Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may earn a small commission for qualifying purchases.
When you scroll through social media, it might seem like most tattoo photos have a disproportionate number of white people.
It can be frustrating to see how few artists have experience inking darker skin.
If you have darker skin then there are a few things that you need to know when it comes to tattoo ink. For example, some colors will look better than others on darker skin so you’ll want to consider this when choosing what kind of tattoo to get.
In this article, we aim to help you choose the best tattoo ink for darker skin, as well as go over everything that you need to know when it comes to getting inked.
To start off we’ll go over which inks are actually worth using nowadays.
Best Tattoo Inks for Darker Skin (2021 Reviews)
StarBrite Colors Tattoo Ink – 3 Basic Color Set
Starbrite’s tattoo inks are known to be vibrant, consistent, and smooth-flowing.
They are made in the States and come pre-sterilized. The sterilization process irradiates them with gamma rays to kill harmful microbes.
Ever heard of the Fitzpatrick skin type scale? It has six categories, from skin that burns easily and won’t tan to skin that never burns and tans fast.
This basic set consisting of red, green, and blue is bright enough for use on medium and olive skin tones (numbers III and IV).
Intenze Advanced Tattoo Ink Bright Red
Red ink on brown skin can look pretty impressive, depending on the image. This particular shade is similar to that of rose petals.
Intenze has been making inks in the USA for over ten years. The Bright Red color is vegan-friendly.
It’s mixed and then sterilized in a clean room, then double-checked with a third-party lab.
Viking Ink Boreal Blue
Viking manufactures their vegan-friendly inks in the USA.
This vibrant Boreal Blue color will show up well on Fitzpatrick categories 1 through 4.
Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink, Dragon’s Breath Red
This is another intense red ink that might turn out well on category 5, brown skin.
It’s made by Kuro Sumi in Japan.
Kuro Sumi is highly recommended by well-known artists like The Gentleman Gypsy. It’s highly pigmented.
Kuro Sumi Color Tattoo Ink Bamboo Green
Kuro Sumi manufactures their ink in the USA with vegan-friendly, organic ingredients.
This on in particular has a reputation for concentrated color and very smooth consistency. Artists around the world speak highly of this brand.
Bamboo Green should show up well on tanned and medium-tone skin.
Dynamic Tattoo Ink Color Leaf Green
Dynamic ink has a thinner than usual consistency, and it goes on smooth. The colors are bright and lush.
You might think this green color looks good on medium skin tones.
Jose Perez, Jr. Dark Water Shading 6 Bottle Set – World Famous Tattoo Ink
This set was created by none other than one of the best black and gray realism tattoo artists.
The deep black outliner and premixed gray washes are great for portrait work on medium, olive, and brown skin. This
World Famous ink is vegan-friendly and sterilized using gamma radiation.
Dynamic Heavy White Tattoo Ink
If you’re in need of a thick white ink, this is one of the best options. Use it for highlighting, mixing gray washes, or even doing a white tattoo.
Unfortunately, white is notorious for fading faster than other tattoo colors.
Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink, Double Sumi Tribal Black
This is black inks for lining and shading.
These inks will look good on any color skin.
The Double Sumi Tribal Black is a bright saturation ink that’s great for doing tribal tats. We’ll bet it’ll fast become one of your favorite fillers.
Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink Lining and Shading Set
If you happen to do Asian traditional art, check out this set with black liner, and gray and light gray washes.
Even the lighter shades hold their color well over time.
Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink, Outlining
This black liner ink has a deep color that keeps its richness even after the tattoo has healed.
Just a quick note on Kuro Sumi inks: make sure you get one with a mahogany label. Black and white labels are counterfeit.
Millennium Moms Black Pearl Outlining Tattoo Ink
Moms Black Pearl ink isn’t the deepest black that you can buy. In fact, it’s closer to a wash when you compare it to the Triple Black above.
It’s great for olive, medium, and brown skin.
Dynamic Color Triple Black Tattoo Ink
The Triple Black ink by Dynamic is a newer shade. It’s packed with even more pigment than their original black.
Dynamic has been making tattoo ink for almost 30 years in the USA.
The tattoo artists who work with Triple Black recommend using it for cover-ups.
Black Tribal Viking Ink USA
If you plan on doing Maori or other tribal work, check out this Black Tribal ink by Viking.
