Faded And Outdated: 40 Regrettable Tattoos That Were Upgraded To Wearable Works Of Art

By Aileen D

Let’s face it — getting a tattoo is a major life decision. With the right design and placement, it should be able to accentuate your features and show off your individuality. But if drawn poorly, it can be a cause for migraine. It’s not like you can part with designs at will if these have gone out of trend. Most of the folks on this list regretted having tattoos done at all. They were left with three options — cover them up with clothing, pay for a couple of sessions of laser tattoo removal, or get a new tat to cover up the old one. These people went for the third option and shared the results with the internet. Given these pictures, we can safely say that a great tattoo artist can redeem a regrettable tat design.

Switched to Android

Hands down, you can do away with DSLR cameras if you have an iPhone. That’s probably why people flock to Apple stores for the latest iPhone models. Apple isn’t the only product out there, but there is no denying that some people are die-hard fans of their preferred brand.

Image Courtesy of Randy The Dwarf / Reddit

Of course, that may change over time. Over the years, many have switched from Apple to Android, and are happy with the decision. Tattoos aren’t as easy to change, but this person found a tattoo artist who turned their ex-favorite brand into their favorite TV show.

Love Spat

Reddit user hamsters- was head-over-heels in love when she chose to have her beau’s name tattooed on the back of her neck. A month later, she went from being madly in love to simply being mad at her partner for his infidelity. Sparks faded, and this Reddit user wanted to get rid of his name on her nape pronto.

Image courtesy of hamsters – Reddit

At the time of the first tattoo, she was happy to have Gregory’s name widely inked on the back of her neck. But when it came time to cover it up, the replacement needed to be just as wide. Their tattoo artist showed just how fierce hamsers- is for moving on.

Hummingbird 2.0

Why do some people get tats? It is a reminder of sorts. It’s something you have with you every day, no need to browse through your phone trying to find that one picture or meaningful note. Each tattoo has its own story or marks a person’s achievement or milestone in life.

Image Courtesy of [deleted user]/Reddit

This person was tight-lipped about the meaning of her tattoo. Whatever the reason, it must have been important; the tattoo may have faded, but the meaning didn’t. When it came time to head back to the tattoo parlor, she chose to keep the hummingbird. This time with an upgrade!

Fits the Tan

People have been posting glow-up pictures themselves for years. Even we are stunned by the level of transformation some have undergone. Some have lost weight, while others have built up muscle. But the one thing people have in common is their increased sense of self-esteem.

Image courtesy of c0quine / Reddit

Like so many others, Reddit user c0quine claimed that she lived unhealthily in the past. She thought she owed it to herself to better care of her body. She started by switching to a plant-based diet, exercising regularly, getting some sun, and then covering up this tattoo to fit her tan and new lifestyle.

A Flower in Full Bloom

Most folks carry their love for childhood characters and pets well into adulthood; some even go so far as to have them tattooed on them. But over the years, they felt that it would be better for them to sport a new look.

Image Courtesy of Ceerner / Reddit

If you’re considering revamping an old tattoo, you can take inspiration from this user. Her Care Bear was transformed into a flower in full bloom. Although the new tattoo must be the same size, or bigger, than the old one, it is an opportunity for a stunning piece of art.

An Absolute Beast

Have you had a stressful week? It must have felt like the world was out to get you and that you were struggling to stay afloat. Some people find that religion and spiritualism help keep those emotions in check and anchor them to a better lifestyle.

Image courtesy of Crow King Zero / Reddit

For some, those beliefs might change over time. Reddit user Crow King Zero might have had a change of heart and wanted to change their tattoo to match. A powerful leopard certainly did the trick. With that on your forearm, we can’t see why you can’t face the world head-on!

Beauty and Grace

After seeing most of the before pictures, we’re starting to think that people who sport tats get bad reps because of the hideous designs they choose. Reddit user dwd water drop didn’t even think to show us what she had before. She only snapped a picture of the subsequent tat design she had her eye on.

Image Courtesy of dwd water drop / Reddit

Her new tattoo is beautiful, though there are a few cons. It took longer to be inked on her skin, and she had to be careful of allergies to the colored ink. To play it safe, she had the artist use hypoallergenic ink, which contained vegetable glycerin, witch hazel, and water.

Turned to Stone

Reddit user hitman56490 had been with his long-term partner for over four years, and decided to get a tattoo of his significant other to show her, and the world, just how serious the relationship was. But like ink, emotions have a way of fading away. The couple decided to call it quits a half year later.

