Unpacking the solution to PMU removal!

Cosmetic tattoo removal is now a big part of the industry. Poor designs, poor technique, poor pigments, changed trends and expectations, and the natural effects of aging all contribute to the growing need for safe and effective removal.

Laser removal works well on body art tattoos (we won’t talk about what happens to the pigments here) but is inappropriate for most cosmetic tattooing (except SMP). Burnt eyebrow follicles, blue-black lips and serious risks with eyeliner are the problems.

So, the options come down to removal solutions (literally). The cosmetic tattoo industry is divided between saline and acid-based solutions.


So, Saline vs Glycolic Acid?

There are several popular saline solutions, all supposed to work by osmosis. Several acid-based solutions seem to have come and gone. Many were (or are) far too aggressive on the skin. In this comparison, we only talk about saline solutions and THink Pigment Remover (glycolic acid based).


Saline Removal Solutions

How do saline solutions work?

Unfortunately, the theory of osmosis doesn’t indicate it will do anything to pigments, which are solid particles in the skin. Salts will not dissolve pigment or react with them. Osmosis is the process of water (in this case) moving from a low salt concentration (in the skin) to a high concentration (in the saline removal solution). We are trying to remove pigment, not water. The pigment will not move by osmosis.


Why do saline solutions do anything at all?

When the skin experiences trauma, it has to heal, which is actually helped by salt and osmosis as it helps stop infection. When skin heals, it tries to push out foreign matter, including pigment particles. You will often see promoters of saline removal working the skin quite hard. The more trauma, the more healing, the more pigment is likely to be removed.


Glycolic Removal Solutions

How does glycolic acid work?

Firstly, the skin has to accept the removal solution, which is one of the reasons THink Pigment Remover (our glycolic acid removal solution of choice) is so successful. It is formulated to be skin friendly, and not act like a harsh chemical.

Delivering THink Pigment Remover to PMU Pigment

The glycolic acid must be delivered to the pigment, to be able to have an effect on it. Simply applying glycolic acid topically will not reach the depth of a properly placed cosmetic tattoo.

Once in the skin, THink Pigment Remover must reach the pigment, which is down to the skill and understanding of the trained technician. Too shallow and it will do nothing, too deep (say into the hypodermis) and the skin will try to push everything out via lymph fluid. At the right depth, a well formulated glycolic acid removal solution (THink Pigment Remover) goes to work on the cells binding the pigment, causing them to break down and release the pigment particles, which may also dissolve.

Another benefit of glycolic removal using THink Pigment Remover is that only gentle skin penetration is required. Get the solution to the pigment, create the pathways to let the pigment flow out, and you’ll see brown liquid flow to the surface. You may see a little blood (usually still red), but that should be just the result of penetrating fine vasculature, as with saline removal, although probably a lot less.

Here are some examples of using THink Pigment Remover (see more on @thinkpigmentremover):

Examples of Cosmetic Tattoo Pigment Removal using THink Pigment Remover


Please note: Not all glycolic acid removal solutions are created equal!


Our answer to PMU removal: THink Pigment Remover

THink Pigment Remover is a specially formulated glycolic acid removal solution, designed to remove and lighten unwanted cosmetic tattoo (PMU) pigment. 

Training in glycolic removal, that provides detailed education around the product and methods is essential to providing safe and effective treatments for clients, we have a Cosmetic Tattoo Pigment Removal Online Course, developed for using THink Pigment Remover.

Methods developed for saline removal are far too abrasive.


Share your experience!

So, saline vs THink Pigment Remover. Please share your experiences on what works best!

March 26, 2024 — THink Aesthetics

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.

What is a 'tech talk'?

THink Tech Talks is our informative blog series that discusses technical industry news, training advise and more! Written in partnership with THink Aesthetics, an industry-leading training school that specialises in all things cosmetic tattooing.