Tattoos are a beautiful form of self-expression, a work of art that is permanently inked onto a willing participant. Just like cannabis, the stigma surrounding tattoos has fallen away to make way for the new generation of doctors, lawyers, bartenders, musicians, teachers, and countless others. It’s exciting to see how tattoos are no longer covered with long sleeves or makeup but are proudly displayed as a conversation starter or a fond reminder of a cherished memory.
But if there’s one thing all tattoo owners can relate to, it’s the anguish of getting inked. Some users welcome the intense discomfort as a rite of passage while others writhe in torment from the unwavering needles. If you’re considering a tattoo for the first time or debating on getting another one, you’re probably already stressing about how to endure those wickedly sharp needles for an extended period of time and ultimately, the best way to care for the finished artwork. Could CBD, a touted reliever of physical and mental ailments, be the answer we’ve all been searching for? There’s only one way to find out! Keep reading to see if CBD can be used for tattoos and all that comes with getting them.
I Want A Tattoo; Can CBD Help?
It’s been estimated that 4 out of 10 adults in America between the age of 18-69 have a tattoo; of those 4, quite a few of them have multiple tattoos. The stigma of tattoos has faded tremendously, with many adults embracing the permanent artwork as a form of self-expression.
In comparison, 1 out of 7 adults in America (14%) use CBD in some way, shape, or form. Cannabidiol (CBD) has been a life changer for many individuals struggling with both mental and physical issues. Whether it be calming an overactive mind, battling daily stress, boosting energy levels, acting as a sleep aid, or offering relief from sore joints and inflammation, CBD offers a homeopathic plant-based alternative to modern medicine. Yet there’s little research that confirms if CBD can make a difference in the overall tattoo experience. But before you give up on using CBD prior to your next tattoo appointment, let’s break down what goes on in the mind and body when you go to get a tattoo.
What Goes On In The Mind When Getting Inked
Getting a tattoo may seem straightforward: pick a design, sit in the chair, and grit your teeth for the next few hours until the tattoo is finished. But for those who’ve experienced all of that already, there’s quite a bit more that goes on than just the hard facts. Let’s dive a bit deeper into the entire tattoo process.
In the hours coming down to the actual tattooing process, you might feel more nervous as the time approaches. This beautiful design on paper is about to become a permanent piece of art on your skin! If you’re absolutely sure the design is what you want, then you may be more nervous about the process itself. Sitting in a chair for several hours while enduring a substantial amount of physical discomfort can be nerve-wracking as well. You may be concerned about being able to sit still and not flinch as the needle bores into your skin. You may feel restless and want to move around to alleviate boredom.
How CBD Can Help: CBD is effective in calming your nerves, particularly in stressful situations. A recent poll concluded that 1-5 CBD users consume the cannabinoid to help alleviate stress in daily situations. If you’re feeling a mix of emotions leading up to your tattoo, you may benefit from the anxiolytic properties of CBD.
Once the tattoo is finished, the entire area will be swollen and inflamed. The constant barrage of needles (a single needle for the outline and several needles for the shading) will leave your skin looking red and irritated. The inflammation and redness will die down over time as the skin calms down and returns to its original state.
How CBD Can Help: CBD has been proven to relieve inflammation and irritation, something to strongly consider once your tattoo session has concluded. CBD is also known to aid in the discomforts of joints due to arthritis and other ailments. Drawing conclusive assumptions from these proven tests, it’s a strong possibility that CBD can help with redness and inflammation following a tattoo session.
Your tattoo artist will apply a topical ointment to soothe the skin and wrap it up in some sort of protective film (saran wrap or a clear bandage) before you can officially leave. Your tattoo is an open wound and will need time to heal without dirt and bacteria entering in through the tattooed area. Most artists will recommend leaving the protective film on for an extended period of time before washing it and applying moisturizer to the area.
