How To Cover and Conceal Tattoos

How To Cover and Conceal Tattoos

Even those of us who love our body art occasionally need or want to cover it up, whether for work purposes, a formal function, or a visit to a family who might not approve. If clothing won’t meet your cover-up needs, then it’s time to learn how to artfully apply makeup to disguise your ink.

The Right Product

“Street” foundations and concealers will work to hide undereye circles and small blemishes, but they won’t provide the full and lasting coverage of a specialty product. There are numerous heavy-duty concealers on the market, such as Dermablend or Ben Nye Concealer Palette; these are the same products that TV and film makeup artists use to cover an actor’s tattoos and other permanent marks (such as scars or veins).

Look for a product that is completely opaque, heavy, and creamy, not one of the “liquid-to-powder” foundations. Any product with the phrases “sheer” or “light” in the description will not do the trick for this cover-up job! Most tattoos use a blue-based ink, so a yellow concealer will help to counteract the blue tones.

Also, make sure that the concealer matches your skin tone exactly. When applying body makeup, even the slightest variation between the makeup and your skin tone is just as obvious as the tattoo itself. If necessary, purchase several shades and mix to match your skin tone.

You can find specialty tattoo concealers in the cosmetic sections of large department stores. When purchasing in department stores, you have the added bonus of being able to test the product and receive recommendations from the cosmetic consultants. If you cannot find a tattoo concealer in your area, you can always search and order online.


With body makeup, long-lasting coverage is vital. Many cream concealers and foundations will leave traces of makeup on your clothes—or worse, on other people’s clothes! The last thing you want after carefully disguising your tattoo is to have the makeup smudge or disappear, revealing your ink. Practice with your concealer ahead of time to make sure that it lives up to its promises.

For lasting results, you must first begin with a clean and dry foundation. Cleanse your skin as usual, and then use a toner to wipe away any traces of dirt, oil, and makeup. Rinse the area and pat dry. Next, follow the recommendations on the package of your product. Some products will require several layers, but others promise a one-step application.

Use a clean, dry makeup sponge for a smooth application. First, apply the product to the area, then use the sponge to spread the concealer evenly. If you are applying several coats, allow each to dry completely. If possible, you might want to cover all exposed skin in the area for an even look.

This works well for a facial or hand tattoo but won’t work as well if you are exposing a lot of skin. If you can’t or don’t want to cover all of your skin, make sure to blend the makeup carefully into the surrounding area.

When you are satisfied with the coverage, dust the area with translucent powder to set the makeup in place (some products come with a powder designed to work with that specific formula).

Then, test your makeup job by gently wiping a cotton swab or piece of tissue across the surface, and hopefully, your makeup won’t smudge! Finally, check the coverage in several types of light: if you’ll be in bright light, you’ll need even heavier coverage than in dim lighting. And if all else fails, consult a professional makeup artist for his or her expertise!


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