Can you get a skin color tattoo? Will it cover up an old tattoo or scar
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Can you get a skin color tattoo? Will skin camouflage cover an old tattoo or scar?

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It seems like the most obvious idea, to cover up an old tattoo or scar with skin coloured tattoo ink. But like many things in tattooing, the answer is not straightforward. So, can you get a skin color tattoo and will it work to cover up an old tattoo or scar?

You can get a skin colour tattoo. However, as tattoo ink is translucent, it will not cover up an old tattoo. Camouflage tattooing with flesh-colored ink can help to disguise scarring. Not all scars are suitable for this treatment. Tattoo camouflage is semi-permanent and will fade within a few years.

If you have a scar or old tattoo you want to disguise or cover you need to understand the options open to you. There are many variables that will affect the results you get. Read on to ensure you get the best result possible.

You may also like this post if you are just starting to Tattoo. The Basics of Tattooing For Beginners. 10 Steps

Can you get a skin color tattoo? Will skin camouflage cover an old tattoo or scar?

It’s a really common question in tattoo studios and one that makes a lot of sense. “Can’t you just cover up my old ink with a skin color tattoo? Then we have a fresh canvas to work on”.

It looks and sounds like it would work and save a lot of pain and money spent on lasering off an old tattoo. If it did work it would be a holy grail of tattoo removal.

However, sadly the reality is not so straightforward.

Tattoo pigments, particularly paler colors, are translucent. That means that any ink underneath it will show through, especially after healing.

It doesn’t just block out the underlying design. Tattooing skin colored ink over an old tattoo is likely to end up looking much worse than just leaving the old tattoo there.

You are very unlikely to get a decent result.

It’s also very difficult to get a good skin tone match too so even a very pale faded tattoo is likely to look like a patchy mess if you try and cover it with skin-coloured ink.

You only really get one or two chances to get a cover up right. After that, the only way to hide your old tattoo is to laser it off or even surgical excision of the outermost layer of the dermis which can cause a lot of scarring.

Dermabrasion and Salabrasion are sometimes used. This is basically sanding off the top layer of skin. It’s brutal and you don’t want to end up there. Again this can cause huge scarring. Get your cover up right the first time.

If you want to get rid of an old tattoo, you are much more likely to get a better result with the following alternatives.

I also wrote a post about covering up old tattoos with white ink. Does it work? Click below to find out.

Alternatives to skin colour tattoo coverups

1 – Laser Tattoo Removal

Laser tattoo removal to either fade or remove the tattoo completely is one of the best options. If the original design is faded by laser treatment you can get a cover-up. You don’t need to completely remove the old tattoo to do this.

2 – A well designed professional cover-up tattoo

Black tattoo coverup disguised with butterfly
A skilled cover up artist can disguise most old tattoos.

A solution designed by a professional tattoo artist who specialises in coverups. A skilled professional can cover up most things with a well-planned tattoo design.

It’s so important to make sure you go to an experienced tattoo artist to get a good result. Coverups are much trickier than they appear on “Tattoo Fixers”. Remember, you only get one shot at this.

Permanent and Semi-Permanent skin colour tattoos

It’s important to know that there are two different kinds of tattoo ink. Permanent and semi-permanent pigments.

Permanent tattoo ink

The inks that tattooists use to create traditional tattoo designs. This ink will never come out of the skin and will be with you till you die.

Semi-permanent ink or pigment.

The inks used to create eyebrows, lip liner etc in cosmetic tattooing are a form of temporary tattoo. These inks slowly migrate out of the skin and will fade away in time. Often within 1 to 3 years.

The difference in the way these different pigments are used is huge.

It’s pretty rare for permanent inks to be used in skin tone coverups especially for scars.

Most camouflage scar tattoos are created with semi-permanent ink.

Skin Color Camouflage tattoos to cover scars

skin camouflage tattoo over a facelift scar
Skin camouflage tattoo over a facelift scar

If you have a scar you would like to disguise, skin colour camouflage tattooing may be able to help.

In this case, a layer of semi-permanent skin colored ink is placed carefully into the scar tissue to blend the scar into the surrounding skin.

The process can be really effective. However, as the ink is semi-permanent it does require upkeep.

You will need a top-up, every couple of years or so to keep the scar disguised.

Which scars work best for skin colored camouflage tattoos?

Unfortunately, not all scars are suitable for a skin tone camouflage tattoo procedure.

