It seems that CBD – in the form of oils, creams and CBD balms – has secured itself a firm spot within the tattoo industry. Since CBD is proven to reduce swelling and pain, lessen inflammation and accelerate recovery, it makes sense for tattoo studios across the nation to promote the use of cannabidiol-based products for tattoo aftercare. Tattoo procedures have evolved significantly over thousands of years and are safer than ever before, but going under the needle will inevitably result in a certain degree of pain, inflammation and swelling. So is it worth investing in CBD before your new ink?
If you are considering using CBD to prepare for – and care for – a new tattoo, we’ve got everything you need to know, including the 6 benefits of CBD for tattoos.
How Do Tattoos Work?
A tattoo is a trend that never goes out of style. A form of body art characterised by the application of permanent ink to the second layer of skin called the dermis, tattoos are chosen for a variety of reasons ranging from statements of individual expression, symbolic displays and sentimental or memorial pieces.
Tattoos are created using ink and needles. The top layer of the skin is pierced, enabling indelible pigmented ink to be inserted into the open wound. Tattooists often use tattoo guns to control the needle. As the skin is penetrated, a permanent mark is left within the dermis.
Naturally, this process typically induces an element of pain, which is variable depending on the location and size of the tattoo design. Additionally, there can be pain, swelling and inflammation post-tattoo as the affected area of skin undergoes the recovery process. You can prepare for this by getting plenty of sleep, ensuring you are sufficiently hydrated and using creams or oils (such as CBD-based products) that can help you relax and promote healthy recuperation.
How Can CBD Help When Getting a Tattoo?
Preclinical studies on CBD for pain relief, anxiety relief and anti-inflammation are extensive and demonstrate highly promising results. While we must await further clinical evidence into the exact effects of CBD on our physiology, anecdotal evidence also supports the theories of CBD as a therapeutic agent. Here are 6 potential benefits of CBD for tattoos:
1. Pain Management
There’s no escaping the fact that tattoos are painful. But taking traditional over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen could exacerbate soreness since they thin the blood and increase bleeding. This slows the healing process and makes it more difficult for the tattooist to follow the stencil. There are several studies, however, that show how effective CBD is as an analgesic, so perhaps trying CBD for pain relief is a considerably more beneficial approach for your next ink session.
Our glycine receptors reside in the central nervous system and are responsible for how we react to and process pain. Research shows that CBD boosts the effects of inhibitory glycine receptors and can minimise pain, all without adverse side effects.
2. Swelling Relief
CBD is widely regarded for its anti-inflammatory properties and is increasingly used in skincare to soothe and ease swollen, tender skin. Topical CBD such as CBD creams, balms and lotions enter the top layers of the skin rather than being absorbed into the bloodstream and circulated around the body, so the cannabinoid remains concentrated in the area required.
When your tattoo is completed, the skin is typically red and swollen. Applying a topical CBD product can gently help the skin to heal and lessen the risk of scarring.
3. Skin Hydration
Following a tattoo, it’s crucial to keep the skin hydrated and moisturised (we’re sure your tattooist will stress the importance of this). Cannabidiol exhibits intensely hydrating properties and is a natural moisturiser of choice for many, so could be a great option for tattoo aftercare. Moisturising the area minimises peeling and sticking which could affect the appearance of your design and cause uncomfortable itching. CBD is rich in essential fatty acids that help support our natural skin barrier and retain moisture in the skin cells. Mission C Antioxidant + CBD Moisturiser also contains aloe vera to calm the skin, shea butter to deeply moisturise and lavender to reduce redness and scarring.
4. Enhanced Healing
The better you protect your skin after your ink session, the better – and quicker – healing and recovery will be. Thanks to its powerful anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and hydrating properties, CBD can considerably boost the healing process. It can minimise scarring and skin damage and reduce itching and inflammation while providing calming relief when applied topically to the skin.
5. Reduced Anxiety
Getting a tattoo – especially your first one – can be an anxiety-inducing experience. To compound this, studies show that people can become more sensitive to pain when under stress. Here’s where CBD can – once again – provide a helping hand. Cannabidiol is widely used for anxiety relief. The cannabinoid can reduce symptoms of anxiety and combat stress, subsequently improving focus, clearing the mind and increasing calmness. The most effective CBD-enriched products for anxiety relief are ingestible products such as CBD oil or gummies. So when booking in for your next tattoo session, be sure to have CBD to calm your nerves; not only will it keep you relaxed, it will help you manage your pain better and enable the tattoo artist to do their job more easily!
6. Reduced Risk of Infection
It seems there’s no limit to CBD’s talents, as the cannabis derivative is also famous for being a particularly effective antioxidant. This means it helps the body to fight off free radicals and protects the body and skin cells from damage. This means that CBD can help protect the vulnerable wound from infection while minimising scabbing. Additionally, CBD has been shown to provide the immune system with a natural boost.
CBD Before a Tattoo
Before your tattoo, avoid taking ibuprofen which thins the blood and increases bleeding. We recommend starting to take an ingestible CBD product daily a few weeks before your session as it takes time for cannabidiol to build up in your system and have maximum impact. On the day, take your CBD oil or CBD gummy about an hour before your appointment to allow time for them to pass through your digestive system and for the anti-anxiety and pain-relieving effects to kick in.
Some people also apply CBD cream directly to the area being tattooed beforehand. Check with your tattooist before doing this.
CBD Tattoo Aftercare
It’s over… and you are the proud owner of beautiful new ink! Now is the time for recovery. Your tattooist will probably apply an antibacterial product topically and cover the ink with clingfilm. Over the next few days, the tattoo will weep and the area may feel like it is sunburnt. Wash the tattoo gently with clean water and pat it dry. Exposing the skin to air will help it to recover; you can also take CBD gummies or CBD oil for tattoo healing to boost the recovery process and manage any lasting pain and inflammation.
Day 3 and Beyond
From the third day, it is advisable to treat your skin with an alcohol-free moisturiser. This is where you can introduce topical CBD to enhance the recovery process. Mission C Relief + CBD Cream deeply soothes and hydrates while reducing pain and inflammation. Added arnica reduces swelling and camphor increases blood flow. After approximately 2 weeks, the outer layers of the skin may appear as though they are healed. Continue using your CBD tattoo cream as the deeper layers may take several months before they are fully healed.
CBD for Healed Tattoos
Keep applying your CBD tattoo balm even after your ink is healed (this will be around 3 months post-tattoo session). This will help to keep the definition of the ink and colours.
Is CBD Safe?
Yes! CBD is regarded as a safe and non-addictive natural substance. Very few side effects are reported with CBD use and if any occur, they are generally very mild. Side effects may include drowsiness, nausea and diarrhoea. CBD is also completely legal in the UK, and causes no psychoactive effects (i.e. it will not get you high).
How Much CBD to Take Before a Tattoo?
CBD works best with consistent use, so we strongly recommend building up your CBD usage several weeks before your tattoo session. You can start with a small dose and increase it gradually until you find the optimal dose for you. That being said, some tattooists recommend taking up to 25mg of CBD around an hour before your session, though depending on your body weight, metabolism, etc., this may be too much or too little for you. If you can, build up slowly from several weeks prior.
CBD can have a positive influence on your overall experience of getting a tattoo: from the start of your session, during the inking process and throughout recovery. It is a natural substance that can decrease swelling, reduce pain and inflammation, ease anxiety, boost your immune response and enhance healing. CBD can be taken orally as oils or gummies or applied topically to the tattoo from day 3 of recovery.