Looking for home remedies for tattoo removal after a break up with a partner whose name you had tattooed on your hand, a change of your views, or workplace code? This guide explores some alternatives to tattoo removal creams and medical treatments (such as dermabrasion, laser, and surgical excision), including natural remedies, that you can use at home.
It often happens that you outgrow or fall out of love with a tattoo that meant a lot to you a while ago due to factors such as changing times, e.g. having a new girlfriend whereas the tattoo bears the name or picture of your ex, getting into the corporate world, etc.
How to Remove a Tattoo at Home
Laser treatment, dermabrasion, and surgical excision remains the three most potent ways to remove a tattoo as the Mayo Clinic says. On the downside though, these specialized treatments and can be a bit costly for some people. Fortunately there are numerous home remedies for tattoo removal. Below is a breakdown of how to remove a tattoo at home:
Salabrasion is without doubt tops the list of home remedies to remove tattoos, with a long history of use since it was first developed in the Middle East.
The term salabrasion is derived from “salt” and “dermabrasion” since the essence behind this –home procedure is the use of salt to perform dermabrasion; physically scrub off the tattoo with an abrasive pad that has be soaked with salt.
The idea is to use an abrasive salt scrub to gradually wear away the epidermis (upper layer of skin) until the dermis (where tattoo ink lies) is reached.
Here is how to approach salabrasion for tattoo removal:
- Get the area of skin to be worked on ready by shaving any hair present. This helps to make the process less painful as well as more fruitful.
- Wash the skin with antibacterial soap or an antiseptic solution to ensure that it is free of bacteria and other microorganisms.
- Get a gauze sponge wet by dipping in water and then wring out the excess water. Ensure that the sponge is a bit wet, yet not dripping with water.
- Roll the moist gauze sponge through some salt until it doesn’t seem to be dissolving any more salt. At this point, the sponge should be covered all over with salt.
- Scrub your tattoo with the salt-covered sponge for 30 minutes or until your skin gets reddened. You will of course feel some pain doing this.
- After the area has dried, dab some antibiotic cream to prevent infection and dress the area with a sterile bandage.
- Remove the bandage after 3 days and watch out for any signs of infection; you will in particular want to check that the area has not turned redder. Increasing pain is also a sign of infection and should warrant the attention of your doctor.
The following is yet another way to do salabrasion:
- Dip a small towel or cloth in warm water and then use it to moisten the tattooed area
- Spread ½ cup of salt on the area and the use then rub it through the skin with the towel (or cloth) until it turn red or starts bleeding.
- Wash the salt off with warm water and then dab the area with a cotton wool soaked in hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide has antiseptic properties that help to prevent infection.
- Pop a vitamin E capsule and empty its content all over the area of focus
- Finish by covering the area with a sterilized medical gauze and leave it on until a scab forms and ultimately falls off.
You will notice the tattoo get slightly lighter after the scab has fallen off but if you still need to fade it even more, you can follow the process again after the area has completely healed.
Tattoo Removal Creams
TCA creams are increasingly advertised as a tattoo removal option but it deserves to be mentioned that they only fade tattoos rather than remove them per se. Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) is commonly used at spas as a chemical peel to get rid of fine lines, reduce acne scars, and fade wrinkles.
In early 90s, TCA was shown to have a mild fading action on tattoos and has since been widely marketed as a tattoo removal ingredient, usually in the form of creams. Among the most popular tattoo removal creams are Tat B Gone and Tattoo-Off.
While these creams can help to fade tattoos, they causes adverse reactions with the skin in 10-20 percent of users as the Tattoo health Organization says with symptoms ranging from minor skin irritation to skin discoloration and even blistering in more severe cases. To be on the safe side, consider slathering the cream over a small area of skin first to see how it reacts with your skin.
Cover your tattoo: while it doesn’t exactly fit into the list of home remedies for tattoo removal, covering your tattoo is a good option for those special occasions when having your tattoo exposed is out of the question.
There is a great variety of tattoo makeup products on the market today and is the secret used by actors to hide their tattoos when on stage or shooting film. You first stop when looking for tattoo makeup is any store that deals in performing art costumes. Various online stores such as Ben Nye also stock tattoo makeup.
While salabrasion helps to fade tattoos away and make them less prominent, it on the downside make you end up with a discolored or thickened skin, not to mention that it is inevitably painful. There is also a high risk of scarring involved as David Li, MBBS, FACD, a dermatologist based in Brisbane says.
Natural Remedies for Tattoo Removal
More and more people want to go as natural as possible in as far as at-home treatments are concerned. In that regard, there is no way we could have finished this guide without long at some of the natural remedies for tattoo removal. Here are some of them:
Aloe vera + Paederia Tomentosa + Vitamin E
Aloe vera has a wide range of beneficial uses in as far as natural home remedies are concerned ranging from burn treatment to dry skin alleviation and age spots removal. It is also touted to be one of the best home remedies to lighten tattoos when used alongside Paederia Tomentosa and Vitamin E. Here is an outline of the process used to fade out tattoos with aloe vera:
- Squeeze out a tablespoon of aloe vera juice from a fresh aloe vera leaf. Over-the-counter aloe vera gel would as well do.
- Mix the juice with 1 tablespoon of Paederia tomentosa and then pop the content of 2 capsules of vitamin E capsules in.
- Stir thoroughly to create a fine paste and then work it through the tattooed area of your skin. Rub the area gently with your finger in a circular motion for 10 minutes or so and finish off by rinsing the area with warm water.
Lemon Juice to Lighten Tattoos
Lemon juice is also touted to be one of the best natural home remedies for tattoo removal. It is especially effective for removal of light and small tattoos. To use lemon juice to fade tattoos, follow the following steps:
- Cut a lemon into two halves and then squeeze out its juice.
- Add in 100g of salt and stir thoroughly to dissolve.
- Dab the solution onto the tattooed area with a clean cotton ball and then rub repeatedly for 30 minutes.
- Finish by rinsing the area with warm water
- Repeat as often as is needed to get the desired results.
Honey for Fading Tattoos Naturally
Honey also makes it to the list of at home tattoo removal methods but it deserves a mention that it will only help to fade a tattoo as opposed to removing it altogether. This remedy is also effective for small, light-colored tattoos. Below is a guideline on how to use honey for this purpose:
Mix a tablespoon of honey with a tablespoon each of aloe vera juice, yoghurt, and salt.
Blend them thoroughly to make a natural tattoo removal cream and then work it through your skin on the tattooed area.
Massage the area gently to aid the cream to work into the skin and finally rinse the cream off with warm water after 30 minutes or so. Repeat as necessary to get the desired results.
Word of caution
While the above listed home remedies for tattoo removal may give you notable results, there is the risk of scarring and infection involved. Infection is especially likely for harsh tattoo removal options such as Salabrasion; you are essentially scraping off your skin to the lower layers of the skin where the tattoo ink lies.
As for the less harsh natural remedies for tattoo removal highlighted in this guide, results vary form one person to another and patience is key to getting significant results. If you are comfortable with it though, and don’t mind the cost involved, you can always go for professional treatments such a laser tattoo removal, dermabrasion, and surgical excision.