Tattoo Removal Cream: Does It Work?

What Does Tattoo Removal Cream Do

Tattoos are designed to remain in your skin, which means it’s no easy task to remove them. If you have a tattoo that you’re no longer in love with, you might be considering your tattoo removal options. While tattoo removal hasn’t always been an option, we’re lucky enough to live in a day and where we have this option.

Where are a few options out there regarding tattoo removal, but today, we’re going to focus on tattoo removal creams. Continue reading to find out what they are, if they work, and what might be best for you.

Woman with a tattoo

What Does Tattoo Removal Cream Do?

If you have a tattoo that you’re trying to find a way to remove, you may have heard of tattoo removal creams. Tattoo removal creams are creams that are applied to your tattooed skin in an effort to erase the ink. Although there are many available both online and in various stores, there is little evidence to prove their effectiveness.

If you’re looking at tattoo removal because of stretch marks, or scars, you should know that retouching is also an option available to you.

Tattoo removal cream for tattoos

Does Tattoo Removal Cream Work?

Contrary to the name, tattoo removal creams don’t actually work. Instead, the majority of these creams seek to reduce the visibility of the tattoo rather than to remove it entirely.

You’ll find that these creams offer many methods of tattoo removal – some through bleach, others by peeling away the top layer of the tattooed skin (the epidermis layer). Either way, you’ll be met with disappointment if you try using tattoo removal cream to remove your tattoo.

In short, it’s because these creams are unable to remove the tattoo ink that sits in your skin. Tattoo ink is injected into the dermis layer of your skin, sitting below the epidermis. Because these creams only offer surface-level treatments, they have no way of removing the ink that sits below this layer.

Woman with a tattoo on her arm

Are There Side Effects?

Yes, there are side effects to using tattoo removal creams. While not all creams will have the same side effects, the ingredients that are used in these creams can give you some indication on what to expect. Here are a few ingredients that can be found in your typical tattoo removal cream, along with the potential side effect.

TCA (Trichloracetic Acid)

This ingredient encourages your skin to peel, in which new skin can grow in its place to lighten the ink over time. 

While in theory this practice might sound like it would work, it doesn’t. At most, the tattoo will lighten. Continuing this treatment runs the risk of scarring of the tattooed area, as the skin will need to regenerate constantly.

Hydroquinone

This ingredient can be found in creams that offer a skin bleaching approach. Designed to gradually fade the skin pigmentation by reducing melanin production, these creams can leave your skin looking discolored and patchy over time. This ingredient alone has been banned in many countries as it is known to cause cancer, as well as a skin disease known as Exogenous Ochronosis.

Kojic Acid

Kojic acid is used as a de-pigmentation agent. The ingredients present have been shown to be toxic towards laboratory animals, however, the toxicity towards humans is currently unknown.

Two men with tattoos

Are Tattoo Removal Creams FDA Approved?

No, there are currently no tattoo removal creams that are FDA approved. This is because they have not been reviewed, and show no clinical evidence that they work.

Conclusion

While it might be tempting to go for the cheaper option, we advise against using tattoo removal creams — there’s just not enough evidence to support them.

Fortunately, there are alternative. Tattoo removal by laser is an option. If you’d like to learn more about this, check out our article that covers what you need to know about laser tattoo removal.

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, at no additional cost of your own.

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Inked and Faded is a website focused on the world of tattoos. From created to curated, Inked and Faded is your leading source for tattoo related content.

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