Tattoo Removal

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Tattoo Removal Really Work?

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Published: 09.01.2022
Updated: 08.30.2023

Doing research is a common phrase we hear now more than ever. Buying a car, investing in crypto, politics, choosing what neighborhood to live in and even tattoo removal, we want informed answered to the questions we have. When tattoo removal is the topic, a few different options may come up doing research and some of them are going to be a bit closer to folklore than actual truths. We’re going to look at one such search result, does hydrogen peroxide tattoo removal work to remove tattoo ink from the skin or lighten it to make a cover-up easier?

What is Hydrogen Peroxide Normally Used For

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound with the formula H2O2and is commonly found in the medicine cabinet at home and used on the skin to prevent infection of minor cuts, scrapes and burns. With its antiseptic properties it’s also commonly used to sanitize beauty and manicure tools, disinfect toothbrushes, clean cutting boards, disinfect kitchen sponges and even brighten discolored cookware.

Why Is Hydrogen Peroxide a Commonly Recommended Tattoo Removal Technique?

While it might seem that hydrogen peroxide is a jack-of-all-trades, there are many limitations to it. Because it can be used to lighten stains in clothing or cookware, it is a common misconception that it can also be used bleach out and lighten a tattoo as tattoo removal at home. Sadly, this is an urban myth and there is no science behind it. In fact, the use of hydrogen peroxide on a fresh tattoo may even cause the ink to become more bold and darker due to oxidization.

Is It Harmful to Try to Remove a Tattoo Using Hydrogen Peroxide?

While topically applied to the skin hydrogen peroxide can cause little to no real danger, in part due to how diluted commercially available mixes are.

There are some greater risks for open wounds however. A freshly done tattoo is an open wound and cleaning the skin or attempting to fade or remove the tattoo with hydrogen peroxide may delay and prolong the healing process; There is also a possibility that the tissue will be harmed, not healed as well.

If your tattoo is new, please follow the aftercare provided by your tattoo artist. Even if you don’t want the tattoo, care for it like you’d keep it for life. This is important because some DIY tattoo removal guides suggest scraping or scrubbing the top layer with a salt or saline solution first, then proceeding with hydrogen peroxide. This can lead to unwanted effects like irritation, textural or color changes to the skin or at worse, scarring.

Natural Tattoo Removal – Is It Possible?

In short, no, it’s not possible to remove a tattoo naturally. Tattoos contain millions of pigment particles in the second layer of the skin, the dermis, making topical solutions a poor option to break the ink down into smaller particle sizes or extract the ink.

Other DIY Methods

Hydrogen peroxide isn’t the only tall tale about tattoo removal, there are several other methods that will come up while doing research on the most effective or fastest ways to remove unwanted tattoos.

Tattoo removal creams, or topical creams can be found in some drug stores and big box stores with fancy packaging and promises that a daily application will fade the tattoo away. To date, not one of them has proven to be effective, even in the slightest. At worse, they may also change the texture of your skin.

Aloe vera, the ingredient commonly found in sunburn relief gels made from the plant you might have in your home by the same name is also a common suggestion for fading tattoos. Sadly, no fading will occur, no matter how long you try with this plant-based solution.

Honey is something most of us have in our homes and enjoy in a cup of tea, but it won’t do anything to help tattoo removal.

A salt scrub, or saline solution could be one of the most damaging methods of tattoo removal that one might read about. For this method to work, the entire top layer of the skin, or epidermis, needs to be scrubbed away to expose the dermis where the tattoo ink is placed by an artist. At this point, textural changes and light scarring might occur during healing.

To continue with the process will likely result damaging the second layer of skin, the dermis, and right below there are delicate blood vessels. From here on out it’s an open wound that may not heal properly, and worse, likely won’t even fade or remove the tattoo. This method of DIY tattoo removal should be avoided.

Removing a Tattoo Professionally

Tattoos can be removed by professionals using modern lasers with quick treatments and realistic expectations, along with very little downtime between appointments.

The first laser tattoo removal machines appeared in the1980’s and have progressed significantly over the last few decades. The newest technology targets the dark, large pigment particles that make up a tattoo and shatters the into much smaller pieces without damaging the top layer of the skin.

Once this occurs the immune system can then flush the smaller, more manageable pigment particles away from the dermis, causing a tattoo to fade. Repeat this process every 6-8 weeks and before you know it, the tattoo is gone!

Can You Lighten a Tattoo Instead of a Full Removal

Love tattoos but maybe not that one tattoo you have anymore? Great news! You don’t have to fully remove a tattoo. With as little as 2-4 laser tattoo removal treatments the old, unfinished, or unwanted tattoo can be faded enough that a tattoo artist can start a cover-up with little to no compromise.

Since most cover-up tattoos need to be bigger and darker, or denser, lightening up a tattoo will reduce those needs and give you more choices for the new artwork. This is a great solution for someone who maybe has a small tattoo that’s in the way of a larger, more cohesive piece without compromising the new tattoo. Or, if you’ve lived with your tattoos for a while and still love being tattooed, just not some of the ones you have, there’s options to make change happen.

How Long Does Laser Treatment Take?

There are two parts to this question, the first being how long it takes to remove a tattoo, the second is on how long each treatment is. For most tattoos, removal will average approximately 8-12 appointments over a period time around one and a half, to two and a half years. The number of treatments and time frame will vary based on a few factors. These include:

  1. Linework generally fades a bit slower than shading
  2. Dense, saturated tattoos usually require a few more treatments
  3. Light grey-wash and realism tattoos typically fade faster
  4. Certain colored inks might be a bit more resilient towards laser tattoo removal
  5. The location on the body
  6. The age of the tattoo
  7. The overall health and wellness of each client

The tattoo removal first session is typically 30 minutes, each follow-up appointment usually lasts between 15 and 30 minutes, with most laser session lasting 30-seconds to a few minutes at most. Yes, the treatments really happen that fast!

Find Out More About Professional Tattoo Removal

At-home and DIY tattoo removal methods like hydrogen peroxide should be left to urban myth and tall tales, and never attempted. They are ineffective and worse, could lead to skin damage. Removery is the industry leader in laser tattoo removal, and we’d love for you to talk with one of our professionals about tattoo removal methods and available options to remove your tattoo or fade them to help with your cover-up tattoo plans.


Tattoo Removal Expert


Mike Panic
Dr Thomas Barrows Dr. Thomas Barrows Emergency Medicine

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