What Tattoo Ink Colors Are Easiest to Remove?

Which ink colors are easiest to remove using laser tattoo removal? Any ink colors that won't come out at all?

Doctor Answers 30

What Tattoo Ink Colors Are Easiest to Remove?

Using the PicoSure laser Black, Blues, and Greens clear the quickest, easiest, and most completely. The results also depend on the volume of ink used, the location and if it is a professional or amateur tattoo. The PicoSure will also be able to clear the tattoo in half the number of treatments.


Chattanooga Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Laser Tattoo Removal - Which Colors Are Easiest to Remove

Tattoo removal lasers work by targeting a color. Each wavelength targets different colors. After much research, including our own staff members receiving tattoo removal treatments with other laser systems, including PicoSure, Q switched, etc. we have found that the PicoWave laser is most effective in removing a spectrum of colors. However, we also use the Q Switched laser for some blue and green colors (no extra charge for the use of both lasers) so we can most effectively remove all colors as quickly and as completely as possible. Look for a laser center with multiple lasers with many years of experience in cosmetic laser treatments to be certain you are in the best hands.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 118 reviews

Ink is Removed at Different Wavelengths of Light

All inks are removed best at specific wavelengths of light.Examples are 532nm (reds & yellows), 755nm (blues & greens), 1064nm (black and darker colors).It also depends on the laser and the quality of the laser at those wavelengths.For instance I have been able to remove some yellow and reds with my new picoway in one treatment.I saw one today in follow up.I see almost one a week where that is the case.However, some black tattoos can be easily removed too.It really depends on how much ink and the quality of ink that the tattoo artist used.There are just as many variables in removing the ink as there is in putting the ink in the skin by the artist.

Chad M. Hivnor, MD
San Antonio Dermatologist

Tattoo colors that are easiest to remove?

First off you must use a Q switched laser system for tattoo removal

Black and Grey are the easiest ink colors to remove. Usually, a Yag(1064nm) laser works well for these)

Green is the most difficult followed by light blue (Yag and Alexandrite lasers 1064nm and 755nm).

Red/brown/yellow/orange respond well in my experience primarily using 532nm laser.

The bottom line is you can usually clear a tattoo to a level that is barely noticeable to the naked eye, it's just a matter of how many treatments it will take to get there. That's because of the great variability in ink composition and our own individual immune systems which is actually what clears the ink.

Hope this helps,

Dr D.

Louis M. DeJoseph, MD
Atlanta Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Different wavelengths work best on different tattoo colors.

Different tattoo colors respond to different wavelengths of laser light.   For example, 755nm works best on blues & greens, as well as black, 1064nm works great on blacks and near-blacks, and 532nm is best for reds, yellows, and orange.  Also some lasers work better than others with Pico-second lasers like Picosure being the best.

Anh-Tuan Truong, MD, FACS
Chicago General Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Tattoo Removal

Thank you for your question and a great one at that. In the past colors were difficult to remove and black was the easiest. Newer technology now makes colors able to be successfully treated. Pico lasers are the most advanced technology. I utilize the PiQo4 laser which has 4 Pico wavelengths making it possible to remove 96% of ink in as little as 4-6 treatments with the exclusion of white and flesh tones. Pico technology also removes tattoos faster and safer with less risk of scarring then older laser systems. It is also important to seek an experienced tattoo removal provider. I have been practicing tattoo removal for almost 20 years. I hope this helps. Best wishes. 

Daniel J. Ritacca, MD
Chicago Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Getting rid of colors

With the combination of picosecond technology using (Picosure and Enlighten) we find that we can get rid of most colors. The yellow can still be stubborn and also some colors can be difficult on some darker skin types. 

Sachit Shah, MD
Surrey Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Black

Blackis the easiest color to remove, but removal speed can depend on the density of the color.

Stuart H. Bentkover, MD
Boston Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Easiest Tattoo Ink Color to Remove Depends on Laser Used

Each ink color has an optimal absorption spectra that if matched to the laser used can be removed.  

NdYag 1064 nm - blue, black (especially for patients with darker skin types)

NdYag 532 nm - red, orange, (yellow)

Ruby 694 nm - blue, green, black

Alexandrite 755 nm - green, blue, black

Some tattoo inks (some reds and whites), will darken first as their oxidation state changes after the initial laser treatment, and then the transformed color has to be treated.

Besides wavelength, tattoo removal lasers have short pulse durations, in the nanosecond or picosecond range.  This allows the ink to absorb the laser energy in a short amount of time and fragment while minimizing heating of surrounding skin.  Once the tattoo ink is fragmented, the smaller particles are absorbed by macrophages, your immune system's cellular vacuum cleaners.

Another factor to consider in lasers is their peak power.  Sometimes even if you have the proper wavelength and pulse duration, the peak power isn't high enough to remove resistant tattoos.

Avoid getting white tattoos, they are tough to treat even if they darken from prior treatments.


Peter Chien, MD, PhD
New York Dermatologist
4.5 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

What Tattoo Ink Colors Are Easiest to Remove?

At Ethos Spa we use the PicoSure laser. It is the best laser to remove dark colors, as black, blue, purple and green. The easiest color to remove is black. 

Hardik Soni, MD
Summit Emergency Medicine Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.