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What to do if you hate your cosmetic tattoo

7 ways to fade or remove  cosmetic tattooing disasters


Hopefully it never happens to you or to your clients but in the event of an unsightly cosmetic tattoo or mishap in design, you will want to know how to fix, fade, or remove cosmetic tattooing as quickly as possible. Do not reach for the laser straight away. There are many other things you can try first.

The best course of action to remove cosmetic tattooing depends on how recently you have had it done. If your tattoo is fresh and still in the healing process it is best to leave it be until it is healed before tackling the process of removal. It might be tempting to scrub the area or use things like lemon juice and salt to help remove the color but this can cause scarring to occur in the area as the skin is still an open wound that is healing. As frustrating as it may be, you should wait the full 14 days for the skin to heal before you attempt to modify or remove your cosmetic tattoo design at all.

1 – Wait it out

During the healing process up to 60% of the pigment will be lost and you may find that the situation isn’t as dire as you thought. If you are still unhappy with the colour or design of the tattoo there are a few things you can try before booking for laser tattoo removal – which is expensive and comes with its own risks as well.

Check out the difference between the fresh brows below on the left and the healed result on the right

Image credits : https://microbladingla.com

Remove cosmetic Tattooing
Remove Cosmetic Tattooing

2 – colour correction

If you are just a little unhappy with the colour of the design, but the shape is perfect, then you can consider colour correcting the design during the touchup treatment. This is easy enough for any cosmetic tattoo artist to do however there are a few things to take note of before you try this.

• the pigment will still be there. You cannot make the pigment lighter or remove it with colour correction. You can only change the hue of the colour by neutralising any unwanted hues.

• You are adding more layers of pigment. If you do decide to remove it afterwards it will take longer and be more difficult.

 Check out the difference between the before and after colour correction below

Cosmetic Tattoo Removal
Cosmetic Tattoo Removal

3 – use retinol products over the area

Retinol products are an effective way to fade your cosmetic tattoo faster.

There is a reason why cosmetic tattoo artists will ask you not to use retinol on the treatment areas for 8-12 weeks before the application and not at all afterwards. Retinol is a popular active ingredient in anti-aging skin care and it works by stimulating a faster turnover rate of skin cells. Meaning that your skin cells are dying and being replaced at a faster rate than normal. Each time the skin cells that contain your cosmetic tattoo pigment die, the pigment is released by the cell, and absorbed by the cells nearby. Cosmetic tattoo pigment is designed differently to the ink that is used for permanent body tattooing. The colour molecules are smaller, small enough for the body to process and remove. Each time the skill cells die and the pigment is released, a portion of the pigment will be carried out of the body naturally. This method carries no risk of scarring or causing any further trauma to the skin which is why it should be the first thing you try before resorting to anything more drastic.

4 – sweat it out

This may sound silly but by encouraging your skin to sweat, you are also encouraging the skin to push out any impurities that remain such as stray pigments that are in the process of leaving one skin cell for another. In fact in your artist has given you an aftercare sheet – sweating should be on the list of things to avoid post treatment. Getting sweaty while using retinol products can help to fade your cosmetic tattoo faster.

The below images are of my own eyebrow. The left/first image is right after my first cosmetic tattoo treatment. The second image on the right is about 12 months after my brows were done. You can see how the pigment should fade gradually over time. Using the above 2 methods you will speed up this process.


Microblading results after 12 months
microblading results after 12 months



5 – professional face peels and/or exfoliation

This approach should be done in a professional setting by an experienced skin expert. Any chemicals used on the pigments should be done with caution so as not to add to the problem. The pigment in cosmetic tattooing is deposited into the epidermis and dermis layer of skin and should be more superficial than body tattooing is. Skin peels and dermabrasion work to remove cosmetic tattooing by removing the surface layers of the skin and encouraging new skin cell growth. This should only be done once the area has fully healed and only by an experienced aesthetician.


6 – Professional Removal with Alkaline Solution

 If you have tried the above methods and still are not happy with the outcome, there are laser-free methods of removing unwanted cosmetic tattooing that are available from experienced artists only. In a similar technique to cosmetic tattooing, an alkaline based solution is implanted into the skin where the pigment is, and is used to ‘flush out’ the pigment. It’s important to note that this technique does come with risks and there is a possibility that the extra trauma to the skin may cause scar tissue. This method should only be attempted by an experienced artist who has been properly trained to provide this service.

 The image below  is an example of cosmetic tattoo removal using a specially formulated alkaline solution. As you can see it takes several sessions to produce a result from this technique.  


Cosmetic Tattoo Removal

7 – Microneedling

While this is not a common technique used to remove cosmetic tattooing it is a viable option that can have a similar effect to options 4 and 5. For examples of the great result you can get from micro needling I highly recommend taking a look at this great blog post by TwistMePretty.com 

You can see her before and after below.

This method works by opening the skin and allowing the pigment to be released from the skin both immediately and during the healing process that follows.

This option is cheaper, safer, and far less painful than laser tattoo removal. If you are struggling to find a cosmetic tattoo artist who specialises in removal this is a great alternative you can try with any well educated and experienced aesthetician.

remove cosmetic tattooing
remove cosmetic tattooing

Laser Removal – the last resort

This method should always be considered the last resort, like a nuclear bomb on an enemy. There are many risks associated with removing cosmetic tattooing using lasers, as well and being a painful and long healing process. Often the client may not know exactly what pigments have been used for their cosmetic tattooing which can be problematic. Some cheaper pigments may contain iron oxides or other ingredients which may react negatively to laser treatment by changing colour permanently. If you absolutely must pursue laser tattoo removal then be sure that you are seeing a technician who has experience in working with cosmetic tattoo pigments. If you can – find out what brand of pigment was used and ask for information on the percentage of heavy metal impurities in the pigment. Ask them to perform a test spot first and wait to see if there is any negative reaction to the treatment before committing to zapping the entire area.

Cosmetic Tattoo Removal

In conclusion the 7 safest ways to correct your cosmetic tattoo disaster are:

1 – Wait it out

2 – Colour correction

3 – Use retinol products over the area

4 – Sweat it out

5 – Professional face peels and/or exfoliation

6 – Professional Removal with Alkaline Solution

7 – Microneedling

The Last Resort : Laser Removal

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