You can anticipate this hyperexcitability by asking your customer lots of questions. Are you a nervous person? Do you drink coffee? If they answer yes, tell your customer that it’s best to avoid anything that will excite them so that they can lower their level of tension.

Also ask your customers about their hormone cycle. In the middle of a cycle, some women feel more excitable than usual. Waxing someone’s legs while they are in the middle of their cycle could be very painful for them. This is an important thing to consider if your customer is someone who is nervous about the level of pain they may experience. It is better to take the time to calculate the perfect day for the treatment according to their hormonal cycle and advise them to avoid stimulants and last but not least, explain each step thoroughly so they know what to expect.


It’s important to follow your customer’s lead and be aware of her pace. Your process may need to move at a slower pace because some people need to breathe or take breaks now and then. The goal is to follow your customer’s rhythm while encouraging her to proceed because otherwise you won’t be able to finish the treatment. Reassure her by telling her: “Don’t worry, I have finished 75% of the first eyebrow, I only have 25% to go, I’m advancing at a good pace.” Explain what you’re doing in detail so that she knows what to expect. While you’re working, make sure to repeat: “Take the time to breathe deeply, relax your shoulders and focus on something else.” Because repeated acts that are painful may cause your customer to lose focus, her pain will increase and she will get fidgety and move around, which is the worst possible thing for the treatment. It’s more painful for her and it’s harder for you to do your job. Remember to speak softly and calmly, breathe, and impose your pace while being attentive to the customer’s needs. You can be empathetic but don’t stop the treatment.


Certain areas are more sensitive than others, like the top of the eyebrow and the first third of the eyebrow because it connects with the sinuses and the tear ducts. Plus, the thicker the skin, the harder you need to poke. On the other hand, the skin at the temple is thin and there are almost no nerves, so you should start the procedure there so your customer can get used to the feeling. Talk to her: “How are you doing? You see, it doesn’t hurt too much. It’s a bit more sensitive at the top of the brow but we’ll go slowly once we get there.” It’s usually the first pokes that hurt the most and then the body gets used to the feeling.


During the procedure, take a moment to encourage your customer to do some breathing exercises so that she feels at ease. Ask her to close her eyes, focus on the music in the background or your voice, to breathe from the diaphragm, relax her shoulders and take four to five deep breaths so that she can relax and start the tattooing process again.


If your customer is really sensitive, you could consider using analgesic creams.

Emla cream is partially effective but it’s not magic. It needs to be applied one hour in advance. During the one-hour protocol, over a period of 5 to 7 minutes with a very thick layer of cream, the customer won’t feel anything and then after 10, 12 even 15 minutes she will feel everything. When she seems to be feeling pain again, reapply the cream and begin tattooing the other side. Switching sides makes it more tolerable. Of course, this comfort is relative but the pain will be much more bearable and concentrated in the eyebrow area.


Cryotherapy is very a very short-lived solution for relieving pain so you will only have time to tattoo for a few seconds. But if your customer is hypersensitive and it’s difficult to touch her, this is a viable solution.


It’s always surprising that when your customer comes back for touch-ups one month later, she has already forgotten that it is a painful treatment. Strangely enough we forget pain very quickly. Your customer will be thinking of the final result and won’t prepare for the pain the same way she did the first time she had the service done, when she was more fearful of the unknown. As a result, customers often experience more pain during touch-ups because they are less prepared psychologically and they no longer anticipate the discomfort.


The level of pain felt by the customer depends on the angle of the needle, making it more or less painful, so some professionals hurt their customers while others don’t. If the needle is too perpendicular to the skin, at 80° or 90°, the tattoo will be too straight and more painful. The best technique is to brush with a 45° angle a shallow movement to avoid any bleeding. For some customers, bleeding is inevitable because they have extremely fine micro-vascularity with very fluid blood. You won’t be able to do much to prevent the bleeding but try to be as light as you can with your movements and stay on the edge of the basal membrane, don’t poke directly into the dermis.


Prescription drugs can affect how sensitive we are, but antidepressants and anti anxiety medications help some people manage their nervousness. If you can see that your customer is worried about her treatment, you could gently ask her if she takes medication to help her sleep from time to time. If she does, you could suggest that she takes a quarter of diazepam before her appointment for the permanent makeup application so that everything goes smoothly. Some customers take an ibuprofen and say that it helps dull the pain. Whether that’s a placebo or it has a real impact, we can’t really know. But either way, it helps them feel better. Careful of treatments for viral diseases and infections because antibiotics and chemotherapy can increase nerve sensitivity. Psychological and physiological stress can increase the perception of pain.

TO RECAP… Reassure your customer before the procedure takes place. Ask them about their level of sensitivity to pain and to prepare them both psychologically and physically for the tattooing process.Choose the date for the treatment wisely so that you’re working in the best conditions possible. Be aware of how you speak, and use relaxation techniques to reassure her, she has to concentrate on feeling confident and not have any doubts about the process: “Are the needles clean, what’s in the pigment,” etc. Your job is to answer those questions before she even has the chance to ask them so that you gain her trust.

You have to make the whole experience as pleasant and worry-free as possible. Smile a lot; the more confident you are, the more confident your customer will be as well.

** Article by Laure Jeandemange, as seen in the Winter 2018 issue of Les Nouvelles Esthétiques Spa Canada **