Color Tattoos on Dark Skin

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Published: 05.24.2021
Updated: 02.26.2024

Many people get tattoos removed because they no longer like what the tattoo represents. Some clients find that the choice to remove a tattoo stems from aesthetic factors. Tattoos look and age differently depending on the specific color of ink used and the person’s skin tone. Some age gracefully; others, not so much.

This depends in part on the artist’s level of skill in working with your particular skin tone. Unfortunately, most of the tattoo advice given today is geared toward people with lighter complexions, leaving those who have darker skin tones with faded tattoos. Therefore, numerous people with darker skin choose to remove their tattoos because they no longer look the same.

What to Know Before Seeking Color Tattoos On Dark Skin

Careful research and conversations with an experienced tattoo specialist can help people with darker skin avoid this dilemma. Make sure the artist has successfully worked with satisfied clients with darker skin tones in the past, and browse through the portfolio of their work on dark skin after it has healed. Taking these steps will help minimize your chances of experiencing tattoo fading or scarring. The following will give you the insight you’ll need to help you make an informed decision before committing to your next tattoo.

Do Tattoo Colors Show Up On Dark Skin?

You may have heard that tattoos with colorful ink don’t show up on dark skin—ironically, cultures with darker skin actually invented tattooing. While skin tone can dilute or change the color of the pigment, that doesn’t necessarily mean that certain colors don’t show up and that people with darker skin shouldn’t get tattoos. A proper selection of colors will result in a tattoo that looks great.

What Tattoo Colors Show Best On Dark Skin?

Because you’ll be viewing the colors through the lens of the melanin in your skin, certain colors and shades will show up better than others. Darker shades like deep blue and crimson tend to show up best on darker skin tones, while yellow may be hard to see. The exact hues that look best on your skin will depend on the warmth or coolness of your skin tone, which the artist can assess. Here is a list of color tattoo inks that show up well on dark skin:

  • Deep blue tattoos
  • Crimson tattoos
  • Red tattoos
  • White tattoos
  • Deep purple tattoos

Experiences tattoo artists can take additional measures to ensure the chosen colors look good on darker skin before beginning the tattoo. Some artists do color tests in discrete spots on the body to determine exactly how the ink will look after the tattoo has healed, and many will draw their designs on brown paper to see how the color will contrast.

Does Dark Skin Scar More Easily Than Lighter Skin?

Darker skin types are more susceptible to keloids. However, people with darker skin types are just as likely to scar from improper aftercare and tattoo application as other skin types. We have had more clients who work with tattoo artists who aren’t skilled at working with people with darker skin say that the artist takes a heavy-handed approach that has a higher likelihood of causing scarring!

Does Tattoo Removal Work On Dark Skin?

Laser tattoo removal absolutely does work on people with darker skin, as long as it’s done by technicians with experience in working with darker skin tones. You can easily avoid issues like hypopigmentation (when the affected skin becomes lighter) by choosing a reputable facility. Using the PicoWay laser, Removery’s skilled technicians ensure safe tattoo removal for clients of all skin tones.

How to Plan for Your Next Tattoo

Tip #1: Work With Your Artist on Your Tattoo Color Options

What are the best tattoo colors for dark skin? Tattoo artists often recommend sticking with black and gray ink for tattoos on dark skin, but your tattoo artist should be able to guide you to colors that will work with your complexion if you have your heart set on a colorful tattoo. The artist can tell you if a particular color will show up and whether it will be a flattering shade. For example, yellow may actually disappear on dark skin after some time. How fast the color fades also depends on how dark the skin tone is.

Tip #2: Know Your Body and Your Tattoo Artist Before Getting Your Tattoo

Dark skin tones may have a higher likelihood of developing keloids, which are an overgrowth of scar tissue that occurs around a wound. However, keloids most commonly result from an artist’s “heavy-handed” approach. An artist who understands how to tattoo dark skin effectively will likely avoid causing keloids to occur. If you know already that you are prone to keloids, then let your tattoo artist know in advance. Again, ask your tattoo artist if they have experience with dark skin tattoos, and check out their portfolio on Instagram. Be sure to ask for healed photos of tattoos they’ve performed on dark skin, not just freshly-inked photos. This will allow you to see how the tattoos have aged over time.

The right tattoo artist will be able to adjust the way they tattoo for the most optimal tattoo results. Tattoos and tattoo removals are for everyone, regardless of skin type or tone. However, the way we approach getting tattooed or removal should be individualized, as there is no one right way for everyone.

Tattoo Removal for Dark Skin

Are you seeking tattoo removal because you’re not satisfied with your existing tattoo? Our specialists have substantial experience working with clients of all complexions. Our cutting-edge technology, laser removal techniques, and expertise allow us to provide optimal results for clients with darker skin. We understand exactly how to avoid issues like hypopigmentation so you’ll get the results you’re looking for. Book a free consultation with one of our skilled technicians to discuss your removal needs today. Learn more about tattoo removal on certain skin tones and check out our top 10 tattoo removal results on dark skin types.

Dr Kevin Shomaker Dr. Kevin Schomacker VP Medical Research

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