Home / Tattoo / 32+ Best Tattoo Inks for Dark Skin: Reviews & Buying Guide

32+ Best Tattoo Inks for Dark Skin: Reviews & Buying Guide

by  Kin Liu -  Last updated on March 21, 2022
Best Tattoo Inks for Darker Skin

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 Instagram feeds, sometimes it seems like tattoos are only for white people.

It’s frustrating to see how few artists have experience inking nonwhite skin.

One thing that might help is to learn about the best tattoo inks for dark skin.

Today, we’ll review the ones that show up well when filtered through melanin, or skin pigment.

Contents

Quick Comparison

If you don’t want to read the full article then check out our favorite products in the table below.

 

What colors are best for tattoos on dark skin?

The best colors for dark skin depend on the natural skin undertone and the amount of melanin.

That’s because the tattoo ink will sit in the dermis below the layer of melanin.

See this 4-second video to see how melanin alters the color of the ink.

Think of skin pigmentation as a filter through which you view the colors.

Tattoos on very dark pigmented skin look best with the darkest colors like black, gray, royal blue, and crimson red.

Medium skin tones generally do well with green, orange, and bright blue.

 

The “lost” art of tattooing dark skin

Ancient Egyptians had some of the earliest tattoos on record.

Samoans and other Polynesians, the Japanese, and Native Americans have all practiced tattooing for centuries.

Of course, early tattoos were primarily done with black ink.

The dark the skin, the blacker the ink, the better the tattoo looks.

Moreover, artists who tattoo olive, brown, and dark black skin understand another important concept.

It’s essential to make sure that tattoos are bolder and larger on dark skin.

Also, it’s essential to make sure to do good needlework to avoid creating keloids or raised scars.

 

Can you get gold ink tattoos on dark skin?

Unfortunately, no true gold or silver tattoo ink exists yet.

There are no glitter inks with gold as the pigment.

The only way you can get a gold ink tattoo on dark skin is to use body paint.

 

Where can you learn more about tattooing dark skin?

To learn more about tattooing dark skin, follow the artists who showcase their work on people of color.

Miryam Lumpini is one, and Nikko Hurtado is another. Don’t forget about Brittany Randell, James Spooner, Bang Bang, and Mario Barth, either.

Also, check out celebrities like Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Whoopi Goldberg, Lenny Kravitz, and P Diddy who’ve been inked.

Nikko’s work on P Diddy is impressive as it’s a portrait with black, white, and greywash and a beautiful amount of depth. Sure, that white ink may fade, but I’m sure he has the money to get touch-ups.

Compare older tattoos with more recent ones.

Find a mentor with experience inking brown and dark skin tones. They can provide invaluable guidance regarding colors, contrast, transitions, size, and texture.

Transitions on dark skin tones don’t have to be as bold aggressive as you might think.

Speak to people with dark skin about their tattoos. Learn about the challenges they face and discover their ideas for future tattoos.

 

33 Top Tattoo Inks for Dark Skin (2021 Update)

Now, let’s review the top inks for tattooing dark skin.

1. StarBrite Colors Tattoo Ink – 3 Basic Color Set

Starbrite’s tattoo inks are vibrant, consistent, and smooth-flowing.

They are made in the USA and come pre-sterilized. Starbrite tattoo ink irradiates them with gamma rays to kill harmful microbes.

Are you familiar with the Fitzpatrick skin type scale? It has six categories, from the skin that burns easily and won’t tan to skin that never burns and tans quickly. For us, this tops the list for best tattoo inks and is of high quality.

The basic set of red, green, and blue is bright enough for medium and olive tones (numbers III and IV).

2. StarBrite Colors Tattoo Ink Fire Orange

StarBrite Colors Sterilized Tattoo Ink Fire Orange 1/2 oz
  • Fire Orange Tattoo Ink
  • Tattoo ink has thin consistency
  • Vegan-friendly; iron and nickel free

Add zest to art on tanned skin with this brilliant orange tattoo ink. One of the famous brands in the tattoo industry with long-lasting ink.

