NAAMA is dedicated to enabling self-expression through skin. Often that means helping our clients make space for a new tattoo or alter an existing design. At our studio, it’s possible to fade for a cover-up you’ll genuinely adore. Our advanced laser technology is gentle on skin, removing unwanted ink and leaving behind a smooth, healthy canvas. Here we discuss tattoo cover-up ideas, detail the factors that influence which type of cover-up will work best for you, and explain how much it’s likely to cost.
What are my options?
There are three main options for transforming an existing tattoo into a new design.
The most common choice for a tattoo cover-up, complete coverage involves tattooing a larger design over the ink so that it’s no longer visible. While faded or light tattoos are the easiest to cover, they can only be masked using the same pigment or darker.
Creative rework retains some of the original tattoo while altering or adding to the design. This can vary from simple shading and highlighting to a total redesign. Again, the covered ink can only be masked using the same pigment or darker.
A blast over is a tattoo style in its own right. It barely masks the tattoo beneath, effectively creating a dynamic layered ink aesthetic. Most blast overs are made by layering heavy blackwork over lighter or faded colour tattoos.
How do cover-ups work?
The term ‘tattoo cover-up’ suggests that the fresh ink is being layered over the old ink, concealing it from view like layers of oil paint on a canvas. In truth, the pigments mix together beneath the skin. Darker coloured inks become dominant, which is why plenty of black ink is often used to cover tattoos, and lighter inks combine to make new colours.
For an effective cover-up, the artist will consider how to blend and shade those colours to achieve the result you want but they can’t make miracles happen. The colour interaction limits your scope of tattoo cover-up ideas and increases the likelihood of the original artwork remaining visible after the fresh ink has healed. This is where tattoo removal comes in.
Is It better to remove a tattoo or cover it up?
If you’re going to invest in a cover-up, incorporating laser tattoo removal sessions into the process will give you more creative freedom, especially if the original tattoo is particularly dark, very large or relatively new.
When a laser is passed over your tattoo, the ink molecules are shattered into tiny particles and flushed out of your body. Three types of lasers are typically used for tattoo removal: Q-switch nanosecond lasers, Pico lasers, and most recently, the LightSense laser system – patented technology derived from Princeton University and only available at NAAMA.
While older lasers trap lots of heat in the skin, increasing the risk of blistering and scarring, NAAMA’s low-energy technology won’t cause any lasting damage. They pulse faster, breaking ink pigments down quickly without transferring excess energy to the surrounding areas. Healthy skin can be treated more frequently, which speeds up the fading process.
If you’re keen to rework your ink rather than cover it up, we can aim the laser at only the darkest or unwanted areas. Our next-generation technology is precise so we can target individual sections of even the most ornate tattoos.
By deploying specific settings that treat the full colour spectrum, we offer effective removal across all ink types. And even if you only plan on covering up with simple black shading, laser sessions are still a smart choice because they’ll fade harsh linework that could remain visible.
Can my tattoo be covered up?
Any tattoo can be covered up providing you’re realistic about what can be achieved. Cover tattoos need to be larger in size than the original artwork, and they often require plenty of heavily pigmented ink to conceal the previous design.
A number of factors will impact the process and outcome. Firstly, the colour of the original tattoo - darker, bolder tattoos with thicker ink are more challenging than lighter, softer tattoos with less ink. Secondly, the age of your tattoo. Ink fades over time so the more faded the ink, the easier it is to cover up. The design of the original tattoo plays a part including the grading of the colour and whether it has outlines. Finally, the design of the new tattoo is key. Be flexible about what can be achieved and trust your artist’s judgement.
The beauty of incorporating laser tattoo removal into your cover-up journey is that you can lighten the old ink as much as you choose, or even fade it completely, before starting afresh. We’ve spent the last decade making our unique technology the world’s best, and will work with you to evaluate the best course of treatment tailored to your skin, tattoo and desired result. The LightSense laser system is gentle on skin, so scarring isn’t an issue and there’s no need for downtime between treatments either. Just follow our straightforward aftercare advice and your skin will return to normal soon after your session.
How much do cover-ups cost?
It depends on the individual characteristics of your original tattoo, the nature of the design you want to replace it with, and how many laser sessions it’ll take to get you there. At NAAMA, we offer several different ways to buy, from single sessions to cost-effective bundles to monthly memberships. You can view our pricing here.
You’ll also need to factor in the cost of your new ink, which will vary depending on the size of the piece, the design and the artist’s rate. Some artists charge by the hour while others choose to offer a daily rate. We partner with leading tattoo artists who welcome the opportunity to cover-up tattoos and we’re happy to make recommendations for your next piece.
Are cover up tattoos more painful?
Cover tattoos can be slightly more painful but not always. Tattooing over scarred, damaged skin will be infinitely more painful than healed, healthy skin. Plus, feelings of pain vary from person to person. When it comes to the laser removal process, NAAMA is widely regarded as the least painful option available. This is because our lasers are low-energy and therefore kinder to skin.