A large number of Americans currently have tattoos; much more are probably thinking about getting one. Pinboards are rife with “pinspiration” images for tattoos – variations of the Harry Potter logo, colorful watercolor splatters, looping script, blacklight, glow in the dark, and even white ink designs are easy to find. Magazines, conventions, blogs, and websites are dedicated to the tattoo industry, and it is growing every day. The social climate is far more favorable towards tattoos than it had been in the past, and this encourages people to go out and get the tattoo they’d seen on their friend, their coworker, or the really cool blogger they follow on Instagram. People get tattoos, get tired of them, and remove them; something that had once been the sort of thing that stays with you for life is now closer to a temporary art gallery.

Unfortunately, having that dolphin jumping over a watercolor splash beneath a moon and a bunch of roses on your upper arm might not always seem like the fantastic life choice you thought it would be when you saw the design on Tumblr at three in the morning. The ink can fade or change colors; the design might get stretched out or blurry. It’s even possible that after a few years (or months, or weeks, or days, who knows) you won’t like or want the tattoo anymore. So, maybe that gorgeous, smoothly blended watercolor splash has faded to a uniform, dull rainbow. Maybe it’s lost the meaning it once held for you. Maybe you just really hate it. Maybe you got it at like, four in the morning after spending a night drinking and browsing the internet for cool tattoo photos, and now it’s just like, so not you. It’s cool, that happens. As humans, we are constantly in a state of change, and fortunately, even something as permanent as a tattoo isn’t actually, well, permanent, any longer.

Point is, stuff happens. And, while we’re here to help you out with all your tattoo removal needs and wants, armed with PicoWay® laser technology and awesomeness (the combination of which can help to remove a tattoo 2-3 times faster than traditional methods), we urge you to remember that lasers aren’t wizards, and some tattoos might be harder to remove than others. Fortunately, there ARE some things you can do to make sure your tattoo is not going to be a pain to remove if or when you get tired of it. If you are hesitant to get a tattoo because you’re nervous about it being TOO permanent, these tips on how to make a tattoo easy to remove are probably what you’re looking for.

1. Tattoo Placement

The location of the tattoo on your body does influence how quickly it can be removed. Tattoos on hands or fingers take a very long time to remove because they are far away from the heart. The closer to the heart a tattoo is, the faster it can be burned away by the laser. Thus, if you’re on the fence about whether you’ll want to have a cat shaped like a pop-tart on a part of your body ten years down the road, pick somewhere close to the heart – possibly on the torso.

2. Type of Ink

Ink used for tattoos is not regulated in the United States. There is a variety of formulas, techniques, and ways to create and use ink, and likely no two tattoo artists are exactly alike. Some inks may have ingredients which cause allergic reactions. Other inks are contaminated with stuff that you really, really don’t want under your skin, which may cause infections. Always do your research on the artist who’s about to spend a few hours sticking ink under your skin. Seek out the ones who use organic inks. Also, it’s probably a good idea to pick the ones who keep their working space neat, clean, and sterile. If the needles are getting reused, you also have a chance of getting contaminated with pleasant things like tetanus, and some varieties of hepatitis.

3. Colors

Even with the new PicoWay® technology, not all colors can be easily removed. It’s best to go with dark, solid colors like black, blue, green, or purple. Darker shades stand out well against the skin, are easy to remove, and break down the fastest. Even though tattoos with light, pretty colors like yellow or pink look beautiful, they are nearly impossible to remove as they do not absorb laser light nearly as well as the darker colors do. The same goes for the currently fashionable white ink – removing a white ink tattoo is pretty much next to impossible.

4. Technique

In the past, tattoo artists have leaned towards being heavy-handed and placing the ink deep in the dermis, which made a tattoo difficult to remove. Modern techniques are highly varied; many tattoo artists instead choose to place the ink closer to the surface, which looks better and is far easier to remove. Do as much shading as you like, but look for a pro to do your tattoos.

5. The Right Mindset

It seems like a terrible cliché – after a night of hard partying, the protagonist wakes up with a hideous, ill-advised tattoo of a goat on their chest. As tempting as it may be to yell “YOLO!” without sarcasm into the sky and go into the nearest tattoo parlor, we advise you to not do the thing. For one, the majority of reputable tattoo artists will not do the tattoo for you if you’re so drunk, you might as well be in the next Hangover sequel. If you do magically find someone who’s willing to do the tattoo while you’re drunk, well, chances are they aren’t very good. There’s also a good chance their workspace isn’t sanitary. The best way is to do your research ahead of time, and at least mostly sober, before going in to get whatever tattoo your heart desires. ALWAYS GO PRO!

Of course, there are other things that might make the tattoo removal process difficult for you. We won’t lie, the giant goat heads aren’t always a bad idea. The white ink tats can be adorable. The watercolor splashes are gorgeous. Maybe you’ll still be so in love with John Green’s work ten years down the line, that has the line “Hump the moist cave wall” tattooed in the crook of your arm will still seem like the best life choice you ever made. Maybe you’ll never want to remove your tattoo, ever. And maybe you will. Whatever you do, following these simple guidelines will help you end up with a beautiful work of art on your body that’s easy to remove should you wake up to find, one day, that you actually really hate it.

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