3. Intenze Advanced Tattoo Ink Bright Red

Intenze Bright Red Tattoo Ink 1oz
  • Intenze Authentic Tatoo Ink
  • Sealed and Sterilzed Ink
  • Comes with Long Expiry

Red tattoo ink on brown skin looks impressive, depending on the image. This particular shade reminds us of rose petals. We consider this as the best tattoo ink in the market for dark skin and we assure you that it is of high quality.

Intenze has been making inks in the USA for more than ten years. The Bright Red color is vegan-friendly.

It’s mixed and sterilized in a clean room, then double-checked by a third-party lab.

4. Intenze Tattoo Ink Japanese Dragon Color Series by Mario Barth (6 Bottles)

One tattoo artist showed how he livened up an old tattoo with this set of inks. The tattoo ink color intensity was outstanding.

The Japanese tattoo ink kit comes with the Dragon colors: turquoise, light green, dark green, yellow, red, and blue. We consider this as one of the best tattoo ink in the market for dark skin tones.

5. Viking Ink Boreal Blue

VIKING INK Tattoo Ink Boreal Blue Color (1 Unit x 1 oz)
  • More than 20 years in the sector manufacturing and distributing all kinds of supplies for tattoo artists, among which are: Inks, Thinners, Stencil and Stencil Remover, Soaps, Creams.
  • Available sizes for all colors: 0.5 Fl Oz and 1 Fl Oz. For black there are 4 Fl Oz and 8 Fl Oz too.
  • All our products are guaranteed by the strictest control measures in the manufacturing process. The jars have a double safety closure and a protective membrane.

Viking makes vegan-friendly inks in the USA.

The vibrant Boreal Blue color will show up well on Fitzpatrick categories 1 through 4.

6. StarBrite Colors Sterilized Tattoo Ink Royal Blue

StarBrite Colors Sterilized Tattoo Ink Royal Blue 1 oz
  • Made in the USA
  • Sterilized for Safety
  • Authorize Starbrite Distributor

Royal Blue will hold its own on medium and dark brown skin.

7. Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink, Dragon’s Breath Red

Kuro Sumi Japanese Tattoo Color Ink Pigments, Vegan Professional Tattooing Inks, Dragon's Breath Red, 2 Ounce
  • VIVID COLOR AND DIMENSION - Originally formulated in Japan, Kuro Sumi tattoo inks give your tattoos life and dimension. The molecular structure of our ink provides long lasting vivid color.
  • JAPANESE TRADITION– Tattoo artists around the world choose Kuro Sumi tattoo inks. We incorporate the art of Japanese tattooing and traditions handed down from generation to generation.
  • DRAGON'S BREATH RED TATTOO INK – Our Dragon's Breath Red tattoo ink is vegan-friendly, and free from harmful chemicals, they are made with natural components instead. Our products are never tested on animals.

Here’s 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 recommended by well-known artists like The Gentleman Gypsy. It’s highly pigmented.

8. StarBrite Colors Tattoo Ink Crimson Red

Try this crimson red on a dark skin tone.

Case in point: look at Whoopi Goldberg’s shoulder tat. As you know Starbrite makes some of the finest tattoo inks in the market and is a world-famous tattoo ink brand.

9. Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink – Magnolia Pink

Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink - Magnolia Pink 1/2 Fl Oz
  • Amazingly bright and popular, Kuro Sumi Colors have become industry favorites!
  • Colored inks can be used to tattoo rabbits and still comply with ARBA standards
  • 1/2 Fluid Ounce

Magnolia Pink will look radiant on olive and medium skin tones.

For an example of how pink pops on dark skin, scroll through Miryam Lumpini’s Instagram.

