How to Choose A Tattoo Color | A Complete Guide & Key Factors to Consider

Tattoos are a full-time commitment as tattoos leave a permanent mark on your body. If you get a tattoo inked, you have to live with it forever, whether or not you like it.

While most people get a tattoo impulsively, we recommend that when you decide to get inked, you should consider all the aspects of the tattoo carefully.

Whether it’s the design of the tattoo, the size, or the tattoo color, these things require careful consideration.

Many tattoo enthusiasts and artists are now incorporating color in the tattoos because they believe that colors give life to their tattoos. But it would be best if you remembered that different pigments have different ingredients in them.

These pigments react in a different way on different skin tones based on their undertones. Here we have compiled a list of factors that you should keep in mind while choosing your tattoo color not to regret your tattoo later.

Some of the Popular tattoo colors that you can choose from

  • Red: red is one of the favorites for tattoo lovers. Along with other warm colors, red looks great on every skin tone, so people generally prefer red shades.
  • Yellow/Green: yellows and greens are bright colors, but they are light, so they don’t look good individually. However, when paired with a darker color with a black outline, these colors can look perfect.
  • Blue/ purple: blues and purples are dark colors. They look excellent on fair skin, but on deep skin tones, these colors might not come out that well. Hence if someone with a deep skin tone wants a tattoo with dark colors, then they should ask their artist to use lighter shades of those colors. You can also add a little white into the color palette to make it look more excellent.
  • White: white tattoos are all the rage right now. And you might be someone who wants to jump on the bandwagon too, but you should remember that the color white can fade away very quickly. White can also start looking yellowish, and you might not like the result over time. Most of the time, white tattoos never come out looking absolutely white; mostly, they just turn into a lighter shade of your skin tone.
  • Black: black tattoos are classic and evergreen. You can never go wrong with a black tattoo. Black and grey are always a bold choice, and it looks good on every type of skin tone. If you can’t decide between colors or someone who’s getting their first tattoo, just go for a black tattoo.
  • Neons: Nowadays, even neon tattoos are prevalent. But you should know that neon colors can be very toxic. So you should get the natural ones.

What tattoo colors based on skin type

Other than the black that goes well on all, check out few colors that you may opt for while being inked.

1. Fair skin tone

People with fair skin must go for red and violet as they complement the skin well. Fair skin also complements well with white ink. It is because dark skin restricts white pigment and does not show much any time.

2. Medium or tanned skin tone

Good tattoo experts and designers suggest colors like bright blues, oranges, and greens for the tanned skin. These have proven to work well and showed up more vibrantly post healing.

3. Dark skin tone

Dark skin tone goes for darker shades like black, crimson red, and royal blue. It is because the lighter shades won’t show up that great even after healing. When you choose dark colors on dark skin, it helps to bring out the color in the skin making it looking vibrant on healing.

Tattoo color based on Undertone

Undertones are the most crucial factor that you should consider while choosing your tattoo color. They are the first color that we see as soon as we look at our skin. The undertones can usually be black, brown, caramel, olive, porcelain, etc.,

To choose the right color for your tattoo, you should always go with your undertones. The undertones’ intensity is also determined by the amount of melanin a person has in their skin. Melanin is usually found in the middle layer of the skin, which is called the dermis.

The three types of undertones are:

  • Cool: the skin with a ruddy, pink or bluish complexion with blue veins visible on the skin has cool undertones.
  • Warm: people with warm undertones have a golden, peachy, or yellow complexion with green veins visible on their skin. These people are said to have warm undertones.
  • Neutral: neutral undertones are the ones that are a mix of both cool and warm undertones. They have a complexion that is even, and there is no specific vein color. 

Possible Tattoo Colors to choose based on your undertone:

When the tattoo ink is injected into the skin through the needle, the ink is deposited in its dermis layer. The melanin layer is situated above the dermis layer; hence the undertone is located above the tattoo’s ink.

This means that the color of the tattoo ink that will be visible from the outside will depend upon your skin’s undertone. Having cooler undertones or a small amount of melanin will make the tattoo ink nicely visible.

Still, bright colors like red or blue will pop. Some colors based according to the undertones can be:

1. Cool Undertones

People who have blue undertones or are very fair can get a tattoo of any color, and it would look great. However, yellow would be an exception.

Yellow might not be prominent, and it might appear more like an injury scar, so it’s best to steer clear from the yellow color for the tattoo.

Whereas black, purple, white, orange, and red look excellent on fair skin.

2. Warm Undertone

On tanned or glowing sun-kissed skin, darker colors look even better on your skin than those with cool undertones. Black, red, green, purple, dark blue are some colors that will look amazing on warm undertones. 

Tattoo Colors Considering Safety

Neon inks are very toxic; they consist of mercury and chemicals. Reds are also very toxic because they consist of cadmium and iron oxide, which is extremely harmful.

