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I have a lot of tattoos. I love the experience of getting them, of choosing a design and working with an artist to develop a concept. I love the way they look.

You wanna know the part I don’t love?

The soreness and irritation that can last for days, or even weeks, afterwards. That part: not as much fun.

CBD is reported to help with all kinds of skin issues, like chafing, dry skin, and inflammation. So can it help with tattoos, too?

Given the myriad effects reported by people who take CBD, there may be several possible applications for CBD during the tattoo process – from reducing pain during the procedure itself, to soothing inflamed skin.

First up – how do tattoos work?

Tattoos work by injecting ink into your skin. Specifically, the dermis. Your skin is composed of several layers, the outermost being the Epidermis. Right under that is the dermis. That’s where tattoo ink goes, and it’s visible through the outer layer.

Before the tattoo machine was invented, tattoos were applied one poke at a time, by hand. This process goes back a long way throughout human history – in fact, the earliest known tattoos are found on Otzi the Iceman (a preserved body found in the Otzal Alps, and Europe’s oldest known natural human mummy), dating way back to between 3370 and 3100 BC. So, despite what your grandma says, it’s not just “kids these days” who are into tattoos.

In modern times, tattoos are generally applied using a tattoo gun. That’s a needle, or group of needles, attached to a motor. The artist controls the machine with a foot pedal, and the motor delivers between 80-200 punctures per minute.

Because of the repeated puncturing of your skin, tattoos can cause pain and discomfort (duh).

If only there were some way to make it a little easier on your skin…

Easing the tattoo process

Enter: CBD topicals.

Because CBD is reported to help with pain and inflammation, it may be useful in reducing the discomfort of getting a tattoo.

According to a study published by the European Journal of Pain, CBD reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviors in rats. They found that “transdermal CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling” in rats, meaning that there is a promise for the same effects to be proven in humans.

Since getting your skin stabbed thousands of times causes pain and inflammation (again, duh), you can see how CBD may be helpful in reducing discomfort during the process of getting tattooed.

But it may also relieve some of the discomforts of the healing process.

I’ll be honest. Getting tattooed doesn’t feel great. But oftentimes the healing process can be even worse – they get super sore, not to mention the extreme itchiness as they start to scab over.

Due to the reported anti-inflammatory potential of CBD, there may well be an effect on speeding up the tattoo healing process, as well as potential to reduce pain or discomfort.

What kind of CBD product should I use?

While some people report that ingesting CBD orally or sublingually (like an edible or oil) can help with pain, what’s most likely to help with skin issues is something designed to be applied topically. Like, oh, I don’t know – a CBD topical.

But one super important thing to keep in mind is that anything you put on your tattoos should be free of artificial fragrances.

Most, if not all, of the topicals we carry, are scented only with essential oils, which are safe for tattoos. But you’ll definitely want to avoid anything that lists “fragrance” as an ingredient.

Laura, our resident wellness expert (and Customer Service Manager!) recommends Select CBD‘s Hemp-Derived CBD Muscle Rub for tattoo aftercare because it’s got tons of soothing ingredients like aloe vera and tea tree oil that can help reduce pain and inflammation, along with a healthy serving of CBD.

As with any cosmetic or topical, Laura recommends testing a small amount of product on your wrist to make sure you’re not allergic to it before you go ahead and slather it all over yourself.

Check with your artist

Whatever you decide to do for your tattoo aftercare, make sure to run your plans by your tattoo artist. They deal with more tattoos, their own and those of others, than anyone else. So they’ll know best how you should be taking care of your tattoos.

Many tattoo artists are starting to experiment with CBD for aftercare. Speak with your artist to see if it’s right for you.

And when you’re ready, take a look at our topicals, and just remember to choose something free of artificial fragrances.

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