It penetrates well, yet is still thick enough to fill and saturate with ease.
Tattoo Ink Black Liner Viking Ink USA
Viking has promised that their Black Liner ink won’t fade to a green or blue color over the years. It provides exceptional saturation as a shader, as well.
If you have a client that hasn’t handled ink well in the past, this could be the one for them.
The company manufactures their vegan inks in the USA.
StarBrite Colors Tattoo Ink Tribal Black
Starbrite’s Tribal Black shouldn’t fade after the tattoo is finished. This brand’s colors are said to stay vibrant for years.
It flows smoothly and saturates nicely.
Bloodline Tattoo Ink – All-Purpose Black
Bloodline is the brand that was formally known as Skin Candy. They make inks in the USA.
Their All-Purpose Black is quite thick. If you do tribal tattoos with it, make sure to use magnum needle grouping.
Otherwise, you can thin it. Combine three parts ink with one part of either witch hazel or distilled water.
People have mentioned that this shade could show up as brown on very dark skin.
Intenze Tattoo Ink Supplies Black Samoan Tribal Ink
The Suluape Tatau family are traditional tattoo artists in Samoa. They collaborated with Intenze in order to create this concentrated black ink.
It’s just right for tribal tattoos. Surprisingly, it’s not quite as thick as some tribal inks. Also, it’s dark enough that you shouldn’t need to go over it.
Intenze Professional Tattoo Ink Zuper Black
Which is the darkest of all black tattoo inks?
Many artists will tell you it’s Zuper Black from Intenze. It has a cool undertone.
It was created by the tattoo artist named Mario Barth. It’s even recommended by London Reese and Steve Butcher.
If you’re planning to tattoo black skin, this is a prominent color that will hold its own.
It’s thin enough for lining but still thick enough to saturate and fill large areas.
Intenze Tattoo Ink True Black
In between rich black tribal ink and regular black is the True Black color. Funnily, it may look a little less “true black” on brown and black skin.
On the bright side, collectors have said that it maintains its crisp appearance.
What colors are best for tattoos on dark skin?
Determining the best colors for dark skin depends on the natural skin undertone and the amount of melanin.
The reason for this is that the tattoo ink will sit in the dermis below the layer of melanin.
You can think about skin pigmentation as a filter through which you view the colors.
Tattoos on darkly pigmented skin look good with the darkest colors like black, gray, royal blue, and crimson red.
Medium skin tones on the other hand, generally do well with green, orange, and bright blue.
The art of tattooing dark skin
Ancient Egyptians had some of the first tattoos on record.
Samoans and other Polynesians, the Japanese, and Native Americans have been known to practice tattooing for centuries.
Of course, the first tattoos were primarily done with black ink.
The darker the skin is, the blacker the ink and the better the tattoo looks.
Also, artists who tattoo olive, brown, and black skin understand another very important concept.
It’s crucial to make tattoos bolder and larger on dark skin.
Also, it’s important to do good needlework to avoid creating keloids or raised scars.
Can you get gold ink tattoos on dark skin?
Unfortunately, no real gold or silver tattoo ink exists at this point.
There are no glitter inks with gold for the pigment.
The only way to get a gold ink tattoo on dark skin is to use body paint.
Where can you learn more about tattooing darker skin?
The best way to learn more about tattooing darker skin is to follow the artists who showcase their work on people of color.
Miryam Lumpini is a notable one, and Nikko Hurtado is another. Don’t forget about Brittany Randell, James Spooner, Bang Bang, and Mario Barth, too.
Also, check out celebrities with dark skin like Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Whoopi Goldberg, Lenny Kravitz, and P Diddy.
Nikko’s tattoo for P Diddy is impressive as it’s a portrait with black, white, and greywash with a beautiful amount of depth. It’s true that the white ink may fade, but he obviously has the money to get touch-ups.
We recommend finding a mentor with experience inking brown and black skin. They can provide crucial guidance regarding colors, contrast, transitions, size, and texture.
Transitions on dark skin don’t have to be as aggressive as you might think.
Talk with people with darker skin about their tattoos. Learn about the challenges they faced and discover their ideas for future tattoos.
We hope you found the right ink you need to tattoo olive, medium, brown, and black skin.
Now get started and show the world your beautiful art.
Expand your skillset and take your craft to the next level by specializing in doing tattoos for dark skin.