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Harry Styles performs on stage without his tattoos covered up. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

How My Policeman Covered Up Harry Styles' Tattoos (& Why)

Not a sparrow, butterfly, or mermaid in sight.

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Harry Styles’ movie star game stays winning, with or without his ink. For his latest starring role in My Policeman, the actor is keeping his swoon-worthy (and occasionally controversial) accent, but will be missing quite a few trademark elements of his usual look. Just like in Don’t Worry Darling, Styles will appear on screen in My Policeman with his signature tattoos covered up — but why? This is a case for the FBI... or, you know, one of the film’s makeup artists.

During the filming of this love-triangle saga, which stars Emma Corrin and David Dawson as Styles’ two love interests, the “Music For a Sushi Restaurant” crooner had to spend a good amount of time in the makeup chair getting his collection of tattoos — including depictions of a sparrow, butterfly, and a mermaid — covered by not one, not two, but *three* professional makeup artists. Given that the Don’t Worry Darling actor has at least 56 tattoos, it was no small feat. To get all the details behind Styles’ massive My Policeman transformation, Elite Daily tapped Daniel Phillips, the film’s hair and makeup designer. Ahead, Phillips spills the details behind why Styles’ tattoos disappeared, how the team covered up all of the singer’s ink, and how long it took to complete this transformation.

Why Harry Styles’ Tattoos Were Covered In My Policeman

There were a few reasons behind this massive cover-up, and some are more obvious than others. As the film is set in the ‘50s, tattoos were still rather subversive in Western culture at the time. “The story is set within an era when regulation for policemen would not have allowed tattoo artwork to such an extent,” Phillips tells Elite Daily. Styles’ character, policeman Tom Burgess, couldn’t be so inked up because it wouldn’t be accurate for the time period.

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There was also a more story-driven reason that led Styles to the makeup chair that has to do with Tom as a character. Having as many tattoos as the Grammy winner would have been considered extreme in the ‘50s, which just isn’t fitting for the softness that develops between Tom and his love interests in the film.

“We also wished to convey a sense of naïveté, whereas tattoos could have detracted from this character, perhaps making him look one-dimensional, therefore possibly making the relationship of the two male protagonists feel less believable,” Phillips says.

Styles’ tattoos were also covered for legal reasons. Many modern tattoo artists own the rights to their designs. Ensuring copyright compliance laws were followed for over 50 tattoos would have taken much longer, and been much more expensive, than covering them up.

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How Harry Styles’ Tattoos Were Covered In My Policeman

With over 50 tattoos to hide, the makeup artists on set had their work cut out for them. For Styles alone, Phillips says, “There was a team of three makeup artists. Two would airbrush with makeup to obliterate the body art and the third for hair and face work.” First, the makeup artists airbrushed Maqpro Creamy Air Liquid Makeup over the “As It Was” singer’s finely-etched and delicate tattoos. Other areas required more attention.

“The darker and denser the ink is on a tattoo, the more careful one has to be to not create too much buildup of makeup on the skin, which can then start to look flat and lifeless,” explains Phillips. Styles’ larger and more detailed tattoos required several layers of color, graded specifically by artists with a solid understanding of color theory.

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To create an even skin tone, they used a mixture of makeup with Pax Paint, an acrylic paint made with liquid latex, to create a protective seal, and Derma-Color, a heavy cream base foundation, to neutralize the blue or black ink base.

To avoid leaving the skin looking flat and too perfect, after neutralizing the deep blacks and blues of a tattoo, the artists went back in. Using flesh tones in layers, they created light and shade, as well as texture like freckles and moles. Basically, they built Styles a whole new layer of skin.

How Long Did It Take To Cover Harry Styles’ Tattoos In My Policeman?

Despite all of this very detailed work that went into Styles’ cover-up routine, it didn’t actually take that long. Airbrushing, color-correcting, blending, adding fine details, and letting it all seal and set only took about an hour and a half a day, according to Phillips. That said, this was a case of serious professionals using special effects makeup. Covering up 50 tattoos in under two hours at home? Unless you’ve got four extra hands and a fine arts degree, it’s just not happening.

You can catch Harry Styles in My Policeman, in theaters now, or via Amazon Prime Video starting Friday, Nov. 4.