Hey. I'm Nicola. I have a lot of tattoos, like, everywhere.
I'm really lucky; I've never had to hide them because I work in a super chill industry in a big, progressive city — but I know my circumstances are rare. My plethora of tattoos, however, combined with my position as a beauty editor with access to a ton of makeup makes me the perfect candidate to find out how to best disguise a tattoo with makeup in case you need to go "bare" for an important occasion.
And, it turns out, it really only takes two products and little perseverance. Let me show you:
To show you how it's done, I'm picking my most outwardly visible tattoo, this forearm piece done by the incomparable Olivia Olivier.
It's pretty much the first thing you see when I reach out to shake your hand. Were I interviewing for a job in a conservative environment, it'd be the top thing I'd worry about.
The first thing you're going to need is a very full-coverage, matte foundation. I'm using Kat Von D Beauty's, as it's a staple in my routine and is designed to cover tattoos.
Concealer also does the trick, but you'll be using a lot of product so I'd stick to foundation because it obviously comes in larger portions. Do not use anything with a dewy formula — that won't dry down well enough for you to layer product as needed.
You don't have to use Kat Von D Beauty's tattoo formula, either. Anything full-coverage and matte that matches you will work. And you can find that at any price point. Shop some of my tried-and-trues below:
Clearly, though, one layer of even the thickest foundation will not be enough. So it's time to layer with a setting powder and basically repeat those two steps over and over again.
The key to choosing a setting powder for tattoo-covering purpose is to pick one that will not oxidize and turn orange — the most surefire way to make sure your foundation and setting powder don't do that is to select both items from the same brand. Or pick a truly translucent powder rather than a pigmented one.
Why can't you just gloop on some more foundation and carry on? Well, because you're going to end up with wet foundation smeared all over your clothes if you do it that way. Layering thin amounts of foundation and powder on top of one another will a.) reach full opacity faster and b.) make sure your skin still looks and feels like skin instead of a foundation swamp.
Here are a few of the best setting powder picks at multiple budget points:
e.l.f. Cosmetics High Definition Powder, $6
So don't believe that tattoo cover-ups require a mass of color-correcting products, expensive bullshit, or sticky concealers. What you already have in your kit will probably do.
Just be sure to prime and set it like you would any other makeup, otherwise it might not last so long.
If you have tattoos as numerous, big, and boldly colored as mine, keep in mind that no amount makeup will ever make them disappear completely.
Not without the help of laser removal, anyway.
As you can see from my own cover-up, tattooed skin can sometimes look embossed, and that might give you away upon close inspection. But this method is perfect for simple, smaller pieces that don't have a lot of color or shading.
But I say screw it; let your freak flag fly.
When that's not an option, though, this is a solid alternative.