10. Dynamic Tattoo Ink Color Leaf Green

Sale
Dynamic Leaf Green Tattoo Ink Bottle 1oz
  • Pre-Dispersed Professional Tattoo Ink
  • Mix Colors to Create Your Own Blends
  • Made in the USA

Dynamic tattoo inks have a thinner than typical consistency, and it goes in smooth. The colors are bright and lush.

You might like this green color on medium skin tones.

11. Kuro Sumi Color Tattoo Ink Bamboo Green

Kuro Sumi Japanese Tattoo Color Ink Pigments, Vegan Professional Tattooing Inks, Bamboo Green, 1 Ounce
  • VIVID GREEN COLOR AND DIMENSION - Originally formulated in Japan, Kuro Sumi tattoo inks give your tattoos life and dimension. The molecular structure of our ink provides long lasting vivid color.
  • JAPANESE TRADITION– Tattoo artists around the world choose Kuro Sumi tattoo inks. We incorporate the art of Japanese tattooing and traditions handed down from generation to generation.
  • BAMBOO GREEN TATTOO INK – Our Bamboo Green tattoo ink is vegan-friendly, and free from harmful chemicals, they are made with natural components instead. Our products are never tested on animals.

Kuro Sumi manufactures ink in the USA with vegan-friendly, organic ingredients.

It has a reputation for concentrated color and very smooth consistency. Tattoo Artists around the world speak highly of this brand.

Bamboo Green will show up well on tanned and medium-tone skin.

12. Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink – Tsunami Blue

If you need bold blue ink, check out this color from Kuro Sumi.

It’s powerful enough to stand out on brown skin and various other tattoo designs.

13. Grey Wash 6 Bottle Set – World Famous Tattoo Ink

World Famous Grey Wash Set Tattoo Ink, Vegan and Professional Ink, Made in USA, Erich Rabel Grey Wash (Set of 6), 4oz
  • PREMIUM TATTOO INKS – The Greywash Ink Set was designed by tattoo artist, Erich Rabel who creates intricate black and grey pieces. Premium inks with super high pigment content for flawless work of art.
  • GREYWASH SET – Tattoo ink set includes 6 grey shading tattoo inks in True Black, R1-Dark Shade, R2-Middle Shade, R3-Light Shade, R4-Very Light Shade, and Shading Solution. 4 oz bottles.
  • VEGAN AND SAFE ON SKIN – High-quality vegan tattoo inks contain no animal products and are never tested on animals. Reliable and safe on the skin, they comply with EU quality standards.

This set was created by one of the best black and gray realism tattoo artists.

The deep black outliner and premixed gray washes are perfect for portrait work on medium, olive, and brown skin. The

This water-based World Famous ink is vegan-friendly and sterilized with gamma radiation.

14. POWER WHITE Millennium Moms

Millennium Mom's Tattoo Ink 1/2 oz -Millennium Power White
  • Smooth: A homogenized carrier/pigment mixture that flows easily
  • Vibrant: Highest possible pure pigment content ensures your work stands out
  • Consistent: Receive the color and quality you expect, each and every time

This 4-millennium mom white ink saturates well and retains its brightness when used for highlights. We can assure you that this white ink is of high quality.

15. Dynamic Heavy White Tattoo Ink

Sale
Dynamic Heavy White Tattoo Ink Bottle 8oz
  • Pre-Dispersed Professional Tattoo Ink
  • Mix Colors to Create Your Own Blends
  • Made in the USA

If you need thick white ink, this is one of the best choices. Use it for highlighting, mixing gray washes, or the occasional white tattoo.

Unfortunately, white is prone to fading faster than other tattoo colors.

16. Viking Tattoo Ink Platinum Liquid Metal

VIKING INK Tattoo Ink PLATINUM colour (1 unit x 1 oz)
  • Platinum colour
  • Available in 1 oz size.
  • They have a security seal that guarantees their sterility.

Viking’s Platinum shade is “metallic” but not a glitter ink. It’s more like a special greywash.

17. Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink, Double Sumi Tribal Black

Kuro Sumi Japanese Tattoo Color Ink Pigments, Vegan Professional Tattooing Inks, Double Sumi Tribal Black, 4 Fluid Ounce
  • VIVID COLOR AND DIMENSION - Originally formulated in Japan, Kuro Sumi tattoo inks give your tattoos life and dimension. The molecular structure of our ink provides long lasting vivid color.
  • JAPANESE TRADITION– Tattoo artists around the world choose Kuro Sumi tattoo inks. We incorporate the art of Japanese tattooing and traditions handed down from generation to generation.
  • TRIBAL BLACK TATTOO INK – The blackest tattoo ink that’s vegan-friendly and free from harmful chemicals. The perfect black outline tattoo ink for shading and lines and tribal work, this tribal tattoo ink makes a great lining tattoo ink.

From here on out, we’ll review black tattoo inks for lining and shading.

They will look good on any color skin.

The Double Sumi Tribal Black is a bright saturation tattoo ink that’s ideal for tribal tats. We’ll bet it’ll become one of your favorite fillers.

18. Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink, Outlining

Kuro Sumi - Outlining Black Tattoo Ink - Professional Tattoo Ink & Tattoo Supplies for Outlining & Shading - Skin-Safe Permanent Tattooing - Vegan (6 oz)
  • Outling Black Tattoo Ink - The world's best tattoo outlining ink. Kuro Sumi is the absolute blackest pigment in the entire industry, world known for its quality and consistency for all tattoo supplies & tattoo kits. It also has the best flow.
  • Professional Tattoo Ink - Kuro Sumi tattoo ink brings high-quality formulas with world-class ingredients for a truly safe, long-lasting result.
  • Give Your Tattoos the Ink They Deserve - Vegan tattoo ink & tattoo supplies never tested on animals, free from harmful chemicals, made to be safe on skin, incorporates organic elements.

This black liner tattoo ink has a deep color that retains its richness even after the tattoo has healed.

Just a note on Kuro Sumi inks: make sure you purchase those with a mahogany label. Black and white labels are fakes. We feel this is one of the best tattoo inks out there

19. Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink Lining and Shading Set

Kuro Sumi Japanese Tattoo Color Ink Pigments Set, Vegan Professional Tattooing Inks, Grey Wash Shading and Outlining Black
  • VIVID COLOR AND DIMENSION - Originally formulated in Japan, Kuro Sumi tattoo inks give your tattoos life and dimension. The molecular structure of our ink provides long lasting vivid color.
  • JAPANESE TRADITION– Tattoo artists around the world choose Kuro Sumi tattoo inks. We incorporate the art of Japanese tattooing and traditions handed down from generation to generation.
  • OUTLINING AND SHADING TATTOO INK SET – Our grey wash shading ink and black outlining tattoo ink is vegan-friendly. Perfect for black and grey tattoos, black outline tattoo ink for shading and lines, and tribal tattoo ink.

If you do Asian traditional art, check out this set with black liner, and gray and light graywashes.

Even the lighter shades fade very little over time. We think this is one of the best tattoo ink out there for dark skin tone.

20. Radiant Colors Victor Portugal Profesional Shading Series 5-Color Set

This set is just what you need to do black and grey work and portraits.

21. Dynamic Black Ink Bottle

Sale
Dynamic Black Ink 8oz Bottle
  • Professional Quality Pre-Dispersed Inks: Proudly made in the USA, Dynamic Color provides premium quality tattoo ink with the most impressive pigment content in the business. Noted for its smooth flow rate, our inks are up to piece — from precise detail work to outlining and shading.
  • Authentic and Hygienic: We’re aware of the large volume of fraudulent products on the market, which is why all Dynamic Color inks arrive in crystal clear PET bottles with a Dynamic logo anti-counterfeiting coating. Even our heat seals, which secure your sterilized product, hold the Dynamic Color stamp of approval.
  • Dynamic Color tattoo pigment helps create noticeably vivid pieces that can stand the test of time. And while being in the game since 1990, we mean it when we say our inks are time-tested.

