How To Cover Up A Tattoo The RIGHT Way

We are constantly asked by people: ‘What is the best way to cover a tattoo?’ Believe it or not, most of our clients love tattoos. Many just want a new piece of art to take pride of place on their body.

There are lots of reasons why clients want to replace an old tattoo with a new tattoo. Some of the reasons are :

  • It was their first tattoo and they don’t like it anymore
  • The old tattoo doesn’t match their other newer, better tattoos
  • They want a new tattoo in a prime position
  • Schoolies was a long time ago now
  • Alcohol and tattoos don’t mix well

Just to name a few … no judgement here.

When clients are ready for a new tattoo, they book an appointment with us at Disappear Ink Tattoo Removal Clinic to discuss their options.

After nine years of providing laser tattoo removal treatments in Sydney, we have found that the majority of the clients that book in to Disappear Ink Tattoo Removal Clinic come to us because they want a new tattoo to take the place of their old tattoo. 

As I said, many of our clients love tattoos, just not the one they currently have. Not everyone wants or needs a complete removal of their tattoo, they simply need a reduction of the ink in the existing tattoo to allow a complete cover-up.

In hindsight, we probably should have named our business Disappear Ink Tattoo FADING Clinic.

The reason for that is that the laser tattoo treatment process is a FADING process

Each laser treatment removes layers of tattoo ink by using the laser energy pulses to shatter the ink particles and allow the body to metabolise and remove the shattered ink particles through the actions of the body’s own lymphatic system.

As a result, the process takes time

In fact, time is your best friend when it comes to laser tattoo removal. The longer between treatments, the better your body’s lymphatic system can clear away the already shattered ink further exposing the un-shattered ink below.

The easiest way to think about laser tattoo removal is to compare it to stripping paint from a wall in preparation for repainting. 

To successfully strip paint, heat or chemical stripper is applied to the wall. Then the painter waits some time for the heat or the chemicals to take effect. Then the paint is scraped off the wall, layer by layer. 

The process is repeated until either all the paint is removed from the wall or enough is removed to allow the new coats of paint to be applied and not have the old paint colour show through.

It is exactly the same with fading a tattoo for a cover-up. Layers of ink need to be removed so the old tattoo does not show through to the new tattoo.

Prior to the advent of the laser technology, many tattoo artists simply tattooed over the old tattoos and hoped the new tattoo looked decent enough for the client.

Fading or Removal? It’s Your Choice

Today, the technology exists to allow old tattoos to be faded sufficiently and successfully to allow new tattoos to be placed over without the tell-tale signs of a ‘cover-up’.

However, many clients still question the value of having laser tattoo removal to fade an old tattoo. They question spending money on an area that is going to be ‘covered-up anyway’.

The answer to that is very simple.

Given the cost of a new tattoo and the importance of having the best result possible, is it not worth spending some money preparing the area (the wall) for the new artwork (the paint)?

Over the years we have seen many clients who did not fade a tattoo prior to covering it up. The result was usually a cover-up tattoo that they were never happy with but felt stuck with.

Eventually, clients like these come to us to discuss the options to allow them to re-do the area. These clients require many additional treatments to fade these tattoos as they are now multi-layered. The cover-up must be removed before the original tattoo can be faded. 

We have heard these clients say to us ‘I wish I faded the old one first!’ many times over the years.

Laser tattoo removal or fading for a cover-up should be seen as an investment.

It is an investment in the skin. 

It is an investment in the new artwork.

Because a great piece of art needs the best canvas possible.

In reality, most tattoos only require between three to five laser treatments to be faded sufficiently to allow a successful cover-up.

Of course, that is an average – some tattoos only need two treatments, others need more.

The two most important factors in determining how many laser treatments are required to successfully fade a tattoo for a cover-up are:

    • The amount of ink and the density of ink in the old tattoo
    • The size and style of the new tattoo being put in its place

For example, a thick black ink tribal tattoo will require more treatments to fade sufficiently than a grey-wash portrait tattoo.

Partial Laser Tattoo Removal Fading then a HUGE Cover-Up Tattoo

Script tattoos, lines, outlines of tattoos – any work done with a single needle – will need more attention than simple grey-wash shading.

After Five Treatments it’s COVERED!

Colours can be faded easily enough, and again it all depends on the new artwork being placed over the old.

Colour Ink Tattoo Faded and covered up with a new tattoo

What we always recommend to our clients is to have three to four laser tattoo removal sessions to begin removing as much old tattoo ink as possible. From our experience, the third treatment will usually show a great improvement in the treated area.

After the third session, we recommend waiting eight weeks for the fading to continue and then we suggest that our clients approach their selected artist with their preferred design and see if the artist can work with the faded area.

The artist will then determine whether more sessions are required.

In most cases, they will be able to work with the faded tattoo. In some cases, depending on the new artwork, they may recommend more treatments.

We then proceed to treat the area again to continue the laser tattoo removal process until the required level of fading has been reached.

This approach that we suggest almost guarantees a spectacular result for the client and for the artist.

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