These Tattoo Before-&-Afters Will Blow Your Mind

Photo courtesy of East Iz.
If you have ink on your wrist that serves as nothing more than the memory of a boozy night, an S.O. or BFF tattoo dedicated to someone you no longer speak with, or lyrics from a song you only loved on your 18th birthday running down your side, you might be familiar with tattoo regret.

The good news is, you're far from alone. In fact, one could argue that impulsive tattoos are more common than ever — leading to a massive uptick in the desire to have them removed. And thanks to advances in skin-treating lasers, permanent no longer means foreverif you're willing to undergo multiple treatments and cough up the dough to go back in time, so to speak. But there's another option for a tat you truly can't stand.

Enter: tattoo makeovers. Don't be mistaken — this is far from simply covering a tattoo with another. Today, artists can strategically enhance, change, add to, and, yes, cover, tattoos in pretty remarkable ways. But first, a word to the wise: There are far more bad tattoo cover-ups online than good ones, so always — always — do your research before picking an artist for the job.

Click through our slideshow for before-and-afters that prove the second time is the charm.
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Photo: @josh_pohlig
Technique: Building Upon
Adding layers to an old tattoo can make it feel fresh and new — without sacrificing the original feeling. Here, a simple, organic line becomes scenery with the addition of a mountain range and stars.
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Can tattoos be meta? Yes, friends, yes they can.
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Photo: @nemphone
We love this technicolor update.
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Things are better with friends...
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When your flair for the '90s meets your love of origami.
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Netting drawn under this rose expands the reach while maintaining the original concept.
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Photo: @east_ssc
Technique: Enhancing
Enhancing a tattoo is a great way to refresh old ink using newer techniques and colors. L.A. tattoo artist East Iz used a single-needle technique to make this line drawing incredibly realistic and detailed.
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A simple outline and color touch-up gave this faded flower a soft, surreal finish.
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A stick-and-poke tattoo can be refined and smoothed in one session.
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Photo: @blamezuey
Think contour is just for your face? Think again: This portrait got a sculpted makeover.
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Photo:
Shadowing gave this sweet tat new life.
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Adding lifelike definition can be the difference between hating and loving your ink.
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Ink on the feet tends to fade faster than on other places — thanks to daily rubbing on your shoes — so it often needs a refresh.
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A smooth outline and dose of deep-red color updated this heart.
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Darkening and shading this feather translated to a more modern finish.
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Color made this birdie soar even higher.
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Photo: @gugmart
Proof that techniques have changed drastically through the years — this tree frog came to life with vibrant, contoured color.
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Photo: @tatbrat
When cute gets even cuter...
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Technique: Covering
Straightforward cover jobs can be the best way to remove unwanted ink, especially when you already have your sights set on something bigger and more vibrant.
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Sorry, Clifford...
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Photo: @east_ssc
Another from East Iz: A single-needle tattoo is a great way to cover a phrase or name.
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Photo: @brunobgfx
Same insect, whole new life.
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This older, faded tat completely disappears behind new art.
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When the regret is not going big and bold enough...
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See ya, mystery R.
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Covering a symbol is child's play for tattoo artists.
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Photo:
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