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Tattoo Cover Up vs Removal: 4 Factors to Consider.

Tattoo cover up vs removal

If you’re weighing the differences between a tattoo cover up vs removal, you’ll love this guide.

Proper tattoo lightening for cover up can be extremely effective, if you choose the right laser technician and tattoo artist.

How effective?

In this guide, we’ll show you how to get amazing results from as little as one laser session.

Furthermore, we’ll show you how to choose the right artist when it’s time for you to get covered up.

Learn below the three best factors to consider, and questions to ask when deciding between a tattoo cover up and removal.

Related: How to Avoid Treatment Scars


1. Should I Get My Ink Removed or Covered?

Sometimes, it makes more sense to choose the fade-for-cover-up option, rather than full removal.

How do you know which is best for you?

Consider the following critical factors:

Pigment Color

The colors in your tattoo can determine the outcome of full removal vs fading.

 It’s pretty well known now that black and red are the two easiest colors to remove.

However, a certain percentage of patients can be allergic to the mercury in red ink.  So in some cases, red is un-removable.

What about other colors?

Many patients don’t realize (or are not being told) that some inks are very difficult to remove.

Even if a clinic has the proper laser wavelength to treat green, blue and purple, these colors (especially light toned) cannot be fully removed in some cases.

Yellow and white can turn darker, so they’re not ideal either.

For these reasons, some multicolored tattoos are better suited for laser lightening.

Ink Density

The amount of ink saturation is a big determining factor as well.

Grey wash, and lightly saturated black tattoos respond extremely well to laser treatment.

On the flip side, tribal and heavily dense black pieces require more visits for fading and removal.

Here’s an example of two tattoos.  The one on the left is more saturated, and therefore would require more visits for preparation:

How ink density factors in


Obviously, price is a big factor.

When getting your ink removed or faded, don’t look for the cheapest option.

Here’s why:

Cheap or out-dated laser technology isn’t powerful enough.

It’s worth the extra 10% – 20% to find a clinic with a Quanta laser, and the experience needed to use it at it’s fullest capabilities.

Less treatments = more value

The same “quality rule” applies to the tattoo artist, which we’ll get to in a moment.



How much patience do you have? Because full removal takes time.  Even with the Quanta laser.

Don’t be fooled by Pico laser marketing, either.  They’re NOT removing ink in “half the time” as they claim.   Their marketing claims are now under scrutiny in a class action lawsuit against one of the leading Picosecond laser manufacturers.

If waiting nine months to a year (sometimes longer) sounds too long for you, consider tattoo lightening for cover up.

Check out our guide to speeding up the process between treatments for helpful tips on optimizing your ink removal.


Body Location

Where is the ink located on your body?

Upper extremity tattoos are typically better suited for full removal.

How about arm tattoos?  How much does it bother you to see ink on your body?

We’re all different.  Here at Ink Revoke, we happen to love tattoos, but we understand the feeling of tattoo regret.

So ask yourself this:

If you cover up an old tattoo you don’t like with a new tattoo you absolutely love, is the location of ink on your body going to bother you in the future?

If so, full removal might work better for you.


Your Career

Are any of your tattoos holding you back from pursuing your career?

If so, the obvious choice here is full removal.

Even if you love tattoos as much as we do, your future and career might be more important.


2. How Faded Do Tattoos Need To Be?

Getting the right amount of fading is critical to getting the best new cover up.

It comes down to giving your tattoo artist something good to work with.

Here’s the bottom line:

Every case is unique.

Determining the right amount of fading is done case by case.  We assess the amount of fading that occurs with each passing treatment.

Sometimes, a tattoo will fade extremely well from just one or two treatments.  Others will need three or four to give the artist something good to work with.

Artists usually like to have the darkest colors faded in preparation.  This is ideal for us because blacks, grays and dark reds are the easiest colors to fade.

Once the darkest colors are removed, or lightened enough, the laser treatments can stop.

The goal for the patient is to have the least amount of laser treatments possible, and we understand that.

Number of Laser Passes

Just like removal, number of treatments depends on numerous factors including color, density of ink, skin type, age and quality of ink.

Consultations are required for estimates when deciding on a tattoo cover up vs removal.

With each visit, we’ll analyze your fading and determine when would be the best time to stop treatments and begin covering up.

The 1064 wavelength on our Quanta laser is best suited for these types of treatment plans.  It strips out all the darkest colors and impurities.

This will then leave the ink faded just enough, and leave the lightest toned inks on the canvas to provide a great foundation for some new beautiful body art!

3. Best Time To Start The Process

Time is your friend.

Just like with removal, it takes time for your body’s immune system to engulf and flush away the fragmented ink particles between visits.

How much time?

Realistically, we recommend waiting eight weeks between fading appointments.

You should wait at least three months after your last laser session before getting a new tattoo cover up.

This will ensure that you’re getting the most fading and skin healing possible.

4. How To Find The Best Artists

I think it goes without saying that you should never randomly choose a tattoo artist, or body art for that matter.

Certain artists will specialize in specific niches.  Some are experts in black and grey, while others specialize in vibrant colorful pieces.

There’s a million different styles of tattooing.  Find the kind of style that best suits you, then search locally for artists who also specialize in cover-ups.

Take the time to look through their portfolios, including their before and afters.

Here are two great sources on how to choose an artist:

Final Thoughts

The differences between a tattoo cover up vs removal can be confusing, if you don’t know what factors to consider.

Full clearance isn’t always possible, so a tattoo cover up after laser removal can be a great way to zap your regrets.

If you’re like us, you love good body art and don’t mind having visible tattoos that you like.  However, some of us have at least one that we regret.  So proper tattoo lightening for new cover-ups is a great option, if you know how to approach it right!