We often do not think about the differences that occur between creating a tattoo on light-colored skin and creating one on darker skin tones. The best tattoo ink for light complexions may not be the best tattoo ink for darker skin.
I visited several tattoo artists to ask them how they addressed the skin tone differences, and what products they recommend for use on darker complexions and people of color. I got a lot of great product suggestions, and some healthy advice on creating, caring for, and understanding these tattoo differences.
The 6 Best Color Tattoo Ink for Dark Skin
#1. Bright Red Tattoo Ink by Intenze
Bright red by Intenze is a fabulous ink for darker-colored skin. It is a vivid ink that stays true to color and looks beautiful against the darker skin tones. It heals to reveal a rich color that is in stark contrast to the deep tones of the skin it is on.
This ink is sterile and comes in a sealed container to maintain the sterile conditions. It has a very long expiration date, and the one-ounce bottle will last you for a long time.
It is great for use with coil and rotary tattoo guns and can even be used in stick and poke tattoo creations. It is a fabulous consistency, but you should shake the bottle vigorously to make sure the color is mixed thoroughly throughout the container.
There are no plastics, metals. Silicon, iodine, sulfur, or any other potentially harmful ingredient in the ink. It is vegan friendly and has never been tested on animals.
- Vivid red color that does not easily fade
- Great for sensitive skin
- Vegan friendly formula has no animal by-products
- Accepted easily by human skin
- When using this ink for a poke and stick process you may have to thin the ink.
#2. Black Onyx Tattoo Ink by Millennium Mom’s
This smooth ink flows easily so it is perfect for tattooing. It transfers from the needle to the skin quickly, and the lasting color of the healed tattoo will be a deep, rich black that stands out even against darker skin.
The ink is designed to be long-lasting and durable. You can expect your tattoo to look just as good in the years to come as it looks right after it heals. The ink does not require you to go to great lengths to protect it so that it will last. Normal care and hygiene practices are all that are required to maintain tattoos formulated with this ink.
This product is made in the United States. It is regulated by the FDA and has met all of the requirements to develop a safe tattoo ink that is non-toxic and not likely to cause irritation or allergic reactions.
The ink is favorably priced and most people find it to be very affordable. The bottle holds one ounce of black ink, and this brand also creates a variety of other colors for your consideration.
- Large bottle does not expire quickly
- Great color that creates vivid tattoo designs
- Fade resistant ink is durable for years
- Not likely to cause adverse skin reactions
- This ink is not as durable and long-lasting as some other inks for darker skins.
#3. Dragon’s Breath Red Tattoo Ink by Kuro Sumi
The Dragon’s Breath Red ink by Kuro Sumi is one of the brightest and most brilliant red tattoo inks available. Red ink does very well on black and dark skin colors if the ink is bright and vivid. This ink is bright enough that when it is in a tattoo design it is highly visible no matter what the skin tone is, and it remains bright and highly visible for years without special care or considerations.
This is a vegan-friendly product. This is a cruelty-free product. This product has never been tested on animals and contains no toxic ingredients that could harm tattoo wearers or the environment.
The ink is slightly thinner than some other inks but it still works exceptionally well in tattoo equipment and in stick and pokes tattoo creations. It transfers smoothly to the skin and the color of the product is consistent throughout the bottle. If you order another bottle of this color, you will find that the second bottle will have the same consistency of tone and color.
- Never tested on animals
- Consistent product with consistent colors
- Can be applied by tattoo machines
- Non-toxic formula is vegan friendly
- This ink may be too dark or aggressive for many people.
#4. Leaf Green Tattoo Ink by Dynamic
Leaf Green is one of the many Dynamic tattoo ink colors that shows up very well against darker skin. The green is darker than you would imagine, but when it is used in a tattoo the coloration is so close to the true colors of natural leaves that you will be astounded. It is brilliant and it is eye-catching in a way that most colors cannot compete with.
The beauty of the Dynamic inks is they are formulated in such a way that you can create custom colors by mixing two or more colors. You can create a color palette that cannot be duplicated and thus get colors that are perfect for your skin tone and shade. The ink is vegan-friendly and non-toxic so you can feel more secure about using it.
This is a hypoallergenic product that is manufactured in the United States. It is regulated by the guidelines of the FDA and it meets or exceeds all of those regulations. The container has a twist top that allows you to squeeze the bottle to pour drops of it into a dipping cup. This protects the majority of your ink from being exposed to any bacteria.
- Wears well and does not fade in the sun
- Can be applied by poke and stick methods or by rotary or coil machines
- Sterile upon arrival
- Realistic color
- The twist top on the container can be difficult to operate when you are wearing gloves.
#5. Black Tribal Tattoo Ink by Viking Ink
Viking links are considered to be fantastic because the inks are so light and versatile. They are quick to penetrate the skin and they retain their color after the tattoo heals and for years into the future. Their black ink is one of the deepest black inks on the market.
The Viking Inks are made in the USA. They are vegan-friendly inks. They contain no animal by-products and they are never tested on animals. They are non-toxic to humans and they are environmentally friendly as well.
The ink consistency is great for all manners of tattoo application, including stick and poke. It adheres well and the skin quickly accepts it.
