Covering large tattoos with airbrush makeup

 In Airbrush, Before & After, Clients, How to, Tattoos, Weddings

Now you see it, now you don’t! (Unless you’re REALLY looking for it.)

This was a full back and upper arm on a recent bridesmaid, color-corrected and covered with Temptu Dura (an alcohol-based formula) – by far the largest amount of skin I have ever been asked to cover. In this maid’s case, the black lines of her tattoo are raised, so that texture was still somewhat visible after concealing, but everyone was really happy with the results, and once her (criss-cross back) dress was on, no one was the wiser.

For tattoo coverage, I first have the subject shave the entire area, as even the finest body hair will be visible and add a strange texture to the surface of full coverage makeup. I start by using toner to thoroughly remove any oils from the skin’s surface. Then I use the principles of color theory to soften any colors in the tattoo and also to mute the black outlines, which are the most difficult to conceal particularly against fair skin. (I find orange to be the most versatile corrector color, and will stipple an alcohol-activated formula over the the blue and black areas in particular.)

Once the colors are subdued, it’s time for layer after layer of coverage. Temptu Dura, the alcohol-based airbrush formula that I use, does an amazing job at achieving long-lasting, transfer-resistant, and relatively realistic looking coverage (the covered area doesn’t reflect light exactly the same as natural skin, and doesn’t have natural skin’s translucency, but when matched well it’s usually pretty close). I usually start by hand and finish with airbrush to get a smooth result. The same techniques apply for covering large bruises, birthmarks, tan lines, etc. – I have yet to find something Dura can’t cover!

The only thing that removes an alcohol-activated makeup formula is alcohol, so I always warn the subject not to drink too much since we excrete alcohol through the pores in our skin and that will absolutely break down the coverage over time. To remove (WITHOUT drinking yourself into a stupor), just soak cotton pads in rubbing alcohol and swipe the surface until the product breaks down. Then wash and moisturize the area thoroughly.

It takes a lot of time and product to cover tattoos this big (this one took 2.5 hours to cover and necessitated an additional product order), and I generally advise clients to rock their ink rather than spend the extra (significant) time and money to hide them. But when desired, it can absolutely be done.

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