Choose Dynamic black ink for outlining and tribal work on brown and dark black skin. You can also use it to make your own graywash.

Also, it’s a good choice for stick and pokes.

22. Dynamic Color Triple Black Tattoo Ink

Dynamic Triple Black Tattoo Ink Bottle 8oz
  • Pre-Dispersed Professional Tattoo Ink
  • Used for Lining and Shading and can be used for Creating Greywash
  • Made in the USA

The Triple Black ink from Dynamic is a newer shade. It’s packed with even more pigment than the original black.

Dynamic has been manufacturing tattoo ink for almost 30 years in the USA.

Artists who work with Triple Black recommend it for cover-ups.

23. Millennium Moms Black Pearl Outlining Tattoo Ink

Millennium Moms Black Pearl Outlining Tattoo Ink 12oz/Tattoo Outlining Ink
  • Product Type:Beauty
  • Item Package Dimension:7.7 " L X3.2 " W X1.8 " H
  • Item Package Weight:0.95 lbs

Moms Black Pearl ink isn’t the deepest black you can buy. It’s closer to a wash when you compare it to the Triple Black above.

It’s good for olive, medium, and brown skin.

24. Millennium Mom’s BLACKOUT Tattoo Ink

Millennium Mom's BLACKOUT Tattoo Ink Color Shader Artist Liner All Purpose 8 Oz
  • Smooth: A homogenized carrier/pigment mixture that flows easily
  • Vibrant: Highest possible pure pigment content ensures your work stands out
  • Consistent: Receive the color and quality you expect, each and every time

The Blackout Ink is slightly less dark than the Black Onyx ink below. It’s still a very good all-purpose ink for shading and lining.

Use it for tribal tattoos and lettering, too.

25. MOM’S Tattoo Ink – Black Onyx

MOM'S Tattoo Ink - Black Onyx (2 Oz.)
  • Smooth: A homogenized carrier/pigment mixture that flows easily
  • Vibrant: Highest possible pure pigment content ensures your work stands out
  • Consistent: Receive the color and quality you expect, each and every time

Black Onyx is a rich black shade. The consistency is thin, which makes it pleasant for a fast hand.

26. Tattoo Ink Black Liner Viking Ink USA

Viking Ink Tattoo Ink Black Liner Color (1 Unit x 1/2 oz)
  • Powerful black, IDEAL FOR LINE, filling and shadows
  • Clear and strong lines well defined easy penetration
  • The consistency is perfect for lines with excellent saturation

Viking promises that their Black Liner ink won’t fade to green or blue over the years. It provides exceptional saturation as a shader, too.

If you have a client that hasn’t taken ink well in the past, this could be the solution.

The company manufactures vegan inks in the USA.

27. Black Tribal Viking Ink USA

VIKING INK Tattoo Ink Black Tribal Color (1 Unit x 1/2 oz)
  • More than 20 years in the sector manufacturing and distributing all kinds of supplies for tattoo artists, among which are: Inks, Thinners, Stencil and Stencil Remover, Soaps, Creams.
  • Available sizes for all colors: ½ Fl Oz and 1 Fl Oz. For black there are 4 Fl Oz and 8 Fl Oz too.
  • All our products are guaranteed by the strictest control measures in the manufacturing process. The jars have a double safety closure and a protective membrane.

If you plan to do Maori or other tribal work, check out the Black Tribal ink from Viking.

It penetrates well, yet it’s thick enough to fill and saturate with ease.

28. Bloodline Tattoo Ink – All-Purpose Black

Bloodline Tattoo Ink All Purpose Black - 8 oz (236 ml)
  • VIBRANT COLORS - Bloodline's tattoo inks are bold, bright, and long-lasting. Our ink will appear vibrant and beautiful every time. All Purpose Black is great for outlining or shading, very dark and thin.
  • HEALS SMOOTH - Bloodline tattoo ink is made with high dispersion product which applies effortlessly into the skin, making the tattooing process quick and easy and helping the application site heal smoothly
  • MIXABILITY - All Bloodline Tattoo Inks can be combined with other ink colors in order to create the exact shade needed to make each tattoo unique and special. Some popular mixing ink colors include All-Purpose Black, All-Purpose White, and Fast White

Bloodline was formally known as Skin Candy. They make inks in the USA.

