Mistakes are inevitable in life; as we progress through life our taste and choices change. Which for some of us means that you may find yourself with a tattoo that you no longer want or like? So you have reached the conclusion that it is time to do something about it and now you have some decisions and options to consider.
Tattoo ink is placed under the skin in the dermis; which is under the layer of skin (epidermis) that you can see. Because tattoo ink is translucent, when you tattoo over an existing tattoo you are not covering it you are in fact combining the new tattoo ink with the existing ink. Once healed your new tattoo, the cover up, will have settled into the dermis layer and therefore into the original pigment.
Careful consideration is required regarding the design of your cover-up; a cover up is not necessarily a simple process either and your new design will need to be bigger and darker than the tattoo you want to hide. On many cover-ups you may still be able to see a ‘hint’ of the old tattoo behind the new one once it is properly healed.
You may have a very clear idea about what design you would like for your cover-up; but your tattoo artist may have to incorporate the shape from the old design to the new one. Along, also, with being able to recommend you on colours and contrast for your new design which could help guide the eye to distract from the old tattoo. The best cover-up are the ones that do not look like an obvious cover-up, so be prepared to have more than one sitting.
Some cover-ups will present your tattoo artist an artistic challenge; but it is important to both take the time to discuss all your options. Today the more skilled tattoo artists will no longer choose to use solid black to cover up unwanted tattoos. There may be elements of your design which are not practical for a cover-up unless you have some laser removal on the original tattoo or change the overall design.
A cover-up is not always a cheap or quick route; because of all the factors that need to be taken into account regarding the existing tattoo so it is important that you and your tattooist working closely together. The time spent working together on your design, will mean that neither you nor your artist has to compromise on the design. Patience will improve the final outcome
Tattoo laser removal is also an option that should be considered; a couple of sessions could be enough to break down heavier lines of your original tattoo. Whilst it will mean that you have to wait longer for your cover-up it will mean that you and your artist will have far more scope when it comes to your new design. Many people feel that laser removal will have a drastic increase to the cost; this is often not the case as it could mean that you not only require fewer tattoo sittings but can even consider a smaller design.
Facts and Myths
You cannot cover up an old tattoo with white ink. Because the white sits in the same layer as the old colour it will not make your original tattoo vanish. With repeated coverage you can slightly lighten the existing tattoo to a small degree.
Your new tattoo design will often be a least three of four times the size of the tattoo you are looking to cover; unless you have laser removal on the existing tattoo.
The image of the panther was used as the traditional cover up, because of the large amount of black required in the design.
Tribal and flash art do not tend to work well for larger cover-ups, as most cover-ups need to be custom designed.
Lighter colours do not always work well for cover-ups because tattoo ink is translucent the original ink will start to show through.
Good Designs for Cover-up’s
Animals including mythological animals with scales or feathers, the shading required can be used to camouflage the original tattoo.
Dragons and Koi fish; as they can be darkly shaded and carry bold colours.
Biomechanical designs which have a lot of detail including shading.
Floral designs, as they need shading around petals and foliage and can use strong colours.
For background cover-ups black atmospheric shading can also work well as seen in the traditional Japanese backgrounds.
However the best option remains too discuss all your ideas with your tattoo artist before setting your heart on a specific design.