Tattoos can say a lot about you - they are your memories, passions, beliefs and emotions etched onto your skin. But as life changes and changes you, each of those things will also shift, and maybe that tattoo doesn’t hold quite the same meaning anymore.
Laser tattoo removal can do a great job of removing tattoos. But despite all the advancements in technology, some colours are still very resistant to removal compared to others.
So, what are the hardest colours to remove in a tattoo? Why are they so hard to remove, anyway? In this article, we’ll look at each of these things.
Laser Wavelengths & Pigment Absorption
Laser wavelength and pigment absorption are very important for laser tattoo removal.
The removal process operates on the principle of selective photothermolysis. This is a concept where specific wavelengths of light are absorbed by the tattoo ink pigments while keeping damage to the surrounding skin at a minimum. Just like different colours on the light spectrum have different wavelengths, they also have different absorption properties.
That’s why the laser wavelength you use is very important when it comes to removing the tattoo.
Matching Laser Wavelengths to Ink Colours
Again, different tattoo ink colours respond differently to specific laser wavelengths. For example, Q-switched lasers are used often for tattoo removal because they emit short pulses of high-energy light that can do a good job at targeting and breaking down tattoo pigments.
These lasers come in different wavelengths, from 532 nm (green light) and 755 nm (ruby or red light) to 1064 nm (infrared light). Each wavelength is absorbed by specific colours of tattoo ink.
Absorption Spectrum of Tattoo Pigments
Tattoo pigments are made up of various colour compounds, and each compound has its own absorption spectrum.
The absorption spectrum is the range of light wavelengths that the pigment can absorb. Matching the laser wavelength to the absorption spectrum is really important because this is what will make sure the ink particles are broken down.
Considerations for Different Colours
The absorption characteristics of different tattoo ink colours influence their susceptibility to laser treatment. Darker colours, like black and blue, tend to absorb a broader range of laser wavelengths and generally respond better to the laser treatment.
On the other hand, lighter colours like green, yellow, and white have narrower absorption ranges, which makes them much tougher to remove.
Multiple Wavelengths for Multi-Coloured Tattoos
Multi-coloured tattoos usually contain a combination of ink colours, each of which needs a specific laser wavelength.
In these cases, a combination of lasers is used for treatment. Tattoo removal specialists will likely employ different lasers or utilise laser systems with multiple wavelengths to target the different ink colours in the tattoo.
What Are the Hardest Colours to Remove in a Tattoo?
Knowing why some colours are harder to remove, let’s jump into which colours are the hardest.
Green ink is notorious for being one of the most difficult colours to remove. Darker shades of green are even worse than lighter shades. This is mainly because of the composition of the pigment itself.
Many green pigments contain a blend of blue and yellow, which makes it challenging for laser wavelengths to target effectively. If you lean too much on either side, the ink particles won’t break down properly.
Green tattoos usually need more treatment sessions and, even then, can leave behind a slight residue or ghosting effect.
Blue ink, particularly darker shades, can also be stubborn to remove.
Dark blue inks usually contain a compound called iron oxide, which makes them more resistant to laser energy. The iron oxide particles are larger and deeper in the skin, so they need more laser power and a longer duration to break them down effectively. You’ll likely have multiple sessions for removing a tattoo with blue ink.
On top of that, blue pigments can sometimes darken during the removal process, making it an annoying and complex colour to eliminate properly.
Turquoise & Teal
These vibrant blue-green shades fall into the same category as green and blue ink when it comes to tattoo removal challenges.
Turquoise and teal inks often contain a mixture of blue and green pigments, which makes it harder for lasers to selectively target and fragment the ink particles.
The combination of different pigments within these colours can complicate the removal process, requiring additional sessions and specialised laser settings.
Yellow ink can be difficult to remove due to its light and reflective nature. Yellow pigments contain fewer chromophores, which are the elements that absorb laser energy. As a result, yellow ink can be resistant to certain laser wavelengths, making it challenging to break down the pigment effectively.
Multiple treatment sessions are usually needed to remove the tattoo - or at least for it to fade significantly.
While white ink may seem like it would be the easiest to remove, it can actually be quite a pain. White tattoo pigments usually contain titanium dioxide, which is a reflective compound.
The reflective properties of white ink can scatter laser energy, making it a lot more difficult for the laser to target and break down the pigment. As a result, removing white ink completely can be more time-consuming, and you may have to come in for extra treatment sessions.
Consult a Professional
Counterpunch Tattoo Removal can help you with tattoo removal, no matter what colours you have in it. We will give you all the information you need about the process - from the factors to look out for, and post-op care.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or dial 0419 028 854 for more info!