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Article: Saline Tattoo Removal: The Good, The Alternative and What All PMU Artists Should Know by Emily Fabrocini

Saline Tattoo Removal: The Good, The Alternative and What All PMU Artists Should Know by Emily Fabrocini

With the continued boom to the PMU industry comes a slew of new artists. Unfortunately it also comes with more and more people coming into my studio with undesired work. I have been doing Saline tattoo removal for 5 years now, as long as I’ve been a PMU artist, because I knew that if I could fix bad brows I would get a whole new rewarding kind of client. To me it’s very important as an artist to understand the options of how to remove bad PMU.

Saline tattoo removal, or “Lightening”, is an all natural way to remove botched and unwanted permanent makeup. Lightening is a better word for it as removal may suggest that it can remove it completely or even in just one session which unfortunately it does not always do. There are various saline removal products out there but they all are generally a salt solution containing additives like orange seed extract, lemon seed extract, sterile water and aloe. The deeper layers of the skin hold less salt in their water molecules and introducing salt to the area will make the water under the pigment rise to where there is more salt concentration. That then forces the pigment up into the Epidermis through Osmotic Pressure that then gets pulled up into a scab, the scab falls off and the pigment is removed from the body. 

The benefits of doing Saline removal are endless: 

  • It won’t affect the hair 
  • It shouldn’t cause scarring (as long as you wait the minimum amount in between sessions, however it can reveal scarring from things like deep Microblading that the pigment was hiding ) 
  • It works on all pigments and pigment colors
  • An emergency session can be done within 48 hours of the procedure (preferably within 24 for optimal results) 
  • You can put it on an unintended stroke you made during the procedure and it won’t heal with pigment (unfortunately early in my career I tested that and it worked!)
  •  It can be done in tandem with a laser (as long as you wait the minimum amount of time in-between sessions)

To understand why I prefer Saline vs Laser you have to understand our pigments. Pigments are composed of many colors like carbon, red, yellow and white. Colors like red or yellow need a different/stronger laser and lasers do not recognize white. If a laser sees white it either leaves it alone keeping it in the dermis or it turns it black on contact making it only able with further treatments to be removed. 

White, AKA Titanium Dioxide, is a necessity in our pigments but it being a much larger molecule makes it harder to remove and that is important to know as an artist especially when a client wants to try laser. In order to know if Laser or Saline would be better to fix bad PMU you must look up the colors MSDS sheets as they list the color in order of most to least amount in the formulation.  

When discussing Saline removal with your clients it's important to educate them about the reality of it. It is not possible to determine how many sessions it’ll take to remove all of it. Age, Skin, Life-style, Depth, Pigment and Technique all play a part in removal. New brows I find to be easier but older brows, especially ones that are blue or look milky in the skin, are hard and at times won’t budge. Also it may only take a couple of sessions to lighten enough to redo the brow (only after waiting a few months after all removal treatments are complete).


It is important as an Artist to know not only how to put the pigment in but how it could come out. You never know what’ll come through your door and fixing bad work is so rewarding. You’ll build trust and maybe even have the chance to cross sell some of your other services!

What questions do you have about removal? Let me know below or on Instagram!

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