5 Tattoo Cover-Up Tips Using the Magic of Makeup

made-up woman with tattoo on her neck

Whether you're heading to a job interview or are going through a breakup and need a temporary fix until you firm up tattoo removal plans, anyone with a tattoo knows that the day may come when they've gotta cover it up!

Just look at Melanie Griffith. She couldn't WAIT to get that Antonio tattoo lasered off, but before then? Cover up it was!

Of course, she didn't use makeup and did eventually have it removed entirely. Thankfully, for the rest of us, it is possible to conceal even the most intricate ink. "It's really so simple," says Emmy Award-winning professional makeup artist Karen Dupiche, who is quite familiar with the best practices when hiding various kinds of body art. Here, five steps to flawlessly conceal a tattoo.


covering up tattoo on back of woman's neck

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1. Be sure to pick the makeup that's right for you. In general, makeup pros like Dupiche love Dermablend, because they specialize in camouflage makeup, designed for all-day wear.

It's waterproof, sweatproof, and gives maximum coverage, explains Lyn Tackett, licensed aesthetician and owner of Genesis Studio Spa in Iowa. For a night out, full cover cream concealer, like Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer ($32, Sephora.com), is a smart choice.

If you need to cover an especially large tattoo (think an entire sleeve or back piece), you might want to try Dinair, an airbrush system. And for very small areas, Tackett likes Kat Von D's Tattoo Eraser ($14, Sephora.com), which counteracts blue and black inks.

2. Make sure to prep the area. "Before applying, make sure you not only cleanse your skin but also keep it exfoliated," says Tackett. "This can be done with a sugar or almond scrub twice a week. Without this step, the makeup will not go on as smoothly or wear as well."

Also, apply primer. "I like MAC Prep + Prime ($30, Nordstrom.com) to keep the makeup on and keep it looking smooth," Dupiche says.

3. Apply a color-neutralizing concealer. Before applying the camouflage makeup or even a powder that matches your skin tone, you want to neutralize the colors in your tattoo with a concealer.

"Covering multi-colored tattoos can be tricky, so my advice is to stop and study the overall intensity of the colors," says Tackett. "If you have a tattoo with more blue and black inks, a yellow concealer is your best bet. If it's just a black ink tattoo, try white."

Note: If you have a faded tattoo, you may be able to skip this step and head right for #4.

4. Stipple-pat your full coverage makeup. Once the concealer is set, you can apply the makeup in quick, light pats and blend into the rest of your skin.

"You definitely want to layer it on, and then you set it with your powder, and you're good!" says Dupiche.

5. Anticipate a touch-up or two. Rain, sweat, or even rubbing from a purse or clothing may cause a tattoo to bleed through the makeup. Tackett suggests keeping a small amount of concealer and powder with you.

"If keeping a full-size concealer seems too bulky, especially for little on-the-town purses, try squeezing a small amount of concealer into a tiny decorative pill box," she says.

Ultimately, with the right tools in your arsenal, even the most vibrant tattoo can be adequately hidden.

When's the last time you had to cover up your tattoo? How did it go?


Images ©iStock.com/chrisgramly & ©iStock.com/MaxPower

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