These kinds of scars will get the best result

  • Scars that are lighter than the surrounding skin tone
  • Scars that are on skin with a brown or dark skin tone
  • Flat scars

Scars that camouflage tattooing won’t really work for

  • A Hypertrophic scar {Raised scar}
  • Scars that are darker than the surrounding skin
  • Scars that are red or dark
  • Pale scars on pale skin. Light skin tone is more difficult to match.
  • Keloid Scars

Some scars, such as a burn scar, will need specialist assessment and be judged on a case by case basis.

A person who specialises in scar camouflage will be able to tell you if your scars will get a good result.

Skin color camouflage tattoo over laser removal scar
A skin color camouflage tattoo over a laser removal scar

How do you get a successful skin color scar camouflage tattoo?

Many people offer camouflage tattooing with varying results. If you are going to go down this route you need to do your research.

Spending a bit of time doing this will help you avoid expense and disappointment. Someone who isn’t skilled in camouflage techniques can actually make the scar worse.

When researching someone to work with you need to look at the following things.

1 – Do they have a gallery showcasing their work?

Check out their gallery of work they have done. Do they have one? Can they show examples of before and after to demonstrate good results with their procedure? A good camouflage expert should have an extensive gallery of excellent results from their method.

Do they show good results on skin tones similar to yours?

Not all skin tones get the same results. It’s much easier to get a good result on dark skin than on pale skin. Make sure you see photos of work on skin tones similar to yours.

2 – Do they show healed photos?

Look for photos showing how their work looks after it has healed. This is really important, especially with semi-permanent ink, as the work can initially look amazing and then disappear within a few weeks if it hasn’t been applied well.

3 – Are the photos their own or stock images?

Amazingly, some people offering camouflage tattooing use stock photography on their websites to demonstrate what they do.

This is really misleading. Make sure that any photos you are are their own. Do they have consistency of quality, lighting and location? If they don’t show photos of their own work, AVOID.

Problems with skin color camouflage tattoos

There are a few main problems that come up with skin tone camouflage tattoos.

1 – Getting a correct match is difficult

The skin is made up of many different variations of colour. It isn’t just one flat color. For this reason, matching your skin tone with ink is extremely difficult.

It’s important to go to a skilled practitioner of camouflage so that they can mix the right color for you. Color matching gives the best results on darker skin.

2 – Skin color changes with sun exposure.

Your skin color is not static. It changes with the season and exposure to the sun. The tattoo ink cannot change and will stay the same shade.

A skin color matched to your skin in winter may look out of place once you have a summer tan

3 – The need for regular top-ups 

Semi-permanent skin color tattoo inks will fade away over time. This can be as little as a few months.

Therefore you are tied into a regime of top-ups if you want to keep your scar covered. This can end up being extremely expensive.

Scar Camouflage Tattoo Ink Set
Scar Camouflage Tattoo Ink Set


Can you cover Vitiligo with skin colored tattoo ink?

Vitiligo is a condition where areas of the skin lose pigment. Unfortunately, it isn’t recommended to disguise this with skin colored tattoo ink or a decorative tattoo. The process of tattooing can trigger The Koebner Response which can activate the Vitiligo and make it spread to other areas.

Can you hide stretch marks with a skin colored tattoo?

Hiding stretch marks with a skin colored tattoo will give varied results. White stretch marks on brown skin may be slightly improved by tattooing. However, silver or pink stretch marks on paler skin don’t respond well. Always ask to see healed results photos before embarking on treatment.

Does stretch mark tattoo camouflage work?

For the majority of stretch marks, stretch mark tattoo camouflage doesn’t work. Silver or red/purple stretch marks can’t be disguised. They can even be made worse. Pale stretch marks on brown skin may be able to get a reasonable result. Ask to see healed photos before choosing a practitioner.

Is camouflage tattoo safe?

Camouflage tattoo is generally safe. Inks have to go through rigorous testing to be sold and allergic reaction is rare. Just make sure you go to a professional practitioner who has experience and is licensed properly. Ask to see photos of their work and testimonials before starting treatment.

Is There a Difference in Tattoo Ink?

Not all tattoo ink is the same. Find out more in the following post.. Is There a Difference In Tattoo Ink? What is The Best Tattoo Ink To Use?

Conclusion – Can you get a skin color tattoo? Will skin camouflage cover an old tattoo or scar?

I hope this has given you a bit more of an idea about the issue of using skin-colored ink to cover up old tattoos and scars. Sadly it doesn’t really work to block out old tattoos but it can be helpful when it comes to scars and skin issues that you want to disguise.

However, not all scars are suitable for skin colored camouflage tattoos. You need to find a skilled and experienced specialist and work with them to get a good result.

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