Image Courtesy of hitman 56490 / reddit

What to do? How could he cover up a full-length tattoo? Fortunately, he had sought the services of an expert tat artist. He had covered up Kim’s name and then rightfully repainted her as the Medusa that she really was. Careful. You just might turn into stone.


This Reddit user has a love for parties. He couldn’t recall a day in college without having gone to one. Dubbed by his friends as a party animal, he had this tattoo inked on his arm. It had been a joke, but after a couple of years, it had gone pretty lame. He needed a new punchline.

Image courtesy of The _ Cpt _ Hazza / Reddit

Feeling a little brazen, he decided that he wanted a tat design that was larger and bolder. Fill it in with colors, so it’s more eye-catching to people. And just as he had imagined, he was able to breathe life into this party dog tat. We don’t know about you, but this artist deserves a treat!


Reddit user Twistedup75 was unsure whether or not black and white tats were better than colored ones. He had asked from a couple of friends who had told him that the former were less painful since it would require less ink and take less time to complete.

Image courtesy of twistedup 75 / Reddit

He was certain that he wanted the Incredible Hulk design. But after a couple of years sporting this, he felt like it could do better. How best to unleash the fury by coloring in the Incredible Hulk’s features? Suddenly, all this guy’s inhibitions that he was forced to keep inside were set free with broad strokes of creativity!

As Smart As Yoda

Why do we love watching The Simpsons? It’s got the right amount of wit, charm, and life lessons that will keep you hooked for 33 seasons. And unlike other TV Series, this one only got better over time. Who is your favorite character? Reddit user noijonas‘ favorite was Mary … err, Marge. And it’s really no wonder.

Image Courtesy of noijonas / Reddit

It’s a good thing that Mary had been written in cursive. It might have been harder to cover it up if it were in print. Round the letters, add an e, and have an artist as pretty as Princess Leia and as smart as Yoda to embellish this man’s chest.

Because We’re Visual

Based on the design, you can figure out just when or where a person had it placed on their skin. For example, tattoos involving anchors, ships, and sailing dominated in the 1950s. In the 1990s, sun tattoos, barbed wires, Chinese letters, and tribal designs were all the hype.

Image Courtesy of lexann _ brapp / Reddit

And it was only recently that there had been a return to the bold motifs and colorful designs of the 1940s. Hence, the inspiration for the current design — a mixture of tribal patterns, color, and visual art. What a stunning upgrade!

Drawn Back

Reddit user Captain Howdy – 94 claims he had a troubling childhood growing up. And to remind himself how harsh the world was, he had a couple of timestamps tattooed on his forearm. Little did he know that these events that had drawn him back were the same things that catapulted him to success.

Image Courtesy of Captain – Howdy 94 / Reddit

Now, Captain-Howdy 94 has laid the past to rest. He didn’t have to be reminded about the hardships he went through. It’s etched into the very sinews of his soul. Every time he looks at this tattoo, he remembers how he reinvented himself by crawling out of the ashes and making a name for himself.

DC to Marvel

One of the most underrated comics we had come across was Watchmen. And Reddit user Cursed_Idol agrees. The biggest shock was in the last thirty minutes of the film, where we had realized Ozy had not been the person he had shown himself to be. But it’s such a dark film about human nature.

Image Courtesy of Cursed _ Idol / Reddit

So Reddit user Cursed_Idol thought it best to cover it up by having Rocket drawn over it. Like 89P13, this tattoo has been enhanced to suit the needs of this Redditor. Now, Rocket and his owner travel the galaxy to protect it from Thanos and his army. As you have guessed, the two go on regular, cosmic adventures.

By Any Other Name

Just because you had gotten a permanent tattoo doesn’t mean it’ll look the same way forever. In over a decade, this tattoo’s colors had faded away. And along with it, the beauty of this minimalist rose design disappeared. This customer contacted tattoo artist @maryeink and asked if she could help tend to the garden.

Image courtesy of maryeink / @maryeink / Instagram

After setting a date, @maryeink took to drawing over the tattoo and then coloring it with subtle shades of pink and blue to the taste of this customer. Hands down, @maryeink did a superb job of recreating that rose tattoo which smelled as sweet (or even sweeter) than the rose this customer had prior.

Going Bold

Most customers like to play it safe with their first tattoo. They aren’t sure how it will look afterward and may predict the need to conceal it. But a few years down the line, they may decide it’s time for an upgrade.

