Understanding the Tattoo Cover-Up Process – A Comprehensive Guide

Tattoos are no longer considered taboo. Tattoos are no longer a barrier to many careers, and they’re not viewed as a social issue. Rasmussen Reports estimates that by 2022, nearly 50% of Americans under 40 will have at least one ink tattoo. Although this may indicate social progress, it creates the reality that more people will face a particular dilemma – tattoo regret.

Megan Fox and Angelina Jolie, two celebrities known to do to usher a new age into the world, chose to cover up their old tattoos. Fox covered a tattoo with flowers and a snake to cover her ex-husband’s name. You can wrap a tattoo you don’t like with one you do. However, there are some factors you and your artist will need to take into consideration.

Artist expertise

Woman consults tattoo artist

It’s essential to look at their portfolio and select an artist with the right style and skill level for your design. A cover-up tattoo, however, requires a slightly different approach. The inks of a new tattoo will mix with the inks of an older one. This can result in a color that does not match the old or new ink.

A skilled cover-up artist can plan to compensate for color mixing issues so you won’t get a tattoo you didn’t want. Even if it is more expensive, it’s always better to choose an artist with experience covering up tattoos than someone who only specializes in original designs. You will enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that your permanent ink is in good hands.

Size and Placement

Woman holds up finger tattoo

For a tattoo cover-up to blend in and adequately cover the edges of an original tattoo, the size needs to be more significant. Amanda Graves tells Female Tattooers: “My rule is that the tattoos we cover should be at least two-to-three times larger.” The technique involves tricking the eyes away from the tattoo we want to cover.

It can be challenging to do a cover-up tattoo if your original tattoo is in a small area, like a finger, a toe, or an ear. The space is restricted, and ink tends to blur more in small areas. It is essential to work with an artist who knows how to cover up and is upfront about their limitations.

Not all tattoos can be covered. If this is the situation, you might need to look at temporary cover-ups like body concealer. Laser removal may also be an option. Always consult a tattoo artist before considering any other options, medical or otherwise.

Style and color palette

In progress mandala tattoo

A skilled artist will look at the style and color of your existing tattoo to determine if a cover-up can be done. The original tattoo will limit the design if a cover-up can be done. If you have a dark or black tattoo, covering it with a lighter color is impossible. The darker shade will show. You still have many options. Graves said, “I’ve covered black tattoos using a very open-minded design from the client.” “It’s possible, but it depends on what you want to cover the tattoo with.”

The design of tattoos is also essential. If the original design has a lot of rounded lines, like in a lace pattern, for example, a design featuring sharp, straight linework cannot adequately cover it. Covering a lace design with a similar rounded design, such as a Mandala, would be more suitable. The expert advice of your tattoo artist will help you maximize the effectiveness and longevity of a cover-up.

Is it more painful to cover up?

Woman in pain during tattooing

Many people wonder whether getting a new tattoo on top of an old one will hurt more than the original. Answers can differ from client to client. The tattooing process creates scar tissue and, in rare cases, nerve damage. You will feel more pain if you experience more scarring or nerve damage during tattooing.

A laser tattoo removal will likely be more painful. Even if the pain you experience during a tattoo cover-up session is more significant than it was with your original tattoo, you’ll still feel less discomfort. Both procedures can cause pain and discomfort. However, laser tattoo removal uses technology that drives the ink to burst below the surface of your skin, creating a painful sensation some have compared to a severe sunburn.

Cover-up versus removal

Laser tattoo removal procedure

You might also consider laser removal when booking an appointment for a tattoo cover-up. If a tattoo doesn’t qualify for a cover-up or a permanent solution, the only option is laser removal. According to the Dermatology and Skin Cancer Institute, you’ll typically need to undergo the procedure as many as ten or more times to remove a tattoo entirely. Each appointment will cost hundreds of dollars. Removing a tattoo is an expensive investment.

Combining laser removal with a cover-up is another option. Laser removal can improve coverage in cases where the original tattoo was very dark or if the cover-up design didn’t blend. This can be done by only undergoing two or three laser sessions before applying the cover-up. Ask your cover-up expert for recommendations tailored to your specific circumstances.

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