Full sleeve massive tattoos might send the right vibe about your personality but you might want to know how to cover tattoos for work, especially if you work in a more conservative environment.
According to recent statistics, in 2012, only 21% of the American population had tattoos but this drastically changed with the rise of the new generation. The latest pop culture glorifies body tattoos, piercings, and any other form of self-expression through your body, which is why these additions are extremely appealing to youngsters.
What was once a symbol of gang members, sailers, and convicts, tattoos have become fashionable and a great way to express someone’s originality. Thus, it comes as no surprise that 36% of Americans between 18 and 26 years old brag about having at least one tattoo, while as many as 150 million people of all ages are in favor of tattoos or have one.
However, even though most jobs are now in favor of their employees’ freedom of expression and ditched the dull dressing codes to Casual Friday all week long, there are still some companies and working places that consider tattoos inappropriate. So, if you plan on going to a job interview or your new employer doesn’t rule in favor of visible tattoos, here are some easy ways that can help you cover them 9-5.
Use high-coverage concealer and foundation
If you’re into tattoos, you probably heard all about Kat von D and her miraculous line of cosmetics designed specifically for people with tattoos. If your tattoos are in visible places such as your legs, arms, or even on your neck, face, behind the ears or the back of your head, one easy way to get ready for work is to cover them with concealer or foundation.
You can find online and in most beauty shops a wide array of high-coverage body foundations and concealers, specifically designed to cover even the biggest tattoos. What’s great about their formula is that they are resistant to transfer, which means your clothes can remain makeup-free.
They are also available in countless shades and undertones to perfectly match your complexion, regardless if you’re paler or bronzed. Finally, a good body foundation or concealer will let your skin breathe properly and won’t clog the pores, causing further problems.
However, applying makeup to cover your tattoos is a time-consuming task as you need to properly prepare your skin to prolong the life of your coverage and prevent it from “melting” because of sweat or transfer to your clothes.
First of all, you need to carefully clean your skin to remove any signs of dirt, dust, sebum, and dead cells. You can use micellar water, a regular makeup removal gel, or any other non-greasy solution, including wet wipes.
Secondly, apply a concealer that is a few shades lighter than your skin tone on the entire tattoo, gently blending in the product. Use a heavy-coverage foundation that is one or two tones darker than your skin and apply it on top of the concealer, until you obtain a uniform color, as close as possible to your skin tone. Don’t forget about setting powder to keep your makeup in place.
Use the right clothing items
Tattoos on the hands and legs can be easily covered by wearing appropriate clothes such as long sleeves and pants. Women with strict dress codes can also opt for opaque stockings to conceal their leg tattoos.
People who have a strict uniform that implies using a short-sleeve shirt can always choose an undershirt or special cover-up sleeves. There are several companies producing cover-up sleeves available in various colors, including black, white, and different shades of nude to easily match your skin tone and make your tattoos disappear like magic.
Sometimes, buttoning up your shirt will also do the trick, depending on the area that you want to cover.
Use accessories smartly
Some employers may not be comfortable with seeing their employees covered up in tattoos but may be OK with jewelry. If this is the case, you can use accessories to your benefit and make yourself noticed positively.
Statement necklaces and bracelets are the perfect cover-ups for tattoos around your wrist or neck. And, if you want to keep them in place for the entire day, you can use some hair spray or makeup fixer.
Big rings can easily cover any small tattoos you have on your fingers, while wristwatches are also great for telling you the time, making a fashion statement, and keeping your tattoos private. If the tattoo is slightly bigger than a normal bracelet or watch bracelet, you can use an additional bangle or one made of leather straps.
Scarves have been used for decades to hide hickeys and are perfect for keeping some parts of your body hidden too. Use them around your neck or wrists to cover bigger tattoos without standing out too much. At the very worst, you can explain that you’re going through a “rock phase”. Some of us still remember the good times back in the 80s and 90s when small black scarves worn around the wrists and big, chunky rings were all the hype.
Finally, shoes can work in your favor, depending on the style. Small ankle tattoos can be kept private if you opt for a pair of high-ankle booties. Similarly, you can use tall boots and even over-the-knee boots to cover up tattoos on your legs, during the cold season.
Use your hair
Remember when you thought that bar code or Chinese sign on the back of your neck looked cool? Years passed by and you wanted to give a good example to your children or wanted to look more professional at work. Laser removal and turtlenecks were never good options, so the only choice you were left with was to wear your hair down.
Luckily, hair can work in your favor and help you conceal some tattoos, especially around the neck area. If you have long, thick hair, you can even wear it in a ponytail without uncovering the signs of your youth but if your hair is flat and thin, you should wear it down.
Curls and puffy hairstyles not only add volume but allow you to hide tattoos better, even on parts of your neck that would, otherwise, remain uncovered.
Some tattoos are not meant to last forever or, if they are constantly exposed to the sun, they will eventually fade. If you have a visible tattoo that doesn’t mean much to you anymore, you can always choose to remove it or replace it with a new one.
Tattoo removal techniques have evolved in the past few years so that they are almost 100% efficient and painless today.
However, depending on the size of the tattoo and its complexity, you are looking at a procedure that can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars to walk away with no marks and clean skin. Therefore, we strongly advise you to take these things into account before deciding to remove a tattoo, especially if you’re only doing it because of your job.
Finally, a last-minute way to cover your skin can involve applying a band-aid on your tattoo, as long as it is small.
Can employers discriminate against tattoos?
Although tattoos are more popular than ever, there isn’t any law that clearly states that people with tattoos and piercings are allowed to work everywhere. Employment discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation is banned across the country but, when it comes to tattoos and piercings, there is a different story.
In some work fields, having visible tattoos is still considered unprofessional, and employers might judge your personality and, what’s worse, your ability to perform your work tasks, based on how you look. Other institutions ban visible tattoos for security reasons, and it is the case of the U.S. Army.
Soldiers are not allowed to have tattoos on any visible part of their bodies that is not covered by a uniform, as well as on the head, neck, and face. Tattoos are also banned on the sleeves, arms, and legs of the soldiers.
However, there are no limits regarding the number of tattoos you can have on other parts of your body, as long as they are not racist, extremist, or indecent. In fact, the Army tattoo policy for 2020 is one of the most liberal in the world and even allows soldiers to have ring tattoos, one per hand.
That being said, if you’re not joining the U.S. Special Forces, Army, or Navy, and your employer still considers your visible tattoos as unprofessional, you only have two choices – you either accept the challenge and try to cover your tattoos as good as you can or you opt for another company with looser internal policies.
At the end of the day, tattoos are part of your journey and part of your life, and you should be able to proudly display them whenever you want.