Tattoos are more popular and mainstream than ever before. According to research conducted by PEW, about a third of Americans have at least one tattoo. Attitudes surrounding tattoos are definitely changing—but what about when you don’t like your ink or need to cover it up quickly? Of Americans with tattoos, about 24% of them regret getting at least one. And of course, there may be times like a big job interview or special event where you want to temporarily cover-up your tattoo.
Whether you want a cover-up for the day or a permanent change to the ink you have, we take you through the expert-approved ways to cover-up your tattoo.
How to Hide Your Tattoo
According to celebrity makeup artist Lottie, if you need to hide your tattoo immediately, there’s one makeup tool you must have. “Color correctors are absolutely necessary to cancel out the color of the tattoo before covering,” Lottie explains.
After using a color corrector, Lottie advises to use a high coverage concealer. “For full coverage, use a sponge to apply a thick base of concealer once you’ve color corrected,” Lottie says. “Then set your makeup with translucent powder.”
Color correcting is basically a science: green helps cancel out redness, purple can tamp down dull and yellow undertones, and for tattoos, well, it depends on the tattoo itself.
When Emmy Award Nominated celebrity makeup artist Gregory Arlt needs to cover-up a tattoo quickly, there’s one color that he always has in his kit. “For very tricky shades like black, use an orange color corrector,” Arlt explains.
Orange color correctors are typically found in palettes for deeper skin tones, which is exactly what you need when covering a dark tattoo. “It will help to cancel the black without it looking gray, then apply a full coverage foundation over it,” Arlt says. “I use a translucent powder between coats to help set it.”
According to fashion and celebrity makeup artist Gilbert Soliz, you may need to layer on these steps in order to fully cover your tattoo, allowing your coverage to build up. “Start with clean skin, then apply a color corrector and a sheer layer of concealer. Finally, set with powder,” Soliz explains. “You just need to repeat steps two and three until the tattoo is covered.”
If you take one thing away from this process, it should be that an accurate color corrector is essential.
“Color correctors are helpful in covering tattoos,” Soliz says. “Especially for dark tattoos or those with heavy pigment.”
Makeup Products for Tattoo Coverage
Available in six primary shades from Light to Extra Deep, this conceal and correct palette offers two corrector shades per palette. Recommended by Arlt for its range and long-wear formula, you’re sure to find the exact shade you need to color correct your tattoo, no matter the color of your ink.
This formula offers buildable coverage that’s able to cover tattoos without creasing or sweating off. For dark tattoos and those with black ink, consider the orange shades available in the Extra Deep palette.
Lottie recommends the Sensual Skin Enhancer for its high coverage and natural finish. This 16-shade range of concealer and foundation has a formula rich in vitamin E and jojoba oil and is fragrance-free and sweat resistant. Sensual Skin Enhancer is built to cover dark circles, acne, discoloration, hyperpigmentation and, you guessed it, tattoos.
For tattoo coverage, you’ll be using this mainly as a high coverage concealer, after color correcting.
Recommended by Soliz, this setting powder offers 24-hour shine control without any heavy weight or texture. The smooth application makes it perfect for reapplying in several layers between your concealer and color corrector. This formula comes in three shades to from translucent to medium deep for a range of coverage.
Packed with vitamins C and E, this formula blurs imperfections while melting seamlessly into skin for a shine-free finish.
Laser Tattoo Removal
Montclair, NJ dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD explains that laser tattoo removal is very simple these days. “The process of tattoo removal is quick, easy and relatively painless for most people,” Dr. Downie explains. “The doctor covers your eyes with laser goggles, focuses the laser light on the tattoo, and hits a foot pedal or a handheld trigger to target the color in the pigment of the tattoo.”
The light and heat from the laser work to break down that pigment.
“After shattering the ink into smaller particles, the immune system will help to carry the particles away,” explains Rochester, NY dermatologist Lesley Loss, MD. “Think of smashing boulders into rocks, and then rocks into pebbles, and then pebbles into sand.”
Based on the colors, age and size of the tattoo, you may need several treatments to completely erase your ink. Color tattoos, for example, are notoriously difficult to remove.
Alongside the variation in color, Smithtown, NY dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD notes that the method of tattooing can also change the way it is removed.
“If a tattoo is professionally administered, all of the ink is at the same level in the skin,” Dr. Peredo explains. “But when it is hand-done or done by an amateur, the pigment is at different layers in the skin, which is harder for the laser to remove.”