Self-Harm Scar Cover-Up Options that Work

July 8, 2021 Kim Berkley

Your self-harm scars belong to you; it is your choice when, if ever, to show them or hide them from the world. For those days when you would rather keep things under wraps, it's helpful to know what sort of self-harm scar cover-up options are at your disposal.

Self-Harm Scar Cover-Ups I've Used in the Past

Which options will work best for you will depend a lot on where your scars are and how visible they are to the naked eye. I consider myself lucky in that, while the majority of my scars are in a visible place (my arms), they are extremely difficult to see unless you're looking for them. The magical healing properties of time have rendered them small, pale, and almost invisible against my equally pale skin.

But of course, they weren't always that way. Back when I was still healing relatively fresh wounds, I used many of the typical (almost stereotypical) self-harm scar cover-ups.

I wore long sleeves, which is generally pretty effective but not ideal during summer in a tropical city like the one I grew up in. I wore bracelets and wrist bands, which can be effective. However, the bracelets should match your style (otherwise, you're drawing attention rather than deflecting it) and shouldn't get in the way of your usual activities. I wound up sticking mostly with cotton wrist bands because big, heavy bangles and charm bracelets made writing difficult.

I also used band-aids and excuses. I want to be clear here—I'm not condoning hiding your scars from everyone like this. Someone, hopefully a mental health professional (or at least someone who can help you), should know the truth. But it would be naive to ignore the fact that sometimes, you can't physically cover your scars but can't explain them honestly, either. Maybe you're speaking to a boss who could use the information against you, or you're speaking to a classmate who can't keep a secret.

If you need to explain your scars to someone you simply can't be honest with, I've found it's easiest just to make something up. It's awful, but it's true. 

Other Self-Harm Scar Cover-Ups to Try

Another favorite tactic for covering up self-harm scars—one I never quite got up the courage to try—is tattoos. Ink is a commitment, and it can get expensive. Some people, like me, also have health-related reasons why they cannot, or should not, get a tattoo. But if you're open to it and you're well-informed about the potential consequences (it's silly, but some employers are still very closed-minded about piercings and tattoos), cover-up tattoos make for an artful alternative to long sleeves and bracelets.

If you like the idea of a tattoo but not the permanence of it, you might want to consider temporary tattoos, henna, or even—if you're artistically inclined—simply drawing or painting over your scars with non-toxic art supplies. (Just be sure, if you plan to show off your body art at work or school, that you won't be violating any dress codes.)

Similarly, you could use makeup to cover your scars as you would any blemish. Don't assume that you need an expensive, high-end brand—depending on the size and severity of your scars, a simple grocery store concealer might be all you need. However, if you have raised or prominent scars, a specially-designed scar concealer may be necessary to achieve the desired effect.

Laser scar removal and other medical procedures are also gaining traction as more people open up about their self-harm and recovery, and depending on your situation, these may be viable options. However, they are likely the most expensive option and are even more permanent than regular tattoos. Be sure you are confident in your choice before you commit to any such procedure. It might surprise you to know that some people actually grow to like their scars over time.

Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments if you've tried other self-harm scar cover-ups besides these and, if so, how well they worked for you. You never know who you might be helping simply by speaking up.

APA Reference
Kim Berkley (2021, July 8). Self-Harm Scar Cover-Up Options that Work, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, January 23 from

Author: Kim Berkley

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