When I was young, wild, and carefree, I did a lot of things that were, well, a little wild and carefree. But short of the occasional embarrassing party picture, there's really nothing concrete to remind me of my crazy youth. Except, that is, the humongous tattoo on my shoulder. Okay, so it's really not that humongous, and I was technically an adult (and somewhat sober) when I got it, but since then, the tattoo has been a considerable source of embarrassment. Mostly because of its placement right smack on the back of my shoulder, thus dissuading me from sporting flirty strapless tops or dresses. It's also not the easiest thing to read. The intention was to get my astrological sign framed by a heart, but somehow it came out looking like 'ME'.
So, I decided to declare this summer a tattoo-free zone, and embarked on a quest for ways to go ink-free.
First I tried some tattoo-covering makeup. Coverblend's Corrective Leg & Body Makeup ($18) was easy to apply (although I had help since I couldn't exactly reach behind my back) and went on smoothly and evenly. However, you must allot a good 10 to 15 minutes for the makeup to dry before getting up and going about your day. Once it's dry, it will stay on more or less, as long as you don't directly rub it. Coverblend is also water-resistant and contains an SPF, so you're safe for outside. Bonus: this stuff can also be used on those ugly spider veins you wish you didn't have.
Covermark's Tattoo Cover Kit ($30) is intense. Made specifically to cover tattoos, the kit looks like a middle school science experiment. It comes with primer, lotion, finishing powder, Leg Magic, applicator sponge, and powder brush. At first, I was a little annoyed that I had to go through such an intricate process to cover up my tattoo, but after it was all done, the cover kit really did the trick and the makeup blended really well into my skin. I guess if you're going to do something, you might as well do it right. Covermark's also water-resistant with an SPF of 16.
But after using both Coverblend and Covermark, I decided a quick fix wasn't going to cut it. Even though both products covered the ink, I could still tell that makeup had been applied to the area. So, I opted to bite the bullet and get my tattoo laser-removed. I went to Dr. Mitchell Chasin at Reflections Center for Skin & Body in Livingston, NJ, where I began the process of permanent tattoo removal.
Upon my first visit, it was explained to me that the process can take anywhere from four to ten treatments, depending on the tattoo. Thankfully, black is the easiest ink to remove, since it absorbs the laser the best. So if you're covered in rainbows, good luck.
We started with a topical ointment and a shot of novocaine to numb the area. Then they brought out the laser. I'm not going to lie – it hurt. It felt like 4th of July snappers where being thrown at my back. However, it lasted about 5 seconds when I was muscling up for the process to go on a lot longer. When the torturous 5 seconds were done, my tattoo looked like this:
Thankfully, it has since gone back to a faded, marble-esque black. My next visit is in a few weeks (you should wait a necessary 6 weeks between treatments) and I'm eager to see the outcome from take two. According to the doctor, when all is finished, there won't be any scarring, leftover ink, or any other signs of my previous years' debaucherous decision. We'll see.
And if you're thinking about laser tattoo removal for yourself, below are some guidelines to go by in order to find the right treatment center for you.
- Make sure the person removing your tattoo is an actual physician and that he or she owns his or her own equipment rather than renting lasers for periodic procedures.
- Find a physician who specializes in all sorts of laser treatments and not one whose specialty is in a completely different realm of the medical field.
- Ask how many tattoo removals are done on a regular basis. A reputable treatment center will perform these procedures frequently.
- Inquire about the types of lasers they carry. You want a place that has different types of lasers with different wavelengths to deal with a variety of pigments in tattoos. There is no one-laser-for-all magical device, so be wary of places that use only one.
Check back in a few weeks for my review of my second treatment. And if you have a tattoo and some other methods of covering up, please share with us in our comments section.