Tattoos by Robert Pho

What No One Tells You About Tattoo Cover-up



What is Cover up Tattoo and How Does it work?

As the industry for tattoos continues to grow and grow, and more people get inked than ever before, cover-ups are also on the rise. Very simply put, a cover-up is when you get a new design tattooed over the previous in order to cover it up. This could be because you no longer want what is on the tattoo on your body (an ex’s name, or a band you no longer like, for instance), perhaps you’re looking for a change because you simply don’t like the tattoo design anymore. It may have faded, or you may have decided that it is not something you want on you for all the world to see.

Tattoos by Robert Pho

Tattoos by Robert Pho

What Matters in a Cover-up Tattoo Design?

Tattoo cover-ups have a few things that need to be taken into account before you can go ahead and get the work done. Considerations include:

  • How vibrant your current tattoo is. Obviously, a bright, recently-done tattoo is going to be tougher to cover up than an old, faded one. If you do have a tattoo which is still pretty strong and clear, it is possible that you might want to consider some laser removal first to fade the tattoo.
  • The new tattoo design will have to be bigger than the previous and should be detailed, the more detail the better when it comes to a thorough cover-up.
  • You may need continual touch-ups for a bit, once the ink has settled. There’s still a chance some of the old tattoo could stay visible, so going back for a touch-up can ensure the design completely covers the old one.

The Process

The process of getting an old tattoo covered up usually involves working with a tattoo artist to come up with a design which is suitable. They will be able to advise on whether or not something is possible. A rough guide to the process should mean following these steps:

Find a good quality tattoo artist and review their portfolio, see if they offer cover-ups and have a look at some of their work.
Work with the artist to see what is possible and come up with some designs that you might want to cover your existing tattoo.
Take advice on whether or not you need to undergo some laser tattoo removal sessions beforehand.
Choose your final design and try to incorporate plenty of detail and shading to properly cover up the previous design.
Get the tattoo done. This may be done in one session, or for bigger tattoos they may get you to come back multiple times.
Go back for any touch-ups if required.

The Age and Color of Your Old Tattoo Matters!

A brand new tattoo will be a lot harder to cover up! If you have had a tattoo done recently and decide that it isn’t what you want then it might be tougher to cover up. This is also true when looking at colors. A very colorful design can make it harder for a tattoo artist to make the changes needed, especially if it has a lot of detail already.

The ideal candidates for getting cover-ups are tattoos which have aged! Many of the older techniques for doing tattoos weren’t quite as strong and if you got one in the 90s, for instance, it may have faded a huge amount, making it easy to cover-up now, as long as you carefully select an appropriate design that can go over the original with ease.

Lighter colors of tattoos may also be easier to cover-up. Most people have tattoos in black, but if these are still strong, the black design may have to be part of the shading for a new tattoo.

cover up tattoo skull

Tattoos by Andy Pho


The following tricks will help you to make the right choice in terms of tattoo design and get the most out of your cover-up. Getting it done right will ensure you don’t end up back at square one, with a design you aren’t happy with!

  • If possible, the design you choose for the cover-up should be close in terms of color and design, for instance using similar patterns. This makes it easier to cover effectively. It doesn’t mean you have to get the same thing tattooed again, just that similar colors will work best.
  • Go for certain optical illusions or detailed patterns can help with the look of the tattoo and make it far less obvious that it has been covered up.
  • After you get the work done, avoid soaking in the bath or spending time in pools as this can weaken the cover-up.
  • Go for touch-ups after the work has been done. This should really be free, as tattoo artists should see it as the finishing touches. It may not always be possible to do a cover-up in one go, whereas after some time to settle they will be able to add a lot more detailing.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on telegram

Inside The Ink Episode 2: Big Ant

In this episode of Behind the Ink by Skin Design Tattoos we meet Roberts long term friend Anthony. In this episode they reminiscence about the past, and the humble beginning of Robert Pho’s Tattoo Journey which started in Anthony’s Parents Garage in California. Ant: How’s it going I’m Anthony I do the Lazer tattoo removal at skin design and I’m

Read More »