Is It Safe to Remove a Small Tattoo at Home with Salt? (photo)

I have a small tattoo on my bikini line and I think I want to remove it and put it elsewhere. I saw online people use salt (mixed with water) at home to remove small tattoos. Is that safe? What are the pros and cons of doing it this way vs laser treatment?

Doctor Answers 15

Home Remedies for Tattoo Removal

Using a salt and water mix to abrade the skin is not only an ineffective way to attempt to remove a tattoo, but it's also potentially harmful. You'll be irritating the epidermis (uppermost layer of your skin), causing inflammation and leaving the area prone to infection. You will not reach the dermis (the location where ink is placed in a tattoo) and if you did, you'd be causing much more harm than good. The simplest, MOST effective technique for tattoo removal is a pigment laser such as the Q-Switch Alexandrite. I recommend you find an experienced and knowledgable physician to help you get rid of the tattoo.


Best of luck! 

New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Removing Tattoo at Home with Salt Is Not Worth the Risk and Pain

The answer is yes, but the pain involved getting to where the ink is — deep in the skin — and the increased risk of scarring in this area make this a risky idea. You're essentially rubbing away your skin to where the ink resides. Ouch!

There are safe lasers that eliminate this color ink fairly easily and fairly quick — so I would advise against using salt and go find a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon who has tattoo lasers and let them do it right — and in the end you will be much happier.

Michael Gold, MD
Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Don't remove a tattoo with salt

Please don't try this.  You can potentially cause a lot of damage and scarring by "sanding" away a tattoo with salt.  A safer and more effective way would be to see a professional who can use a laser to remove it.  In our practice, we use the Picosure laser, which is the most advanced technology for removing tattoos.

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

Salt Water Does Not Remove Tattoos

This would not work because the tattoo ink is placed in the dermis of the skin.  The salt water would only irritate the upper layers.  A laser light however would bypass the upper layers of the skin to target the tattoo pigment in the deeper layers and fragment them to facilitate removal.

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


Please understand your risks in this type of self solution.  There is a safe way to remove this tattoo, and you can be assured you won't be left with scaring.  We suggest you take the time to have a consultation to get your cost, and weigh it with the risks of trying to remove it yourself.  It's very small, and cost should be reasonable.

Rakesh Nanda, MD
Columbus Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

While it is technically possible, most dermatologists would not recommend this route.

While it is technically possible to remove a small tattoo at home with salt, most dermatologists would not recommend this route. The way that salt works is by abrading the skin enough to reach the dermis where the ink is, and scraping away the ink. This method will not work very well and is likely to leave scarring, not to mention it will be very painful and could lead to an infection. The safest and most effective means of tattoo removal is to visit a board-certified dermatologist who offers the latest laser technology for tattoo removal. Recent devices such as the PicoWay are proven effective in removing tattoos, and are much less likely to scar while removing the tattoo more completely. 

Kory Kitagawa, MD
Honolulu Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Salt at hone

Using salt is repeatedly scrapping the skin and will leave scarring and only remove part of the ink. See a experienced dermatologist who is using the picosure laser. In about 4 sessions all or almost all the ink will be removed with minimal or no scarring

Morris Westfried, MD
Long Island Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Home Tattoo Removals aren't the best idea

In this case you would be using salt to scrub off layers of your skin in hopes that you would wear away enough of your skin to remove the tattoo.  This could lead to infection and permanent scarring.  Please find a medical practitioner supervised by a board certification to remove your tattoo.  Our office has had great success with the PicoSure in safely and effectively removing tattoos with minimal discomfort and downtime.

Thomas McFadden, MD
Greenville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

Take with a grain of salt

I don't see how this would work, I highly doubt it.  I mean there are a lot of good home remedies out there but this is not one of them

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

Salt is of historical importance only for tattoo removals

Salt removal of tattoos were an ancient practice, first developed in the middle east, centuries ago. This works like a dermabrasion, essentially removing the layers of skin to reach the tattoo. 
Tattoos, as one knows, are placed in the very deepest layers of skin, and hence dermabrasion needs to go to this depth. Can or does this work? The answer is yes! Do we use it now? No. This is because the chances of scarring is very high, and selective lasers that target pigment, such as Q Switch lasers are much more effective, and infinitely safer. Laser removal has taken tattoo removal out of the salt age( Stone Age) .

Even newer lasers such as the Pico are better than the current Nano lasers. 

Dr Davin Lim 
Consultant Laser Dermatologist, 

Davin Lim, MBBS, FACD
Brisbane Dermatologist
4.7 out of 5 stars 70 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.