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Tattooing Melanated Skin

The Fitzpatrick scale is a numerical classification schema for skin color based on the amount of melanin. How is the Fitzpatrick scale important in cosmetic tattooing?

People have skin tone, which refers to the general surface skin color. Skin tone is determined by the amount of melanin (skin pigment) present in the upper layer of the skin.

Then there's Skin Undertone, which refers to the subtle hue underneath the surface of the skin. There are 3 traditional skin undertones: warm, cool, and neutral.

It's important to understand skin color and skin undertones in cosmetic tattooing to get great healed results. Client's undertone + Pigment Color = Healed Result


It is very important to consult about medical history and what kind of uneven tones the client has in their lip or brow area before proceeding with the procedure. Lip blush on darker lips includes neutralization of dark spots and making the color of the lips even by tattooing them. It is a safe and effective method, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Only a skilled technician can assess the situation properly and choose the right pigment color that will neutralize the darker undertones. Read below on how to determine what is hypo-pigmentation, hyper-pigmentation, and what requires neutralizing for lip blush tattooing.


Hypopigmentation is the loss of skin color to disease or trauma to the skin. Your skin's pigmentation, or color, is based on the production of a substance called melanin. If your skin cells don't produce enough melanin, the skin can lighten or get light spots.

It is not recommended to get lip blush tattooing or brow tattooing if you are

prone to hypo-pigmentation because the trauma of tattooing can spread the


A patch test is recommended if you are Fitz 4-6 and interested in lip bushing.


Darkened areas on the skin are the main symptoms of hyper-pigmentation. Patches can

vary in size and develop anywhere on the body.The biggest risk factors for general

hyper-pigmentation are sun exposure and inflammation (tattooing), as both situations

can increase melanin production. The greater your exposure to the sun, the greater

your risk of increased skin hyper-pigmentation. There are different types of


  • Melasma. Melasma is believed to be caused by hormonal changes and may develop during pregnancy. Areas of hyper-pigmentation can appear on any area of the body, but they appear most commonly on the stomach and face.

  • Sunspots. Also called liver spots or solar lentigines, sunspots are common. They’re related to excess sun exposure over time. Generally, they appear as spots on areas exposed to the sun, like the hands and face.

  • Post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. This is a result of injury or inflammation to the skin. A common cause of this type is acne.

It is not recommended to get lip blush tattooing or brow tattooing if you are prone to hyper-pigmentation because the trauma of tattooing can produce more hyperpigmentation.

A patch test is recommended if you are Fitz 4-6 and interested in lip bushing.

Smoker's Lips

It is not recommended to recieve a lip blush tattoo if the client does not

intend to stop smoking. The nicotine found in tobacco cigarettes is likely to play a

role in the formation of dark spots or hyper-pigmentation of the lips. The reduction in

blood flow associated with smoking might also lead to an increase in melanin or

pigment production. This is important to know with cosmetic tattooing in order to

correctly diagnose why there's darker tones in the lip. Is it fixable cool tones, or does

the client smoke consistently?

Cool Tone Undertones / Neutralizing

While lip blush is done by coloring the lips, neutralization is needed for lip blushing on

dark lips. The first step is to neutralize cool tones and lift the darkness of lips

with the help of warm-based pigment. After the lips are neutralized and healed, a

target color can be added if you want it.

The Atelier artist needs to determine which color to use for neutralization, depending

on the nature of your undertones. This means that they will determine whether greyish,

purplish, or brownish hues are dominant and choose the adequate color.

For an example: Purple undertones would need a yellow/orange based pigment to cancel out the cooler tones. Learn more under the "Lip Blush Tattoo" page.

It is very important to consult with your artist before proceeding a lip blush tattoo with Fitz 4-6 clients. Patch tests may be required. Email us at for more information.

View more about lip blush tattooing and neutralizing under the "Lip Blush Tattoo" page.


Melanin rich skin can swell and be reactive quickly. It is really important to know how to tattoo this skin type and not cause any extra trauma to the skin. Naturally, clients with darker tones will produce more lymphatic fluid. Your body releases lymphatic fluid when trying to heal a wound, so understanding how to cause the least amount of trauma is crucial.


A lot of lymphatic fluid = thick scabs during healing = scabs will pull out pigment = retention will be light.

Tip: Take your time on the first pass. Move slowly with your hand and machine. If you're able to get as much retention in your first pass of pigment, you won't need to tattoo the area over and over again.


As professional tattooers, it is our job to stay educated and inclusive. Here's a list of resources to continue your education on melanated skin.



PMU School Podcast - Season 2 Episode 79 - PMU terms you might not know are offensive to people of color

Black Girls Blade Podcast - BGB 004. - Eumelanin Skin Nano Vs. Microblading

PMU School Podcast - Season 1 Episode 96 with Maya Moore (@moorebeautylove) - Working On Higher Fitz-Patrick Skin Types

PMU School Podcast - Season 3 Episode 71 with Shawanna Watson (@pinkdiamondsbeauteco) - What To Expect With Fitz 5&6

PMU School - Season 1 Episode 57 with Renee Dietzler (@bearbrowscosmetictattooing) - PMU For All! How To Be Inclusive


Machine Nano Hair Strokes on Dark Skin - Complete Step by Step Tutorial


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