While you may love your body art and have no plans for tattoo removal, there may come a time when you want to cover it up, without layering up. Be it for a wedding, to hide it from an unsuspecting relative during a family reunion (there are certain things grandma doesn’t need to know), or any other reason under the sun, the power of makeup can work wonders to temporarily conceal otherwise permanent ink.
Now, if you’re new to the body makeup game and are here to discover some pro tips, know that it is possible to cover up a tattoo with regular makeup products — though it may prove more difficult because they aren’t usually as pigmented or intended for thicker layering. For the most flawless finish, it’s worth investing in products that are long-wearing and full-coverage. We’ve rounded up the best below, but, before we get there, celebrity makeup artist and KVD Beauty global veritas artistry ambassador Anthony Nguyen tells us how to go about camouflaging our ink.
How to Cover Up a Tattoo With Makeup
If you’ve been inked, you’re familiar with both the immediate and long-term aftercare a tattoo requires to preserve it. With consistent SPF application and daily moisturizing, you know just how sensitive the area can be – especially if it isn’t done healing. To prevent infection, poor healing, or scarring, follow your tattoo artist's instructions and avoid cover-ups until you are fully recovered (which may take up to six months depending on the size and treatment area).
If you are fully healed and ready to conceal, here’s what you need to know:
- Get Your Products: As we said, it is possible to cover a tattoo with regular makeup (if you have the patience to layer, that is), but it’s worth investing in products specifically created for cover-ups. What you will need is a primer, concealer, color corrector, setting powder or spray, and a brush or blender to get you unseen.
- Prep The Skin: Unlike the process of using body makeup, exfoliation is a no-no over your tattoo — but you already knew that. “Make sure the skin has no oil and that the surface is totally clean and dry to prepare the skin for tattoo covering,” Nguyen explains. His recommendation: “Clean the area with alcohol on a cotton pad” to remove excess sebum.
- Prime Time: Unlike your face, this canvas has more dimension and color that isn’t naturally found in your skin. Even if you don’t believe in the powers of primer in your day-to-day makeup routine, Nguyen says it needs to be the foundation of the tattoo cover-up process because it gives all the subsequent layers something to grab onto.
- Color Correct: “Before covering the tattoo with foundation or concealer, you need to neutralize the tattoo with an orange-based product,” Nguyen says. Orangey hues work well to offset blues and darker inks, too. And, if you don’t have a traditional color correcting product, he suggests getting creative with what you already have — even your favorite lippie. His pick? The KVD Beauty Everlasting Lip Liner.
- Conceal: Here’s where the real work comes in, concealing. Once you have found the shade that works for your specific skin tone, begin patting it in. Continue to reapply in thin, even layers until you’re happy with the coverage. Nguyen emphasizes that you can’t overlook the importance of checking your work as you go. “Always make sure to use great lighting and look in the mirror from a distance to make sure the tone and coverage is correct,” he says.
- Blend In: There’s no reason to go through the whole process, if you don’t blend your work to the rest of your skin. Strategically blend your products beyond just the tattoo area to ensure it is truly disguised. If you have freckles, augment some spots (we're fans of Freck Beauty’s Freck OG for a natural look) and nobody will be the wiser.
- Set Yourself Up For Success: “A common mistake people make when trying to cover up tattoos is not setting the foundation or concealer with powder or setting spray,” Nguyen cautions. So, once you’ve examined your work and feel confident that you’ve mastered the art of the incognito tattoo, a setting powder followed by a spray will help you stay covered. Use a generous amount of setting powder and give it some time to absorb before buffing it out. Finally, finish it off with a setting spray for all-day coverage.
The Best Makeup & Tools for Covering Up Tattoos
Ready to start camouflaging? We — and these products — have you covered.
Dermablend Leg And Body Essentials Set
The entire Dermablend collection is formulated to address cover-up concerns and ensure full-body, long-lasting coverage. The set, which comes with a buildable foundation, setting powder, sponge, and makeup dissolver, will take all the guesswork out of getting ready. Smudge-proof and transfer-resistant, these products provide coverage for up to 16 hours. $60, dermablend.com
KVD Beauty Lock-It Foundation
Leave it to KVD Beauty to create products that can imitate a crisp tattoo line — and also help cover them up. This ultra-pigmented vegan foundation has no-flashback (making it perfect for special events with lots of photos) and does not budge. The best part? It comes in 44 shades across a wide-range of undertones. $37, kvdveganbeauty.com
NYX Cosmetics Color Correcting Palette
Not only will this palette help you cover up your ink, but it is also a great addition to your regular makeup arsenal. The variety of creamy hues can help neutralize even the most colorful designs and are lightweight enough to sit beneath concealer smoothly. $12, nyxcosmetics.com
Isla Beauty Face Base Priming Moisturizer
A primer should be chosen based on skin type and how well it sits under makeup (no pilling, please). Formulated with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, this lightweight lotion can help keep your tattoo moisturized while disappearing under all the layers that will come after it. $46, isla-beauty.com
Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer
The hardest part about choosing a complexion product? Finding a shade that will last year-round. This dynamic duo ensures you’ll always have the perfect hue. Featuring two shades instead of one, the potently pigmented concealer offers full coverage and a natural finish. $36, lauramercier.com
Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray
Formulated with temperature-control technology, this setting spray promises 16 hours of wear time and will keep your look locked in without smudging. Vegan and cruelty-free, it’s good for all skin types and won't settle into fine lines anywhere on the body. $33, urbandecay.com
The Original BeautyBlender Makeup Sponge
When it comes to covering up, a sponge is ideal for gently pressing in product after product for even coverage. There’s a reason why Beautyblender is the OG in this space — it’s tapered to easily maneuver into all sorts of nooks and crannies, doesn’t swallow up your product, and delivers a flawless finish. $20, sephora.com
All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.
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