Image Courtesy of macy tattoos / @macytattoos / Instagram

The tattoo designer showed her a couple of designs to choose from. Of the hundreds, she narrowed her options to five, and she let her artist choose the winner. Like before, her heart pounded as she waited for the masterpiece to be etched onto her skin. And afterward, she couldn’t help but feel excited to show it off.

Better Taste

Sometimes we can’t help but wonder how we used to like certain things, or people, when we were younger. Over time and distance, we gain clarity, and we realize how we are better fitted to sport a different style, or in this case, cover up a tat.

Image courtesy of Mrs Meowsifer / Reddit

Reddit user Meowsifer has recently gone vegan, and he has this to prove the change of heart. She no longer sports the emo hair or the thick eyeliner. But she has the same taste in genre of music and has a better eye for art. On top of that, she would rather tell the world her likes and passions.

Devil in Disguise

When unsure about getting a tattoo, we suggest you try Henna. They’re pain-free and last for roughly a month, and you can change them as often as you want. If you regret the design, you can simply let it fade away. Tattoos, however, require a different approach.

Image Credits of yn sein / Reddit

If you regret your choice of tattoo, adding a cute character like Stitch is a perfect way to make the ink worth it. Even we want to ask Reddit user yn_sein the meaning behind this tattoo. There’s nothing that a Disney character, let alone an illegal, alien, genetic experiment, can’t fix.

A New Chapter

Laser tattoo removal and your body work together to rid itself of ink pigments. Ink pigments are broken down into smaller particles and are carried away into the bloodstream as waste, to be excreted out by the body. But another quick fix to regretful tattoo designs is simply to cover them up.

Image courtesy of Bored _ cucumber 123 / Reddit

As with other options, this one stings. It might not be comparable to a couple of thorns piercing your skin, but with a superb artist, you should be able to sport a tat design that will showcase your best features. After all, this Reddit user always prided herself for her pale, creamy skin and slim wrists.

Last Minute Decision

Instagram user @samilocke had had it with people judging her for her tats. She was discriminated against at work for having them, and she thought it best to get them removed. She had booked an appointment, but sitting in the waiting room, she made a last-minute decision. She wasn’t going to go through with it.

Image Courtesy of samilocke / @samillocke / Instagram

She slung her bag on, drove to her tat artist’s shop, and then sat for a couple of hours to have him add in more details to the design. She didn’t mind if people stared. Who wouldn’t? This work of art was too beautiful to be hidden by cardigans and polo blouses. And even her co-workers had to agree.

Prey Becomes Predator

Your skin is your body’s first line of defense, and in piercing it, you are opening yourself up to the risk of bloodborne diseases and skin infections. Of course, with medical knowledge today, it is certainly a lot safer to get tattoos.

Image Credits of deleted user account / Reddit

The before pic almost looked like the woman was prey to the wolf. But add in shade, shadow, and some color, and the prey became the predator. If you’re considering getting a tattoo or upgrading an old one, find someone well respected. It’s safer and the results are stunning.

We’re All Mad Here

If you have run out of tattoo designs, we suggest you consider choosing amongst any of the characters in Alice of Wonderland. Just picture it. The plot is timeless. It excites the imagination and, in this setting, mockery and nonsense are applauded. If it weren’t for that rabbit, we might never have discovered that alternate world.

Image Courtesy of white stained wood / Reddit

As in the story, we had learned the appeals of growing up. Life gets increasingly curiouser and curiouser and in work as at home, everyone is just mad. There is nothing wrong with embracing our playfulness and curiosity. If not, this makes our reality a bit more bearable.

Not Feeling Lois Lane

Some of the most cliche tattoo designs include having Superman’s logo across one’s chest or back. But it has lost its appeal for being too common. It might have taken Reddit user Back2BeanTown a couple of years to realize that, but once she did, she decided to choose a tattoo she could truly call unique.

Image Credits of Back 2 Bean Town / reddit

She wasn’t the Lois Lane kind of girl, in need of saving. She was driven, talented, and observant — characteristics akin to owls. Her designer helped her trade in her old Superman tat in favor of a powerful work of art.

Three Days After

We know we said it’s best to go for minimalist designs when you’re unsure of getting a tat. But even we have to admit that sometimes the tattoo can be a bit too minimalist. We don’t know why this person decided to replace their cross tattoo, but the new one is undoubtedly an upgrade.

Image Courtesy of retardvark / Reddit

We love the new design, and we thank Reddit user retardvark for not only sharing their tattoo but including the intermediate design. It’s always cool to see how artists choose to cover up the old design. Looking at the final work, we never would have guessed that there was anything under there.

