My experiences with with CBD and tattoos
Tattoos hurt, plain and simple. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a dirty liar and trying way too hard to be cool. I have a lot of tattoos, and although different places on the body come with wildly different levels of pain when it comes to tattooing, every single one of mine hurt. Especially my hands. Seriously, that was an experience.
Truth be told, I almost sort of “like” the pain that comes with tattooing. I know that might sound crazy, but I find it almost meditative in a way. Something happens an hour or two into a long tattoo session where I begin to relate to pain differently. I stop looking at it as an enemy I have to fight and instead give in to the pain and see it as just another bodily experience, a sensation that isn’t as scary and negative as I once thought. It’s like I’m able to take a step back from my experiences and view them objectively, rather than being under the direct subjective influence of those experiences.
But I’m weird, and most people, very understandably, are afraid of the pain that comes with tattoos.
Recently, my fiancee and I went in to get some work done and thought we might see if CBD could be used to make the tattoo experience a little bit better. Spoiler alert: we actually had some pretty awesome results. Read on!
Preparing for a tattoo with CBD
For those of you who read my post about pain and CBD (and if you haven’t, I think it’s pretty good!), you know that a lot of factors go into creating the sensation we experience as pain. Pain is super weird, and our brains take a lot of things into account when it makes us experience pain. Take this video of the rubber hand illusion as an example of one way our sensory perceptions are way weirder than you think.
The point is, there is a lot more than just the actual stimulus itself that goes into us feeling pain, and the way you feel going into a tattoo can dramatically impact how you handle the experience. This is why many tattoo artists and studios recommend that you get a good, full night’s sleep the night before a tattoo, and that you are well hydrated and comfortable. They know that the more relaxed and the less stressed you are, the easier time you are going to have with your tattoo.
Even though I’m a freak who sort of enjoys the tattoo experience, I’m not naive, and I still get a little nervous going in. The meditative nature of being tattooed is valuable, but you have to go through a lot of pain to achieve it, and that isn’t a lot of fun. My fiancee Melissa is the same way, and we both tend to get pretty tense as we walk up to the door of our tattoo studio.
This is where our experiment began. We decided that Melissa would take CBD before the tattooing began, and I would focus more on taking it after. Very scientific, I know.
CBD can help you relax before your tattoo
Thirty minutes before our appointment, Melissa ate four-fifths of a Grön CBD dark chocolate bar , totaling about 80mg of CBD. This would be a pretty big dose for most people, but she has a lot of experience with CBD and REALLY wanted to try and dull the pain.
Signing in, prepping and applying the stencil of the design, and setting up the tattoo station took a little while, so it probably wasn’t an hour to an hour and a half until the tattooing actually began.
Already, Melissa noticed a difference. “This is the most calm I have ever been going into a tattoo,” she said. “Usually I’m stressed out while I’m waiting to start, but I almost feel like I could take a nap right now if I wanted to. This is way better than I normally am.”
It makes sense. CBD has known anti-anxiety properties, and I have heard plenty of reports from people that CBD just helps them relax. If the thought of getting a tattoo makes you anxious, then it might be worth giving CBD a shot. And if what we know about pain is correct, being more relaxed might also make that tattoo hurt a little less.
CBD can help with the pain while getting tattooed
Now, I have been with Melissa while she got a few of her tattoos, and I can tell you that I noticed a pretty remarkable difference. Normally, she would be silent, eye’s clenched, with her face pressed into the chair. This time, however, she was much more talkative and looked far less pained by the whole experience.
In fact, she told me that this was the best tattooing experience she has ever had! Earlier, on the drive out to the studio, Melissa was telling me she might actually stop getting tattoos because the pain was starting to outweigh the joy she received from the artwork. Tattoos get more painful for some people as they get older, and that has been the case for her.
However, afterwords she was all smiles, saying that with CBD she feels like she would have no problem getting more. It was quite the change!
Once Melissa was done, it was my turn to step up to the chair. My plan was to take CBD after the tattoo, so I didn’t have the same calming benefits that Melissa had going in. However, once the tattooing began, I saw that my tattoo artist Dan Smith (check out his shop, Captured Tattoo, if you are in Southern California!) actually uses a CBD cream by Hustle Butter during the tattoo process. According to Dan, the CBD cream helps “calm down the skin” and generally makes the tattoo process easier.
I’m not sure if the cream helped too much with the pain, but I can say my skin was far less inflamed than it usually is after a tattoo. I have a tendency to swell up quite a bit, but this time my was skin was noticeably less puffy and not as warm to the touch as it normally would be.
Once my tattoo was done, I ate a few pieces of our CBD chocolate, and it did actually seem to help with that lingering, post tattoo pain that generally sticks around for a few hours. About thirty minutes after eating the chocolate, I was chatting with my fiancee on the drive home and almost forgot about the tattoo I had just received.
I can definitely say that CBD made our tattoo experience much better. If you are at all worried about pain, or if tattoos make you anxious, then definitely give CBD a try.
CBD for tattoo aftercare
Anyone who has tattoos will tell you that the pain and discomfort doesn’t stop once the tattoo gun shuts down. The healing process can take up to 3 or 4 weeks in some cases, and that time period can be filled with a lot of discomfort. Not only that, but how you care for your tattoo in the first few weeks will directly impact how that tattoo looks in the long run, and no one wants to sit through all that pain just to have a tattoo that looks off.
Back in my post about CBD topicals, I talked about how CBD creams and balms can fight inflammation in the skin. Well, I don’t know of anything that would inflame your skin more than shoving a dozen needles into it two thousand times per minute.
With that in mind, Melissa and I both set out to use Grön CBD’s body balm in our tattoo aftercare. Multiple times a day, we would take a small amount of the CBD balm and carefully spread it over our tattoos. Keeping your new tattoo hydrated is super important, so why not add a little CBD while you are at it?
Well, I’m not sure if it was the CBD aftercare, or the CBD used during the actual tattooing, but both of our tattoos healed much faster and much better than normal. I’m an avid triathlete, and my tattoo healed so well that I was able to get back to running and biking within two days of getting my tattoo (it is fairly large and located on my upper leg), and I was able to get back in the pool after just under two weeks. I’m actually pretty sure I could have swam even earlier, but I wanted to be extra careful, as swimming pools and lakes can really be bad for tattoos that aren’t completely healed.
Melissa had a similar experience, and said her tattoo, which was on her back, healed much faster than she was accustomed to as well. I would definitely recommend giving CBD a try for your tattoo aftercare.
All in all, I was VERY impressed with how CBD helped the entire tattooing adventure from beginning to end. CBD helped relieve the pre-tattoo jitters, it made getting the tattoo itself far more comfortable and way less painful, and it really did seem to speed up tattoo healing time.
But I want to hear from you! Have you tried using CBD for any part of the tattoo process? What were your results? Everyone is different, so it’s likely CBD won’t make everyone’s tattoo experience better, but for me, I’ll be using it before every tattoo from now on.