Canberra tattoo removal business booming thanks to 'ragrets' and spelling fails
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Canberra tattoo removal business booming thanks to 'ragrets' and spelling fails

"No regrets."

For the many people who've asked Canberra tattoo removalist Jared Hartley to make their misspelled tattoos disappear, it appears there are indeed some "ragrets".

These types of cringeworthy errors, along with profanities on knuckles and racist symbols tattooed as "pranks", are some of the more outrageous contributions to Canberra's booming tattoo removal business.

That's according to Mr Hartley and his partner Janea Smith, who worked many hours overtime in their previous jobs to save up for their new tattoo-removal business, Expired Laser Studio, which opened a month ago.

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One man visited Expired Laser Studio after his friends tattooed a swastiska on his head as a prank.

One man visited Expired Laser Studio after his friends tattooed a swastiska on his head as a prank.

They are clearly benefiting from the growing tattoo industry, having been inundated with people seeking to rid their bodies of their ex-partner's names and rectify botched ink jobs done overseas.

And as more people want to get inked, some are bound to regret it.

Consumer action group Choice reports that a quarter of Australians in their 20s have tattoos.

Meanwhile, IBISWorld research found the tattoo removal industry grew 3.9 per cent between 2010 and 2015.

A wonky Harry Potter symbol that was removed, next to a straighter version of the symbol.

A wonky Harry Potter symbol that was removed, next to a straighter version of the symbol.

Mr Hartley knew there was big businesses in tattoo removal while feeling disinterested in his job as a hospital ward clerk.

"I am so happy to get back into something I enjoy, I almost feel re-born," he said.

Leah Klaus's tattoo after the first session of tattoo removal, which took about two minutes. Mr Hartley said she will need about four sessions.

Leah Klaus's tattoo after the first session of tattoo removal, which took about two minutes. Mr Hartley said she will need about four sessions.Credit:Jamila Toderas

"The most common tattoos [people want removed] are drunken mistakes and dodgy jobs from tattoo artists in Thailand. But a lot of people also want all or part of their tattoos removed – so maybe their sleeves – so they can have something different or even start over."

In the short time they've had their business, the couple have already heard some entertaining stories.

This man had 'to' spelled incorrectly on large tattooes on each of his thighs.

This man had 'to' spelled incorrectly on large tattooes on each of his thighs.

One man who got "to young to die" and "to fast to live" tattooed in huge writing on his thighs didn't age many years before wanting the misspelt phrases gone.

Another man got an acronym of profanities on his knuckles to annoy his father when he was younger, Ms Smith said.

Spelling mistakes are one of the most common reasons people are seeking to get their tattooes removed at the new Expires Laser Studio in Canberra city.

Spelling mistakes are one of the most common reasons people are seeking to get their tattooes removed at the new Expires Laser Studio in Canberra city.

"And now that he is getting married his fiancee was like nup, I'm not walking down the aisle with that on your hand."

Even more shockingly, the sister's boyfriend of one male client shaved his head and tattooed a huge swastika on it when he was knocked out unconscious while intoxicated.

Leah Klaus, who had a big butterfly tattoo that she got when she was aged 14 removed off her back, urged teenagers to reconsider making a decision they could regret with age.

"But they probably won't listen, because I didn't," she said.

Mr Hartley said the process was painful and large tattoos could take several sessions to remove. But the speed and quality of such lasering had improved significantly in recent years.

Even so, he acknowledged that jobs could go wrong.

In 2014, The Canberra Times reported that Canberrans filled with "tattoo regret" have been left with unsightly scars, burns and patchy skin after they turned to operators who used cheap lasers and chemicals to remove their ink.

In an effort to avoid any horror stories occurring under his watch, Mr Hartley said he and Ms Smith invested in a high-quality laser machine worth more than $100,000, while the average lower-quality machines cost about $10,000. He also outlined a number of qualifications they held from Sydney Beauty and Dermal Institute and Cynosure Australia.

Spokeswoman for Cosmetic Physicians Society of Australasia Dr Mary Dingley said people must be aware that in some states or territories, including the ACT, training and qualifications of laser use was unregulated.

"Hopefully, people are warned of what will or may happen [when applying or removing tattoos] and how to manage the wound afterwards," she said.

ACT Health said chemical tattoo removal was currently regulated by the same hygiene and infection control guidelines attached to tattooing.

Clare Sibthorpe is a reporter for The Canberra Times