How To Cover a Tattoo

We’ve all seen one or more photos circling around the Internet of tattoos that simply…don’t work, let’s say.

Whether it’s a design flaw, a spelling mistake, job requirements, or you simply don’t want to disappoint grandma, there are so many reasons why you would want to cover up a tattoo.

Today we will be discussing a few different ways you can do that, so keep reading to check our suggestions on how to cover a tattoo.

Reasons To Cover a Tattoo

If you have a tattoo, you may be thinking, “Why would I want to cover it?”. The whole reason you put it in the first place was that you loved how it looked on your skin, so why would you now want to hide it? Well, regardless of how much you love showing your tattoo to the world, there may be some cases when you will want to or have to cover your tattoo. Here are a few of them:

Company policies

The most frequent reason people look for ways to cover a tattoo is their job requirements. Sadly, tattoos are (sadly) still perceived as unprofessional and somewhat rebellious, so many employers disapprove of them, especially in corporations.

You may be going to a job interview and not yet know the company’s policies, so you’d want to play safe and hide it away. Or, you may already work at a position that requires you to cover up your tattoos.

You don’t like it anymore

Maybe the tattoo reminds you of a memory you would rather forget, or it’s just a symbol that is no longer in style. While you’re looking for a long-term solution for your tattoo, you may find some temporary cover-up tattoo solutions here.

Family/friends

There are a lot of people that simply don’t approve of tattoos. Some because of religious beliefs, others because of the physical appearance of tattoos, but regardless of the specific case you’re dealing with, you need a way to cover up your tattoo.

Social stigma

Regardless of how forward of a society you live in, many countries in the world still perceive tattoos as a bad thing. A lot of people desperately want to get a tattoo but then have to hide it because of the social stigma that comes with a tattoo. It’s an unfortunate situation to be in, but we got your back covered (pun intended).

Life change

The tattoo may simply be a part of your past self, a past self you want to forget but don’t want to let go of just yet. Until you’re 100% certain you want to remove the ink reminding you of the past, covering the tattoo is the best solution for the time being.

Temporary Ways To Cover a Tattoo

There’s more than one way to temporarily cover a tattoo, but the tried and true seem to always be:

Regular makeup

The first thing that comes to mind when people think of ways to cover up a tattoo is makeup. It’s the least invasive and most accessible method of covering up a tattoo, so it’s logically the most popular one.
However, it’s not as simple as putting some powder on it. It needs to be done carefully to ensure that it will stay for the whole day and won’t damage the look and quality of the tattoo. With that in mind, here’s how to cover up a tattoo with makeup:

Step 1: Shave the tattooed area

If you want to achieve maximum coverage, you should shave the tattoo area before applying any type of makeup to it. Apply a bit of shaving cream or soap before doing it, so you don’t irritate the skin. Even if you have only a few strands of hair on your tattoo, make sure you shave them so the makeup coverage can be effective and smooth.

Step 2: Apply some primer

As you would do with regular face makeup, your tattoo also needs a primer. You apply primer to your tattoo, so the makeup holds up long enough and doesn’t get smudged. Make sure to massage the primer into the skin until it’s completely absorbed, so the area has a more natural shine.

Step 3: Use a color corrector

The skin tone of your face is not the same as your body’s skin tone, so if you’re using a powder that you normally use for your face, you may have to apply a color corrector before applying the powder. This is to even out the skin tone, so when you cover up your tattoo, the coverage color doesn’t separate from the rest of your skin.

Step 4: Color the tattoo with a small brush

When your tattoo is freshly painted, and a few years after getting it, it will have some strong colorization, so you would need to cover it with another layer of a color corrector or an eye shadow. It’s best to use a flat brush and dab a bit of the color corrector/eye shadow ONLY onto the tattoo itself.

Step 5: Apply foundation

After you’ve colored the tattoo, it’s time to apply some foundation. It’s to help even out the current color of the tattoo with your skin tone, so it’s important to find a foundation that is close to your skin tone. Once you do, spread it over the entire tattoo until you notice that the tattoo is completely faded underneath it.
Before you proceed with any other steps, make sure you wait for the foundation to dry out.

Step 6: Concealer

Once the foundation has dried out, put on some concealer that is also the same tone as your skin. This step is intended to blend in the color of the tattoo area with your skin, so try to find a concealer that matches your skin tone. Make sure you use a makeup sponge to dab the concealer into the skin instead of spreading it with your fingers to avoid accidentally taking off the previous layers of makeup.

