How to Cover a Tattoo Without Makeup

If you have a tattoo, you may sometimes wish you could cover it up. Complete removal is permanent and expensive, but there are a number of ways to temporarily conceal or permanently transform your tattoo. If you only need to cover it for social and professional situations, clothing, accessories, or special adhesive tattoo covers should do the trick. If you need to cover a tattoo you don’t want anymore, or an old one that has faded, a professional tattoo artist can help you transform it into something new.


[Edit]Covering a Tattoo with Clothing and Accessories

  1. Choose high-collared shirts to conceal neck and shoulder tattoos. Turtleneck shirts, cowl neck sweaters, and oxford shirts can all be used to cover tattoos in these areas.[1] If the weather is warm, layer a light blazer over a light shirt or shell top.[2]
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  2. Style your hair to help you conceal a tattoo. If your hair is long enough, you can just wear it down to hide your tattoo. If not, a high-collared shirt or scarf, in combination with shorter hair, can effectively cover a tattoo.[3]
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  3. Wear long pants, skirts, or tights to cover leg and ankle tattoos. Make sure your pants are long enough to cover the tattoo even when you cross your legs.[4] You can also wear ankle or knee boots to hide your tattoo, depending on its location.[5] If you have a tattoo on your feet, make sure to combine shoes and socks or tights that cover it completely.
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    • If you choose tights, check that they are opaque enough to provide full coverage.[6]
    • If you’re worried that your pants might not cover an ankle tattoo, wear high socks too, just in case.
  4. Wear long-sleeve tops to cover tattoos on your chest, back, and arms. If you want to wear your favorite short sleeve or sleeveless top, add a cardigan or blazer on top.[7] If your tattoo is on your lower back, most dresses and full suits will guarantee no one sees it.[8]
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  5. Select accessories that cover smaller tattoos on your neck. Depending on the size of a tattoo on your neck or collarbone, a chunky necklace can conceal it well. Seasonal scarves can also cover neck tattoos, and can be particularly effective when you can’t style your hair to cover your tattoo.[9]
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  6. Hide tattoos on your hands and wrists with jewelry. Watches and large bracelets can be used conceal wrist tattoos.[10] Depending on the size and color of the tattoo, a number of smaller bangle bracelets can also hide a tattoo well.[11]
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    • If you want to use an accessory, choose one that won’t move around too much.[12]

[Edit]Using Adhesive Fabric to Cover a Tattoo

  1. Purchase adhesive tattoo covers. Sold in pharmacies or online, adhesive tattoo covers are made of fabric and are generally sold already cut into pieces or on a roll, like tape. As a result, they work best with smaller tattoos. Be sure to measure your tattoo before buying a tattoo cover so you can be sure it will cover the whole thing cleanly.
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    • The fabric used in these covers is breathable, so they don’t trap sweat. Not only does this make them good for use in hot weather or when you’re exercising, it means they’re not going to loosen and fall off if you get a little warm.[13]
    • Tattoo covers come in limited shades so it may be difficult to find ones that match your skin tone. Purchasing in the store if possible will make this easier.
    • You can also purchase stretchy fabric tattoo covers to conceal arm and leg tattoos too big for adhesive covers. These are often sold simply as “sleeves,” even if they’re for your legs. [14]
  2. Wash and dry your tattoo and the surrounding skin. This will ensure that the tattoo cover fully sticks to your skin. If possible, avoid placing these covers over body hair, as it will hurt when you pull them off.
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    • While it’s important to apply these covers to dry skin, they are water resistant and can be used even if you’re going to go swimming.[15]
  3. Cut the tattoo cover to the right size and shape and place it over your tattoo. Regardless of the kind of tattoo cover you purchased, you should cut it down to fit your tattoo.[16] Make sure the adhesive cover you cut will cover all of your tattoo, especially if it is a complex design.
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  4. Use a bandage in a pinch. Adhesive bandages can cover small tattoos easily. An ACE bandage can also conceal a tattoo. This solution won’t work for tattoos in places like the collarbone, neck, or lower back, but it can be an easy and effective way to hide a tattoo near a major joint.[17]
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[Edit]Covering a Tattoo with Another Tattoo

  1. Consult a tattoo artist to plan your new tattoo. Whether you’re covering up newer tattoo that you don’t like or an older tattoo that has faded with time, talk to a skilled tattoo artist who can come up with a new design that will effectively cover your existing tattoo.[18] Different artists will see different ways of covering your old tattoo with a new one, so it’s worth it to consult a few.[19]
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  2. Choose a design that will cover your old tattoo completely. Your tattoo artist will trace the outline of your existing tattoo and consult with you to design a new tattoo from that reference. Most will recommend a design 30% larger than the old tattoo to ensure full coverage.[20]
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    • Tattoo artists may also find ways to incorporate much of your existing tattoo into the new design. Having your tattoo transformed in this way may save you time and money.[21]
  3. Choose dark colors that will most effectively cover your old tattoo. The ink of your new tattoo doesn’t simply go on top of the old ink. Instead, it combines with the old ink to produce a new color. As a result, black ink is often most effective at covering an old tattoo, especially one with a lot of dark ink.[22]
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    • A tattoo artist may also be able to use these same properties to change some of the color of an existing tattoo.[23]
  4. Fade the darkest lines of your old tattoo before getting your new tattoo. While getting a tattoo completely removed with laser treatment can be expensive and time-consuming, having a few sessions of laser treatment to fade the darkest parts of your existing tattoo is much less expensive and will make your cover up tattoo more successful.[24]
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  5. Moisturize and protect your new cover up tattoo. After receiving your new tattoo, clean, bandage, and moisturize it as your tattoo artist directs. Cover tattoos tend to itch if they get wet in the shower, but don’t scratch them. Instead, gently pat them dry with a clean cloth or let them air dry.[25]
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    • To keep your new tattoo vivid, use sunscreen to protect it from sun damage.[26]