Let’s face it, some of us make regrettable decisions regarding tattoos. If you want to remove a tattoo, you’ve probably considered or tried tattoo removal creams, but do they work?
Here, we’ll be breaking down what tattoo removal cream is, its ingredients, its side effects, and if they work. Let us learn more about the truth of tattoo removal creams and explore other safe options.
Table of Contents
What Do You Know About Tattoo Removal Cream?
Tattoo removal creams are topical non-invasive creams applied to tattooed skin and claim to erase the ink. They work by peeling or bleaching the top layer of the skin.
The tattoo ink is injected into your skin’s dermis or middle layer. Many are available in department stores or online retailers, but there’s little evidence that tattoo removal creams remove tattoos.
Best, these creams will only fade the tattoo, leaving a discolored or distorted version that can become a permanent scar on the skin.
Also, serious side effects like scarring and burning on the skin may happen. Most of these products don’t even claim to remove tattoos entirely. Instead, they claim to help make your tattoos less noticeable.
The Important point is that not a single tattoo removal cream in the market has FDA approval.
Do Tattoo Removal Creams Work?
The straightforward answer is NO. It is necessary to address this misconception. The tattoo removal creams can re-color or fade the tattoo on the skin, making the artwork/tattoo less visible.
Some even claim to replace the white blood cells on your skin (macrophages) filled with tattoo ink. Many surface-level treatments by tattoo removal creams are ineffective at removing the tattoo ink.
Tattoo removal creams can lessen the visibility of ink by essentially bleaching or stripping the epidermis, your skin’s outermost layer.
Removal creams typically use the active ingredients hydroquinone, trichloroacetic acid (TCA), or something similar.
The first ingredient, hydroquinone, is the bleaching agent, lightening the tattoo area. The second ingredient, TCA, works to remove the epidermis and let the bleaching agent penetrate the tattoo’s deepest point.
Although healthcare professionals regularly use trichloroacetic acid for qualified skin treatments, it can be dangerous to use at home without supervision.
To use a tattoo removal cream, rub it on the tattoo once or twice a day (some brands use a two-step process, but it seems there’s not a significant difference in effectiveness).
The application is painless, but it’s important to remember that lightening a tattoo to the point of near-invisibility can take months. Be sure to stick with the regimen to see results.
It’s always a red flag when a product recommends rubbing your skin with sandpaper beforehand! While using a tattoo removal cream, you might see minimal fading on the artwork/tattoo.
Ingredients of Tattoo Removal Cream
Tattoo removal creams contain several chemicals, such as topical acids, that could probably plague away a skin’s epidermis of the person.
The FDA has sent out several caution letters to firms involved with products that burn the skin with acids.
No tattoo removal creams can penetrate through all the layers of the skin and remove an artwork/tattoo.
But this doesn’t stop people from purchasing these products in a misguided attempt to remove their tattoos.
Let us break down some ingredients commonly found in creams to remove tattoos.
Ingredients From a Common Tattoo Removal Cream:
- Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice andAnthemis Nobilis Flower Extract
- Butyrospermum Parkii(Shea Butter) and Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol
- Citrus Medica Limonum(Lemon) Peel Oil and Dihydroxyacetone
- Dimethicone and DM Hydantoin
- Epilobium Angustifolium Extract and Eugenie Caryophyllus(Clove) Flower Oil
- Glycerin and Glyceryl Stearate SE
- Glycine Soja(Soybean) Oil and andIron Oxides
- Isopropyl Myristate andJuglans Regia(Walnut) Shell Powder
- Lavandula Angustifolia(Lavender) Oil and Melaleuca Alternifolia(Tea Tree) Leaf Oil
- Methylparaben and Mineral Oil
- Petrolatum and Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit (Indian Gooseberry) Extract
- Polysorbate20 and Propylene Glycol
- Propylparaben Rosemarinus Officinalis(Rosemary) Leaf Oil and Salicylic Acid
- SD Alcohol 40-B and Silica
- Talc and Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter
- Titanium Dioxide and Tocopheryl Acetate(TA)
You must be wondering why all of these ingredients. It’s an exciting pretend; there is a high likelihood that a user of these products, which has many plant allergens in the mix (as well as formaldehyde-releasing preservatives), will progress a contact dermatitis reaction.
It is a form of allergy to topical materials very similar to the response to poison ivy.