The colors are bold enough to be used on black and darker skins with good results. The ink is hypoallergenic, and it comes in a sealed bottle that is sterile.
- Highly visible once applied
- Causes few irritations or reactions
- Consistent viscosity that can be used in multiple processes
- Large bottle with no expiration date
- On lighter colored skin this ink can be used as a liner but is not recommended as a shading ink.
#6. Skin Candy All-Purpose Black by LUXSHOP
One of the reasons why tattoo artists across the world choose to use Luxshop’s Skin Candy tattoo ink is the length of time they have to work with the ink before it reaches the expiration date. This lengthy period allows them to buy the ink in these large eight-ounce bottles and save money and time.
Another reason why this ink is chosen by so many professionals is the consistency and quality of the product. The consistency is perfect for tattoo creations. It is not too watery and it is not too thick. The quality is high because the products are made with the best ingredients, are non-toxic, and they are not tested on animals.
The final reason so many professionals use this ink in their designs is the durability of the product. This ink lasts. It looks good when the tattoo heals and years later the ink still looks good. It is less likely to fade compared to some ink brands, and it is more likely to remain well-defined and show less distortion.
- Easy to apply
- Stays brilliant longer than most inks
- Never tested on animals
- Long expiration date
- If you decide to remove the tattoo this ink may be resistant to removal processes.
What Are the Best Tattoo Ink Colors for Dark Skin
Tattooing on darker skin does have some challenges. You have to make sure that you are using an ink color that will be highly visible with dark skin tones.
Black is one of the best colors to use. The black ink stands out and looks great on every skin color. It creates a definition and outline that is clearly visible.
Reds and greens are great on black or dark skin. These colors retain their vibrancy and look fantastic in contrast to the darker skin tones. I prefer the darker shades of red and green over the neon or pale shades when I am tattooing dark skin. I want the color to pop and be seen, but I do not want it to overshadow the rest of the tattoo.
To make sure that the ink you are choosing is going to look good on the skin color you are working with remembering to choose a color that is darker than the skin will be in the middle of summer. In the middle of the summer, the skin will be the darkest it is going to be all year. You want an ink color that is darker and deeper than that color to make sure that you get high visibility.
Tattoos for Dark Skin Myths
Undoubtedly you have heard rumors about tattoos and black or dark skin. People will say that tattoos cannot be created and that detailed work does not show on black skin. People will also tell you the world is flat. Do not buy into the myths and rumors about dark skin tattoo creations.
Myth 1: Colored Ink will not Show up on Dark Skin
Wrong. Colored ink does show up on dark skin. Will every color of ink show up on dark skin? No, but there are plenty of colors that do show up to give people with dark skin a large choice in their tattoo patterns and designs.
Avoid white ink and light yellows because these colors often fade quickly and do not make a good appearance on dark skin. Try to use colors that are darker than the skin. So, use a deep green instead of a yellow-green.
Myth 2: Fine Line Designs are Impossible on Dark Skin
This is completely wrong. Black skin does not create a problem for an experienced tattoo artist when it comes to fine lines or intricate detail work. The color of the skin plays less of a role in the fine lines than the quality of the ink and the skill of the tattoo artist.
Myth 3: Tattoos Must be Placed Deeper Beneath Black Skin
This is so wrong. You do not need to place tattoo ink deeper beneath black skin than you do beneath white skin. Actually, most tattoo artists place the ink under black skin a little shallower than they do under light-colored skin.
Myth 4: Black Skin is More Likely to Scar than White Skin
The propensity for scar development has more to do with the depth of the tattoo, the aftercare provided to the wound, and the individual than it has to do with the color of the skin. The development of scarring is possible in any race and on any skin color.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How do you make tattoo ink darker?
If the color of ink that you have is not dark enough to suit you it is possible to create a darker and richer color by adding black tattoo ink to the other ink. Be careful and only mix two inks of the same brand. If you mix two different brands the consistency of the ink will be compromised and you may create a substance that could cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.
Do tattoos show up on dark skin?
Tattoos do show up on dark skin, and the majority of ink colors can be used. Some people assume that white is the best color to use on dark skin because of the stark contrast, but the truth is that white ink fades rapidly and on dark skin, it appears that white ink fades away faster than it does on light skin.
Is there a way to lighten black tattoos?
Lightening a tattoo is possible but the exact amount of lightening you will achieve is going to depend on the color of the ink, how deep the ink is established beneath your skin, your skin color and tone, the length of time the tattoo has been established, and the type of tattoo ink used. Many people use the lemon juice method of lightening tattoo colors by applying lemon juice over the ink several times each day until the ink begins to fade.
If you are searching for deep black ink to create outlines for tattoo designs on darker shades of skin, we recommend you look at the Black Onyx Tattoo Ink by Millennium Moms. The ink is perfectly formulated for all types of tattoo creations. It is long-lasting and it contains no harmful additives that should concern you.
If you are looking for vibrant color to stand in contrast to a black outline, we suggest you look at the Bright Red Tattoo Ink by Intenze. The consistency and purity of color in this ink are perfect. It is bright in color and it remains bright in color for years after it has been applied.