It wasn't that long ago that the only people sporting tattoos were military men and punk rock kids. But today, tattoos are as common as pierced ears, and it may seem like more people have one than not. However, even though body art has become an acceptable part of mainstream society and pop culture, there might be times when you want to hide yours. Maybe a job interview is approaching, or perhaps it just doesn't go with your wedding dress, but whatever the reason, temporarily covering it up is necessary. But, because tattoos are dark and come in many different shades, making one disappear takes time, strategy and a little bit of color theory.
Look to the Color Wheel
For years, makeup artists have known that the most effective way to cover up a skin flaw is to choose a colored concealer to neutralize it, not slap on layers of heavy foundation. For instance, purplish under-eye circles and pink blemishes can't be effectively camouflaged with the same concealers. The same principle applies to covering a tattoo. If you're confused about what shade of concealer to use, consult a color wheel, the circular rainbow chart that shows how colors relate to each other. Complementary colors (shades directly across from each other on the wheel) cancel each other out, which is exactly what you want to happen.
Since most tattoos have blue-based outlines, a concealer with orange tones is needed. According to celebrity makeup artist Suzy Gerstein, fair-skinned ladies should wear salmon-toned concealer, while medium complexions should go a little deeper with peach and darker skin tones require orange. If your tattoo is colored, you have to be more strategic. Green-tinted products are best for covering red ink and yellow works to cancel out purple. Conversely, lavender concealers neutralize gold and yellow inks.
Put Those Colors to Work
Before applying your concealer, you need to prep the skin you plan to cover. Soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and swipe across the tattooed area. Shave any hair that might be growing to create a smooth surface for easy makeup application. Use a cosmetics sponge to lightly dab your colored concealer across the ink. Allow it to settle for a minute or so and apply a second coat if necessary. Set with translucent facial powder. Next, go over the tattoo with a concealer that matches your skin-tone, using the same stippling motion with a sponge. (Beauty editors and influencers agree that one of the best products available to cover tattoos is Kat Von D's Lock-It.) Repeat this step until the tattoo is concealed to your liking and set again with powder. The only person who'll know that tattoo is there will be you!
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Stacey is a freelance writer and stylist with a focus on fashion, lifestyle, design and pop culture. She has authored two books for Omnibus Press and has covered fashion weeks in New York and London.