Cover Up Tattoo

Realities Of Cover-Up Tattoos

Cover-up tattoos are an excellent option for people wanting to cover up their existing tattoo. Getting a cover-up tattoo can be fun and exciting. Still, it’s also essential to consider the realities of getting this type of tattoo—including what it takes to make something permanent disappear!

Why Do People Get Cover-Up Tattoos?

We’re not going to point any fingers here. Blame for an unwanted tattoo can fall in a number of directions from the client, to the artist, to just bad luck. Let’s move past fault and look at some of the reasons folks may want a tattoo covered up.

  • You got a bad tattoo the first time around.

  • Your tastes have changed.

  • Your tattoo is fading or has aged poorly.

  • It’s an ex-lover’s name that you want to be erased from your body.

  • You want to make better use of that real estate on your body.

Coverup Tattoo with Outline by Matt Cross Coverup Tattoo by Matt Cross

Cover-Up vs. Touch-Up

When it comes to cover-up tattoos, there are two main options: a cover-up or a touch-up/repair. The former option is most commonly used when you want the tattoo being covered up to become something totally different. A cover-up is almost always more expensive than a touch-up, repair, or the existing tattoo. Much work is required in the design and execution of a cover-up tattoo.

If your goal is simply to improve an existing tattoo with coverage of a faded spot or an addition of color, you may consider getting a touch-up instead of getting another whole design altogether. While this option will save money and time, it’s important that the artist understands what you’re trying to achieve—a touch-up should not affect the overall look or concept of your original piece!

It’s also important to have realistic expectations here; touch-ups aren’t miracles. Without redoing the entire tattoo, some areas may be older and faded, while others are fresh and bold. Talk with your tattoo artist about your goals and they can guide in the best direction!

Consider The Existing Tattoo

Start your plan with the existing tattoo. Is it small or large? Is it line-work only or full color? These details will determine the type of design and artwork needed for a cover-up. Don’t fight what’s already there; you can’t change the past. Be smart and work existing shapes or lines into the cover-up design.

If the existing tattoo isn’t heavily filled or saturated, you may get away with less shading or color in the cover-up. However, when you’re covering up a solid-filled tattoo, there’s no way around it. The cover-up will always need to have more coverage than the tattoo underneath, which leads us to our next point.

Color PreCoverup Tattoo by Matt Cross


The size of your tattoo is the most important factor to take into consideration. If you want a cover-up, it can’t be too small. Otherwise, it will look like a mashed-up mess on your skin and draw more attention to the area. It’s better to go big and overdo it than try for something too small that just won’t work!

A bigger design will help to mask the old tattoo and allow for the use of surrounding areas. Fresh skin to expand the design onto allows for quality work to distract from the cover-up area. The old tattoo will blend in with the new work and reduce its visibility.

Old, Faded Tattoo Invader Zim Gir Tattoo by Matt Cross

Saturation and Coverage

If you’re working to cover up an old tattoo, it’s important to consider the coverage of the new one. As we’ve already mentioned, a smaller design will not be enough. A design that is large enough and has full saturation will ensure that there is no hint of what’s beneath it.

Saturation refers to the density of ink in the skin. It’s important for cover-up tattoo designs to have heavy saturation, preferably with black or darker colors. This will hide the old design underneath.

If this seems like too much work for such minor details, remember, it’s not. The more effort you put into making sure your cover-ups are done well, the less likely anyone will notice the old tattoo was even there. Mission accomplished, right?

Organic Designs

Additionally, it’s important to consider what type of design will be best suited for the job. Organic designs are much more flexible and allow you more leeway when applied over an old tattoo. Rigid designs can be harder to work around and have less flexibility when trying to cover an existing tattoo.

It’s important to be flexible with your artist if you’re trying to cover up an old tattoo. The time to be particular was when you were a blank canvas. Once you have a tattoo in a given location, your options to cover it up are limited to what will be effective.

After paying for the second session to cover up the old tattoo, you definitely want it to be done right. There are no third chances aside from laser removal which is painful, time consuming, and expensive.

Old Tattoo Before Coverup Bird Coverup Tattoo by Mara Thayer

Prevention Is Key

As they say, the best offense is a good defense. The best defense against cover-up tattoos is proper planning the first time around. Try to choose tattoo designs that are timeless and not something that represents a trend. If trends are your thing, that’s cool too! Just make sure you’ll be happy with it for the long haul.

Do your research on the artist and shop before you hop in the chair, also. Reputable shops and artists will take the time to make sure you’re getting what you really want. More importantly, you know that the tattoo is done correctly in a safe environment.

Did We Cover Everything?

Cover-up tattoos are a great way to hide an unwanted piece, but they do have limitations. As we now know, there are ways to plan for an effective cover-up. If you have questions about a tattoo you’d like to have repaired or covered up, head over to the link below to book a consultation with one of our artists!

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