While browsing online for info on tattoo removal, you come across websites claiming to give you the secrets of home tattoo removal. “It’s easy! It’s cheap! It’s completely effective!” some websites boast.
Should you give it a shot, if it’s really as inexpensive as they claim? After all, you’re eager to part ways with that sports team logo you got one wild night the summer before college.
No way. While the idea of a fast, cheap DIY treatment that totally works sounds appealing, none of those claims are actually true. And here’s another thing they don’t tell you: The dangers of trying tattoo removal at home are extremely high. Here’s why you should leave tattoo removal to the specialists.
Does At-Home Tattoo Removal Work?
People consider DIY tattoo removal for several reasons:
- Saving time—they want the tattoo gone as quickly as possible, and professional laser removal may take months.
- Saving money—professional laser removal seems expensive.
- They’ve heard the urban legend that DIY removal can be effective.
It’s not surprising that interest in home tattoo removal has spiked. Thirty percent of people with tattoos regret got their designs on a whim, says Men’s Health. Tattoos have become very popular among Millennials, but many are now finding that getting one at a young age can prove to be a mistake. In fact, over 37.6% of people who get tattoos between age 18 and 21 regret the decision—after age 26, the number drops to the single digits.
However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any type of home tattoo removal, because they are ineffective and risky. However, tattoo removal has been quickly growing more popular, the FDA says. This leads many people to try out dangerous at-home options.
But can you really remove tattoos at home? No, you cannot. To successfully remove a tattoo, a treatment needs to do one of the following things:
- Cause the body to absorb and eliminate the ink from the skin.
- Manually push out or extract the ink particles.
Home tattoo removal methods simply don’t safely meet these requirements. Anything powerful enough to reach deeply into the skin to extract ink particles is extremely hazardous in untrained hands. Remember, the goal is to end up with clear, healthy skin after tattoo removal—not a gaping wound or thick scarring!
Professional laser removal causes the body to eliminate the ink from the skin without actually breaking the skin. With professional laser removal, high-intensity laser pulses penetrate deep into the skin, reaching into the dermis layer where the ink is stored and breaking it into tiny pieces that the body can flush out. This is the gentlest yet most effective method out there by far.
Why Home Tattoo Removal Can Be Dangerous
The side effects of tattoo removal at home are not trivial. Removing tattoos at home could leave you with serious problems on your hands:
- Permanent scarring
- Irritation or a burning sensation
DIY techniques, like acid peels and salt abrasion, commonly result in these issues. Once the skin is damaged in these ways, the effects can be long-lasting or permanent. Surgical treatment could even be necessary. In addition to the cosmetic effects like hyperpigmentation, these so-called treatments can also cause serious health effects. An open wound caused by a DIY abrasion technique could become seriously infected.
Tattoo removal doesn’t carry such risks when you turn to a specialist. In short, these tattoo removal risks are far too high, and the chances of DIY methods actually working for you are slim to none.
Common DIY Home Tattoo Removal Methods
In a world infused with social media and YouTube instructional videos, everyone assumes you can DIY anything. That’s a harmful assumption when it comes to medical procedures like tattoo removal. Despite the interest in DIY methods, there is no evidence to back up their safety and effectiveness. The home tattoo removal options you might read or watch videos about online rely on dangerous acids or other harmful techniques. Don’t let them anywhere near your skin!
This so-called removal method involves cutting into the top layer of skin and rubbing in a salt paste or applying a saline solution. Needless to say, this is excruciatingly painful. The idea is that as the water in the skin cells within the dermis starts rising and blistering occurs, the ink will rise to the surface and become part of the scab that forms. This is done three or four times.
However, despite all that pain, the process will never remove a tattoo. For one thing, it can’t usually reach deeply enough into the skin to draw out the ink. At best, it can only lead to some fading. This dangerous technique can also result in permanent scarring. Plus, it opens the skin to infection.
DIY acid peels use glycolic acid or another type of acid to dissolve multiple skin layers in an effort to remove a tattoo. As you might imagine, this is extremely dangerous! People who attempt this procedure at home often end up with severe chemical burns and scarring.
Tattoo Removal Creams
You’re probably wondering, “Do tattoo removal creams work?” The FDA has not approved any DIY tattoo removal creams. These creams can cause rashes and scarring, and there is no scientific evidence to show that they work, Healthline notes. These topical creams don’t reach into the dermis layer, so while they might fade a tattoo a little, they won’t remove it. Worse, they may cause peeling, irritation, and permanent scarring or discoloration.
Salicylic acid only works at the surface of the skin; it won’t penetrate to the deep layer where tattoo ink lies. Instead, it removes skin cells close to the surface, as Healthline says. Thus, it won’t remove the ink from the dermis. At best, you might notice some mild fading.
At-Home Laser Tattoo Removal
It might seem tempting to try an at-home tattoo removal laser. At first glance, you might think you’re getting the same technology used in a clinic at a much cheaper price. However, that’s not the case. Home laser treatments aren’t nearly as powerful as those used by professionals in clinics. And with good reason—operating them requires expert training. Home lasers can’t reach as deeply into the skin to break up the ink. However, if you’re using a laser over and over for tattoo removal at home, it will definitely wear your skin out, which can lead to permanent deterioration!
At Removery, we use the Picoway Laser developed by Candela Medical, the gold standard in tattoo removal technology. This incredibly versatile laser can handle all colors of ink and works well with all skin tones. No home laser can compare.
Natural Home Remedies for Tattoo Removal
“Natural” is very much a buzzword these days, suggesting a product is completely safe and foolproof. But that’s not always the case, especially when it comes to home tattoo removal. There is no evidence to show that these alternative tattoo removal methods are safer than professional laser treatment—or that they’re actually effective. These so-called natural ways to remove tattoos are at best a waste of your time and money; they are not going to bring you closer to your goal of tattoo removal.
Lemon juice can sometimes lighten skin temporarily, but only on the epidermis. The effect is usually mild and won’t substantially fade a tattoo. If you go into the sun after applying lemon juice, however, hyperpigmentation can result—which can potentially last for months.
Aloe Vera and Yogurt
Aloe vera and yogurt might not harm your skin, but it probably won’t do much to remove tattoo ink. It involves rubbing a mixture of aloe vera and yogurt on the surface of your skin, on top of the unwanted tattoo. Though this treatment might feel soothing and can in fact be good for your skin, don’t expect to see any significant effects on the tattoo.
Sand abrasion essentially uses sand to scrub away the tattoo—and the skin where it’s located. Whether a pumice stone, sandpaper, or another rough material is used to scrub the skin, it’s an extremely invasive technique that results in a lot of skin damage. Similar to salabrasion, it’s almost certain to result in scarring or changes in skin texture, not to mention a lot of pain. If you’re looking for natural ways to remove tattoos, you’re probably not in the market for something this harmful to your skin.
Remove Your Tattoos with the Laser Tattoo Removal Specialists
Laser tattoo removal is the only FDA-approved method of removing tattoo ink from the skin. Avoid using painful, dangerous DIY attempts that you’ll immediately regret. After all, you don’t want to end up paying for expensive treatments in an attempt to heal the issues caused by those at-home tattoo removal methods.
Laser removal is the only smart and safe method (though in rare cases, surgical removal can be done by a doctor for a small tattoo). Though it takes some patience, the results are well worth the wait! Book a free consultation to find out what your tattoo removal journey could look like (we offer virtual consultations, too!). You’ll be in capable hands with a specialist who prioritizes your wellbeing and comfort