People have been tattooing dark skin for thousands of years and it can be done tastefully and with great detail. Yet, tattooing dark skin can be sort of a taboo in western countries, where tattoo artists are often only accustomed to working on fair skin. Even so, black people shouldn’t let this stop us from getting beautiful tattoos, if we so please. There are many scientific health benefits to tattoos, such as higher confidence and improved self-esteem and an improved immune system.
Tattoos—although controversial to some—can be beautiful, tasteful and feminine if done right and taken care of properly. They are quickly becoming a culture norm and signal of creativity and art, and for companies looking for young, creative workers, they can even help you land a job. Here are some tips for tattoos to get on dark skin as well as some beautiful tattoo images you can consider:
Start With Something Small
Being tattooed can be really intimidating, especially if you’re afraid of pain and nervous about eventually regretting the tattoo. If you’re still unsure about whether getting inked up is right for you, try starting with something small first like a rose, an astrological sign, a map of Africa, an infinity symbol, or whatever else you may want to stamp your body with. If you end up hating it, you can take comfort in the fact that it’s small and will probably be easier and thus, cheaper to remove.
Likewise, as black women in professional working environments, we have to be especially careful about how we come across, as we’re prone to harsher judgement and critic than our white counterparts. A smaller tattoo may be easier to cover up before going to work or hide, in situations where conforming to the norm is beneficial for us.
Here are some cute tattoos on other black women that you can draw some inspiration from:
Think Twice Before Getting A White Tattoo
Many experts in the tattoo industry are hesitant to perform white tattoos, since they don’t last long. They tend to fade on people of all races, but often fade completely after the healing process when performed on black and brown people. If you’re still insistent on getting a white tattoo, choose a simple design that doesn’t cost too much to perform and beware that the tattoo may not last a long time.
Go The Henna Route
Instead of tattooing white ink on dark skin, get a white henna tattoo! They are absolutely stunning and can last anywhere from a week to a month and a half—it all depends on how much exposure to sunlight your tattoo gets and how many times the surface area is washed. There are also plenty of gorgeous dark-colored tattoos to choose from, just make sure to moisturize your henna design regularly with oils and creams!
Don’t Get A Micro-Detailed Tattoo
Although thin tiny shapes and floral designs are “in” right now, think carefully about getting tattoos with extreme detail, because the super thin lines are extremely likely to smudge and become a hazy blob over time. Thin lettering especially, is a big no-no, since your cells regenerate naturally and your skin’s elasticity changes which means the letters will almost inevitably become illegible after some time. Instead, choose a simple quote, a line from a poem or song, or a phrase you love, if you want to get a tattoo with words.
Make Sure Your Tattoo Artist Is Well-Experienced
Although a well-trained tattooist may be more expensive, eventually you’ll be thankful for having invested in someone with proper experience. On the flipside, getting a cheap tattoo will almost guarantee you’ll be unhappy with the artist’s work, as it may not last long or the design may be subpar. Moreover, make sure not to get tattoos with your lover’s name or face, or current pop culture phenomena because relationships end, and pop culture is fickle and changes quickly. Instead, get timeless tattoos that are centered around strong friendships and family, a pet you love, or a passion you have.
Lastly, for black women in particular, ensure that you ask your tattoo artist if he or she has experience with tattoos on dark skin and ask to see visual proof of their previous work. A tattooist with experience working on dark skin will know to stick to black and grey ink colors, while being able to flexibly help you choose other colors that compliment your complexion.
Black skin is also known to form keloids faster (which is the overgrowth of scar tissue that develops around a wound) so if you know that your skin type is prone to keloids, make sure to inform your tattooist in advance.
"Grace is a freelance writer and blogger from Canada. Her work has been featured on HerCampus, 21Ninety, Read Unwritten. She is a voracious reader, a dog-lover and a self-professed pop culture junkie. Her other hobbies include watching sappy romantic comedies, consuming too many strawberry-filled doughnuts and people-watching. Grace currently attends university, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pre-Law."