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 26

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 110 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 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 31 reviews

We Can Remove All Tattoo Colors With Our Laser Tattoo Removal

At Des Moines Plastic Surgery, we use the Quanta System, a Q-Switched ND Yag with a Ruby laser that allows us to treat all primary colors. Red and black ink will be the easiest to remove. All others are more difficult, but the Ruby laser is the most effective to treat these colors.

David L. Robbins, MD, FACS
West Des Moines Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Hardest color

red is the hardest color to remove but it will come out.  Black is the easiest color to remove.  We use the Picosure which is the best device out there

David S. Rosenberg, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Tattoo removal with laser

Black and dark gray tones are usually the most conducive to tattoo removal with laser. A multi-session regimen is warranted. 


Dr. Karamanoukian 

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Tattoo Removal and the colour of the Ink

The colouring of a tattoo definitely makes a difference in the number of treatments that will be necessary to get an effective result. Black ink is the easiest  to remove, especially if it is an amateur tattoo. Greens, Blues and Reds will prove more difficult, that is why a high powered, effective laser is key to use for any tattoo removal. An NDYag 1064 is the gold standard on the market right now and should be your choice if you want the most effective laser to break  down any colour of tattoo.

Cory Torgerson, MD, PhD, FRCSC
Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 124 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.