Here’s The 411 On Tattoo Removal (Hint: Don’t Use The Cream)

Ah, tattoos — the now-common permanent body art that allows for some serious self-expression. There has been a bit of stigma around tattoos in the past, and I remember being told I should never get any because they’d make me instantly unemployable. Thankfully that’s no longer the case. I have 6 tattoos that I love to have on display, and I’m glad I love them, because I never even want to have to think about going through the tattoo removal process.

But maybe you have a tattoo that you don’t love — maybe it was a spur-of-the-moment decision that you came to regret, or maybe it just didn’t age well and is now more of a splotch than anything else. Whatever your reason may be, tattoo removal is always an option. Keep reading for the best ways to get your tattoo removed safely!


Don’t Use the Tattoo Removal Cream!

You might have heard of tattoo removal cream circulating the market — don’t do it. I know it’s probably cheaper than opting for laser removal (which we talk about below) but it’s seriously dangerous and not that effective.

First off, none of the creams you’ll find on the market are FDA approved. As if that wasn’t enough, most of these creams “work” (not really) by literally peeling away/bleaching the top layers of your skin, called the epidermis. Not only is this extraordinarily unsafe for skin — the stripping concentrates often found in these creams shouldn’t be used at home except by professionals, and even then they’re risky — but also, tattoo removal cream doesn’t even remove your tattoo. Most of the ink isn’t even in the epidermis, but in a lower layer of your skin called the dermis. That means tattoo removal creams will at best only fade the tattoo; worst case scenario, you end up with chemically burned skin and splotchy ink. 

So, yes, PLEASE skip the tattoo removal cream. I promise you it’s not worth it. Chemical peels should only be used in a doctor’s office, and even then, we don’t advise it.

Laser Tattoo Removal

This is the most common, safest, and most effective way to get rid of all that ink. There are several types of laser removal techniques you could choose from, though the biggest difference is typically just the type of laser used. They’re pretty effective, but the cost (which can be up to 10x what it cost to get the tattoo in the first place) is an obstacle for many people.

Laser tattoo removal works by using lasers (obviously) to break down the ink pigments inside your skin. This makes the ink small enough to be carried off by the white blood cells, which then help your body cycle and eliminate it. The effectiveness of laser tattoo removal on your particular tattoo will depend on factors such as the age of the tattoo (older ones are easier to remove), the color, the tattoo’s location, and what type of skin you have. It also takes several sessions to remove a tattoo, and the exact number will also depend on which tattoo you want removed. The process can be quite painful (even more so than getting the tattoo) but numbing cream is often used to help minimize the pain.


You’ve heard us talk about microdermabrasion, but dermabrasion is different. Dermabrasion is considered a surgical procedure, and the skin is basically sanded down to remove the unwanted tattoo. Dermabrasion is an outpatient procedure and recovery time involves a few weeks of a “wind burned” skin feel. 

Dermabrasion can be more cost effective than laser tattoo removal, and side effects are minor but possible, including redness/bleeding, scarring, and possible (but rare) infection. 

There are other options of surgically removing tattoos as well, but they’re generally only recommended for smaller tattoos, as surgical removal of larger ones will leave you with a scar.

Cover-Up Makeup

Last but not least, you could just manually cover it up. Obviously this isn’t a super sustainable solution, but could be good if you have a big event coming up or if you want to just test-run a tattoo removal to see if you actually want it gone. Here are a few of our favorite tattoo cover-up options:


And that’s the 411. Have you had a tattoo removed? Are you planning on it? Let us know in the comments!

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