Not in love with your latest ink? Wish you could alter an old design? Embarrassed by a botched tatt? A tattoo cover up could be the solution you’re looking for. Gone are the days where you’d have to make peace with a poorly-executed portrait of your pet or the lettering of your ex-lover’s name – in 2021, it’s possible to cover tattoos you regret with artwork you genuinely adore.
In recent years, as increasing numbers of people look to transform or enhance old designs, tattoo removal has come to be a crucial part of the tattoo cover up process. And thanks to the latest leaps forward in laser tattoo technology, breathing new life into unwanted ink – without damaging your skin or leaving traces of the tattoo that came before – has never been easier.
Below, we talk you through three key tattoo cover up ideas, detail the factors that influence which type of tattoo cover up will work best for you, and explain how much it’s likely to cost.
Tattoo Cover Up Ideas
Considering a tattoo cover up? There are three main options for transforming your tattoo into a new design that you love: complete coverage, creative rework, and blast overs:
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, but involves altering or adding to the design. This can vary from simple shading and highlighting tweaks 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 to Cover a Tattoo
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, but 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 – while lighter inks combine to make new colours.
For an effective tattoo 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 fact is, this 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?
Whether you want to remove or cover your tattoo is down to personal preference. However, if you’re going to invest time and money on a tattoo cover up, incorporating laser tattoo removal sessions into the process will remove creative limitations – especially if the original tattoo is particularly dark, very large, or relatively new – so you can achieve the design of your dreams.
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, picosecond lasers, and more recently, Lightsense laser system – our unique patented technology derived from Princeton University, only available at NAAMA Studios.
While older models trap lots of heat in the skin, increasing the risk of blistering and scarring, NAAMA’s low-energy lasers won’t cause any lasting damage. They pulse fast, breaking ink pigments down quickly without transferring excess energy to the surrounding areas. Healthy skin can be treated more frequently – as often as once per week – which speeds up the fading process.
Keen to rework your ink rather than cover it? We can aim the laser at only the darkest or most undesirable areas to transform your tattoo into art you adore. Our next-generation technology is super-precise – think modern printer versus colouring in the lines – which means we’re meticulous in targeting specific sections of even the most ornate tattoos.
By deploying specific settings that treat the full colour spectrum, we’re proud to offer effective removal across all ink types. But even if you only plan on covering the unwanted tattoo with simple black shading, laser sessions are still a smart choice – they’ll fade harsh linework, which can remain visible through the darkest of cover tattoos.
Can My Tattoo Be Covered Up?
Any tattoo can be covered up, providing you’re realistic about what can be achieved. Without a course of laser treatment, not all artwork can be covered with the exact idea you have in mind. Cover tattoos generally need to be larger in size than the original artwork, and they often require plenty of heavily pigmented ink to thoroughly conceal the previous design.
When weighing up tattoo cover up ideas, certain factors will impact the process and outcome:
- The colour of the original tattoo. Darker, bolder tattoos with thicker ink are more challenging than lighter, softer tattoos with less ink.
- How long you’ve had the original tattoo. Ink fades over time – the more faded the ink, the easier a tattoo cover up will be.
- The design of the original tattoo. This means the style – watercolour tattoos are easier to cover than traditional tattoos – the grading of the colour, and whether it has outlines.
- The design of the new tattoo. Be open-minded and flexible about what can be achieved within the parameters of the existing design – and trust your artist’s judgement.
The beauty of incorporating laser tattoo removal into your tattoo cover up journey? 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.
Your future tattoo artist will thank you for it. There’s nothing quite as challenging as tattooing damaged skin, and with NAAMA’s low-energy technology, scarring isn’t an issue. Plus, there’s no need for downtime between treatments. Just follow our straightforward aftercare advice and your skin will return to normal soon after your session.
How Much Do Tattoo 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. Fading a brand new tribal tattoo at a top-end studio will take longer than a minimalist hand-poked design made with cheap ink 10 years ago.
At NAAMA Studios, each tattoo removal session is priced at £269 and includes two treatments – which means we aim to pass over your ink twice at every appointment. We offer several different ways to buy, from 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 also 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 recommend experienced artists 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.