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There are many reasons for wanting to fade or remove a tattoo, but there aren’t nearly as many methods for actually getting the job done. The most popular and most effective tattoo removal technique is laser therapy, which can often be a very costly process. However, if you’re looking to save some cash and simply fade your ink at home, there are a few remedies that can help.

Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA)

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This skin-peeling agent is most commonly used to remove fine lines, wrinkles and acne scars. It has also been medically tested and proven to help fade or remove unwanted tattoos. In fact, TCA was one of the main chemicals used in tattoo removal before laser treatments existed. TCA is available over the counter and can easily be applied with a cotton swab. In some cases, the application is painful and may cause skin irritation. Try testing a small area of your skin beforehand to make sure there are no negative reactions. Unfortunately, the product does not work as well on darker skin tones or skin that tans easily.

Glycolic Acid

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Glycolic acid is similar to TCA in that it also acts as a peeling agent and will take a noticeable period of time before the tattoo actually begins to fade. The chemical works to move your tattoo’s pigment ink up through the skin layers, causing it to eventually flake off. Generally, TCA has been shown to work faster than glycolic acid. However, glycolic acid is less harsh than TCA and may be a better choice if you have sensitive skin.


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Also available over the counter, this lightening agent is mainly found in cosmetics and skin lightening creams. It is claimed to be one of the purest of all whitening agents (it’s derived from plants), and acts like a moisturizer by smoothing the skin over time. Alpha-Arbutin may work slower than a chemical peeling solution, but it should be considered as a less harsh alternative for anyone with sensitive skin.


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Ingredients that fade tattoos are shown to be more effective when used with exfoliation. Some products even come with exfoliating gadgets like battery operated sanders. It is the sander that is actually doing most of the work in these products, rather than the creams or gels used with them. You can bypass these costly products by picking up a coarse exfoliating pad at your local pharmacy or cosmetics store.