The predictable inflammatory reaction will cause textural changes in the skin, which might create illusions that the tattoo is fading.
Side Effects of Tattoo Removal Cream
Even the best tattoo removal creams have risks, as fading permanent ink requires an intense formula.
For starters, anyone with dark skin tones should steer straightforward; tattoo removal creams’ bleaching effect can create a splotchy mess that’s more unsightly than the tattoo.
Also, stop using the cream if you see discoloration, get a rash, or feel incredibly itchy (a little bit of itchiness is standard).
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates chemicals like trichloroacetic acid, but their use in these creams isn’t. The FDA has approved no tattoo removal cream currently on the market.
Several painful side effects may happen with some products’ chemicals, potentially leading to life-threatening symptoms.
- Difficulty breathing
- Anaphylaxis ( potentially life-threatening allergic reaction)
- Hypo-pigmentation (lightening of the skin)
- The permanent scar on the skin
- Permanent skin discoloration
The skin which has more melanin in there skin has a high risk of hypo-pigmentation. For those with skin types of four to six on the Fitzpatrick scale, the bleaching agent trichloroacetic acid causes permanent skin whitening and scarring.
What Can You Do To Remove Tattoos Safely?
Several tattoo removal options are considered safe if done by a doctor, dermatologist, or other licensed medical professional.
The methods include:
Laser removal is the quickest, most effective, and most efficient method.
This process starts with distressing and chilling of the skin. Once the skin is numb, a certified specialist applies a laser to the inked area.
That laser emits pulses of light that breach deep into the skin. Those light pulses break the ink particles and make that tattoo disappear completely.
Laser treatment needs a sequence of sessions, with most people needing at least five sessions to see substantial results.
The treatments required depend on various factors, including size, age, and tattoo color. Note that the length of each session is brief and usually last for a few seconds to remove a small tattoo.
Before treatment, you must follow a strict pre-treatment plan, including avoiding sun exposure. In addition, you’ll need to follow a healthy aftercare strategy.
After sessions, you must prevent sweating in the treated area, which means not exercising for several days.
It can be uncomfortable, but most people say it’s not as painful as the actual tattoo-making procedure. Most people associate the feeling of the laser with the sensation of snapping a rubber band against the skin.
The laser technology at Remover is the safest and most effective removal method.
Salabrasion is an at-home remedy that rubs salt & water into your skin to remove the epidermis. The process continues until the skin is raw and healing over several weeks. It’s the salt and ice challenge X 1000
This process takes multiple painful attempts, even remotely, to fade the tattoo, and the likelihood of receiving a scar is very high. The skin will become a hard leather texture and develop scar tissue.
A doctor must operate this method. The surgeon will numb the neighboring area with a local anesthetic.
A scalpel is used to cut the tattoo out of the skin and stitch the skin back together with the help of sutures.
It’s practical and quick because it only takes one session, but it can leave a noticeable scar on the skin area and will likely not work fit on larger scale artwork/tattoos.
The cost depends on the extent and position of the tattoo, and skin grafting may be required depending on the size of the tattoo. Removing a small tattoo costs between $150 and $350.
Dermabrasion is typically performed by a qualified medical doctor and uses a circle-shaped medical grinding tool that resembles a rotary sander. The device is an abrasive brush scraping or sanding off tattooed skin.
This method usually uses ice to numb the area or gives a local anesthetic. The cost usually depends on the proportions of a tattoo, which leads to scars on the skin.
Sanding the skin to remove the artwork/tattoo can cause a lot of scar tissue, hypo-pigmentation, and the treated area could become sick.
Tattoo ink applied to the dermis with this tool destroys the epidermis or runs the danger of penetrating too deep and failing to remove the ink successfully.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons estimates that it costs, on average, $1,700 and is neither the safest nor the most efficient way of removal.
Chemicals like trichloroacetic acid are FDA-approved for in-office use by medical professionals, but their use in tattoo-fading lotions is not permitted.
Remember that using this procedure at home without professional supervision is dangerous.
Trichloroacetic acid is a common element in tattoo removal lotions, making it dangerous for beginners to use those at-home methods.
Tattoo removal creams often cost $50 or less per bottle when purchased over the counter.
How Do I Know Which Method is Proper for Me?
Some tattoo removal methods might not be effective for you. The effectiveness of each treatment impacted by the size, color, or type of tattoo ink employed.
Your medic may not recommend a laser removal method if you have sensitive skin or if your skin doesn’t respond well to other treatments.