Frames and Borders

It’s no secret that Reddit user crabbytree has poor navigation skills. She has had trouble steering the direction of her life right out of high school until adulthood. But recently, she has been able to get her stuff together. And she thought it best to celebrate the transition. It pays to put things into perspective.

Image Courtesy of crabby tree / Reddit

With the right frame or border, you can embellish an old tat or improve its appeal. She had been inspired by the Sailor Jerry tattoos in the ’50s, but the wreath design gave it a feminine touch. Now, there’s no way to go but north. Raise the sails, cleat off the halyard, and leave nothing to chance!

Autumn Came and Went

Everyone in this woman’s family couldn’t help but laugh at the tattoo design she chose. “Did you want maple syrup to go along with that?”Oh, sorry, did you want us to sugarcoat it for you?” She realized that she had had enough. And she was sure that would get the last laugh.

Image courtesy of alice tattoos / @alicetattoos / Instagram

The next time she bared her shoulder, everyone stared in awe. Even her father, who had greatly disapproved of tattoos, couldn’t help but admit it was a masterpiece! Whereas before, she was shedding leaves and preparing for the harsh, cold climate, now she was in full bloom, and everybody knew it!

Out With the Old, In With the New

Pop quiz! Just to see whether or not you remembered, try to look at the before picture and tell us just when this man had his tattoo done. It should only take you a second or two to figure it out. In case you can’t, then you should probably read more carefully next time. Ready? Set. Go!

Image courtesy of bullet bg / @bulletbg / Instagram

As you had guessed, this man had his tattoo done in the late ’90s to early 2000s. Tribal designs were all the hype then. And you would see women baring it on their hips, wrists, or even ankles. But nowadays, anything goes when it comes to tat designs. And the more unique the image, the better!

Foot in Mouth

If it weren’t for this tat design, Reddit user stlkerSally could have been a foot model. She has got slim ankles, pale skin, slender toes, and long nails that could feature Sephora’s Girls Night Out. But her youth had led her to this regrettable decision. Foot in mouth, she decided to have this stale kiwi fruit covered.

Image Courtesy of stlkersally / Reddit

We thought the best comeback was to subject herself to a laser tat removal. But another good alternative is to have an experienced tat artist place a ’70s themed chihuahua over it. She was more than excited to show everyone her foot. She even wore slip-ons to work…for a whole month!

Needs A Lighter Touch

Most people don’t know, but tattoo artists should have a light touch. That would have kept a tattoo blowout from happening. What’s that? A tattoo blowout occurs when an artist injects ink pigments too deeply into the skin and the fat beneath it. Though it doesn’t pose any health risks, the faded and blurry images are not ideal.

Image Courtesy of my kolapfefer / @mykolapfefer / Instagram

If you have a large tat you want to cover up, a few sessions of laser removal and an expert artist covering it up might be the way to go. From the looks of it, Instagram user @mykolapfefer might have had one session of laser tat removal, then had his artist draw over the old tat.


At that time, Instagram user @fireblade_tattoo thought that yolo was a good source of inspiration for a tattoo. She had her artist draw this design on her, and everyone was raving about it. But over time, it simply wasn’t enough to show how she planned to live life to the fullest.

Image Courtesy of fireblade _ tattoo / @fireblade _ tattoo / Instagram

Unlike other customers, she went into the shop empty-handed and waited for her tat artist to come up with a design. Thankfully the man was a genius. He was able to sketch a design in a week, and they had agreed upon the color scale to be used. Wouldn’t readers and novelists stan this rad tattoo?

Looking In

You should never make a rash decision once you have undergone a major life transition. After being rejected by his college of choice, this Redditor went on a trip with some friends. Though the details are a bit hazy, he had woken up the next day with Pikachu on his lower leg.

Image Courtesy of Dark STar FTW / Reddit

It may have seemed like an unfixable mistake at first. A regrettable tat and a college rejection? Not a good combination. But after a few sessions at a tattoo parlor, he got a new design to reflect moving on and making the best of a bad situation.

New Installment

There have been over 20 films bringing the caped vigilante to life. The earliest film about Batman had been aired in the ’40s. It took over two decades for the third film adaptation starring Adam West to be featured in color.

Image Courtesy of express _ sushi 49 / Reddit

His tattoo had nearly been as old as him. And after over three decades, he thought it best to have the tat redone. After the artist showed him the final product, he knew he had made the right choice to keep the Caped Crusader on his arm.

