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does tattoo numbing cream expire

Does Tattoo Numbing Cream Expire?

Tattoos have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people choosing to get inked. However, the process of getting a tattoo can be quite painful, which is why many individuals turn to tattoo numbing cream to help ease the discomfort. But just like any other product, there may come a time when you wonder if your tattoo numbing cream has expired. In this article, we will answer the question, “Does tattoo numbing cream expire?” and provide you with all the information you need to know about the shelf life of these products.

Understanding Tattoo Numbing Cream

Before we dive into the expiration date of tattoo numbing cream, let's first understand what it is and how it works. Tattoo numbing cream, also known as topical anesthetic cream, is a type of cream that is applied to the skin before getting a tattoo. It contains active ingredients such as lidocaine, prilocaine, or benzocaine, which work by blocking the nerve signals in the area where the cream is applied, thus reducing the sensation of pain.

Numbing cream is typically used for larger tattoos or sensitive areas of the body, such as the ribs or spine, to make the tattooing process more bearable. It is also commonly used for cosmetic procedures, such as microblading or laser hair removal, to minimize discomfort.

How Long Does the Numbing Effect Last?

The duration of the numbing effect varies depending on the strength of the cream and the individual's sensitivity to the active ingredients. Generally, the numbing effect can last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. Some creams may have a longer-lasting effect, but it is essential to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Now that we have a better understanding of what tattoo numbing cream is let's move on to the main question – does it expire?

Does Tattoo Numbing Cream Expire? The Shelf Life of Tattoo Numbing Cream

The short answer is yes; tattoo numbing cream does expire. Just like any other product, it has a shelf life and should be used before the expiration date for optimal results. Most numbing creams have a two-year shelf life from the manufacturing date, but this can vary depending on the brand and type of cream.

Factors That Affect the Expiration Date

Several factors can affect the expiration date of tattoo numbing cream. These include:

  • Manufacturing Date: As mentioned earlier, most numbing creams have a two-year shelf life from the manufacturing date. It is essential to check the packaging for the date of manufacture and use the cream within the specified time frame.
  • Type of Cream: There are different types of numbing creams available in the market, such as water-based, oil-based, or gel-based. Each type may have a different shelf life, so it is crucial to check the label for specific instructions.
  • Storage Conditions: How you store your numbing cream can also affect its shelf life. Ideally, it should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Exposure to heat and light can cause the active ingredients to break down, reducing the potency of the cream.
  • Seal Integrity: Once opened, the seal of the numbing cream should be intact to ensure its effectiveness. If the seal is broken or damaged, it is best to discard the cream, even if it is within the expiration date.
  • Contamination: If the cream comes into contact with bacteria or other contaminants, it can reduce its shelf life. It is essential to use clean hands when applying the cream and avoid double-dipping to prevent contamination.

Now that we know the factors that can affect the expiration date let's take a closer look at how long a numbing cream lasts once it has been opened.

Potency of Numbing Cream After Opening

Once opened, the potency of numbing cream decreases over time. This is because the active ingredients start to break down, making the cream less effective. It is recommended to use the cream immediately after opening for best results. However, if you do not use it all at once, here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Creams with a water-based formula: These creams typically have a shorter shelf life and should be used within six months of opening.
  • Creams with an oil-based formula: These creams usually have a longer shelf life and can last up to one year after opening.
  • Gel-based creams: These creams have a similar shelf life to oil-based ones and can last up to one year after opening.

It is essential to note that these are just general guidelines, and it is always best to check the label for specific instructions on how long the cream lasts after opening.

Signs That Your Tattoo Numbing Cream Has Expired

does tattoo numbing cream expire
Signs That Your Tattoo Numbing Cream Has Expired

Now that we know that tattoo numbing cream does expire let's look at some signs that indicate your cream may have gone bad.

  • Change in Color or Consistency: If you notice any changes in the color or consistency of your numbing cream, it may be a sign that it has expired. The cream may become discolored, lumpy, or separated, indicating that the active ingredients have broken down.
  • Foul Smell: An expired numbing cream may also have a foul smell, which is a clear indication that it is no longer safe to use.
  • Reduced Effectiveness: If you find that your numbing cream is not working as well as it used to, it could be a sign that it has expired. As the active ingredients break down, the potency of the cream decreases, making it less effective.
  • Skin Irritation: Using an expired numbing cream can cause skin irritation, redness, or itching. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is best to stop using the cream immediately and discard it.

If you notice any of these signs, it is best to err on the side of caution and replace your numbing cream with a new one.

Proper Disposal of Expired Numbing Cream

Now that we know how to tell if our tattoo numbing cream has expired let's talk about the proper way to dispose of it. It is crucial to dispose of expired numbing cream correctly to avoid any harm to yourself or others. Here are some tips for disposing of your expired numbing cream:

  • Check Local Regulations: Before disposing of any medication or topical product, it is essential to check your local regulations. Some areas may have specific guidelines for disposing of expired products.
  • Do Not Flush Down the Toilet: It is not safe to flush numbing cream down the toilet as it can contaminate the water supply.
  • Wrap in Newspaper or Plastic Bag: To prevent anyone from accidentally using the expired cream, wrap it in newspaper or place it in a plastic bag before throwing it away.
  • Do Not Reuse Packaging: Even if the packaging looks clean, do not reuse it for other products. It is best to discard it along with the expired cream.

By following these simple steps, you can safely dispose of your expired numbing cream without causing harm to yourself or the environment.

Tips for Extending the Shelf Life of Numbing Cream

While most numbing creams have a two-year shelf life, there are a few things you can do to extend its longevity. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your numbing cream:

  • Store in a Cool, Dry Place: As mentioned earlier, storing your numbing cream in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight can help extend its shelf life.
  • Keep the Seal Intact: To prevent contamination and maintain the potency of the cream, make sure to keep the seal intact at all times.
  • Avoid Double-Dipping: Using clean hands or a spatula to apply the cream can help prevent contamination and extend its shelf life.
  • Check the Expiration Date: Before using your numbing cream, always check the expiration date to ensure it is safe to use.

By following these tips, you can prolong the shelf life of your numbing cream and get the most out of it.

Alternatives to Numbing Cream

If you find that your numbing cream has expired, or you are looking for an alternative, there are a few options available. These include:

  • Numbing Sprays: Similar to numbing cream, numbing sprays contain active ingredients such as lidocaine or benzocaine and work by numbing the skin before a procedure.
  • Topical Anesthetic Patches: These patches contain the same active ingredients as numbing cream and are applied to the skin before a procedure.
  • Ice Packs: Applying an ice pack to the area before getting a tattoo can help numb the skin and reduce discomfort.

It is essential to consult with your tattoo artist or healthcare provider before using any of these alternatives to ensure they are safe and effective for your specific needs.


In conclusion, tattoo numbing cream does expire, and it is crucial to use it within the specified time frame for optimal results. Factors such as the manufacturing date, type of cream, storage conditions, and contamination can affect the expiration date of numbing cream. It is also essential to follow proper disposal methods for expired numbing cream to avoid any harm to yourself or others. By following the tips mentioned in this article, you can extend the shelf life of your numbing cream and make the tattooing process more bearable. Remember to always check the expiration date before using any numbing cream and replace it if it has expired.

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