Among the safest color options, black is always the safest option. Green and blue colors have copper phthalocyanine pigments, which are very safe too.

You should always check the ingredients of color from the color box to check if the color is harmful to you or not.

Other essential factors that can determine the color of your tattoo

1. The Exposure from the sun

Your lifestyle also matters when you are choosing a tattoo color. You should consider the amount of time that you are out in the sunlight, whether you stay indoors more or if you tend to stay out in the sun all day.

If you wonder what the sun has to do with your tattoo color, then melanin is the answer. When you spend a lot of time in the sunlight, then the amount of melanin in the skin increases, so you get a skin tan.

Hence, if you spend more time outdoors, you should get the tattoo color, which is good for skin with a warm complexion because the melanin above your tattoo ink will increase due to the sun.

Another reason to consider the sun exposure while choosing a tattoo color is that some colors fade in the sun quicker than other colors like yellow, pinks, and greens.


2. Laser Removal Treatment

Thinking of tattoo removal while choosing the tattoo color might seem weird, but this is a significant factor, especially when talking about something as permanent as body tattoos.

Tattoos are life long, and things change. It’s possible that what you liked when you were 20 years old, you might not like it when you are 50. There can be numerous reasons because of which you might want to remove your tattoo.

But whatever the reason might be, lasering off your tattoo would be very difficult if the color is such.

This is because laser tattoo removal disintegrates the ink particles on the skin by shooting a highly concentrated light. The result would depend upon how good the tattoo pigment is in absorbing the light.

Darker pigments absorb more light, while lighter pigments deflect light. This would mean that a pink tattoo is more difficult to remove than a black tattoo.

Laser tattoo removal is a difficult task, and several sessions are needed to fade the color of a tattoo. If you are getting a light-colored tattoo, you will have to sit for more sessions than when you get a dark-colored tattoo.

3. Tattoo design

The color palette you have decided on might not always complement the design you have chosen for your tattoo. Therefore, you should choose the tattoo colors based on the tattoo design you have finalized. Otherwise, you might ruin a great design just because of the wrong colors.

4. Effort and care

Tattoos with a lot of colors require a lot of care and effort. The more amount of colors, the more expensive the tattoo becomes. Color tattoos also need regular touch-ups and color fillers; otherwise, they start fading a little, whereas black tattoos won’t require any touch-ups.

Hence, if you can’t take so much care of the tattoo or if you’re new to the tattoo world, you should not opt for a colored tattoo.

5. Choosing a Color Palette

When you want a tattoo that has more than one color, you should choose the colors based on how they look together and how they would look on your skin tone.

If you have made up your mind for a colored tattoo, you should be ready to provide all the care and effort to keep the tattoo looking great. The next most crucial thing is the combination of the colors to be used on your tattoo.

You need to choose your tattoo colors to make it look great and stand out among all the other regular tattoos. Hence it would be best to give proper thought to which color combination you choose because that will either make your tattoo look exceptional or worse.

6. Suggestion from Artist

As soon as you opt for a tattoo design, you are bound to do a great deal of homework and research before you get the tattoo.

As you do that, you also need to make sure that you pick a tattoo artist who is very skilled and experienced and has an excellent knowledge of designs and colors so that you can consult them with your choices of colors.

Every tattoo artist will suggest you different colors to choose your tattoo color from. You need to consult the artist who is an expert in his field so that you can fully trust their opinion.

Important Things to keep in mind:

  • It’s imperative to choose a tattoo color based on your skin tone. Melanin acts as a filter over the tattoo color since melanin is present on the layer above the tattoo. Hence bright colors like yellow, blue, and red won’t look that good.
  • For people with dark skin, green and black work nicely.
  • You should always do a patch test, even when it’s not your first tattoo. You will be able to see how the color of the ink will change with your skin tone.
  • Think about the fact that if you want to remove the tattoo in the future, you should steer clear orange, yellow, and red. This is so because these colors are tough to remove with laser tattoo removal. It’s also difficult for other colors, but these colors are the most stubborn.

Final Words:

Before you go ahead and get that vibrant tattoo design you are considering, it is ideal to understand your undertone and complexion. Both variables can influence how well the inked colors will reflect upon your skin. As much as you want to get a tattoo inked, don’t just walk in any street salon, do your research first and find a salon with skilled and experienced people working.

The tattoo artists are the pros because they work throughout the day. They are the best people to consult on which color palette would suit your skin tone and how the tattoo would come out.

The artists can also allow you to examine some colors on the skin in a concealed place to get an idea of how the tattoo color would come out. This would also rule out the chance of any allergic reactions to the tattoo colors. We hope you found this article beneficial and can make an informed decision about choosing a color for your tattoo.

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