When you paint a wall and don't like the color, all you have to do is buy new paint. But changing a tattoo you don't like can cost hundreds of dollars. So you can see the attraction of a $50 do-it-yourself tattoo removal kit called Wrecking Balm.
Thirty-six year old Bob Tueller started regretting his high school baseball tattoos when his kids wanted tats too.
"If I could go back and do it again I wouldn't have gotten either of them," Tueller explained.
Tueller agreed to put Wrecking Balm the test on half of his baseball tattoo, using a Band-Aid to cover the other half.
The kit comes with three creams and a handheld micro dermabrasion device that essentially sands the skin. Right away, Tueller noticed the lines of his tat got puffy.
"Yeah, I can feel the ink lines," he said. "I could close my eyes and feel that."
The other half of Tueller's baseball was left to the pros, who used a laser removal system to essentially "cook" the ink out of his skin. He got three laser treatments and continued to use Wrecking Balm at home three times a week. But Tueller says the sanding device broke after about a month. At that point, the laser-treated half of the baseball was noticeably lighter but the side treated with Wrecking Balm looked the same as on day one.
I discovered Wrecking Balm piques the curiosity of a lot of tattoo enthusiasts, including tattoo expert Billy Hill, who I found putting Wrecking Balm to the test on YouTube. The Ohio tattoo artist wanted to see if Wrecking Balm could remove a botched tattoo -- not his work -- on his leg.
Hill's videos track more than 40 treatments over a period of more than four months. He says he even had to replace the sanding head and buy more creams, but his tattoo looked about the same as when he started. On his final video post, Hill is on the phone trying to get his money back.
A local doctor who does laser tattoo removal urges caution to anyone considering the DIY approach. Dr. Kean Lawlor of Seattle Skin and Laser says many do-it-yourself creams can damage the skin and leave severe scarring. Lawlor adds that dermabrasion or sanding of the skin with any machine can create a deep wound and damage the skin leaving a scar. He says the only way to completely remove tattoo ink without damaging the skin is with a laser.