A Pinch of Ingenuity

You know a great tattoo artist by the way s/he covers up a tattoo. Reddit user shaldaya had been shown over ten artists within the area that he could choose from. But he didn’t know who to pick; he needed a creative design and equally creative artist to cover up the old tribal pattern.

Image Courtesy of shaldaya / Reddit

Although the before picture is a bit difficult to see through the outline of the new design, we can still see the use of sharks in the old pattern. The new tattoo, however, is a magical work of art that shows off their love of the deep sea in bright vibrant colors.

A Greater Scope

Tattoos sometimes change color over the years. What was once a black and white tattoo is now slightly green or blue over time. This happens because what might have looked like black ink was actually very dark green or blue India inks.

Image Credits of shaldaya / Reddit

As the body breaks down the ink pigments, the black appearance withers away, and the lighter base colors of green or blue appear. “Not to worry,” said Reddit user shaldaya‘s tattoo artist. “We can fix this.” He nods reassuringly and draws on her arm. In over a day, she had a constellation where an eagle had once been.


If you are feeling a little brazen, you could have your loved one’s face tattooed on your body; a modern-day version of a locket with their picture. One pro tip — make sure that your tattoo artist is great at producing realistic portraits. Otherwise, you might end up with a caricature of sorts.

Image Courtesy of peter tattooer / @petertattooer / Instagram

We bet a first-grader could draw a better picture than the before pic. This customer thought so too, so he had the tattoo redone by Instagram user @petertattooer. He promised to sit still because any slight movement can affect the shadows drawn across this kid’s face. And fortunately enough, staying still had been worth it.

Now, That’s Art!

It may not seem like it, but getting a tattoo seems like a life decision. You shouldn’t jump in on the bandwagon just because it’s trendy or you have a moment of passion. Emotions may come and go, but these tattoos are as permanent as they come. And getting them off is equally, if not, more painful!

Image Courtesy of micha _ h _ artwork / @micha_h_artwork / Instagram

This customer didn’t want to have the tat covered up. She had heard that cover-ups hurt ten times more than getting it done in the first place. Not to mention that removal was three times more expensive than a cover-up. We can’t argue with her decision to upgrade it. What a work of art!

Too Cliche

Pro tip: ask your tattoo artist for their honest opinion. “Does this tat fit me?” Probably. “Will it hurt?” Yes. “Have you had customers who have had similar designs done?” Yes. Many customers have come into shops without knowing that certain designs are trending and don’t end up with the unique design they’re looking for.

Image Courtesy of tattoist _ sigak / @tattoist_sigak / Instagram

Anyone can doodle a heart design on a piece of paper. And as much as we love that it was made to look like a thumbprint, it’s too common. The cover-up design is one in a million! Thank you @tattoist_sigak for sharing the intermediate steps, too.

Out of the Pen

What is the perfect first tattoo? It depends. To this person, it had been a creature of sorts and the name of a significant other. But age and wisdom caused her to reconsider. Over time, that design looked like a smudge, and she was eager to cover it up with something that fit her personality.

Image Courtesy of 2.can.sam / @2.can.sam / instagram

Sure enough, she portrayed her love for tattoos by drawing inspiration from peacocks. In and of itself, peacocks are visually appealing. They are regal, dignified, and well-posed — traits which this woman indeed embodies. And although this peacock can’t spread its wings, it still stuns and awes people around it.

Consider Your Age

Here is another pro-tip, if you decide to get a tattoo at a young age: stay clear of geometric designs. Since the body undergoes changes, the perfect circle or lunar cusp loses its shape over time. That is why this person chose to have it covered by a photorealistic scene.

Image Courtesy of tattoist muha / @tattoistmuha / Instagram

Now, this person doesn’t have to dream about taking a trip to visit the Northern lights. All he has to do is look at his forearm and reminisce. Even if it had hurt like crazy to get this tattoo done, he was glad for it. Anyone can tell that it’s just visually stunning.

Out of the Chrysalis

The last pro tip is to ask yourself whether or not you can endure pain. Sensitive areas like the forearm or outer thighs are good for those with lower pain tolerance. If you’re unsure what you can handle, you can try starting with a smaller tat.

Image courtesy of qbos tattoo / @qbostattoo / Instagram

Time wore down this user’s tattoo, but since it was a small design, there was more flexibility in how to upgrade it. In less than a month’s time, that caterpillar built itself a cocoon and crawled out of its chrysalis as a butterfly.