Step 7: Setting spray or setting powder

Finally, after you’ve finished applying all the makeup and your tattoo is fully covered, spray a bit of a setting spray or put a setting powder over the covered area. It will help it last longer and look more natural at the same time.

Although it seems like a lot of work, once you get the hang of it, it shouldn’t take a lot of your time. If your tattoo is easy to cover, you won’t even need to go through every step of the process. You may be able to start from step five and onwards if your tattoo is smaller, easier to conceal, or with lighter colors.

You should also keep in mind that makeup is not waterproof. It’s only a short term solution, so it will fade quickly or after it’s washed with water and soap.

Another tattoo

Having your tattoo not come out as you envisioned it could be devastating. You’ve wasted all that time and money into making it, and now you have to live with the design you don’t like and have to cover each time you go to an important event. However, there is no need to get concerned. You won’t have to spend hours covering it up every time you go out.

Cover-up tattoos are a simple but very effective solution to cover up old tattoos, and one of the most popular ways to cover a tattoo. The way it works is simple. First, you contact a tattoo artist specializing in and certified for cover-up tattoos to schedule a meeting. When you get there, you explain the situation and show the tattoo to them, and they will suggest the best course of action for your case.

They may suggest going for a different style of tattoo, what the most effective combination of colors would be, as well as some options about how to personalize your cover-up tattoo and make it meaningful to you, all while completely covering the old tattoo.

The way it works is that the tattoo artist inserts ink in the same dermis where the old tattoo is and uses both inks to create the new design. During the process, old ink and new ink are combined to create a whole different color, most often a shade close to the new ink color. So, cover-up tattoos don’t actually cover the old tattoo, but rather redesign it by combining the colors of inks’ colors.

How the colors will mix and which colors should be used are usually the main focus when you cover up tattoos. The tattoo artist has to use ink colors that will dominate the previous ones, so make sure you discuss what you want the new design to be and what your expectations are in terms of design and color combination. You can expect the following for cover-up tattoos:

  • Black is the most commonly used color for cover-ups.
  • Darker shades of the same colors are very effective for covering tattoos.
  • When the old ink and the new ink combine, you will get a completely new color.
  • Light colors such as orange, blue, yellow and green can also be used to cover up tattoos, but not always.
  • Cover-up tattoos are a bit larger than the old tattoo for maximum effect.

In terms of the process used to cover up tattoos, it’s almost the same as the regular process. The tattoo artist will place a tracing paper over the initial design and outline the main features. They will then place it underneath a new tracing paper to create the new design by using the old outlines. The cover-up process may take a few sessions, but by the time you’re done with it, there won’t be any signs of you ever having the old tattoo underneath it.

The aftercare process of your new tattoo is the same as a new tattoo. You will need to wash it and keep the area clean at all times, apply moisturizer and avoid exposing it in direct sunlight.

Note: Cover-up tattoos are also a great option for faded tattoos, not only badly designed or unwanted tattoos.

Clothes and accessories

When nothing else is an option, or it is, but it’s out of budget, you can always cover it with clothes or accessories. While tattoos in some areas like your torso and legs are easier to cover up when your tattoo is in some of the body parts you expose more frequently like a wrist or neck, you need to get a bit more creative.

So, let’s say you have a tattoo on your chest going up your neck. If you want to hide the parts peeking above your shirt and on your neck, a scarf, bandana, or a bowtie can do the trick for you. It will not only help you hide the tattoo areas you want to hide, but it will also add that fashionable flair to your outfit.

If the tattoo is on your wrist, you could wear a watch or a bracelet, as long as the tattoo is minimal, of course. When the tattoo covers a bigger surface or going towards your upper arm, you may want to put on a long sleeve shirt if you intend to fully cover it up.

If the tattoo you want to cover is on areas that aren’t usually covered by clothing, like your ankles or on your calves, you may be thinking that there is no way of covering it other than wearing long sweats, pants, or jeans, but that’s not actually true. Socks have become the IT thing right now, so you can find fashionable pieces in every other clothing store you enter. Whether you want them ankle-high, knee-high, or thigh-high, there are socks out there that will cover your tattoo and help you make a fashion statement at the same time, regardless of your fashion style.

