Cover Up!

In this Pro’s world of television, film and photography makeup sometimes I think I have seen “it” all! However, I am reminded daily that I am naive in having this type of thought process because some people live life on the edge, fulfill their deep desires, wear their hearts on a sleeve and they choose to share it with the world through the art of tattooing.

This Pro does not have a "tat," but I know many who do and I have been asked to use my artistic talent to free-hand tattoos on actors/models or cover up some pretty amazing art work when the “character” is supposed to be a more “innocent” type.

I find tattoos to be the ultimate “art” form because they tell such personal “stories.” People who have tattoos display them proudly and share their life experiences with the world both happy and tragic.

Tattoos announce the birth, marriage, initiation, union or death of many and can appear so life-like that you can feel the emotions of the person displaying these “events” without them ever muttering a word.

However, there are the occasional drunk-off-my-ass type of tats that can be forever a regret in the mind of a young man or woman and usually those are able to be covered up by clothing…sometimes!

This Pro loves watching the reality show L.A. Inked! Kat Von D and her family of incredible artists are extraordinary and create some of the most inspiring pieces of art that I think even Picasso would have found intriguing.

Don’t you wonder what stimulates a person to want to permanently ink their passion onto their skin? I do…I want to know what the stars on Kat Von D’s temple mean to her.

I want to know who, what, where, when, why and how…because I know that there is a testimony behind each mark. A fascinating, funny, fearless, tragic or manic story and to me, tattoos are like reading a book, but the author is standing in front of you eager to share their personal experience and take you with them on a journey!

I find tattoos also frightening and horrific. When an inmate jailed for a lifetime turns to inking his entire body, face included, with eerie words, numbers or symbols. Those who worship a faith that is satanic or killers who proudly display their murderous adventures are too much for this Pro to handle and I feel overwhelming sadness for these people knowing that they are someone’s children and have chosen a path full of hatred.

Most of the time I find that individuals who express themselves through the art of tattooing are creative, loving, free-spirited and maybe a tad bit “naughty!” It is requested of this Pro on most shoots to cover up said “art” especially when it is time for the individual to walk down the aisle or stand-up and support a friend who is walking down the aisle.

I also have been asked many times to help women (never a man) cover up an inked area in order to give them the advantage over a competitor in a job interview. Or on a more rare occasion, I have been begged to school a young soul on covering up the tattoo gone wrong!

Whatever your reason for needing to cover up a tattoo, here is a list of what you will need for a D.I.Y. method:

Cool-toned concealer with yellow undertone 1-2 shades lighter than skin-tone

Warm-toned concealer with orange/red undertone matching skin-tone

EXACT skin-tone match foundation


Orange Puff

Setting Powder

Makeup Sealer Spray

Cover up Facts:

Your main objective is to “neutralize” colors in a tattoo. Remember the color wheel theory this Pro has mentioned in past posts? Which colors “cut” colors? Orange cuts Blue, Green cuts Red…etc., that is how you will neutralize the colors of your “inked” area.

However, for this type of quick disappearing act use the above-mentioned product. Don’t try to get fancy with green, purple, yellow or orange primers, concealers or neutralizers. Those usually require special training by a professional and can be more time consuming and frustrating when you feel the “pressure” to make your tattoo invisible.

WARNING: Covering a tattoo should only be done when your tattoo is completely healed! If you choose to cover a fresh tattoo you may cause an infection.

Here is the how-to (small tattoos only):

1. Clean area and use razor to remove hair if needed (this is necessary for makeup to adhere to your skin properly). Dry area thoroughly.

2. Begin with cool-toned, yellow-based concealer and stipple product onto the tattoo with sponge. Build up the coverage if needed. Let dry and adhere to skin, approximately 5 minutes.

3. Use warm-toned, orange/red-based concealer and apply on top of yellow-based concealer lightly using stipple method. Swiping product across the area will only “smudge” and wipe off the first concealer application. Build coverage. Let dry and adhere to skin, approximately 5 minutes.

4. Set with setting powder using orange puff and gently patting powder onto the concealer. Dust off excess powder.

5. Apply EXACT matching foundation using sponge and stipple method over concealer.

6. Set with powder using same method listed in Step 4.

7. Apply spritz of makeup setting spray or fixative.

Pro Tip: I recommend using theatrical, cream concealers and foundations, which are listed below because of there “staying” power, however you can use liquid product, but do not expect the same coverage or lasting results.

While researching this post, this Pro came across an interesting technique used by another makeup artist and I just had to test out this theory…

Using all of the same makeup products listed above, add a red-based lipstick to that group and use it first prior to the yellow-based concealer. Let dry and adhere to skin and then continue with the steps above in the same order. Below are photos of our experiment. I was surprised and excited by our results!

Pro tattoo cover-up product recommendations:

Yellow-based concealer: Lemon-Aid by BeneFit or Ben Nye’s Mellow Yellow Neutralizer.

Orange/Red based concealer: CoverBlend Concealer in various shades.

Cream-based Foundation: Cinema Secrets, Graftobian or Ben Nye theatrical foundations. Also, CoverFX Total Coverage Cream Foundation or Dermablend camouflage makeup are good alternatives if you are unable to purchase a theatrical product.

Setting Powder: Cinema Secrets theatrical setting powder. Comes in translucent or skin-tone hues.

Makeup Sealer: Skindanivia Makeup Setting Spray.

Specialty Products: Tattoo Camo Makeup, which includes Camo Paste that will hide all colors of tattoos. The kit contains paste/setting powder/remover. CoverBlend Corrective Leg and Body Makeup will cover most blue/green ink. Kat Von D Tattoo Concealer found at your local Sephora has you covered!

These same instructions and products can also help cover major skin "issues" and discolorations. If you suffer from Rosacea or other types of skin related or genetic problems try the tips above, they should provide and satisfy your need for coverage.


If you are “sleeved” or your tattoos are covering a large area of skin real estate, then it is the opinion of this Pro that you should hire a makeup artist who specializes in airbrushing. A skilled airbrush artist will be able to properly cover larger areas in a short amount of time and the silicone-based makeup used will have long lasting staying power!


Up next on IMPO: Get the Look! Our Country truly is a gorgeous melting pot! The all-American look comes in many skin tones and you can look as sweet and innocent as the “girl next door” with IMPO’s step-by-step guide!


  1. Hi. This was the first time I read your blog and let me tell you that I ENJOYED it! Maybe because I can relate on this topic. It's been about 10+ years since I last wore a short skirt and shorts because of a skin condition on my legs. The condition has to do with the small and/or red blood cells in body...From this I have what LOOKS like bruises on my legs and arms. You can only imagine my stuggle every summer when I see those beautiful summer dresses. I've thought about tattooing my legs, therefore giving me confidence to wear skirts and shorts again. But after reading this article, it's motivated me to try makeup for coverage. I dont know if it'll work (since I am not a professional makeup artist) but it's definitely worth a try. Thank you so much for writing on this topic!!! Wish me luck!!

  2. I have read mixed reviews of the Kate Von D. stuff. Seems it works good as a concealor,but not as a tat cover up.

    Any tips for covering tattoos on people of color?

  3. Dear MyFawny:

    Interesting on the Kat Von D. Tattoo Cover - thanks for letting me know. I have found it to be good for tat cover, however I could see how it would be great as concealer too! As far as covering tats on those with dark skin tones - really test the concealer colors because of the oxidation process - they tend to turn orange! Check out MUFE products - I have had luck with those concealers.

  4. Dear Anonymous:

    So happy this post could help you and thanks for reading our blog!

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  6. great post
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    Thanks for sharing