What To Know About Tattoos On Dark Skin - Advanced Dermatology Care
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What To Know About Tattoos On Dark Skin

Tattoos on Dark Skin

If you’re considering getting a tattoo and are of darker complexion, it is important that you’re aware of how the design and healing process are affected. The process of getting a tattoo is entirely the same for both light and dark complexions. The tattoo artist dips the needle in the ink which penetrates the skin at such a rapid rate that it penetrates the layer beneath the surface of the skin called the dermis. The skin tissue swells after the needle penetrates and then scar tissue starts to form. It is very important to seek out an experienced tattoo artist because those who are inexperienced may overwork the skin in attempts to make the pigment look more pronounced.

Tattoos on lighter skin tones tend to stand out more whereas on darker complexion the colors may look more muted. Darker colors such as dark red, blue, green, and black will stand out more on darker skin. Lighter colors can still be used; however, it is important to understand that the colors will heal darker. A tattoo artist with experience will notice of a person’s skin tone and will discuss with them on what colors look best on their skin tone. Although different skin tones may display colors differently, colorful tattoos are still an option for any skin tone. Depending on the size of your tattoo can affect how visible it will be. A smaller tattoo with fine lines may not show up as prominent as a larger tattoo with more negative space. Tattoo are more effective when there’s a contrast against the skin. Therefore, a tattoo with negative space meaning areas with no ink will stand out more.

The healing process for tattoos on darker complexions can look a little different. For example, darker complexions tend to form keloids much easier. Keloids are scars that form when the skin has experienced strong force or injury. They will typically have a shiny appearance and can grow bigger over time. Although darker skin tones are more susceptible to keloids, scarring after a tattoo can also result from tattoo artists overworking the skin like mentioned previously. Additionally, people with dark skin tones can be more at risk of experiencing complications during laser tattoo removal. Laser removal involves high intensity lasers piercing through the epidermis and breaking down the pigment into smaller particles, which the body then metabolizes.

Getting a tattoo can be very an exciting and meaningful experience but it is always best to do thorough research before moving forward. If you have a darker skin tone and or sensitive skin it is important to go with a tattoo artist that has worked on similar skin type. It can also be helpful to look at previous work from your tattoo artist. From there you can assess if the tattoo you want suits the style of work the tattoo artist produces.


Advanced Dermatology Care of Southern California is a comprehensive dermatology group providing general & surgical dermatology, cosmetic enhancements and plastic surgery with two Southern California locations. Under the direction of Michael P. Tabibian, M.D., Medical Director, our collective experience aims to provide our patients innovative and highly individualized skin treatment solutions for patients of all ages and skin types.