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Not As Permanent As You Thought

Pros and Cons of Easily Accessible Tattoo Removal

Arm Tattoo • • • Photo by Paola Tolentino
Arm Tattoo • • • Photo by Paola Tolentino

Dalhousie is all over the news again, this time in a happier context. Pathology PhD student Alex Falkenham has managed to develop a new method of tattoo removal – a cream that will make tattoos fade away.

Traditional tattoo removal with lasers, as cool as it sounds, is both expensive and uncomfortable. This cream, while not yet available to the public, already seems a better alternative to whatever is on the current market.

Despite sitcom stereotypes, most people do not get tattoos while drunk or as a spur-of-the-moment romantic decision. Tattoos often take months to plan, with consultation between the customer and the artist.

“You should always think about your choices, and plan it out,” says Nicole Nickerson of Halifax’s Sin on Skin Tattoo Parlour. “[Artists] can only do so much so the responsibility of a good choice must be on the consumers.”

That being said, it’s not necessary to have a deep or meaningful story behind every tattoo. “For me, I like that they’re permanent; they’re on your skin, they’re part of you,” says Jose Tangarife, Dalhousie student and proud owner of a full tattoo sleeve. “It’s art and it’s my art and it’s in my arm not yours… As long as they make you happy and aren’t offensive to anyone, it’s all good. ”

There are reasons to have tattoos removed, though. “[The option to remove tattoos] is pretty good, sometimes people take bad descriptions, and they just don’t get the right thing for them.” Tangarife states.

Nickerson agrees with him. “Many find spur of the moment tattoos can equal bad decision, you may love it in the moment but what about 5, 10 years later? You have to think about career choices and life plans before you commit to anything completely visible.” She adds that “Tattoo removal is necessary because this industry isn’t regulated and people who should not tattoo are, causing damage and pain to their ‘victims’ (clients).”

While there are concerns from both artists and customers that new removal technology, such as this cream, may cause more “careless” tattoos, since they can be removed, getting a tattoo is still a “long, intimate and expensive experience,” and many people who have had tattoos are more likely to add to them, not remove them.

Overall, it does seem nice to have the option to change something the person you were five or ten years ago thought was cool.

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