Do tattoo fading creams really remove tattoos cheaply, safely, painlessly and completely?
That is difficult to determine by doing a simple web search because there is so much conflicting evidence that after awhile, you feel like you're going around in circles. Countless searches later, the question becomes not, "Do tattoo removal creams really work?" but more essentially, "Who should I believe?"
One useful place to go to answer that question is Amazon.com. Anyone can write a product review on Amazon, but I found the reviews of different tattoo fading creams to be interesting.
The reviews--when available--are very much either-or. The product being reviewed is either the best thing since sliced bread, or the opinion expressed is something like this,
"The only reason I gave this product one star is that it's the lowest possible rating." or "I wouldn't recommend this product to my worst enemy even if doing so would end war forever." (I'm paraphrasing by the way, those are not direct quotes.) But what's really suspicious is how much the positive reviews have in common--almost as if the people who wrote them had been told which points to stress.
Then I noticed something very strange indeed: a sponsored link paid for by an "institute" that purported to offer expert, unbiased information on all tattoo removal methods. It's strange that a dot org--supposedly a nonprofit organization--would be paying to advertise on Amazon.com.
The website of this "institute," supposedly headed by a very generically named doctor (there is only one name given on the whole site, and there are what appear to be stock photos of some uncommonly good looking doctors) provides its visitors with ratings of different tattoo removal methods. Their conclusion:
The Fade Away Method is the only method that we know of that does not scar, cause a permanent change in pigment, or cut into the skin. With this method you do not have to worry about post-treatment infection or irreversible damage to your skin. Only patience is needed.
Their recommended method of removal is fading creams, and lo and behold, the brand of fading cream they recommend above all others in their "Tattoo Removal Comparison Guide," is the same brand I had been looking at on the Amazon page.
The only trial of tattoo fading creams done by a reputable and unbiased third party that I could find on the web is one done at the Philadelphia Institute of Dermatology and reported on by WPVI-TV Philadelphia. Two women each used a tattoo fading cream on one half of a tattoo they wanted removed, and had laser treatments on the other half. One of the subjects developed a rash after using the removal cream, and was advised by the doctor to stop using it. On the other hand, she was able to achieve significant fading of her tattoo after two laser treatments. The other subject also experienced satisfactory results on the half of her tattoo treated with lasers, but saw no visible results on the half treated with the tattoo removal cream.
It's difficult to give a definitive answer as to whether tattoo fading creams work or not. On the other hand, there is reason to suspect that many of the companies selling this type of product are not above planting positive reviews of their products on line. This suggests that they are lacking in scruples and business ethics. Add to that the fact that there are usually very few details available on their websites (or anywhere else for that matter) about the ingredients of their creams or identities of the people running the company, and I have to conclude that most of these products would be a risky purchase and probably turn out to be a waste of both your time and money.
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