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Can I cover my tattoo with white ink?

Getting a tattoo covered up is a common procedure for people who have ink they regret. There are several options for cover ups, including using white ink. White ink can effectively hide an old tattoo in some cases, but there are also limitations to this method. Here’s what you need to know about using white ink for tattoo cover ups.

How White Ink Cover Ups Work

White ink cover ups involve tattooing over the old ink with white ink. The white ink helps conceal the color underneath by blocking it out. This can make the old tattoo less visible or completely hidden, depending on the tattoo.

For the best results, it’s ideal if the old tattoo is black or a darker color. The high contrast between the white and darker ink allows the white ink to fully conceal what’s underneath. Covering colored tattoos with white ink can be more challenging.

The white ink goes on top of the old tattoo, helping obscure it from view. Multiple passes with the white may be necessary to fully block out the color below. A skilled tattoo artist can work white into the old lines and shapes to aid the cover up.

Pros of Using White Ink

There are a few benefits to using white ink for cover ups:

  • Less invasive than a traditional cover up – Doesn’t require going over the old tattoo with a new dense design. The white ink is simply layered on top.
  • Preserves skin integrity – Covering with white avoids further damage to the skin compared to tattoos with dark colors.
  • Good for small tattoos – Works well for covering up smaller tattoos like words, symbols, or shapes.
  • Fades over time – While not removable, the white ink will fade somewhat over the years along with the old tattoo.

For the right tattoo, a white ink cover up can efficiently conceal the existing ink with minimal impact on the skin.

Cons of White Ink Cover Ups

There are also some downsides associated with white ink cover ups:

  • Not suitable for all skin tones – Stands out more visibly against darker skin.
  • Doesn’t work well on colored tattoos – Struggles to fully block out colored ink.
  • Fades over time – Requires touch ups to maintain its concealing effect.
  • Can appear shiny or scarred – Gives the tattoo area a different texture.
  • Usually requires multiple sessions – Needs several passes to fully obscure the old tattoo.

The white ink may not provide the complete cover up desired, especially for larger or colored tattoos. The results tend to look better on light skin as well.

Ideal Candidates for White Ink Cover Ups

Although not perfect for every situation, white ink cover ups can be a good solution for certain candidates. The best candidates include:

  • People with small, simple black tattoos – Names, words, symbols, small designs.
  • Those with tattoos on lighter skin tones – White ink blends better than on darker skin.
  • People who want to avoid more intense cover up methods – Such as dense blackwork or laser removal.
  • Individuals looking to fade their tattoo over time – White ink will gradually diminish over the years.
  • Anyone needing “emergency” concealment – Short term hiding for jobs, events, etc.

For smaller, uncomplicated tattoos on light skin, white ink cover ups can nicely obscure the old ink. It’s also less painful and intensive than a full cover up tattoo.

Cover Up Process

If you decide a white ink cover up is right for your unwanted tattoo, here is an overview of the process:

  1. Consultation – Set up a consult to discuss your tattoo, its location, color, and size. The artist will assess if white ink is a feasible option.
  2. Prep work – The tattoo area will be cleaned and shaved if needed in preparation for the cover up tattoo.
  3. Numbing – A topical anesthetic is applied to numb the skin before tattooing begins.
  4. Layering the white – Using a tattoo machine, the artist layers white ink over the unwanted tattoo.
  5. Adding highlights – Sometimes subtle hints of color are added for a more natural look.
  6. Aftercare – Caring properly for the new tattoo while it’s healing is vital.
  7. Follow up – May require a touch up session or two to maximize results.

Going to an experienced cover up artist is highly recommended for best results with the white ink process.

Cover Up Results

When performed by a skilled tattooist, a white ink cover up can make an unwanted tattoo virtually invisible. However, some shadowing of the old tattoo may still be apparent in certain lighting conditions or angles.

