Do Tattoo Removal Creams Work?

Each month more people search for ‘Tattoo Removal Cream’ than for ‘Laser Tattoo Removal’ so the idea of using a cream to fade or remove a Tattoo is pretty popular with people who have looked in the mirror and said ‘Tatts a Mistake’. The question is…do Tattoo Removal Creams work?

The Short answer is ‘Nope.’

The Shorter answer is ‘No.’

The slightly longer answer, but still pretty short is ‘At best they may fade your tattoo, but even that’s debatable’

Why Don’t Tattoo Removal Creams work?

Just in case you were asleep when you had your tattoo in the first place (or you’ve had your memory wiped by the Men In Black), tattoo ink is injected into the skin, under the skin surface and into the ‘dermis’ layer of your skin.

Does Tattoo Removal Cream penetrate the skin

So for a Tattoo Removal Cream to work it would either need to penetrate down into the dermis skin layer where the ink pigments reside, or peel of the layers of your skin until it reached the dermis layer. And there-in lies the problem. As Choice magazine pointed out, ‘the better a (cream) lightens, the more you should worry. Products that contain ingredients such as trichloroacetic acid – arguably the ingredients they would need to contain to have any reasonable efficacy – can burn and inflame the skin or pose cancer risks.’

Perhaps Dr Lawrence E Gibson puts it most succinctly on the Mayo Clinic Website when he says ‘There is no evidence that Tattoo Removal Creams Work’

Sure the ‘Mayo Clinic’ says they don’t work, but what about other Institutions?

Funny you should ask (he said tongue-in-cheek) because yes there is one single, sole ‘Institute’ on the web, whose ‘scientists’ have tested Tattoo Removal Creams and have declared that they do in fact work – the well-known and highly regarded ‘Tattoo Removal Institute’. What you haven’t heard of it? But it’s a whole institute dedicated to studying Tattoo Removal!

We’ve declined to put a link to them (they don’t deserve it) but you can google them easily enough. Have a look on their home page at their incredibly impressive looking building/office/campus. Except it’s actually a picture of Raigmore Hospital in Scotland which has no affiliation with the Institute Du Tattoo Removal. Perhaps the Institute was getting their building painted that day so they just ‘borrowed’ a picture of a different hospital.

So why do so many people search for Tattoo Removal Cream?

We can’t say for sure, but obviously the ‘idea’ of a tattoo removal cream is appealing. It costs less than Laser Tattoo Removal, is less painful, and can be done in the comfort of your own home. But something that’s cheap isn’t value-for-money if it doesn’t work. As Thomas McFadden MD points out ‘Save the money that you would have spent on a cream and apply towards laser treatments instead’

Finally, it’s worth noting that there’s been a spike in searches for Tattoo Removal Cream since February when a Canadian Phd Student received a lot of publicity for a new type of Cream he’s researching. As it’s still in the early development stage we can’t comment on its efficacy or otherwise, but the level of interest it received shows that the hope of a cheap, painless, DIY Tattoo Removal solution is alive and well – something that the current crop of Tattoo Removal Creams successfully play to.