What to Do With a Bad Tattoo: Cover It? Remove It? Why Not Reinvent It?
Tattoos ReinventedClick thumbnail to view full-size
There have been plenty of articles written lately about how to decide about getting a tattoo and what tattoo design to choose. They offer some great advice. And I hope people out there are following it. But what if it's too late? What do you do if you already made the bad decision? Or what if what was a good decision at the time isn't any longer?
With Age Comes Beauty (or Not!)
Some things do age beautifully. Bronze for example. The statue of liberty wasn't always green folks. That lovely color even has a lovely name, patina. And removing it from artifacts by polishing can actually reduce their value! Unfortunately, many tattoos do not fare so well with age. I have seen a tattoo that looked new after ten years. And I have seen butterflies that now look more like a moth that met with a fly swatter. It happens. And when it does, what do you do? Or even if that twenty year old ink still looks new, perhaps it isn't really the look you want any longer. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe it's just not the same. Tastes change, lifestyles change. Tattoos on the other hand are forever. Or are they?
You Fell Out of Love With Your Ink. Now What?
If you fall into any of the categories above, or have another reason you are less than in love with your ink, what do you do? Well, you can live with it. A lot of people do. I see them everywhere. And now that summer is approaching they are sure to be out in force! Well, if you are one of these folks, you don't have to be. You can do something about it. There are many options available today.
There are a number of very good tattoo cover-ups on the market for those that need to temporarily hide their ink. They come in the form of makeup or in clothing of sorts. Be careful what you buy. And don't skimp on the cost. A cheap cover-up can leave things looking worse than the tattoo itself. Getting the right stuff can save the day. I know. I was recently in my sister's wedding wearing a bridesmaid dress that left a very large tattoo of a skull exposed. I promised her that it would be covered. I researched a long list of products online, read reviews, and went to a few cosmetic stores. I finally settled on ColorTraition and bought a sample kit that included several shades. That was enough to cover my tattoo for the wedding and I figured once I knew which shade I was, I could buy a full size bottle if I wanted. It worked great and even stayed on through the reception, crazy dancing and all. It also works great to cover blemishes!
I am sure many of you have heard of laser removal as an option for tattoo removal. I have even heard people considering tattoos say something like - well now there is laser removal and I can have it taken off. It is out there and does work. But it is not to be taken lightly. It works by burning the ink. This means it is painful. Even more than getting the tattoo in most cases. And it can leave scars. So you might be rid of the ink but you also might not look like new. A third thing to consider is the cost. It can take many treatments and they are not cheap and not covered by insurance. That being said, sometimes that is the best way to go. I know a gentleman that had two full sleeves almost completely removed for personal reasons. All he kept was a portrait of his wife. His arms look fantastic. You would never know what had been there. He also endured months of painful treatments and spent thousand upon thousands of dollars. So those of you reading this that are still getting tattoos or are considering their first, don't think there is a quick fix out there if you decide you want it taken off.
There are products on the market that claim when applied to tattoos, they will cause the tattoo to fade and ultimately disappear. I do not have any personal experience with these products, nor do I know anyone that does. A quick online search for reviews met with mixed results. They seem to take quite a while to work and are not a good idea for those with sensitive skin. At the very least they might be worth a shot for someone with a small tattoo and a lot of patience. As always, and I can't say this enough, do your research.
Maybe eliminating your ink isn't necessary at all. You might even be getting more. But what about that one tattoo that you have and are less than in love with. Maybe it's faded. Maybe it was a bad decision. Maybe it isn't quite the masterpiece you wanted but it was all you could afford at the time. Instead of living with the bad ink, or getting yet another new piece, why not do something about that old one? Get it retouched. Or get it redone completely. There are good tattoo artists that can take your drunken mistake, or blurry rose, and turn it into a work of art, Why live with something you aren't happy with or something substandard. Do something about it. You might even be happier with the results than if you got something brand new.
If you are going to get your tattoo retouched or covered with another, the same rules apply as getting a new tattoo. Do not rush into it. You don't want to turn a small mistake into a bigger one! Do not skimp on the cost. Tattoos are expensive. There is no way around that. If you are short on cash now, save up. Consider it as an investment in a work of art, and in yourself. Shop around. You definitely want to go to an artist who has done plenty of coverup work and retouching. Look at some of their work. And by all means, talk to them. Discuss your goal and your concerns. If you are at all unhappy with their answers or personality, do not let them touch you. There's plenty of competition out there and if they are not going to suit your needs you can go to someone else. You want this to be a good experience. A good artist will work with you on the design. If you want minimal size and change, that can be done. If you really want to go for it, the sky is the limit. Get something spectacular.
Photos: The photos in this article are courtesy of my tattoo artist, Steve. I would let him doodle on me if he wanted. And that is what I mean by picking the right artist. Steve works out of Primal Inc. 1955 Central Ave., Albany, NY.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.