Professional women's footballer, Natasha Dowie, may be most known for her skills on the pitch, but art is her second love. Her tattoos are a natural extension of this passion, but since falling in love with the minimalist, fine line tattoo style, she’s become increasingly unhappy with some of her older, thicker designs.
That’s where we came in. We’re currently clearing two of Natasha’s tattoos and she’s now considering removing a third. Since starting the tattoo removal process, Natasha has continued to explore and evolve her body art (much to the delight of her tattoo artist).
Hi, Natasha! Tell us about your tattoos.
I’m really passionate about tattoos and I love art; it was something that I really enjoyed doing at school and I’ve got about 12 tattoos now.
Tattoos have really changed over the last couple of years, like with the fine line style, and I’ve started getting a lot of tattoos in London and I just love the way they can do tattoos now - they’re so thin and so neat - that when I then looked at some of my old tattoos that I got when I was 16/17 years old, and the style of them - the quality is so bad, it’s just thick.
So one of them I’m getting removed is the stars on my wrist. Me and Jill Scott - who you probably know from winning ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ - had just beaten Arsenal Women in the cup final and Jill got the tattoo of when we beat them on her ankle and I was just sitting there and I thought “oh, I’ll get a tattoo!” So I put the stars on my wrist and there’s no meaning to it and it’s the tattoo I see the most. Now, I’ve got all these other ones that mean so much to me and when I’d look at that, I’d just think “I need to get rid of it.”
So yeah, I started the journey at NAAMA Studios who have been really kind and helpful. It’s been great and the added bonus has been that I’ve been able to come to London so much as well, which I never used to do. Every six weeks I come in and make a day of it.
"The people here at NAAMA are so friendly. I’ve actually made some good friends."
So for you, removing the tattoo is just a part of you evolving and changing your body art?
Absolutely. I think I’m definitely wanting more tattoos as well. Actually, since starting tattoo removal, I think I’ve got about four or five new tattoos. I think it’s a case of clearing space to add more and having the ones I want on my body.
Every other tattoo has a meaning or is a part of my life and journey, and this one didn’t. Yeah, I can tell the funny story about me sitting getting a tattoo with Jill Scott, but every time I looked at it, it didn’t bring me happiness and joy. Whereas when I look at all my other tattoos, they do. I love showing them off to people, but this one I almost want to hide.
And I’m guessing being a footballer, your tattoos are on show quite a lot.
Yeah, absolutely. And with the way the women’s games are going and social media and getting sponsorships and I’m involved in a lot of TV work as well - my skin is on show. That’s kind of a bit embarrassing, when I’m working for these big TV companies and I’ve got these stars on my wrist.
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It’s not just the stars you’ve been having removed, is it?
Yeah, I’ve also been removing one on the back of my ear and that’s nearly gone now. It was a cancer sign but again, it was the quality of it that made me want to remove it. I was born in June so it had meaning behind it, but I just didn’t like the quality and I felt like it had leaked and it just didn’t look very tidy.
I’ll probably also remove the one on my ankle. It has a nice meaning, it was something my dad said to me: it’s Hindu for “I see the light in you”. But again, it’s the thickness and quality of it, so I probably would look to remove that as well. But all the rest I love.
It sounds like tattoo removal is now something you’re quite open to.
Absolutely. I think it’s also made me think about my tattoos in the future. When you’re younger, you kind of rush into things a bit and you don’t really give it much thought. I think a lot of my earlier tattoos were quite off the cuff and spontaneous. Now when I get a tattoo, I really think about it; I plan it out and I make sure I’m going to the right tattoo artists. I’ve got my woman now that I know and I trust.
I think from going through the tattoo removal process, I know it’s not a quick fix. It takes a while but it’s a quality removal. So I don’t rush into tattoos as much because obviously in the future I don’t want to be getting rid of anymore.
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And how have you found your experience at NAAMA?
It’s been great. The people here at NAAMA are so friendly. I’ve actually made some good friends. Britt (NAAMA’s photographer) is a football fan as well, so it’s been nice to meet people that are passionate about the women’s game. Everyone’s so helpful and they’ve made the process as easy as possible.
You can come in earlier and get the numbing cream, which makes the process a lot more comfortable, and the girls are always so friendly when they’re doing the treatment. We have a good catch-up and chinwag for 15/20 minutes and it’s very quick.
I also think for me, when I speak to people that have had tattoo removal in other places, they say it’s quite painful. They don’t get the numbing option or the cold air like you do at NAAMA, so I feel like the process here is a lot more careful on the skin.
What about the aftercare?
Oh, it’s brilliant. It really is. Normally it’s a little bit red at first, but the consultants wrap it up and cover it and give you extra covers if it falls off. And then you have the aftercare cream. So there’s one that you take 7 days after and then after that there’s a second cream that you use until your next treatment.
Pretty much a week after treatment, the skin is settled and relaxed and you’re good to go.
Natasha at the start of her tattoo removal journey.
After 5 sessions
The tattoo remains a little dark in some places, but the ink has noticeably faded.
After 9 sessions
We've made excellent progress and the tattoo can barely be seen.
After 13 sessions
Within 16 months, Natasha's tattoo is completely gone and clear, healthy skin is left.