Cover-Up Tattoo Ideas: What You Need To Know About Erasing Unwanted Ink

Dog And Teddy Bear Cover-Up Tattoo @tattooist_sazin

On your way to getting your tattoo, you may have heard things like “Tattoos are permanent”, “What if you don’t like it?”, and “What will it look like when you’re 80?”. You rolled your eyes and got your tattoo anyway. Your design looked awesome and you were happy with how it turned out… for a few years.

Now, your ink is something you cover with clothes or make-up all the time and you wince slightly when you see it. Suddenly, the permanency of your tattoo is something you regret. This is where tattoo cover-ups come in.

Colorful Goldfish Cover-Up Tattoo @non_lee_ink

A cover-up tattoo is basically replacing your old tattoo with a new design,

“Cover-up tattoos are an easier alternative to having a tattoo permanently removed,”

True Blue Tattoos

While you could opt for laser tattoo removal, there are a few pros to getting a tattoo cover-up instead:

  • Cover-up tattoos tend to be more cost-effective compared to laser tattoo removal, which often requires multiple sessions and can be quite expensive.
  • A cover-up tattoo can be completed in a single session, while laser tattoo removal can take upward of three to four weeks.
  • Some tattoos are difficult to remove completely with laser treatment because of tricky ink colors, depth, or location. In these cases, a cover-up tattoo is a more practical way to go. 
Detailed Full Moon Cover-Up Tattoo @mimir_tattoo

It is a bit of a misconception that a cover-up tattoo is placed on top of another tattoo. The ink is placed on the dermis layer of the skin – new ink is not placed on top of this, but it is mixed with it.

“Getting a cover-up tattoo places new ink with the old ink, basically combining the two. To put it simply, the color of the original piece will end up affecting the cover-up piece,”

Lucky Deville Tattoo
Purple Heart Cover-Up Tattoo @mryjtattoo

What Type of Tattoo Is Best For A Cover Up?

No, you can’t cover up a tattoo with anything. Your cover-up design needs to be bigger and darker in order to fully conceal the old design. Certified Tattoo explains,

“A good tattoo for a cover-up is one with a larger and darker design, incorporating rich colors and shading, which can effectively hide the original tattoo while incorporating it into the new artwork.”

Take your time to research tattoo artists who are experienced in cover-up tattoos. Look through their portfolios and book an appointment with them to discuss your proposed cover-up. They will be able to advise you on what techniques and colors will actually cover up the initial tattoo successfully. 

Abstract Black Half Sleeve Cover-Up Tattoo

What Tattoo Color Is Hardest To Cover? 

Black tattoo ink tends to be the most difficult color to cover up because it’s the most saturated and opaque, making it challenging to conceal completely. If the tattoo that you want to cover up includes large swatches of black, your cover-up design can’t be lighter or include lighter colors.

Rose Cover-Up Tattoo @inks.treet

The reason black ink is difficult to cover is that it can show through lighter colors or interfere with the shading and details of the new design. It can be a struggle to fully mask the depth of black ink with light or pastel colors – whites, yellows, and pinks.

Darker colors like blues, purples, and greens may be more successful in concealing black ink, but complete coverage can still be difficult.

Chat with your chosen tattoo artist. You may need to go for some laser tattoo removal sessions before you can attempt a cover-up. Because, no matter how much you dislike your tattoo, you don’t want to choose a cover-up design you’re not completely in love with just because it can hide your tattoo.

White Ink On Black Ink Sleeve Tattoo @juan_vago_tattoos

Can You Put White Ink Over A Black Tattoo? 

Yes, although it can be a challenge. One option for a cover-up tattoo is a blackout tattoo.

“Covering your existing tattoo by process of ‘blacking it out’ is entirely possible, though it will be a time-consuming and expensive undertaking. Many people find that this style of cover-up affords them a creative way to hide unwanted large-scale tattoos,”

Tattoo Do

It doesn’t have to end there – you can add white ink designs on top of the black ink. This is a great tattoo cover-up option if the design you want to cover is large – such as a sleeve tattoo – or extremely intricate. 

Palm Tree Cover-Up Tattoo

However, it’s important to know that a white-on-black tattoo is a time-consuming process. First, a section of your skin needs to be covered with black ink which can take a while or even multiple sessions. Then your skin needs to heal before your tattoo artist can add the white ink overlay.

Plus, the white ink needs to be applied liberally and over a few sessions for the design to really stand out against the black ink. This type of cover-up tattoo should be considered a long-term investment. 

Owl Cover-Up Tattoo @dinitattoo_

Are Cover-Up Tattoos More Painful? 

Pain is a subjective thing when it comes to tattoos. Some people experience way more discomfort under the tattoo needle than others. 

One reason that a cover-up tattoo may hurt more is because it is bigger and needs more ink than your initial tattoo in order to cover everything. More time in the tattoo chair results in more discomfort. 

Negative Space Cover-Up Tattoo @brodycalypso

The old adage, “Tattoos are permanent” may not be all that accurate anymore. If you no longer love a tattoo, you can cover it up.

However, it’s important to choose your tattoo artist carefully and discuss all of your options with them so that your cover-up tattoo turns out to be a better option for you in the long-term.

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