The laser removal method might also be more costly or time-consuming than you’d prefer, mainly because more extensive artwork/tattoos may involve several treatments for complete removal from the skin.
Surgical excision leaves a noticeable scar or is too aching for more extensive tattoos. This procedure is most operative on small artwork/tattoos on the skin.
Dermabrasion might be a good alternative if laser or excision techniques don’t work for you or are too expensive. It may also be inexpensive and faster for smaller artwork/tattoos.
But dermabrasion is also much less effective than surgical or laser treatment.
Questions To Ask Your Healthcare Professional
Before having a tattoo removed, consult with a medical professional about the following:
- Which methods are safest for my skin?
- Which course of treatment would you suggest for me?
- What will the cost of the removal be?
- How long will the procedure last? Will I require several treatments?
- Are there any risks associated with having my tattoo removed?
- Will the medication hurt me? Which anesthetics or numbing agents can use without risk?
- Will the removal procedures make my everyday activities uncomfortable?
- How can I be sure that I’m prepared for the treatment?
- How effective will the treatment be?
Make sure you ask your healthcare professional about reputable tattoo removal offices.
In some cases, your healthcare professional may be able to refer you to a surgeon or dermatologist who is highly good at their job.
The person doing the removal should be a licensed doctor, surgeon, or dermatologist with expertise in tattoo removal.
They should also have access to your medical records to make sure you’re healthy enough for the procedure.
What Can Fade a Tattoo?
According to the internet (which, reminder, is not the same as a licensed physician), there are supposedly multiple methods to fade a tattoo, including potent chemical peels that burn away your skin and some of the tattoo’s pigments, or dermabrasion, which sands down your skin to help fade your ink.
Sound painful? That’s because they are—and also carry extremely high risks of permanent scarring, which is why most dermatologists don’t recommend them.
Instead, the safest and most effective treatment option is laser tattoo removal. It sends short pulses of light energy into the tattoo to “shatter” the pigment and slowly fade it over time.
Although lasers are primarily the preferred method for tattoo removal by dermatologists, they can be time-intensive, painful, and expensive.
Think: at least eight sessions (at $400 to $1,000 a session) spaced four to six weeks apart (or longer, depending on your skin tone, the age and color of your tattoo, and more).
Can a Tattoo be Removed?
Yes and no. Tattoo removal lasers can reduce the pigment in your tattoo by 70 to 80 percent, but “any more than that is a bonus,” says Dr. Lal.
Of course, some patients end up with close-to-total removal, but it’s not standard, mainly when results differ based on the color, size, and location of your tattoo.
“Vibrant colors, like green and yellow, are much more stubborn to treatment,” says Dr. Gohara, whereas blacks and reds are easier to remove because the laser is more responsive to pigments already found in our skin surface.
How Can I Remove a Tattoo on My Skin at Home Fast?
Unfortunately, there are no ways to “remove” a tattoo at home. Skin-bleaching creams and at-home remedies won’t work and can even result in burning, scarring, and severe irritation if misused.
Even the at-home treatments you find online are more likely to inflame your skin than fade your tattoo.
“A lot of the DIY tattoo removal options rely on the use of organic acids, like apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, that over-exfoliate and dry out your skin,” says Dr. Lal, “which can lead to burns and scars that will just make your tattoo even harder to remove with lasers later on.”
Tattoo removal creams don’t work and can cause severe skin reactions that result in permanent skin or tissue damage. These creams shouldn’t be used as an alternative to FDA-approved treatments.
Many reputable tattoo removal services exist that can provide safe, effective treatments.
Some organizations, such as Homeboy Industries, provide free tattoo removal by volunteer doctors for people who wish to remove gang-related tattoos.
Other organizations may offer free tattoo removal for racist or other derogatory ink.
There are effective tattoo removal systems that you can use at home, but many cause skin irritation, especially on sensitive skin.
Before purchasing a DIY removal system, consult your dermatologist to ensure it’s safe for your skin tone and type.
If you want to remove a tattoo, skip the bogus, potentially harmful tattoo removal creams and head to your dermatologist’s office to chat through laser treatments.
Yes, they are expensive and will take some time, but if you’re serious about getting rid of your tattoo, lasers are the only safe and effective option.
So save your money, and, in the meantime, figure out which matching tattoo you’ll get with your best friend once your old one is gone.