Tattoo removal creams; do they really work?
The short and simple answer to this question in most cases is no. Tattoo removal creams do not work.
Tattoo removal creams used over time may help to fade or lighten the tattoo however they are not able to completely remove the tattoo and this is due to the fact that professional tattoo’s are designed to be permanent and sit comfortably within the skins layers so that the ink is not shallow enough to ‘fall out’ out over the years as your skin naturally sheds. What this means is a tattoo removal cream will not be able to fully get rid of your ink due to it not being able to penetrate deep enough into the layers of the skin and is only able to target the top layers.
The only time tattoo removal cream MAY be able to remove a tattoo is if the tattoo was a very poorly done home job in which the ink sits very shallow within only the top layers of the skin. In a case like this you may still be left with a shadow of where the ink once was or may still be left with patches of ink where it sat deeper within the skin.
The reason that tattoo removal creams are able to lighten the appearance of a tattoo is because most of them contain bleaching agents which will not only lighten your tattoo but also bleach or lighten the skin over time which could leave you with permanent lightening of the skin in the area of the tattoo as well as irritation or burning of the skin.
It is important to note that NO tattoo removal creams are FDA approved and that laser tattoo removal is the only FDA approved tattoo removal method. The FDA ( Food and Drug Administration) are responsible for protecting the public health by assuring safety, efficiency and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nations food supply, cosmetics and products that emit radiation.
Some of the main ingredients found in tattoo removal creams are used to reduce the production of melanin, which lightens the skin rather than actually removing the tattoos ink. Several researchers often question the effectiveness of these ingredients. Some of the ingredients that have been found listed in tattoo removal creams are:
-TCA (trichloracetic acid): which encourages skin cells to turn over, resulting in the peeling of the skin in which new skin then replaces the peeled skin which can potentially lighten skin over time but also runs the risk of scarring. Is often used by beauty therapists for chemical peels and is said to not go deep enough within the skin for it to be able to remove tattoo ink.
Hydroquinone: Usually the active ingredient found in skin bleaching creams. Often used in topical ointments to ease appearance of liver and age spots or freckles. Gradually fades skin pigmentation by reducing melanin production which like other lightening agents can leave permanent hypo-pigmentation (light spots) marks on the skin. This ingredient has been banned by the FDA for over the counter sales in many countries such as the UK, France, Australia, Japan, US and several countries because it is known to cause cancer and a debilitating skin disease called Exogenous Ochronosis.
-Chromabright: a skin brightening agent which inhibits melanin production.
>-Kojic Acid: a de-pigmentation agent in which its ingredients have shown to have been toxic to laboratory animals, the potential toxicity to humans is unknown.
I don’t know about you but these ingredients don’t sound very safe nor appealing to use on the skin. The fact that tattoo removal creams are not FDA approved is also a worry because if they were safe and effective to use, wouldn’t the FDA have approved them?
Creams such as ‘TatBGone’ have had very mixed reviews among many people and claim to not contain chemicals such as TCA, Chromabright or Hydroquinone. They claim to not rely upon chemical or manual exfoliating agents and also claim to be hypoallergenic, which sounds promising right?. However they have not made their ingredients list publicly available… which seems a little strange none the less, if they don’t use chemicals or harmful agents then why is the ingredients list not available to the public?.
Tattoo removal is a very personal choice and comes down to the individual, the outcome they are after and the money they can afford to spend. However as tattoo removal specialists we wouldn’t recommend using tattoo removal creams due to the fact that they are not able to penetrate deep enough into the skin to remove all of the ink deposits (which means you will be wasting your money), as well as the fact that none of these creams have ever been nor are likely to be FDA approved. Always remember that laser tattoo removal is the only FDA approved method of removing tattoo’s and is the safest option.
If you are still considering using a tattoo removal cream to lighten your tattoo before a cover up, be very careful with what you use and be sure to do your research as well as reading the labels to ensure there is no trace of harmful agents.
**Please note that I have never used a tattoo removal cream nor have I seen its effects in real life other than pictures and other peoples experiences. This information is based on individual research that I have conducted myself and the knowledge I have surrounding laser tattoo removal as well as FDA regulations.