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Should I Remove or Fade My Tattoo Before Covering It?

If you have regrets about a tattoo, you’re not alone.

Around 17% of the 45 million Americans who have tattoos experience regrets due to various reasons. Maybe the tattoos have faded or got distorted over time; maybe they have a new job that doesn’t permit visible tattoos; maybe they no longer relate to the tattoos anymore; maybe they want to make room for other work.

Whatever your reason is for getting rid of an existing tattoo, you can either undergo a complete removal or have a cover-up done. About 5% of those who don’t like their tattoos decide to use cover-up to either make an existing tattoo invisible or change it to a different design. 

Tattoo cover-up without removal

Cover-up without laser tattoo removal | Reddit, redlipstick26

What is a Tattoo Cover-Up? 

A tattoo cover-up is a procedure during which an old or unwanted tattoo is replaced with a new one or made invisible by overlaying the right combination of new inks to hide it from view.

Contrary to popular belief, a cover-up is more complicated than simply inserting new ink on top of old ink. Instead, a tattoo artist has to combine different skills, including color blending, shading, detailing, and depth of color to create a tattoo cover-up. 

The new ink in a cover-up tattoo blends with the existing ink to create a new color, and the darker color often dominates.

As such, a tattoo that is faded, lighter, or smaller can be covered up more effectively than one that is larger or has darker ink. 

Keep in mind that the cover-up tattoo will most likely be larger (up to 30%) than the original one and may require a few touch-up sessions to complete the work.


In many cases, experienced tattoo artists recommend using laser tattoo removal to fade out the existing ink before laying on new ink for an easy tattoo cover-up. Here’s why:

  • – If you try to cover up an existing tattoo without first fading it out, the tattoo artist will have to use more ink that is darker and bolder than the original design, limiting the color choice and design that is available to you. Using more ink can also increase the cost of the tattoo.
  • – Compared to a tattoo faded by laser, covering up an un-lasered one requires more time and work because it has to be significantly larger than the original. As such, it typically requires more sessions and costs more.
  • – No matter how talented a tattoo artist is, an un-lasered tattoo requires more ink in darker pigment than the original so it doesn’t show through the new design. This limits the artist’s creativity and your choice of colors and design.
Cover-up without tattoo removal

Cover-up without laser tattoo removal | Reddit, sataninflames

Whether you’re trying to get rid of an existing tattoo because you no longer relate to its meaning or you want to revamp one that you love with a better design, laser tattoo removal provides an effective way to fade out a substandard tattoo so you can create space for a new and better one.

how to Get the Best Cover-up Results

Before getting a cover-up tattoo, take the following steps to improve the outcome:

  • – Find a design that you love – put together some tattoo cover-up ideas for inspiration to make sure you’re getting a new tattoo that you’ll absolutely love.
  • – Talk to an expert tattoo artist – take your cover-up design options to a reputable tattoo artist. Discuss what you want and have your existing tattoo evaluated to see how its age, density, and color may affect the procedure.
  • – Explore laser tattoo removal with your tattoo artist – balance the time, cost, and desired result to find the best tattoo cover-up option. For example, laser tattoo removal may increase the amount of time spent on the process, but it gives the artist a clean slate so you can get the design you want and reduce the cost of the new tattoo.

Laser tattoo removal is particularly effective for fading areas that are tough to cover up with new ink. You can avoid drowning the old tattoo with new ink while increasing the range of colors and designs you can choose from.

Cover-up after tattoo removal

Good with laser tattoo removal | The Finery

Whether it’s a fade or complete removal, laser tattoo removal before a cover-up will allow your tattoo artist to produce the best work with few restrictions.

However, not all laser tattoo removal services are equal, and you should choose one that has extensive experience and expertise working with tattoo artists in tailoring treatments to enhance the outcome of cover-up tattoos.

Here at the Finery, we work with over 1,500 tattoo artists and shops to provide laser tattoo removal treatments to enhance the outcomes of tattoo cover-ups.

 Get a free professional evaluation here.  

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