Tattoos are permanent, so it can be a real problem if you change your mind afterwards. Of course, there is the option of laser removal, but what if removing your unwanted tattoo was as simple as smoothing on a cream every day?
Lucy Dawe, Senior Skin Specialist at Pulse Light Clinic tells us how tattoo removal cream works and why it's probably too good to be true.
How does tattoo removal cream work?
The majority of tattoo removal creams claim to work by bleaching or peeling away the epidermis, or the top layer of skin, however; when you get a tattoo you are injecting pigment into the deeper layers of skin, where no topical cream can reach.
Many people choose a tattoo removal cream as a cheaper, easier option to permanently remove a tattoo (they typically cost from about £25 for a tube). Most of these creams contain many chemicals including an ingredient called Trichloroacetic Acid. This ingredient causes the skin to shed and peel which then in theory can allow your body to grow new skin to take its place.
Will cream get rid of my tattoo?
There's no evidence that tattoo removal creams work. At best, tattoo removal cream might fade or lighten a tattoo but with a risk of leaving permanent damage to the skin.
Can tattoo removal cream damage the skin?
It is an unfortunate reality that a lot of these 'quick solution' creams can really damage the skin (and they can hurt!) This is mainly due to the chemicals they contain. Just some of the side effects can include:
🔴 Skin discolouration
🔴 Permanent scarring
Unfortunately, I’ve seen many clients that have tried these creams in the past and really scarred their skin, leaving a very uneven amount of ink behind. This actually then makes alternative treatment such as laser tattoo removal more complex due to scar tissue (meaning more treatments for the desired effect).
As they contain a high acidic content, they will also likely be extremely painful to use.
Can I use tattoo removal cream at home?
Tattoo removal creams are typically bought on the internet and never recommended by dermatologists or skincare professionals, therefore only used by people at home for a quick solution that can have hazardous effects on the skin.
Treating scarring left behind by acidic creams is far more costly and many people who have chosen the cream option initially do end up regretting it! But also choosing the right laser clinic with the best lasers AND knowledge of using them is just as important.
Is laser tattoo removal the best option then?
Laser tattoo removal avoids damaging the skin while removing the tattoo, unlike tattoo removal creams.
Laser tattoo removal effectively works by firing laser light into the tattoo which breaks the ink into tiny pieces, these little pieces are easy for the body to absorb. This allows the ink to be removed from the body itself. It is usually completed within six to eight sessions and will cost from around £90 for a very small tattoo.
It can be uncomfortable, however there are a few techniques to make you more at ease, including the application of numbing cream, and cryo cooling the skin before, during and after the treatment.
Tattoo removal creams are only designed to affect the surface of your skin and not the deeper layers, but laser technology targets all of the ink, with no permanent risks to your skin. Laser is a far better option to remove your tattoo and is the only effective way of doing so.