The Pitch: "Regret it? Fade it! Forget it!"
April 2009. Wrecking Balm is an at-home tattoo-removal system that promises to be "devastatingly effective" at fading unwanted tattoos. It is designed to remove the top layers of the skin, bringing ink closer to the surface so that it can be removed gradually. However, according to tattoo artists, laser removal and intense light therapy are really the only reliable ways to get rid of a tattoo -- processes which are painful and can cost 100 times what you spent to get the tattoo in the first place. Wrecking Balm promises to fade (but not eliminate) a tattoo without the pain and scarring of laser or light treatments.
According to the manufacturer, the Wrecking Balm system may take up to six months to fade tattoos completely. Wrecking Balm, which is intended to be used every other day, includes a handheld buffing device that's similar to a microdermabrasion tool and a gel containing salicylic acid, which helps remove the upper layers of the skin.
The most credible reviews say that the Wrecking Balm tattoo-removal system does not work. In one test by a TV station, the reviewer used the product for six months (far longer than the "short commitment" the manufacturer says is required) and saw no fading of her colorful tattoo. Other users say that tattoos fade somewhat, but the product causes skin irritation. We read that, in general, the amount of fading that occurs doesn't justify this product's $150 price tag.
We also read complaints about Wrecking Balm's sales tactics, which are aggressive to the point of rudeness, users say. In a comment on a men's-interest blog, a contributor claiming to be a Wrecking Balm employee admits that salespeople can be "pushy" and become "irritated" when their claims aren't believed. Rather than processing a refund immediately, users say, Wrecking Balm's telephone agents offer additional free shipments as an incentive to keep the product.
Wrecking Balm has not been included in comparative professional reviews, but it has been the subject of a six-month test for a news report. The report indicates that the tester applied the product 70 times. We read detailed reviews of Wrecking Balm at Epinions.com and at a blog aimed at men.
1. WTTG (Washington, D.C.)
Reporter Steve Noviello enlists the help of a dermatologist who has performed laser tattoo removals and a member of his office staff. Although the staffer used the product faithfully for six months, her tattoo did not fade at all. The dermatologist deems the system "one of the duds."
Review: Deal or Dud? Wrecking Balm, Steve Noviello, Apr. 6, 2009
Wrecking Balm earns a mixed rating of 3.5 stars out of five in a handful reviews at Epinions.com. One user says that it faded a friend's tattoo somewhat, but not enough to justify the asking price. Application took far longer than the promised three minutes. The other reviewer says that after two months, her tattoo has faded "considerably," and she recommends Wrecking Balm.
Review: Wrecking Balm Reviews, Contributors to Epinions.com
3. Alpha Male Blog
The editor of this blog describes Wrecking Balm as a "painless method" for removing tattoos but does not appear to have tested it. More than 500 comments are posted by users who claim to have tried it with mixed results. The majority says that Wrecking Balm is not very effective. A user claiming to be a Wrecking Balm employee explains how the product works and admits that the company's salespeople can be aggressive in their tactics.
Review: Wrecking Balm Reviews and Comments, Contributors to Alpha Male Blog
We found just one review of Wrecking Balm on Amazon.com, and it's a positive one. The user says that the product smells nice and has caused her tattoo to fade. While it hurts to use the product, the healing lotion takes away some of the sting, she notes.
Review: Wrecking Balm Review, Contributor to Amazon.com