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A Comparison of Tattoo Removal Methods: Tattoo Removal Skin Peels Vs Tattoo Removal Creams Vs Tattoo Removal Using DermaBrasion

Copyright (c) 2009-2023

A friend and I, along with 3 other buddies, decided to try an experiment to remove tattoos that we have all had for many years. Over time we just decided we no longer liked what we saw on our arms, shoulders and chest so we decided to test all the varieties of tattoo removal except Laser because none of us could afford the price, plus we wanted to see for ourselves if the other products actually worked or were just marketing hype. We represent a mix of 2 Civil Engineers, a Commercial Real Estate salesman, a pharmaceutical sales rep and a self employed landscape architect.

After reviewing the options available we decided to use Tat B Gone and Tattoo-Off ( to represent the tattoo removal creams, Nuviderm ( to represent the cosmetic acid peeling agents and WreckingBalm ( as the dermabrasion candidate. We didn't even consider a salt dermabrasion product because I had used a brand that shall remain nameless and I could have gotten the same results using 80 grit sandpaper, man was it rough.

We had 5 guinea pigs and 4 products so it was decided to really test the tattoo removal creams since, if they worked, it would be the obvious way to go since you just rub it on like Jergins Hand lotion and after a few months you're done, or so we thought, but we'll get to that later.

Since this whole thing was my idea I decided to use WreckingBalm. I've heard the radio commercials and it sounded like the way to go. Robert, Khalid and Pat started with TatBGone and Tattoo-Off and George was the Nuviderm test subject. Mind you, two of these guys, Robert and Khalid were the Engineers - and they were driving us nuts with observing proper technique, following instructions to the "T" and keeping logs with application dates, results etc. They wanted quantifiable results at the end of the test to make sure THEY were satisfied that the winner was actually the best product.

The official kickoff for the test was at my house. We sat around the island in the kitchen, read the instructions and proceeded to do our first tattoo removal treatments. None of us had what I would call huge tats, just run of the mill stuff - names (2), a Celtic symbol that we kidded George was the symbol for Idiot, a flag and a weird conglomeration of an ex-wife's name covered up by what was supposed to be the Arkansas Razorback mascot, which we all took to be symbolic for a nasty divorce.

The tattoo cream guys had it easy, they just rubbed a little on their tattoos, popped open a beer and watched George and I go through the steps of our chosen removal methods. I had my battery operated sander, spray, cream - the whole nine yards. I knew I picked a winner and was happy with the entire procedure that first day, while George was next to me bitchin about diluting, mixing and testing, but was determined to get rid of that Celtic symbol.

When I finished my skin was red from sanding on it, maybe a bit to eager my first time out. George was showing off his "Frost" which meant his first Nuviderm application was a success and wasn't actually all that bad.

If this was a movie this is the part where they would flash on the screen ...ONE MONTH LATER...

The cream guys - Robert, Khalid and Pat had been rubbing away for 30 days - their tattoos looked the same, but they now had soft skin! I had been grinding away every third day, spraying and rubbing as instructed with nothing to show, but it was still early and we all knew going in this was a long term project - at least 6 months, maybe a year (but hopefully not). George had peeled a layer of skin and had done his second application the previous week so his skin was about to peel again, but no real change as far as we could tell.


The Tat B Gone and Tattoo-off guys were still rubbing and one was starting to see a bit of difference, but nothing to brag about.

George was still peeling, his third application the day before with no noticeable change and I was still sanding and using the other stuff, but every third day seemed to harsh, my skin was a bit tender so occasionally I'd have to skip a day and sand on the fourth day. Still no change.


Tattoo creams weren't doing much, but Khalid's skin color was fading but not his tattoo, it was weird. Khalid has a dark brown complexion, but it was a lighter brown where he had been rubbing on the cream with no noticeable change to the tattoo. Robert and Pat couldn't see any difference to skin tone or tattoo.

George was about to do his fourth treatment, his skin was slightly pink at the treated area and the tattoo seemed to be getting brighter, more vivid. Not what we expected, but he was prepared to continue.

I was still sanding away and couldn't tell for sure if there was a difference or not, but I was undeterred.

...Four Months...

Again the guys using the tattoo creams, Tat B Gone and Tattoo-Off, were showing no progress, but Khalid was developing a light brown spot on his shoulder where his tattoo was located, but the tattoo wasn't changing, it had to be the skin lightening chemical in the cream working on his skin pigment but not the tattoo ink. We were seeing that the product reduced skin pigment color but so far had no effect on tattoo ink. On a positive note, they all had soft skin!!

