You’d be surprised by how many amazing tattoos come from covering up an unwanted tattoo.
Some of us were young and stupid when we got that one tattoo. Other times we trust a total random with the fate of our skin, and the tattoo doesn’t age so well. And sometimes, it’s just the wear and tear of time and lack of sunscreen that results in a fading, not-so-aesthetic tattoo.
Whatever the reason, getting a cover-up tattoo can be a great way to turn an unloved tattoo into your new favorite body art. Once you’ve decided it’s a cover-up you want, you’ll need to figure out a good design that you like and can definitely live with.
You don’t want to cover up a cover-up! So, what makes a good design for covering a healed tattoo?
What Makes a Good Cover-Up?
Consider the tattoo you'll cover up when thinking of possible designs or design elements. This factor can impact what an artist can offer.
You need to cover up your unwanted tattoo's color or darkest lines. So maybe this new tattoo will need some black work to get full coverage on that old one. The whole thing doesn’t need to be a patch of black ink, but some parts will probably need to be darker than others.
You may also think a black ink cover-up is the way to go, but in some cases, using color will benefit you and cover up the underlying tattoo better. Especially if the underlying tattoo is color — it could be good to match some of the bolder colors.
Your artist will be a huge consultant in what needs to be done to get the tattoo properly covered up. Elements within your design will need to be specifically created to cover up the bolder parts of your tattoo.
You may want a butterfly to cover up your old quote tattoo. The lettering will partially determine how the butterfly is placed and how it looks over your old tattoo.
Keep your mind flexible about how the design comes out. It’s not like getting a new tattoo.
Your cover-up tattoo will have to be bigger than your old tattoo; that’s just basic logic. But it doesn't need to be a massive cover-up.
If that’s your jam, all the merrier, but to get your old tattoo covered up, you might not need to go that much bigger. You just need enough of the design to blend your old tattoo in with the new one; the rest is up to you.
Are Cover-Ups More Painful?
There’s no reason a cover-up should be more painful than any other tattoo. They will be just as painful as any other tattoo, so make sure you take the same precautions as you would with any other tattoo. Ask your artist to help you apply a numbing gel before your appointment and spray you down with a numbing spray during the tattoo.
You don’t have to use both, but the spray will keep you numbed throughout your appointment instead of you starting to feel pain after about an hour or so.
Ideas for Possible Cover-Up Tattoos
The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to cover-ups. Your only limitations are your artist's skill and money. Just google cover-ups, and you’ll see unbelievable before and afters.
Here are some solid ideas to get those creative juices flowing. We’ll provide the foundation; you get crazy with the details.
1. Floral Piece
Flower tattoos are a great option for covering up unwanted tattoos. They’re organic, so you can work the design into covering up specific pieces of the other tattoo and use color or shading to ensure the underlying tattoo isn’t visible.
Even if the tattoo below is thick black ink, it will be possible to cover it up and hide dark lines with the details of the flower. A flower tattoo leaves a lot of room for your artist to perfectly design a cover-up tattoo — plus, flower tattoos never go out of style.
They’re also good for a big cover-up because you can make a big flower sleeve to cover your unwanted tattoo.
2. Cartoon Character
Cover up your old crappy tattoo with an old cartoon-y friend. Your cover-up doesn’t have to be saturated with loads of color, but it sure can be.
Get a Calvin & Hobbes or Sully from Monsters Inc. Bart Simpson, anyone? The options are endless if you’re a cartoon or even a superhero fanatic. Speaking of, how about a Joker tattoo?
3. Iconic Art
Selecting an iconic piece of art and getting on your body forever is always an awesome idea. It’s like having a priceless piece of art that would usually be in a museum, but it’s on your body. Turn your unwanted art into some of the most coveted pieces of art in the world.
4. Black Work
Okay, so getting black work to cover up your tattoo is unnecessary. Still, if you were thinking about getting some badass black work anyway, getting it over a tattoo you never want to see again is a great idea. Two birds, one stone.
Black work can be anything from a black square to extreme geometric designs using just black ink.
Animal tattoos are classic for cover-ups. They make things simple because they use organic shapes, shading, and color (if you want).
Designing an animal cover-up is easier than doing a geometric cover-up or something equally intricate. These are a great choice when the tattoo below is large or extra challenging to cover up.
6. Sci-Fi Designs
Go alien on ‘em. Getting something crazy, abstract, and wild can function as a great cover-up and an awesome tattoo.
Kill your old tattoo with a tattoo of Alien, a Sorayama sexy robot, or a big Neon Genesis Evangelion mecha. Awesome sci-fi tattoos give you lots of design creativity to spend on covering up your old tattoo and just making a super cool tattoo you’d love to have, even if you weren’t covering up an old tattoo.
7. Blast Over
A blast over is when the tattoo artist doesn’t try to hide your old tattoo; they just blast over it with a new tattoo. They may also incorporate parts of your old tattoo into the new one.
Let's say you have a sketchy and faded butterfly you want to cover up. Your tattoo artist could literally power over it with a completely different tattoo paying no mind to how the other tattoo looks underneath.
That may sound aesthetically displeasing, but these blast overs can look pretty rad. Or they could go over it with a new, better butterfly design but maybe use the body of the butterfly or the wings in the new design but elaborate on it, so it’s better than the old one.
It’s like shooting beauty steroids into your old design. It’ll take on a new life.
How Do I Take Care of a Tattoo?
Aftercare for your tattoo, whether a cover-up or a fresh tattoo with nothing underneath, doesn’t change. Either way, spectacular aftercare is essential for a spectacularly healed tattoo.
- Gently wash your tattoo with lukewarm water, our CBD Foam Soap (naturally cleansing, fragrance-free, and soothing with CBD), and pat dry with a clean paper towel. Wash before bed and after you wake up, plus whenever else you may have gotten your healing tattoo dirty.
- Apply a healing ointment like our Sana Sana CBD Healing Balm. Apply a thin layer and let the magic healing happen.
- If it itches, apply a moisturizer. If it continues to itch, use our Numbing Spray. Don’t scratch it! You don’t want to disturb the hard work your scabbing is doing.
- Scabbing and peeling are normal. Just keep gently washing, moisturizing, and protecting your healing tattoo until the surface layer of your skin feels normal again. This usually takes about two weeks.
- Avoid the sun for those two weeks. After those couple of weeks, you can have a bit of sun as a treat, but only if you use sunscreen!
Not all artists are skilled at cover-ups. Keep this in mind when thinking of a design and choosing your artist. You may love the style of a certain artist, but they need to have the skills to do a cover-up as well.
Before you set your heart on a certain tattoo artist, ask about their experiences with doing cover-ups. You don’t want to end up with an even worse tattoo that you’ll want to cover up.
That said, cover-up tattoos are shockingly successful. You may think you have the winner regarding difficult-to-cover-up tattoos, but you’re probably wrong. Check a few before-and-afters; you’ll be surprised about what is possible and how well you can cover up your tattoo.
So, when you choose a design, don’t settle — get something awesome that you’d want to get tattooed, even if you weren’t getting a cover-up!