Color vs. Black & Gray Tattoos

Color vs. Black & Gray Tattoos

Apr 30th 2022

Once you have decided to get a tattoo, you need to figure out what you want a tattoo of and where on your body to have it done. Part of that process is narrowing down if you want bold or vibrant colors or if you prefer a classic and timeless black and gray tattoo. Choosing the perfect color of tattoo ink and style to suit you can be difficult. Let us help you weigh the options between a black and gray ink tattoo and a color ink tattoo.

History of Tattoo Ink Colors

The mummified remains of Ötzi the Iceman, dating back over 5,300 yearsmake him the oldest known recipient of tattoos. His skin boasts at least 61 tattoos that were created by cutting slits into the skin and tracing these cuts with charcoal. Other early examples of natural tattoo ink from ancient Egypt appear to have been created with similar methods using ash, charcoal, or soot. This evidence tells us that the oldest method of tattooing is black ink tattoo.

Much later, the ancient Romans and the Inuit people, started adding color to their tattoos. In 17th century Japan, colorful and intricate tattoos became a popular way for criminals to cover up the tattoos inflicted on them to declare their crimes upon conviction.

However, it was not until the Old School style of tattooing became popular in the US and UK in the 1950s that color tattooing really became popular. A few select colors were added at first, giving the artform a bold new look. Since then, the increasing popularity of color tattoos and advances in technology have created a market that carries a seemingly endless array of colors of tattoo ink.

The Benefits of Black and Gray Tattoos

The term “black and gray tattoo” usually refers to a technique where lighter and darker areas of gray are created by mixing black tattoo ink with a clear solution like our Holy Water Mixing SolutionAlso known as gray wash, this mixture is the ultimate way to add detail, depth, and dimension to tattoos without color. Sometimes, this gray wash will include a touch of white to create a more opaque look.

Many styles of tattooing, including Old School Tattoos, Realism, Surrealism, and Portrait, can be done in black and gray. While these styles also work in color, there are also a few other styles that work best with just black and gray tattoo ink. If you are looking for a tiny tattoo, small script, a fine line tattoo, or another type of small tattoo, sticking with black and gray is your best choice. Using just black tattoo ink on a lining needle can make even the smallest and most delicate details sharper and more precise.

The biggest benefit of black tattoo ink is how long it lasts. Black and gray tattoos usually last longer and require fewer touchups than color tattoos. To ensure that you get the most outstanding results, make sure that your artist uses the best black tattoo ink.

The Benefits of Color Tattoos

Portrait, Realism, Surrealism, and Old School tattoos are among the tattoo styles that can also have beautiful results using color tattoo ink. Furthermore, popular trends like metallic tattoos and sticker tattoos rely on the skillful use of a variety of colors of tattoo ink. The newer Trash Polka style combines black and gray tattoo designs with bright bursts of red.


Color is especially useful for medium or large pieces where the details and the colors will not get blurred together but rather stand apart from each other for maximum effect. However, adding color to tattoos has benefits beyond just visual beauty. The colors you select can convey your mood and personality, or have a deeper meaning. For example, a bright scarlet rose will convey a different mood from a soft pink watercolor rose. Choose a color tattoo if you want to make a bight and bold statement.

The Similarities Between a Color Tattoo and a Black and Gray Tattoo

Whether you opt for pops of color or simple black and gray, several things will be the same. Even though the complexity and healing time can vary depending on tattoo location, size, and type, preparing for and taking care of your tattoo is going to be very similar regardless of your choice of tattoo ink colors. Make sure to use a high-quality natural tattoo aftercare product to ensure your tattoo heals properly and lasts as long as possible.

Regardless of if you are getting work done with color tattoo ink or black tattoo ink, always look for a tattoo artist that is skilled in the specific style and technique that you desire. Look at their portfolio and make sure that they show examples of healed work, not just fresh work. How their work heals is a showcase of both the quality of the products that they use and their skill as an artist. To get an idea of the variety of styles and to help you choose an artist, check out the work by Quantum Pro Team Artists and rest assured that they use only the highest quality tattoo ink.

In the end, there is no one style of tattoo that is better than the other. The best style for you is the one that captures the message you want to convey and tells the world who you are. Let your tattoo be as unique and special as you are. Because you deserve the best, treat yourself to the best organic tattoo ink available in REACH-approved colors! Shop our vegan tattoo ink including gray wash or black ink for tattoos in black and gray or our vibrant color ink for tattoos that are bright and bold.