I’ve already reviewed the best epilators, but I know a lot of people are looking for a painless hair removal secret that will make epilation less painful especially when they first start epilating. When I first epilated the upper lip it was a complete nightmare. For the last couple of months, I have been testing lidocaine numbing creams on the most painful areas of my body. While pain is a highly subjective, when used properly numbing creams can help take the edge off.
I have to admit the first time when I tried a numbing cream, it didn’t exactly work as well as I wanted to. With a little experimenting, I found what works best for me and would like to share it with you. If you use a numbing cream correctly, it will numb you up so epilating is much less painful. You will still absolutely feel it, but the sensation will be less. Only an injectable shot would leave you so numb that you wouldn’t feel anything.
Epilator Numbing Creams
There are so many numbing creams on the market that it is hard to tell which ones are the best for hair removal. A lot of these are over hyped. Right now the two of them that are used for professional hair removal are Elma and LMX. Elma is prescription strength, but LMX can be purchased over the counter.
Not all numbing creams are effective for hair removal because the base of the cream plays an important role. It controls how deeply the numbing agents will go into the skin. For hair removal, we need to consider where we want to numb. We don’t really care about the top layer of the skin. We want the numbing cream to work its way into the hair follicle where the pain receptors are located. Both these creams are designed to penetrate under the skin.
LMX is widely considered the best over the counter option by many hair removal specialists. The majority of people who have used it for hair removal say it works for them but some people haven’t had as good results. This is the numbing cream that I used. While it didn’t eliminate pain completely, I thought that it reduced pain to a more manageable level. It is available in 4% and 5% lidocaine. LMX 4 is designed for temporary pain relief from minor cuts, sunburn, skin irritation, and insect bites. Although LMX 5 is marketed for anal and rectal problems, it is safe to use for hair removal. Both these creams work by preventing the nerves from sending the pain signal to the brain. I found the numbing effect to last for about 30 minutes.
This is the best prescription option. Elma is thought to be the best numbing cream though you will need a prescription from a Doctor to use it. ELMA stands for Eutectic Mixture of Local Anesthetics. It was developed by Astra, a Swedish pharmaceutical, who is now a part of Merk. The cream is thick and white with no real smell. Similar to the numbing gel that your dentist uses, it contains 2.5% lidocaine 2.5% prilocaine. It is not meant to be used in the mouth and has a rather bitter taste. One 30 gram tube usually costs around $50 dollars. After covering the cream for 2 hours, the numbing effect should last about 20 minutes.
This is not a serious numbing cream, but depending on your pain tolerance, Solarcaine might be enough to take the edge off. Just use the plain gel one with aloe vera not the spray. It is actually designed for sunburn relief but it has mild dose of lidocaine. It can be used before and after epilation. I like to use Aloe out of the fridge to sooth the skin after.
Shibari Triton Spray
Don’t laugh. I admit I have never tried this. I’ve included this because this product seems more economical than any other lidocaine product on the market. It contains about 10% lidocaine which is the highest concentration I have seen sold over the counter. It is actually not meant for hair removal, but actually designed as a male desensitizing spray for arousal. A similar product is Stud 100. Unlike most numbing creams, this is a spray. Don’t just spray this all over your body as you are only supposed to use just a few sprays. The best way to use it would be to spray it on a cotton ball and then gently rub it over the area you are epilating.
How To Use A Numbing Cream
When used correctly, numbing creams are generally safe. For hair removal, numbing creams are absolutely not designed to use on large areas of the body. According to FDA, the liver and body can only metabolize a certain amount of anesthetics. Use on large areas like the back,torso, legs, and arms is not recommended unless you split the areas in smaller sections. I would suggest you numb only the areas you absolutely need to. Numbing creams are designed for smaller areas like the face, underarms, bikini area, or other sensitive areas with denser hair. Like any drug, applying too much can be toxic for the body. Always check with your doctor and don’t put it in your mouth or feed it to your pet.
The upper lip and bikini area is fine, but don’t put it all over an entire body part like your legs. The amount you can use safely varies with your weight. A good rule of thumb is about the size of your hand. I recommend only using 1 (15gm) tube. 15 gm should be good enough to cover most of the face. For the upper lip, I recommend using a third of the 15gm tube.
Here is what to do:
1.Don’t Strip The Skin Of Oil
Make sure the area you are going to treat is free of any moisturizer, but you don’t need to cleanse your skin as naturally occurring skin oils help the numbing cream absorb better. If you are cleaning the skin, use only mild soap and water. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make with numbing creams.
2. Rub A Thin Layer On Skin
The problem with numbing creams is that we need to numb the area below the skin where the pain receptors are not just the surface. In order for a numbing cream to be effective, it must penetrate into the skin. Using a numbing cream, this can be done by rubbing it in. Begin by rubbing a thin layer into the skin against the direction of the hair growth. After 3 minutes, rub another thin layer into the skin. I like to do this about 5 times which takes about 15 minutes. You should feel the skin start to numb up.
3. Apply A Thick layer
Follow this up by spreading a very thick layer of cream in the area like frosting on a cake. Do not flatten the cream. Make sure you cover all the areas you are going to epilate. You should be able to see the white cream all over the area.
Lidocaine numbing creams oxidize when exposed to the air so it is crucial to cover them to make them the most effective. It works best when covered with a clear dressing like Tegaderm, which can be difficult to apply on the face. While you can use cling on wrap to cover it, Tegaderm wraps are easier to use. If you have to, use a micropore tape to secure the plastic. When you wrap the area, you have to avoid any air pockets or creases. When doing the bikini area, wrap the area and use pantyhose or spandex shorts to hold everything in place.
The depth the cream penetrates depends on the duration of the application. If you are going to use a numbing cream, I recommend leaving it on at least for 45 minutes but no longer than 90 minutes. I know some people leave it up to 2 hours. We need the cream to work its way down underneath the skin where the bundle of nerve endings are. Leaving it longer does give you better numbing but you can’t leave it on for too long. Always check with the instructions of your numbing cream. For LMX, I found that leaving it on for about 90 minutes worked the best. The cream won’t start wearing off until you remove the plastic.
6. Wipe Off The Cream
You can use a makeup remover, paper towels, or any cleanser to wipe off the cream.
Now follow the regular routine for epilation. For epilation, most numbing creams lasts about 30 minutes before the effect starts to wear off.
Have you tried a numbing cream? Did it work? Let us know.