Sometimes, people get tattoos that they regret. Maybe it didn’t turn out as awesome as planned. Or perhaps it represents something they’d rather forget.
In any case, there are several options for removing the tattoo, hiding it, or upgrading it. We’ll cover all of these possibilities in the reviews below.
Let’s begin with the best tattoo removal creams and other methods for fading ink.
What is the best tattoo removal cream?
I’ve had people ask if any tattoo removal creams work. My answer is that it depends on what you consider acceptable results.
If you only want to fade the ink, you may be able to speed up the natural process. Exfoliation could make some tattoos less noticeable, but it takes a long time to get results.
Worse, there are consequences to abusing the skin this way (1).
A quick search online turns up frightening and disgusting photos of scars and nasty infections.
Tattoo removal creams aren’t effective because they don’t reach the dermis.
Fade creams can only exfoliate the epidermis or top layer of the skin. Tattoo ink is deposited in the next layer down or dermis.
It’s like peeling an orange by scratching at the peel with sandpaper.
There are other methods to remove tattoos that are less risky. You can learn about those in a moment.
In the meantime, here are the top tattoo removal creams.
Best Tattoo Removal Creams
Wrecking Balm Tattoo Fade System
When a product sounds too good to be true, it often is. I usually check customer reviews through Fakespot. Although Wrecking Balm had credibility issues in the past, the listing has been cleaned up and presents an A rating at the time of writing.
What is the Wrecking Balm system, and how does it work?
It comes as a kit with a battery-powered dermabrasion brush (and batteries), Suffusion Gel, Hydravescent Cream, and Branding Butter concealer.
The instructions recommend applying the gel and using the brush for 3 minutes every other day to exfoliate the skin.
Once the scrubbing is done, soothe the raw skin with the cream.
Regrettably, I didn’t discover what the active ingredients are.
But while you wait for the miracle, you can use the waterproof concealer to hide the tattoo. As far as I can tell, it comes in only one shade, which is problematic if you don’t have light skin.
Users comment that the system is painful to use. Some say it irritated the skin or left a scar. Others indicate that it made their tattoo less noticeable, but it took time to work.
Spartan Perform Tattoo Removal Cream
It’s called Tattoo Destroyer, and it comes in a 1-ounce jar with a 2-week supply. Of course, this varies depending on the size of the tattoo. Moreover, the manufacturer says it may take up to 3 months or longer to see results, so they recommend purchasing a 6-month supply.
Unfortunately, Fakespot points out that the reviews have a “high deception” level at the time of writing.
Again, I wasn’t able to get the full list of ingredients. But the description says the cream contains neem oil from India. It’s said to penetrate the epidermis to reach the melanocytes at the bottom of the layer and change the skin color.
Since a professional tattoo lays down ink below that, I’m not sure how this cream can help.
INKED UP TATTOO REMOVAL CREAM
This British-made tattoo removal cream lists ingredients on the label.
It resembles a moisturizer with soy oil, petrolatum, and fatty alcohol. It also has herbs like comfrey, St. John’s wort, and horsetail. It promises to “attack the ink”, thereby erasing the tattoo or permanent makeup with all those herbs.
Finally, there are parabens and urea. Urea is an exfoliant often found in foot cream that softens calluses.
50% TCA Home Skin Peel Kit
TCA is trichloroacetic acid, typically used to remove warts. It’s a potent chemical peel.
In a 50% concentration, it’s part of a kit that’s advertised to get rid of tattoos, age spots, stretch marks, and acne scars.
The box also comes with instructions as well as vinyl gloves, Q-tip applicators, and ointment.
Again, if used correctly, this acid is a powerful exfoliant. But it still won’t disrupt tattoo ink in the dermis.
Other tattoo removal methods
If you have a tattoo you want to remove, I strongly suggest consulting with a dermatologist that has experience with tattoo removal.
Alternatively, you could visit a tattoo artist skilled at doing cover-ups that could rework the image into something beautiful.
In the meantime, let’s talk about what a dermatologist can do to treat an unwanted tattoo. There are three possibilities.
First, there’s dermabrasion. Not to give you ideas, but it’s similar to using a Dremel tool to sand the skin. (Don’t try it at home!)
The dermatologist numbs the skin, then removes the epidermis with an abrasive tool. The tattoo ink may then leach out of the skin (2).
Another method is to blast the area with saltwater, kind of like sandblasting.
Second, there’s surgical removal. It’s just what it sounds like – a surgeon cuts the tattoo out of the skin. Then the edges are stitched together.
Third, the best way to remove a tattoo is laser surgery. Let’s talk a little more about that option.
Laser tattoo removal
If you consult with a dermatologist about laser tattoo removal, you can get an estimate on how long it will take as well as a price.
Several factors affect the level of difficulty and cost.
For example, it matters where the tattoo is located.
Ink on your neck, face, and back is easier to disperse because there’s a lot of blood circulation in those areas. The lymph nodes are nearby, too.
Legs and arms are the next easiest, but the further from your heart the tattoo is, the harder it will be to erase. If you smoke, that also slows down tattoo removal.
Obviously, an old tattoo is easier to remove than a recent one. And multi-colored tattoos are more difficult to erase.
But the type of laser also affects the process.
