7 Ways to Cover Your Tattoos for Work

There are no hard and fast rules about whether tattoos are allowed in the workplace. While there may be some companies that have strict policies against tattoos, others are much more relaxed about body art, or will make an exception when you’re working with clients and need to look presentable in front of them. If you do have visible tattoos and work in a more conservative environment, here are seven ways to cover your tattoos at work so they’re not distracting to your coworkers or getting you into trouble with your boss.

1) Wear loose clothing

While you might be tempted to wear that low-cut tank or tiny skirt, bear in mind that tattoos can show through thin fabrics. This is particularly true of darker ink colors, as they may contrast with lighter clothing. Consider wearing dark undershirts under light tops and dark pants over light skirts. You may want to avoid cut-offs altogether, and instead opt for longer shirts and trousers; however, if your tattoos aren’t too large (and don’t look like a gang symbol), it’s possible you could get away with them peeking out from under a shorter hemline. Just make sure you’re not showing off a tattoo in a place visible when sitting down—it can seem unprofessional, as well as distracting.

2) Use your hair

You don’t have to wait until you get home from work to cover your tattoos. Instead, pull your hair into a bun or ponytail that covers any potentially offensive ink. Pin it in place with bobby pins and use hair spray. This look is professional and temporary—just remove your hair ties before you go back home at night! If you aren’t worried about how long it lasts, you can opt for an elaborate updo: Use bobby pins on each section of hair as they come out of your head, working towards the top of your head.

3) Wear dark colors

The easiest way to cover up tattoos at work is by wearing dark colors. Wearing darker shades will make your tattoos blend in with your skin, giving you a more natural appearance. If you’re stuck with having lighter color choices, opt for light-colored long sleeves and pants. Keep in mind that certain industries have different regulations about what is and isn’t appropriate business attire; however, if your company permits jeans (which are typically darker than khakis or dress slacks), pair them with a blazer or professional jacket and skip wearing t-shirts underneath—they will cause your tattoo(s) to show through more.

4) Use makeup

It’s not quite a tattoo and it’s definitely not an actual shirt, but when you really need to cover up, makeup can be your saving grace. Get a concealer that matches your skin tone and find a matching eye shadow pallet as well. If you feel more comfortable with foundation, then add some color with bronzer (make sure it isn’t orange). Just make sure that you apply everything thinly, because too much makeup will do more harm than good.

5) Don’t wear white shirts

While a white shirt can be slimming, it’s also one of those options that lets your tats do all of the talking. Keep in mind that tattoos and work don’t always mix; HR is often stricter than management, so before you start making changes, check with your boss or human resources manager. To cover up tattoo sleeves, try wearing short-sleeved button-downs (like a men’s dress shirt) and wear an undershirt underneath. In addition to letting you fully conceal your ink, these garments will keep you warmer during cold weather months. When buying button-down shirts, pay attention to details like fabric type; ensure they’re lightweight so they won’t make your ink too dark underneath.

6) Consider a tattoo sleeve

If you’re at a point in your life where your tattoos may affect your career—for example, if you’re a teacher or working in healthcare or finance—consider covering them up with a sleeve tattoo. A tattoo sleeve is like an overlay of sorts: It’s large-scale body art that requires many long hours and multiple sessions to complete. Many folks choose sleeves when they want their tattoos hidden, but still visible enough to flash underneath clothing. The sheer size of a full arm tattoo is hard to miss even when it’s covered with clothing. Make sure you trust your artist: Because sleeves require numerous (and sometimes pricey) sessions and can last several months, they aren’t an ideal solution for someone who isn’t serious about covering up their ink.

7) Use bandages

Bandages and special taping techniques can help you conceal tattoos. Choose bandages in skin tone and make sure they’re long enough to cover any tattoos you want hidden. Use a medical-grade adhesive on the back of your bandage strips, making sure not to leave any exposed adhesive on your skin or allow it to get wet. Make sure all edges are securely covered by overlapping pieces. To remove, just peel off gently; be mindful of removal around hairline edges that may sting if pulled at with tape still attached. If you have sensitive skin, try using a baby wipe before applying a bandage strip so that your skin isn’t exposed directly to adhesive.