Their All-Purpose Black is very thick. If you do tribal tattoos with it, use magnum needle grouping.

Otherwise, thin it. Combine three parts ink with one part witch hazel or distilled water.

One tattoo artist mentioned that this shade could show up as brown on very dark skin tones.

29. StarBrite Colors Tattoo Ink Tribal Black

Sale
StarBrite Colors Sterilized Tattoo Ink Tribal Black 1/2 oz
  • Tribal Black Tattoo Ink
  • Vegan-friendly; iron and nickel free
  • Black tattoo ink arrives sterile and ready to use

Starbrite’s Tribal Black shouldn’t fade after the tattoo is healed. This brand’s colors tend to stay vibrant for years.

It flows smoothly and saturates well.

30. StarBrite Colors Tattoo Ink Jet Black Outliner

StarBrite Colors Tattoo Ink Jet Black Outliner 1 oz
  • Jet Black Outline Tattoo Ink
  • Tattoo ink has thin consistency
  • Vegan-friendly; iron and nickel free

Use Starbrite’s Jet Black for lettering and lining. It flows smoothly so you can work quickly.

31. Intenze Tattoo Ink Supplies Black Samoan Tribal Ink

Intenze Tattoo Ink Supplies Black Samoan Tribal Ink Professional Quality Dark Intense Color, 17 Ounce Bottle
  • Specially made for tribal tattoos
  • Beautifully dark black tattoo ink
  • Suluape Black Samoan Tribal Tatua Ink

The Suluape Tatau family of Samoa are traditional tattoo artists. They collaborated with Intenze to develop this concentrated black color tattoo ink.

It’s just right for tribal tattoos. Surprisingly, it’s not as thick as some tribal inks. And it’s dark enough that you shouldn’t need to go over it.

32. Intenze Tattoo Ink True Black

Sale
Intenze Tattoo Ink True Black 1 oz
  • Color: true black
  • Weight
    in oz: 1 oz
  • Expires: > 2 years

Right between rich black tribal ink and regular black is the True Black color tattoo ink. Oddly enough, it may look a little less “true black” on brown and dark skin tones.

On the bright side, collectors have said that it retains its crisp appearance.

33. Intenze Professional Tattoo Ink Zuper Black

Intenze Professional Tattoo Ink Zuper Black 12 oz
  • Heals very dark in the skin
  • Sterilized in a certified lab
  • Formulated to not dry out

Which is the blackest of all black color tattoo ink?

Many artists would tell you it’s Zuper Black color tattoo ink from Intenze. It has a cool undertone.

It was created by the tattoo artist Mario Barth. It’s also recommended by London Reese and Steve Butcher.

If you’re going to tattoo dark skin, this is a prominent color tattoo ink that will hold its own.

It’s thin enough for lining and thick enough to saturate and fill large areas.

 

Conclusion

We hope you found the ink you need to tattoo olive, medium, brown, and dark skin.

Now go forth and liven up the world with beautiful art.

Expand your skillset and take your craft to the next level by specializing in tattoos for dark skin.

If you have a moment, drop us a comment below about your experience with these inks.

Sources:

1. https://customtattoodesign.ca/blog/colors-work-best-tattoos/

2. https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2018/02/01/darker-canvas-tattoos-black-body/ by Bryan

3. https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/12/01/503014301/for-tattoo-artists-race-is-in-the-mix-when-ink-meets-skin?t=1572425008142 by Parth Shah,

Video of melanin filter: https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_320/pwfkydzfrfjan4wjka8k.mp4

Last update on 2022-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Leave a Reply