Q-switched lasers that output intense pulses of light are useful for fading tattoos. They shatter and disperse the ink so that the body can get rid of it.
Unfortunately, the treatment hurts quite a bit, so you’ll need local anesthetic before it starts. Then, the skin may blister or bleed afterward. It will have to heal for a few weeks before you can go back for another session.
Picosecond lasers are the latest innovation. They inflict less damage to the surrounding skin, and they can fade a tattoo faster in most cases.
Is it possible to do laser tattoo removal at home?
You might be tempted to remove a tattoo with a cheap device like one of the IPL lasers used for hair removal.
Please don’t use an IPL hair removal laser on a tattoo.
It will bake your skin and cause permanent scars. The bursts of light from the IPL laser last too long and attack more than just the ink. They’re only good for destroying the hair follicle with a blast of heat.
But what about handheld picosecond lasers?
Picosecond Pen by NEATCELL
If you search for tattoo removal devices, you’ll find lots of handheld lasers like this picosecond pen.
But if you read the fine print, you’ll discover that they are best for removing freckles and dark spots, not tattoos. They just don’t have the power to reach the lower layers of the skin.
If you have an amateur tattoo that wasn’t properly inked in the dermis, the device might work. But chances are you’ll end up wasting your money.
This kit comes with safety glasses, a charging cable, and instructions.
Cheap ways to make tattoos disappear
Recently, I reviewed the best waterproof concealers for tattoos. A product like makeup or elastic sleeves is your best bet for making a tattoo invisible on the cheap.
Dermablend Quick-Fix Body Makeup Full Coverage Foundation Stick
Dermablend is high-quality makeup used to cover scars, birthmarks, bruises, and tattoos. It comes in liquid or cream versions like this stick.
Moreover, there are shades to match every skin tone.
I prefer the no-mess applicator for a quick tattoo cover-up. You don’t have to use a brush or sponge to blend it. However, it will last longer if you set it with powder.
The highly-pigmented formula also includes sunscreen. It’s made for sensitive skin as it won’t clog pores, and it’s free of artificial fragrances.
Dermablend Loose Setting Powder
Here’s a setting powder which ensures that the foundation lasts up to 16 hours. It prevents it from rubbing off on your clothes or smudging.
The powder is translucent and won’t make the skin look pasty white. Instead, it soaks up excess oil.
Dermacol Make-up Cover – Waterproof Hypoallergenic Foundation
Dermacol makes a waterproof foundation that doubles as a concealer. It’s 50% pigment so that you don’t have to cake it on to cover up blemishes. It hides tattoos well, and it comes in a wide variety of shades.
Bairly Sheer High Intensity Body Blemish & Tattoo Cover
Airbrush makeup is even better for hiding tattoos.
If you don’t feel like going to the salon, you can try applying it at home. Instead of purchasing a complete setup with HVLP sprayer, here’s an option that resembles spray paint.
It’s a single can that promises up to 18 hours of coverage. The spray-on makeup is available in a variety of shades and tested for sensitive skin.
Tatjacket Tattoo Cover-Up Concealer Sleeve
Although Tatjacket offers makeup for tattoos, I prefer their other products like this concealer sleeve.
It gets hot wearing layers to hide tattoos. This is only a sleeve, which feels a little cooler as it doesn’t cover the rest of the body like an undershirt.
It’s available in black, white, brown, and tan. Each package contains 2 sleeves.
Be sure to get the size you want as some are for the upper arms and others for the wrists.
The seams are hidden, which makes it harder to see from a distance. It’s also more comfortable.
Plus, you get the added benefit of UV protection as the fabric is rated for SPF 50.
Nexcare Absolute Waterproof Tape
You might turn to medical tape in a pinch. It can hide small tattoos, but might raise questions about your “unfortunate accident”.
This one is flesh-colored (for some people) and flexible. It’s suitable for elbows and fingers.
What else can you do about an unwanted tattoo?
Creative thinkers on a budget have covered up tattoos with flesh-colored ink. This only works part of the time because the new ink blends with what’s already in the skin. It may not cover up dark colors.
On the other hand, you might prefer to upgrade your tattoo into something gorgeous.
Shop around for an artist with experience reworking old ink. Consult with them about changing your body art into something you’ll be proud of. Ask to see their portfolio to make sure they’re not blowing smoke.
Keep in mind that covering up a tattoo requires a more extensive image over the top. It may also need darker ink.
But you could end up much happier. You might also spend less and suffer less getting the tattoo reworked instead of dealing with laser tattoo removal.
There are places that will cover up tattoos for free if they are gang-related or hate-based.
In the end, if you don’t have the budget for proper removal or reworking a tattoo, you still have options. You can conceal it with makeup, bandages, or clothing.
Alternatively, you could seek a compromise with whatever is causing you to want to remove the tattoo. Maybe it’s time to have a chat with the person who is nagging you about it.
You may feel like there’s no harm in trying the best tattoo removal creams. After all, some people say that it’s worked for them.
On the other hand, you could put that money towards laser removal and get the job done right.
I hope that you find a solution that works for you.
1. https://www.healthline.com/health/tattoo-removal-cream Does Tattoo Removal Cream Really Work? What You Can Do by Tim Jewell, published May 19, 2019, accessed October 3, 2020
2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/tattoo-removal/about/pac-20395105 accessed October 3, 2020