How CBD Can Help: Recent studies have concluded that CBD has been effective against certain bacteria responsible for staph infections, acting similarly to antibiotics. While more testing is needed, consuming CBD might prove to be as effective when it comes to your new tattoo. Since the freshly tattooed skin is open and more prone to infection, the antibacterial properties of CBD can help your body fight off any infection.
Caring For Your New Tattoo
Once the protective film has been removed, your skin may feel swollen and sensitive to the touch. As the fresh tattoo is exposed to air, the skin itself will start to feel dry and itchy. Many tattoo artists will recommend specific lotions or moisturizing products that work well for their clients. The internet is also full of recommendations on which topicals work best, each with their own redeeming properties. The important thing to remember is consistency. Your dermis desperately needs moisture in the tattooed area, so you’ll need to keep applying the topical every couple of hours. As the healing process progresses, you’ll find yourself needing to apply it less each day.
How CBD Can Help: Here’s where it gets tricky. While CBD is available in topical form, there’s no scientific evidence that concludes this is a good idea. Some users have reported experiencing allergic reactions to the terpenes found in CBD products, something you absolutely do not need on a brand new tattoo.
If you do choose to use a CBD topical, make sure it’s been tested for the absence of pesticides or heavy metals. One study confirms that CBD can help with all types of wounds without negative reactions. As such, there are a variety of CBD topicals that are specifically designed for tattoo inflammation. For those of you who do choose to use a CBD topical on a fresh tattoo, just know you’re doing so at your own risk.
What Not To Do Before (& After) Getting A Tattoo
Getting a tattoo can be stressful and cause you to feel increasingly nervous as the big day approaches. Many people deal with this stress and nervousness in different ways, but there are several things you should avoid prior to getting inked. First and foremost, you should abstain from alcohol. Alcohol works as a blood thinner and can actually make it more difficult for your artist to tattoo you properly. Along those same lines, don’t consume any strong painkillers prior to your appointment. Strong pharmaceutical drugs are known to thin the blood as well, which may frustrate your tattooer with the amount of blood that must be wiped away in order to cleanly tattoo you. The healing process is also extended as your body must work harder to bring your blood pressure back to normal. Lastly, it’s not recommended to use numbing creams on the area you intended to get tattooed. The numbing properties of these creams can prevent the ink from penetrating your dermis as it should, thus resulting in a tattoo that may fade more quickly over time and the crisp lines may get blurred as the tattoo heals.
Unfortunately, there are no conclusive results that prove whether or not CBD is recommended for tattoos. Yet deductive reasoning on how effective the cannabinoid is for inflammation, redness, preventing infections, and soothing your nervousness may encourage you to consume CBD prior to your tattoo appointment. CBD isn’t a magic “cure-all” but may help you feel a sense of calm that will be greatly beneficial before and after your session.
It’s never recommended to consume alcohol or painkillers prior to your appointment, as the blood thinning properties may interfere with the finished product. Numbing creams might seem like a good idea for those with sensitivity to the onslaught of needles, but if you’re that sensitive to the discomfort, you may want to rethink getting a tattoo (at least until you’re sure you can handle the unpleasantness of the entire experience). Lastly, you should be cautious when using a CBD topical on a fresh tattoo. There’s no concrete evidence that supports CBD topicals for tattoos, although there are various topicals that claim to be specifically designed for tattoo application.
Rather than taking a chance with a topical CBD product, it’s recommended to consume the more traditional forms of CBD that can help with the uneasiness, stress, inflammation, and possible infection that come with getting a new tattoo. Here at Erth Wellness, we offer a stunning selection of pre-rolls, tinctures, softgels, and CBD vape juice that have been thoroughly tested by independent third-party labs for purity and potency. If you’re more of a “try before you buy” individual, check out our sample sizes before purchasing one of our full-size products. In our next article, we’ll be discussing what terpenes are and what role they play in hemp products. Check back soon for this and other topics regarding CBD and all it has to offer!