George had slightly increased the strength of the Nuviderm solution he was using and was beginning to see slight but definite changes in his tattoo.

I was still doing the sanding regimen, but it was becoming something of a nuisance because of the frequency of the treatments, but there was progress being made, however slight it was.

Five Months

Tattoo cream guys - nothing except for Khalid with his light brown spot and unchanged tattoo.

George, using Nuviderm, was now making some real progress. You could see that the tattoo ink was not all deposited at the same depth because he had spots showing where the ink had been removed and areas where there was still ink - he now had a spotted Celtic symbol which was a sign of real progress. His skin was pinkish at the treated area, but after all he was peeling his skin about once every 4 weeks and it was working.

I was making some headway with WreckingBalm but not as much as George and the WreckingBalm had cost four times as much as the Nuviderm so on the Return On Investment George was the clear winner at this point.

Six Months

The tattoo removal cream guys, Pat and Robert, had soft skin, but no change in their tattoos and I could tell Khalid and I were cousins because his light brown spot was now about the color of† my skin, but the tattoo was very clearly unchanged.

If this was a horse race, George was clearly pulling away, leading the pack by a full length maybe a bit more. The spots cleared of ink were getting bigger and the remaining ink was very definitely lighter in color.

I was making progress, clearly WreckingBalm was working, but not as fast as Nuviderm and it required more work and cost four times as much. We were beginning to see a winner, but the race was not quite finished.

Seven Months Into the Test

At this point it was obvious the tattoo removal creams were not working and the cost of the products was money down a rat hole.

Georges' Celtic Symbol was a happily fading memory and I was fading my tat but the cost and effort was clearly not worth it when compared to the tremendous progress George had made with Nuviderm.

Month Eight ...And we have a Winner...

The tattoo cream guys had given up and Khalid wanted to lose the light spot on his skin.

Georges tattoo was still there, but it's days were numbered. His progress with Nuviderm was so far ahead of Wreckingbalm it was pathetic and all for only $40.

WreckingBalm was working, but it was so slow, so regimented and so expensive compared to Nuviderm that we declared Nuviderm the winner by unanimous consent.

The final results were striking and somewhat surprising, at least to me. I thought for sure WreckingBalm would win, but for all their advertising they were second best to the clear winner Nuviderm. I have stopped sanding my skin and with Georges help I'm going to do my first Nuviderm treatment as soon as my order arrives. Doing a treatment once a month or so beats 3 times a week in my book.

Final recommendation - Nuviderm won - it wasn't even close.

Nuviderm Review - 5 thumbs up! (

*** One final note, as I was finishing up this article I came across a site called that in the bullet point section of the home page brought up some interesting points on how to decide on which tattoo removal products to try and which to avoid.

Quoting from the Healthy Skin Association:

"In recent years there has been a proliferation of tattoo removal creams, most of which promise more than they deliver. There are a few basic guidelines one should use when researching which tattoo removal method best suits their circumstance and in determining which manufacturers they can trust.

  • Does the basic product have a history of successfully removing tattoos?

  • Does the manufacturer offer a reasonable product guarantee?

  • Can the product be returned after using or does using the product void the guarantee?

  • Always follow product instructions for use.

  • Does the manufacturer offer full disclosure on the ingredients of their product?

  • Does the product, if a cream, contain Hydroquinone, a known cancer causing agent?

  • Does the product, if a cream, contain more than just a recipe for fading skin pigment?

  • Pigment faders have never been proven to fade or remove tattoo ink.

  • If choosing laser removal make sure the laser equipment is of high quality and latest generation to insure proper removal of the various shades of green, yellow, and blue.

  • Ask the laser clinic about a guarantee or escrow policy to insure you that you get what you pay for.

  • Know which wavelengths of laser light remove the colors of your tattoo and make sure your clinic has the necessary equipment.

  • Ask about topical anesthesia to ease the pain of laser removal."

  • That is very common sense advise that I wish we would have thought about before we started our test.

    About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
    Abe Granberry has been working as a tattoo artist for the last 15 years. In that time, he has learned that tattoos to cover up other tattoos are usually a bad idea. Read more of Abe's articles at: Abe would like to credit the for providing an additional bit of common sense when searching for laser and do it your self tattoo removal products.

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