Do You Have Dark Skin? The Top Tips And Tattoo Colors For Dark Skin Tones

Written by: Claudia
Updated:

Anyone with any skin complexity or tone can get a tattoo. That’s the beauty of this expression of art: it’s truly accessible. Whether you have pale skin or dark skin, you need to learn what tattoo inks work best with your tone in order to create long-lasting, gorgeous ink. We’ve narrowed down the best tips for tattoo ink for dark skin.

Related: Best Tattoo Colors For Pale Skin

Do Color Tattoos Show on Dark Skin?

Absolutely they do! Color tattoos can look just as bold and beautiful on dark skin as they do on light skin individuals. Just like pale skin, you need to know what colors work best for your undertone and complexion.

Careful research and a professional artist with extensive experience tattooing darker-skinned clients will help you find the perfect piece that pops.

Is Tattooing Dark Skin Different from Light Skin?

Like hairstylists who work on curly hair and straight hair, any skilled tattoo artist will tell you that there are some differences between tattooing darker skin versus pale skin.

At the base of all of that, though, the largest organ in our body, our skin, is made up of the same structure. A tattoo artist will deposit ink in the dermis of the client, regardless of your skin complexion. The only difference is in melanosome production and, depending on how much you produce, this may influence how the tattoo appears after it heals. It’s like the tint of color that sits over the tattoo after a month of healing.

Is Dark Skin Hard to Tattoo?

The reason it is so important to find a tattoo artist who has experience working with darker skin tones is that they will know how and what color works best with deeper skin shades. Any artist who makes an excuse to avoid tattooing you based on the color of your skin simply doesn’t understand the tattooing process and what your skin needs to fit its tone.

Consider the Color Used

Just like super-light colors don’t work well with very pale skin, you may also want to reconsider some pastel coloring depending on how dark your complexion is. Pastel colors will show up on dark skin just like pale skin but will appear muted, so you need to be aware of that.

Of course, if you are really set on a specific color, there are shades and specific undertones to that color that a skilled artist will know how to adjust according to your needs.

Some great colors that really pop on darker skin are:

  • Crimson red
  • Dark navy and blue
  • White tattoo ink
  • Deep purples
  • Forest greens

Black ink is the universal color for all skin tones and will look very bold and beautiful no matter your shade or complexion.

Avoid Overworking the Tattoo

Contrary to popular belief, dark skin is not harder to tattoo than pale skin and this myth is founded on racism. An artist who is overworking your skin or telling you that your tattoo needs to be lined with bolder lines because of your complexion is not willing to have the patience or understanding needed to work with your skin.

Overworking the skin could lead to healing difficulties and scarring. Dermatologist Dr. Joyce I. Imahiyerobo-Ip states that although individuals with darker skin tones have more fibroblasts which creates more collagen in the wounded skin at the site of a tattoo, major damage or keloid scarring is more likely caused by improper tattooing techniques.

Use the Correct Ink Color Undertones

Individuals with darker skin complexions still have varying skin undertones. These undertones in the epidermis produce a light shade over a healed tattoo that can influence the final coloring. People have three possible undertones to their skin color: cool, warm, or neutral.

If you are wondering what undertone you have, you can put on a white t-shirt or hold up a white piece of paper close to your face and if your skin appears rosy next to the white paper, you have a cool undertone. If you appear ashy next to the paper, you have a warm undertone. If you don’t notice either, you’re a neutral undertone.

Another way to check your undertone is to look at the veins around your face and neck. If they appear blue under the skin, your undertones are cool, and if they appear green or olive, your undertones are warm.

When it comes to tattoo ink, certain colors suit certain undertones. Here are the best colors for each skin undertone:

  • Warm: honey, olive, coral, cream, moss, brown, orange, amber, red, taupe, earth tones
  • Cool: blue, lavender, rose, gray, pale yellows, turquoise, pinks, emerald, ocean tones
  • Neutral: jade green, mustard, medium blue tones, brown-reds, white, black, bright red

A highly-skilled tattoo artist will know how to adjust ink undertones to suit your skin undertone.

Black is Beautiful

We are talking about skin and about tattoo ink! It’s always a safe and beautiful bet to go with a detailed black or black and gray tattoo. White highlights will appear especially bold on your darker complexion. There is no need for thick lines for a black tattoo to have a prominent appearance on the skin, either.

How to Find the Right Tattoo Artist for Dark Skin Complexions

As we always suggest, putting time and effort into researching the perfect artist and tattoo shop is vital to ensure the quality and longevity of your tattoo, no matter what skin color you have. Here are some additional suggestions for dark skin complexions:

  • View healed photos shared by the artist you’re considering. Healed photos of tattoos are always vastly different than photos taken right after a client leaves the artist's chair. It will help you get a clearer understanding of how well your potential artist works with darker skin tones.
  • Read reviews and testimonials. Nothing will give you a better idea of the quality of an artist than happy customers. Take negative reviews seriously and use these reviews to ask questions during your consultation.
  • Choose a patient and experienced artist. We recommend looking for artists who have reviews or work shared by and of darker-skinned clients so you can be sure they know how to work with dark skin.

Our Final Thoughts

Darker skin is not and should never be a hindrance to pursuing your tattooed dreams. Darker complexions can have bold and beautiful tattoos, it’s just a matter of understanding undertone of your skin and finding an experienced artist. Be patient in your hunt and don’t work with someone who tries to deter you from a bright and colorful piece!

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