Cover up success depends on factors like tattoo size, ink colors, age of tattoo, skin tone, and number of sessions. Smaller, black tattoos on light skin produce the most effective concealment.

Over time, the white ink will fade somewhat along with the original tattoo. Periodic touch up sessions help keep it looking crisp.

While not always realistic for large or colorful tattoos, white ink cover ups can offer an understated option for hiding regretted small black tattoos.


Like all tattoos, white ink cover ups require some maintenance over time. As the ink fades, the old tattoo below may start to show through again. Follow up appointments for reapplication of the white is needed to keep the cover up intact.

How soon it will need touching up depends on factors like:

  • Ink color – Black ink tends to fade quicker than colored.
  • Sun exposure – More UV ray exposure causes faster fading.
  • Location on body – Areas like hands and feet fade faster.
  • Skin type – Dry or oily skin impacts how quickly it fades.
  • Aftercare – Poor aftercare can contribute to faster fading.

On average, white ink cover ups may need touch ups every 1-3 years. But lifestyle, skin type, and other factors affect individual longevity.


On average, a white ink tattoo cover up costs $150-200 per hour. Most take 2-4 hours depending on size and complexity. So a full cover up can cost $300 to $800 or more.

Factors affecting cost include:

  • Artist skill and experience – Top cover up artists charge more hourly.
  • Number/length of sessions – More complex cover ups requiring multiple sessions cost more.
  • Tattoo size – Larger tattoos take more time, ink, and effort.
  • Where you live – Artists in major cities tend to have higher rates.

Be sure to get an itemized cost estimate before starting a cover up project. And recognize that multiple sessions over months or years may be necessary for best concealment.

Cover Up Tattoo Ideas

If complete concealment proves unrealistic, the other option is to creatively incorporate the old tattoo into a new design. Here are some ways to work white ink into a cover up tattoo:

  • Turn names/words into shapes – Flowing lines, geometric blocks, etc.
  • Incorporate into a nature scene – Mist, clouds, fog, etc.
  • Make it a highlight in an object – Sparkles, stars, etc.
  • Use as a literal splash of white paint – Drips, smears, etc.
  • Fade edge into a new image – Faces, flowers, etc.
  • Disguise as light/shadows – Sun rays, shader patterns, etc.

A talented artist can cleverly transform a tattoo regret into something new and unique using strategic placement of white accents.

Finding a Cover Up Artist

Not all tattoo artists specialize in cover ups. Finding one experienced in cover up techniques, like effective use of white ink, gives the best chance of success.

Here are tips for finding a qualified cover up artist:

  • Look through portfolios – Evaluate cover up examples and styles.
  • Read reviews – Check for positive mentions of the artist’s cover up skills.
  • Ask about experience – How long have they performed cover ups? How often?
  • Request a consult – Have them assess your tattoo’s cover up potential.
  • Check their availability – Cover ups often need multiple sessions.

Finding an artist excited about the challenge and with a proven history of clever, seamless cover ups is key.

Cover Up FAQs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about white ink tattoo cover ups:

Question Answer
Does white ink completely hide the old tattoo? It can obscure most or all of the old tattoo, but some ghosting is likely, especially on colored tattoos.
How long does a white ink cover up take to heal? Healing takes 2-4 weeks. Avoid sun, submerging in water, and irritation during this time.
Does the cover up look natural? It can give the skin a slightly raised, shiny appearance on close inspection.
How painful is a white ink cover up? About the same as getting the original tattoo, but less painful than a dense black cover up.


Covering up an unwanted tattoo with white ink can be an effective concealment option when done properly. It works best for hiding small, simple black tattoos. While not always fully opaque, the white ink can cloak the vast majority of the old design.

However, white ink cover ups do have visibility challenges on some skin tones and tattoo types. Maintenance is also required as the white fades over time. Finding an experienced cover up artist is key to achieving the best possible results.

With the right circumstances and skillful application, white ink offers a minimally invasive path to concealing tattoo regret.