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How to Remove a Tattoo at Home Without Hurting Yourself

Tattoos date back to ancient times and are a great medium for self-expression. People get tattoos for a variety of reasons, like to express their love for their significant other or children, to cover scars, or to simply display some rad art on their skin canvas. Not all tattoos turn out so great, though, and even the great ​ones sometimes overstay their welcome. There are many reasons why you may want to get ​a tattoo removed, and there are many ways to do it.

Tattoos of a partner’s name that were once a symbol of love and admiration may not be so appealing after a break-up, especially if you move onto a relationship with someone else. The half-naked pin-up you got on your 18th birthday could very well be holding you back from a serious job, and profane tattoos are probably a little less desirable after you have kids. In some cases, the ​ink quality is just plain bad, with crooked lines and imbalanced shading. If a cover-up is not an option or is not preferred, there are still ways to rid yourself of embarrassing, inappropriate or unattractive ink. Luckily, many of these procedures can be done safely at home, helping you avoid serious surgical procedures that are expensive and painful. You should always take extreme precaution when you decide to remove a tattoo to ensure that you don’t end up with a larger and uglier scar than the ​design itself.

Removing a Tattoo at Home vs Surgical Remedies

The common issue of unwanted tattoos lead the way for a huge industry of ​ink removal methods. In fact, there are several different surgical and medical procedures available to help you remove ​one. Some of these procedures include:


Dermabrasion techniques use a spinning tool to remove the top layers of skin around the tattoo site. Sometimes several sessions are necessary to remove all of the ink, and this procedure must be done by a professional.


Cryosurgery uses incredibly low temperatures to essentially kill skin around the tattoo site and can be extremely painful. Cryosurgery is expensive and sometimes several sessions are necessary to remove the full tattoo.

Surgical Excision

Surgical excision involves using a local anesthetic and then actually cutting away the tattooed skin. The method is only preferred for small tattoos and involves a longer recovery time than many methods. Surgical excision can be expensive as well.

Removal Surgery

Intense Pulse Light

This type of tattoo removal is similar to laser removal techniques in that it burns away the skin containing ink. The skin then heals itself, usually leaving some sort of scar. This method is generally less painful than laser surgery but is much more expensive since you are often charged per pulse of light.

Laser Removal

Laser removal works by utilizing a laser beam that destroys pigments in the skin, thus removing the ink. This method can be particularly painful and expensive, and usually, several treatments are necessary to completely fade a tattoo.

Laser Tattoo Removal Surgery

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels deal with adding a chemical mask to the skin to break down and peel away the top layers, removing the ink as it removes the skin. Chemical peels leave the skin raw for days after the procedure can leave light scarring, and are pretty costly. However, these methods are no walk in the park. In fact, surgical tattoo removal methods all usually have a couple things in common: they’re expensive and they’re painful. Even the least expensive procedures can cost hundreds of dollars for a small ​removal. Many surgical procedures can leave you with a pretty nasty scar and require quite a bit of recovery time, which can really put you out of commission for large tattoos or ​ones near your joints. In some cases, there are even dangerous risks associated with many of these procedures. Plus, there is generally a wait time before you can get in for surgery, which means surgical procedures are not always the quickest option. For this reason, and for the plain convenience of not needing to leave your home, home removal techniques are often preferred.

Weighing up the Natural Options for Tattoo Removal

Just like surgical removal procedures, there are several different options for removing a tattoo at home. When doing your research and preparing to remove a tattoo yourself, you should consider the safety of the procedure, the overall cost, the potential for scarring, and the amount of discomfort it will cause. Thankfully there are several methods for removing ​the ink yourself that are affordable, painless, and entirely safe. We are going to discuss your options to help you choose the best removal method for you.


Using salt is easily one of the most popular methods for removing a tattoo at home and includes only things you can get from the grocery store (or probably just your pantry). This method involves using the salt to exfoliate the skin, speeding up the natural process of skin shedding. You should mix a few tablespoons of salt with warm water to create a paste. The, use the paste to gently massage the skin for up to 30 minutes. Then rinse the skin clean with warm water. The salt is abrasive, so it helps remove top layers of skin to reach the ink more efficiently. Chemicals in the table salt also help to break down the ink, which can help fade it more effectively. This should be done at least twice a day (morning and night) for an extended period of time for best results. After only a few treatments you should start to see your tattoo fade.

Home Salt

Sand Powder

Sand powder can be purchased at select stores and online and is used in a similar method to salt to help remove tattoos at home. Sand powder should be mixed with aloe vera cream to form a paste, and then massaged onto the tattoo ​area for up to 15 minutes to help break down the top layers of skin and remove the in deeper layers. The sand powder is much more abrasive than salt and should be used carefully. This method can be uncomfortable since it removes skin layers at a quicker rate, but when used responsibly should cause little to no scarring or intense pain. After using the sand powder mixture, rinse the area clean with warm water and use a moisturizer to help nourish the irritated skin. You should repeat this method up to twice a day for as long as needed to remove the tattoo.

Aloe Vera and Honey

Another popular and effective method for ​ink removal is making an exfoliation cream out of aloe vera, honey, and salt. The aloe vera gel softens the skin around the tattoo to allow the salt to easily remove layers of skin and the ink. The honey soothes the skin to help avoid irritation and reduces the chance of scarring. You should mix the aloe vera gel, honey, and salt in equal parts and apply the mixture to the ​area, massaging thoroughly for up to 30 minutes. Then rinse the site clean with warm water and repeat the process up to twice a day for as long as necessary. The tattoo should start to fade after 4-6 days.

Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is another popular method utilized for safely removing tattoos at home. Surely you have heard of using the citrusy juice to lighten your hair, and it works in the same manner to break down and remove pigments in the ink.

This method is simple. Using a fresh lemon, cut it in half and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Then apply the lemon juice liberally to the tattooed area, massaging with your fingers for up to 30 minutes. Many people also combine this with the salabrasion method, using lemon juice in place of the water, to speed up the removal process.

Tattoo Removal Cream

There are several different brands of tattoo removal cream that can help fade your tattoo over time. This is not a fast method for removing tattoos, but is easily one of the least intensive, since it only requires you to apply a cream 2-3 times a day. This cream contains chemicals or herbs that will help break down pigment molecules in the skin which breaks down the ink, slowly fading the appearance of tattoos. Generally, results begin to show after a few weeks and it can take several months for the ​ink to fade completely. However, these creams don’t leave any scars and are much safer when compared ​with many other removal methods. You can sometimes purchase them at a local drug store or at your local tattoo parlor. When all else fails you can find multiple options when shopping online.

Homemade Removal Cream

Aloe vera can be mixed with Paederia Tomentosa and Vitamin E to create a cream that essentially dissolves ink and works like traditional tattoo removal creams. To make this cream mix all three ingredients in equal parts. Apply the cream liberally to the area two to three times per day and allow it to set for 10-20 minutes. Then rinse the area with warm water and pat dry. For the best results apply the cream after a hot shower when the pores are open and able to absorb the cream. You can also hold a hot rag over the area for thirty seconds to allow the pores to open before applying the cream. This should be repeated every day until you reach your desired results. You should see apparent results after a few weeks.

Lavender Oil

Essential oils are often used in daily skincare routines, and lavender oil is by far one of the most popular. This oil is best used in addition to an abrasive method, like salt exfoliation or sand powder since it has the ability to help skin heal, remove redness, and calm irritation and itchiness. Apply a few drops to dry skin after using another tattoo removal method to avoid damage and ensure that the new, ink-free skin grows back quickly and with minimal scarring.

Lavender Oil

Hydrogen Peroxide

This is another method that can be used alongside other methods to improve results and reduce scarring. Hydrogen peroxide can be applied to the skin after using an exfoliation method. The peroxide can help to fade ink and most importantly disinfects skin to help reduce the chance of infection and avoid scarring from prolonged healing.

At Home Tattoo Removal Methods to Avoid

While there are many methods to help you get rid of your outdated or embarrassing tattoos at home that are safe and effective, there is also a lot of misinformation stirring around about some other methods that are not so safe. In fact, there are some removal methods that you should avoid at all cost. Sometimes these methods are used in an attempt to remove the tattoo faster, but in doing so you risk serious scarring and even the danger of poisoning. Remember that even some surgical procedures like laser removal take time, up to four or five separate treatments. You shouldn’t risk serious damage to your skin by using any of the following methods.

Skull Warning Sign


There are several at home tattoo removal methods that include the use of bleach. These methods should be avoided at all costs. Bleach is incredibly dangerous and not recommended for topical use. This method could easily result in chemical burns, scarring, itching, and other serious skin irritation.

Sandpaper Method

Some methods recommend using sandpaper to remove tattoos, which is similar to sand powder or salt, except more severe. Methods using sandpaper should be avoided since it will remove skin at a fast rate and will likely cause scarring. Plus, sandpaper removal techniques are typically incredibly painful.


Salabrasion is just like the salt technique, except it involves using a wooden sanding block or another abrasive item to rub the salt deep into the tattoo site. Then the site is covered in salt and wrapped for days before the process is repeated. As you can imagine this process is incredibly painful and often leaves serious scars.

How Long Will It Take To Remove A Tattoo At Home?

Stopwatch Clock in Sand

There is no straightforward answer to how long it will take to see results from your at home tattoo removal methods. Since every person’s skin will react differently and tattoos are all different, what works quickly for one person may be a slow process for another person. It is important to be patient and realize that there are many factors that affect how long the removal processes could take. This could include:

  • The thickness of the skin or area containing the tattoo
  • How many colors the tattoo contains
  • The size of the ​design
  • How dark the tattoo is
  • The type of ink used by the artist
  • How frequently the tattoo removal method is used

If you begin to get discouraged with your tattoo removal process, remember that aside from having the tattoo actually cutaway (surgical excision) most surgical procedures take time to effectively remove a tattoo. On average, people have laser treatments and other removal treatments like dermabrasion repeated for 4-5 sessions. Even at a low rate of $100 per session that can cost upwards of $500. Depending on the type of surgical method used, the recommended wait time in between methods is up to 6 weeks. There is no “overnight” way to remove ​your ink. All of these methods have proven effective over time, and some of them have been used since ancient times. Take your time to remove your tattoo at home correctly and ​safely without harming yourself and you will be pleased with the results.

About Author

Jonathan Corby "Jonny" is a guy who is passionate about Tattooing and successfully running a Tattoo Studio in NY. Through my journey as a Tattoo Artist I have made unforgettable memories. This irrational poetry and sense of freedom of art on skin has given a blissfull experience to my life. Each Tattoo has a story behind it; Lets share one!