousins.
Plan ahead when using pain relief for your session. Have your products and their info sheets with you to show to your artist before they get started. Face and Body has handy print outs for each of their products that clearly explain what is in there, how they are applied, and what they do. Your artist will thank you for being so prepared!
Don’t use cheap products! – they can be greasy and make you slippery plus they don’t work very well. That is a big let when you are hoping for relief from a product that doesn’t deliver.
You might be tempted to skip the creams and go for the pills or booze instead. DON’T misuse prescription drugs in an effort to block the pain during a session! Many drugs have side effects like blood thinning that can make your session a disaster. You also need to be somewhat conscious during your session so you can sit properly and take direction from your hardworking artist. This is also one of the reasons why getting drunk to dull the pain is a truly awful idea.
Drunk people are sweaty and slippery, can’t sit straight or still, and bleed too much. Plus it’s never a good idea to pass out drunk while being tattooed. This guy did just that and his delightful Rugby buddies tattooed this on his butt.
(Also don’t get tattooed by Rugby buddies, or in someone’s kitchen – so many no’s here).
Remember, pain is part of the tattoo process, but it doesn’t have to be a horror show. Talk to your artist prior to your appointment and come prepared with your Face and Body products for relief when you need it. Also remember being well fed, well rested, and well hydrated goes a long, long way to help with the pain. Create a system of planning, preparation, and products that allow you to focus on your tattoo and not the pain.
You don’t have to be a Russian gangster who doesn’t flinch and you definitely don’t want to be that guy passed out dead drunk while his buddies tattoo the funniest thing ever on his ass. Find the middle ground.
Full Disclosure: Face and Body are paid advertisers on my site – see their colorful ad on my right hand sidebar! – plus they are wonderful people who routinely send me their products for me to try out. My opinions on these products come from personal experience and are genuine. My love for Face and Body is real.