What Is a Numbing Cream? Here’s What You Need to Know
If you’ve ever lived by the mantra pain is beauty,” you may not be familiar with numbing creams. These topical creams help to numb skin’s surface on the body before hair removal or cosmetic procedure treatments, which can both be quite painful. Ahead, we spoke with Nicole Hatfield, an esthetician at Pomp and board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com expert Hadley King M.D. to get to the bottom of what a numbing cream is, how it works and whether you really need to use one before your at-home wax.
What Is a Numbing Cream?
According to both Hatfield and Dr. King, a numbing cream does just what it says. “Numbing creams are topical anesthetics that can be very helpful for making procedures more comfortable,” says Dr. King. They can come in cream, spray or gel form, and while they don’t completely eliminate the pain, they use ingredients that come pretty close.
“They might use lidocaine or benzocaine that temporarily desensitize the skin,” says Hatfield.
How Is a Numbing Cream Used?
Numbing creams are designed to be applied directly onto the skin’s surface prior to the procedure, depending on what it’s being used for. For example, “for bikini and Brazillian waxes, look for one that you can apply right on before the wax. If you are using it for facial waxings, like brows or the upper lip, apply it to a cotton round first and then swipe over areas you intend to wax as directed,” says Hatfield.
In the office, numbing creams might be used if you are getting a penetrative cosmetic procedure.
Who Might Not Want to Use a Numbing Cream?
Both Hatfield and Dr. King agree that certain skin types might want to avoid using numbing cream all together. “If you have sensitive or dry/flaky skin, I would steer clear of numbing creams,” says Hatfield. Dr. King also says that allergic contact dermatitis is possible, so if you have a history of reacting to ingredients, take it slow and patch test first.
Do You Need a Numbing Cream for Your At-Home Wax?
If you’re planning to wax at home (due to COVID-19, or if you just prefer to), you may not need a numbing cream. “If you have a higher pain tolerance, you don’t need to use them at home but you absolutely can,” says Hatfield. Make sure you have tested the product prior to your wax to ensure that you don’t have any adverse effects or reactions. You can patch test a small area and wait 12 to 24 hours to make sure you don’t have a reaction.
Photo Credit: Chaunte Vaughn