How to Cover Up Tattoos With Makeup in 7 Easy StepsSeptember 26, 2023
Whether you love showing off your tattoos or feel like you’re slightly regretting one of your ink decisions, it’s easier than you think to cover up a tattoo with makeup. Much like concealing your face, a good color corrector, full-coverage concealer or foundation and powder can really go far to transform your look. To learn more about covering up tattoos with makeup, we tapped pro makeup artists, J Guerra and Karla Cruz to learn their secrets. Read on as we share expert tips for concealing tattoos like a pro, along with a round up of the best long-wearing and waterproof makeup products to get the job done.
How to Cover Up Tattoos With Makeup
Step 1: Skin Prep
Treat tattoo cover up the same way you would applying makeup to your face, so always start with skin prep. “Begin by cleansing the tattooed area to remove any oils or dirt,” says Guerra. “You can use a gentle cleanser or some toner on a cotton round.” Something gentle, like the CeraVe Hydrating Foaming Oil Cleanser or the Thayers Original Astringent Pads would be ideal for this.
Step 2: Color Correct
“Color theory is going to be super important when it comes to covering a tattoo,” says Cruz. This is very similar to the logic that applies to using peach and orange concealer to cancel out dark circles. In short, if you’re trying to conceal a tattoo and you’re just using concealer or foundation, it’s probably not going to look very good.
“For tattoos that are newer or a blue-black color, use an orange or peach-toned corrector,” adds Guerra. “For older, faded tattoos or a more green-based black ink, use a red corrector.”
“The deeper the skin tone, the deeper the corrector will need to be,” Cruz adds.
“Lightly dab the corrector onto the tattoo (only on the tattoo itself!) with a makeup sponge and allow it to dry completely,” says Guerra. “For this step, I like to use products that will dry down fully matte and set quickly.” Cruz recommends that you avoid blending in the color corrector to get the most coverage.
If you don't have color corrector on hand, Guerra shares that matte liquid lipsticks also work. For instance, the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Matte Resistance Liquid Lipstick has a matte, long-wearing finish that would be perfect for this.
If you aren’t using a matte color corrector, Cruz likes to set the area with translucent setting powder. If you can still see the tattoo peaking through after a layer of color corrector (and setting powder), she recommends repeating this step with another thin layer of both.
Step 3: Apply Full-Coverage Concealer or Foundation
After you’ve color corrected, choose a full-coverage foundation or concealer that matches your body. Note that this will likely be different from the shade you use on your face. “Oftentimes I’ll start with foundation to cover the tattoo area and blend the edges into the skin, then layer full-coverage concealer just on the tattoo,” says Guerra. “This creates a more blended effect on the skin while only adding full coverage where you need it — over the tattoo.”
Step 4: Set With Powder
According to Cruz, once you’ve concealed the tattoo, following up with setting powder is a step that you cannot skip. “Use a generous amount of translucent setting powder on a powder puff or makeup sponge and lightly press onto the skin to set the foundation and concealer,” adds Guerra. “This helps lock in the coverage and ensures it doesn’t budge throughout the day.”
Guerra also recommends applying some translucent powder and letting it sit on the tattoo, similar to the way you would bake your under-eyes. This will help to set the concealer and foundation and soak up any excess oils.
“As a finishing touch, I like to gently sweep a matching face powder with a large fluffy brush all over the general area to seamlessly blend the covered patch onto the rest of the skin,” says Guerra. For this extra step, look for a tinted powder formula like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear Foundation in a Powder.
Step 5: Spritz With Setting Spray
To seal in all your hard work, waterproof setting spray is paramount. “Once you're satisfied with the coverage, mist your concealed tattoo with a waterproof, long-wearing setting spray,” Guerra adds. “This gives an added layer of protection from makeup wearing down, and ensures your cover-up work lasts all day.”
Step 6: Check the Tattoo in Different Lighting
Before heading out the door, Guerra recommends scanning the concealed tattoo in different lighting. “Before heading out, check the concealed tattoo in natural light if possible to ensure it's truly invisible,” he shares. “Different light temperatures of LED and incandescent lights may shift the way the concealer appears.” If you're taking photos, we highly recommend this extra step.
Best Makeup to Cover Tattoos
With a full-coverage matte finish, Cruz recommends this concealer for masking tattoos without smudging, fading or creasing. If you have small tattoos around the face and neck that you’re looking to conceal, this would be a great choice.
This makeup primer has an orange tint to brighten the skin and cancel out dark tones. It would be perfect for color correcting tattoos because the priming formula extends your makeup weartime for up to 24 hours.
When it comes to qualities to look for in a concealer that can cover tattoos, 24-hour wear, a waterproof finish and full-coverage are three must-haves. This formula has all three, and even better, it boasts a soft matte finish and includes a brush for easy blending.
Cruz recommends this color corrector for its ultra-pigmented finish that doesn’t crease or settle. It comes in shades like peach, orange and brick red, so there’s an option to color correct for all skin tones and tattoos.
This drugstore concealer combines 24-hour wear, full coverage and a formula that resists water, sweat and transfer. The large doe-foot applicator makes for easy application, especially if you’re trying to conceal a large area.
If you prefer to hide your tattoos with foundation, this long-wearing, waterproof formula packs full coverage with a non-comedogenic, matte finish. Additionally, the shade range is extensive (37 to be exact), and you can find it at the drugstore.
This smooth, creamy concealer delivers full coverage for up to 24 hours to conceal broken capillaries, dark circles and tattoos. The formula has a creamy finish, so pair it with the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Setting Powder to set it.
“This is a cult favorite and for a good reason,” says Guerra. This Urban Decay setting spray keeps your makeup looking fresh for up to 16 hours. Use it after concealing your tattoo to avoid smudging, settling makeup and the need for touch-ups.
This highly pigmented concealer is an industry standard for performance makeup and drag queens alike because the coverage is truly next-level. It offers an extensive shade range including color-correcting shades.
Another industry-grade pick, this setting spray creates a smudge-resistant, waterproof veil over your complexion or tattoo to ensure your makeup lasts longer. If you’re covering up tattoos on the body, consider it a must.
This cream palette is stocked to the brim with shades of red, orange and pink that would work so well for color correcting a tattoo. The bonus is that it's multi-use, so you can use it on the cheeks and lips as blush and lipstick, too.
For large tattoos in dark black ink, use this crimson red concealer to cancel out the lingering dark shadows. The matte formula is mega-sturdy (and drag queen approved) so there’s no worry about smudging makeup or fading.
If you have a tough time finding the right color corrector for your skin tone or tattoo, this one by Huda Beauty comes in five pigmented shades ranging from pale pink to rich, blood orange.
If you struggle to find the right shade of makeup to match your body, this foundation palette allows you to concoct the perfect color every time. Plus, this brand’s formulas are known for being ultra-pigmented, full coverage and photographing well.
This translucent powder provides the skin with a silky, smooth finish that offers 24-hour wear and shine control. Dust it over your concealed tattoo before applying setting spray for a strong finish.