The West End is home to a new laser-powered startup aiming at remorseful tattoo wearers.
Christine Cornacchione opened Efface Skin Care and Tattoo Removal on March 18 at 9127 W. Broad St. in Henrico in the Shoppes at TJ Maxx in the West End. Cornacchione has a three-year lease on the 1,580-square-foot former salon space.
Efface does laser tattoo removal as well as skin rejuvenation and wrinkle removal. Cornacchione, a former administrative assistant, said the idea to get into skin care came over lunch one day with her family.
“We started talking about tattoos and tattoo removal,” Cornacchione said. “We’d seen different news pieces on how the industry was growing, and I went home and started researching it.”
Cornacchione said she found reports saying that many people with tattoos regret the decision and that Richmond is one of the most tattooed cities in the country.
MarketWatch reported tattoo removal is a growing $75.5 million industry expected to reach $83.2 million in 2018. The growth rate should help ink removal catch up to its raison d’etre – the tattoo industry, which hit $3.4 billion in revenue in 2014 and is growing 2.9 percent annually.
“I knew there was a market there,” Cornacchione said. “It was time to do it now before so many other places opened up.”
Cornacchione said she has hired four employees and paid more than $80,000 for an Astanza Duality Laser. The laser can be set to three different wavelengths that shatter ink in the skin, which the body’s white blood cells then attack like any other germs or foreign bodies.
“It’s not comfortable, but it’s fast,” Cornacchione said. “It doesn’t hurt as bad as getting a tattoo.”
The laser part of a sessions – which usually costs between $60 and $135 – lasts about 40 seconds. It can take between five and 10 sessions to remove a tattoo. Location, size, color and the quality of the original tattoo job all play a factor. Skin farther away from the heart tends to be thicker, so that ankle tattoo of a butterfly will be harder to remove than the barbed wire wrapped around a bicep.
Cornacchione said Efface has done 23 tattoo removals since it opened.
“A lot of wrong names is what I’m really seeing,” she said. “We’re seeing a broad spectrum of people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.”
There are a few other companies in Richmond that do tattoo removal, including Richmond Aesthetic Surgery in Midlothian, East Coast Laser Tattoo Removal in the West End and Zapatat in Short Pump.
Cornacchione said she didn’t want to open her shop in traffic-heavy Short Pump, but her options were limited because many shopping centers seemed reluctant to take her on as a tenant.
“I think they stopped at the word ‘tattoo,’” she said.