Band-aid

A band-aid is the first thing that comes to most people’s mind when thinking of ways to cover up their small tattoo. But why would you choose this option when you can cover your tattoo up more effectively with makeup or clothes? Well, you may be in a rush to go out and don’t have the time to cover it with makeup, and it’s too hot outside to wear long sleeves. This is when a quick fix is needed, and a band-aid is an ideal solution.

Band-aids are great to cover up small tattoos without spending much time on the covering process or feeling uncomfortable by wearing long sleeves in hot weather. You can simply say you’ve cut yourself with a knife or spilled hot coffee over the area and get off easily.

However, keep in mind that band-aids are a viable solution when it comes to smaller tattoos. If you want to cover a larger tattoo, it may not be the ideal choice.

Tattoo eraser pencil

A product called the tattoo eraser pencil, which is designed by famous tattoo artist Kat Von D, helps people cover their tattoos for up to a day. The eraser pencil tool uses hue and texture to neutralize your tattoo’s deepest blues and brightest purples.

It’s not a confirmed or a proven cover-up method as it’s a makeup product and works differently on every individual, but it may be a good option for those that are looking for a quick way to hide their tattoo.

Permanent Ways To Cover a Tattoo

Unlike a few years back, tattoos are no longer a lifetime commitment. You may have made a spur of the moment mistake of putting a tattoo you don’t like anymore, covering it has become too much of a bother for you, or you just don’t want to have it anymore. Regardless of your reason, when nothing else works or is a viable option, removing the tattoo is all that’s left.

Laser removal

Laser removals take more than one session to complete, usually six to ten sessions, depending on the size and design of the tattoo. It’s the most widely used method of tattoo removals where you’re given a local anesthetic before lasers are directed on your tattoo. This is repeated throughout several sessions, and after each one of them, your skin will be swollen and have blisters or blood.

Surgical removal

You may dread the thought of going under the knife, but when the tattoo you want to remove is a smaller one, surgical removal may actually be the easiest and least painful solution. However, it does require local anesthetics and cutting off the skin with a knife then stitching the area, so it will still leave a scar regardless of the size.

Moreover, when the tattoo is larger, a skin graft may be required, which means that a piece of skin from another part of your body is cut off and stitched in the place where the tattoo is removed. This, of course, results in another scar on your body and longer recovery time with an underlying risk of infections and other medical complications.

Dermabrasion

This method is similar to surgery, but not as invasive as one. A doctor will numb the area of your tattoo by chilling it and then use a rotary tool with a sanding head to remove the top layer of the skin where the tattoo is. After they do this, the ink underneath the skin will leach out, which is basically your tattoo colors. Your skin will feel sore and raw several days after undergoing dermabrasion, but it’s a method that is not as effective as surgical and laser removal.

Tattoo removal cream

Tattoo removal creams are meant to erase or at least fade the ink on your skin. You apply them on your skin, and over time, they are supposed to erase the tattoo, but they can cause several side effects like skin burning or scarring in more severe cases.

If you want to try a tattoo removal cream, you can find them in most department stores or online retailers, but there is little to no evidence that they have worked for previous users.

F.A.Q.

What is the most effective way to cover up a tattoo?
As far as this goes, there isn’t an officially proclaimed “best tattoo cover-up solution” out there. Each tattoo and skin are different, and so is the most effective cover-up treatment. So far, makeup has been the most used method to cover up a tattoo, and since there are so many makeup products out there, you can surely find one that will work for you the most.

What is the cheapest method to cover a tattoo?
The answer to this question depends on the tattoo you want to cover. If your tattoo is a small one, clothing and accessories are something you already have at home, so you wouldn’t have to spend a cent on covering. However, that method of cover-up is not an option for many, so these people would have to use other methods like makeup.

Where can I find the appropriate makeup to cover up tattoos?
There are some makeup products and sets that are specifically designed to cover up tattoos, so if you don’t have the makeup products we listed at home, a better alternative may be to buy a set that is designed to cover up tattoos.

Final Thoughts

Some of these methods of covering up a tattoo are more effective than others depending on your cover-up goal. But while some of the methods like clothing and band-aid coverage are relatively safe, some of the other ones involve using different medical and chemical products. Before using any of them, make sure you consult a dermatologist and a tattoo artist before applying any of them.