Great color tattoos often become amazing pieces of body art with the right scheme.

But, choosing the right color for tattoos can be tricky — every color on the palate isn’t right for everybody.

Consider this: If you were painting with watercolor, each color you used would appear differently depending on the shade of the canvas behind it.

Tattoos work on a similar logic — different skin tones and complexions (the canvas) take colored ink differently. That means it’s important to pick the right color scheme for your skin tone so that you get the degree of subtlety or contrast you are hoping for.

Getting the scheme wrong could leave your tattoo with little impact, looking dull and faded from the start.

Or, it might simply look off, wrong, or out of place on you.

Considering the basics of color tattoos before walking into the shop will help you and your tattoo artist find the right scheme and combination for your skin.

Let’s make that awesome design you’re in love with become a part of “you.”

Great Color Tattoos, Rule 1: The Importance of Melanin

Melanin is what gives your skin and hair a darker brown or bronze tone. More melanin is produced when your skin is exposed to the sun, so it causes skin to darken, or tan, when exposed to the sun.

Melanin is found in the dermis (middle) layer of your skin where your tattoo ink will reside.

People with fairer skin have little melanin, and they also will produce less under sunlight. That means their skin color doesn’t change much, and ink will show more consistently as a result.

People with dark skin have more melanin to begin with, and even more is released in response to the sun making it even darker — it’s important to consider how your skin color will change.

Great Color Tattoos, Rule 2: Lighter Skin Tones — Get Creative!

The lighter your skin tone, the more choices you have — think crayons on white paper.”

People with lighter skin tones often opt for the boldest colors like bright red, orange, green, purple, and of course blue or black.

These bright and contrasting colors seem to “pop,” jumping right off the pale skin with a definite radiance and definition.

Or, people with fair skin can go subtle with more muted colors, such as violet, pink, or even white.

Great Color Tattoos, Rule 3: Color Tattoos for Medium Skin Tones

Since you have a moderate amount of melanin that will be hanging out with your ink in the dermis layer of your skin, you’re going to want to go darker — blue, black, red, and purple are usually best.

The medium brown of your skin also goes better with green than other skin tones.

Orange and yellow, which are lighter colors, would be hard to see and should be avoided except as accents or details. They can still be seen well when surrounded by other colors.

Great Color Tattoos, Rule 4: Darker Skin Tones — It’s Counterintuitive

You might expect that we’d be looking for contrast — light colors on a dark canvas.

But, in actuality, the background will show through the light-colored ink, and that darker canvas usually wrecks a light color scheme. Whites, yellows, and oranges lose all impact, and come out a disappointing burnt or dull hue.

Bright and glittery are also probably off the table.

So, instead, the wise choice for color tattoos on dark skin is the counterintuitive one — go darker!

Crimson red, royal blue, and black look beautiful on dark skin, so don’t think you are missing out.

You can see examples of Hannah’s color tattoos here

Great Color Tattoos, Rule 5: Choosing Color — Tattoo Artists Are Pros

When it comes to color, tattoo artists have seen some really awesome combinations, and we’ve seen some tragic mistakes.

Get to know us, talk with us, then trust us.

We know.

We’re artists.

We want you to love your color tattoos for years to come.

The best way of getting your color tattoos right is to come in for a consult to work with the artist to find what color scheme will work best for the design, location, and your skin tone — schedule your appointment with HS Tattoo by clicking here.